Board Candidate Statements

AFDCS Board of Director Candidate Statements

AFDCS members will elect five AFDCS directors for the 2012-2014 term. Official ballots are in the September 1, 2011 issue of First Days. Candidate statements are listed in alphabetical order. Statements were limited to a maximum of 250 words.

Gil Celli
Massapequa, New York

I am the owner of The Gold Mine, a stamp and coin business located on Long Island that specializes in first day covers. I started the business in 1970. I also own a pawn shop and a jewelry store.

I have been a fulltime cover dealer for more than 40 years and have had a bourse table at every AFDCS convention since 1986. I served on the AFDCS Board of Directors in the early 1990s.

I would like to see new ideas and new blood join the society. We need to increase the membership as well.

We have to get the message out to all types of collectors that collecting stamps and covers is not dull and boring, but very educational and also very rewarding as a great hobby for young and old alike.

All hobbies are getting hit hard by the economic situation in the country, as well as the competition from Facebook and video games, etc. In order to maintain our hobby we must band together and keep going to make it strong and healthy as it once was.

Hopefully, I will get the chance to serve the society once again. Thank you.

Gary Denis
Patuxent River, Maryland

I’m an electrical engineer and have been a stamp collector for most of my life. I bought my first FDC in 1982.

In the mid-1990s, I was editor of the Maximum Card Study Unit’s newsletter, and I wrote the “Maximum Card” column for First Days. I authored the Maximum Card Collectors Handbook in 1995, which was revised in 2009 by the AFDCS.

In 2007, I published a Catalog of Norman Rockwell Paintings on Postage Stamps. I am still a frequent contributor to First Days, and have also been published in Linn’s, Stamp Collector, and other journals.

My enjoyment of the hobby has always come from the friendships I have made with other collectors, writers and exhibitors, maintained through old-fashioned letter writing, e-mail, and, of course, meeting at our annual convention, Americover.

I currently author the “Research Projects” column in First Days, which I conceived as a way to encourage members to correspond with other members with similar interests. I have been the chairman of the AFDCS Publications Committee for the past two years, and was recently appointed Education Director.

If elected to the board of directors, my main agenda would be to continue to encourage member participation, especially communication between members. It is important for the AFDCS to find ways to make membership fun and exciting; to make the AFDCS feel more like a stamp club and not just a magazine subscription.

Mary Kay Fisher
Niles Michigan

My interest in stamps dates back to grade school when I learned world geography by collecting stamps. In 1990, I rekindled this interest by painting first day covers and developing my cachet line, called Fisher Cachets.

I have served as president and vice-president of the Cachetmakers Association and four years ago revived the association’s Left-Sider News newsletter. I have been its editor and publisher since that time. For the past three years, I have been on the nominating committee of the AFDCS Board of Directors.

I have received bachelor and master’s degrees in education from Indiana University and taught elementary school for a period of time. Subsequently, I was assistant director of a sheltered workshop for the retarded. This was followed by work as a rehabilitation counselor for vocational rehabilitation. For the past 37 years, I have been office manager for my husband’s private practice in forensic psychology.

I look forward to attending Americover every year to renew old friendships, exchange ideas, and discuss future and long-range goals of the society. If elected, I am willing to serve in any capacity to further the mission of the AFDCS.

Chris Lazaroff
Simpsonville, South Carolina

I have been a member of the AFDCS since the late 1980s and have served continuously on the board of directors for more than 10 years. From 2006 to 2011, I served as AFDCS president and was a major advocate for the society and the hobby at stamp shows and at first day ceremonies.

While president, we launched the redesigned AFDCS website, which has grown and is a leading avenue for gaining new members. Beginning this year, we also started putting our journal online.

I also had the difficult task of trying to manage the society during its current financial situation, which has resulted in major delays in the publishing of our journal.

The two biggest issues that I see for our future are intertwined: declining membership and financial cash flow situations. We need to seriously address both these issues and when I say “we,” I don’t mean just me or just the board, but I mean all members. I have in the past challenged every member to recruit one new member. If that had been accomplished, I wouldn’t be talking about the above two issues.

I am asking for your support in reelecting me to the board of directors, but also I challenge everyone to go out and recruit one new member to join the AFDCS.

Foster E. Miller III
Annapolis Junction, Maryland

I have been an AFDCS member since 1978 and life member #333 since 1997.

I am currently a director of the AFDCS, chairman of the membership department, assistant treasurer, USPS liaison, chapter coordinator and AMERICOVER meetings/seminars chairman.

I am a member of the Robert C. Graebner Chapter, the Claude C. Ries Chapter, the 7-1-71 Affair Chapter and the American Ceremony Program Society.

I regularly represent the AFDCS at stamp shows and first day ceremonies around the country. I recently sponsored a fundraising letter for the AFDCS that raised $3,100 in its first two weeks.

The number one concern for the AFDCS at present is finances. We need to return to financial stability and return to publishing First Days on its scheduled basis.

The executive committee and board of directors have recently begun to take the necessary steps to make this happen and I would like to continue to be part of this effort. Once we are publishing First Days on its scheduled basis, membership recruitment and retention becomes much easier. Then we can concentrate on what is really important: keeping first day cover collecting the most fun part of stamp collecting.

Thomas J. O’Hagan
Lewes, Delaware

I started my own successful line of covers, S&T Cachets, in 1990. I have won a total of 23 best of category and honorable mention Earl Planty awards since 1993.

In addition to membership in the APS, EPS, ACPS and the Cachetmakers Association, I have been a member of the AFDCS for more than 20 years and finished a three-year chairmanship of the Cachetmaker Contest in 2010.

I am the proud winner of the 1994 Ward Award for an article I wrote for First Days and am a past director of the American Ceremony Program Society.

My background is in budgeting, financial management and risk management. I spent my entire working career in finance-related work.

I am running for the position of AFDCS Director because I want to give back to the hobby I have enjoyed for so many years.

I also feel my background in budgeting and finance will help the board meet the challenges of declining membership and increasing financial problems it now faces.

The board needs to look at all its costs and take the necessary steps to cut spending and control essential costs. We have to look outside the box and find new ways to do what is needed and eliminate those costs that do not produce a return to the society members.

The board also needs to work on retaining membership while working on getting former members to rejoin the society.

Carl Swain
Mount Clare, West Virginia

My mother, one of the first women Marines, was a stamp collector and that was how, at 12 years of age, I got involved with stamp collecting. I started purchasing ArtCraft, Artmaster and Fleetwood cachets and servicing the covers.

After I graduated from High School, joined the Army, went to Vietnam, I stopped collecting. After a 30-year break, I salvaged my First Day Covers and started collecting again with a vengeance.

At about this same time, I started attending stamp shows. I really enjoy Americover and have attended all but one or two in the last 10 years.

Since I retired, I still have a large collection of covers, but I have devoted most of my time to buying covers at stamp shows and auctions and selling them on eBay. The buying and selling has almost become my hobby.

I am proud that by promoting the society to my eBay customers, I was the number one individual recruiter for the society for two or more years.

I also have a website that links to the AFDCS and the APS, as well as others.

I have also shared about $600 of my eBay sales with the AFDCS through eBay’s Giving Works, a program that I suggested to the society.

I am a retired supervisory auditor and sergeant first class in the West Virginia Army National Guard.

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