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War of Words escalates as ANA Responds to Shepherd Statement and Harlan Berk Press Release

The Anerican Numismatic Association (ANA) just issued a Press Release in response to statements distributed and published by former Executive Director Larry Shepherd, and a Press Release by Harlan J Berk announcing that Larry has joined the HJB firm. Below are the complete, unedited Press Releases and Statements as provided by all the parties.

A couple of interesting items to note in this series of exchanges is perhaps an indication of the escalating nature of the affair which looks as if it will play out over the next several months.

a) According to the ANA Press Release, Larry Shepherd has retained legal council (not surprisingly) but then goes on to state that said counsel “suggested that the ANA has defamed him (Mr Shepherd)” To the best of our knowledge there has been no public statements of the sort, except in this release.

b) The ANA Press Release states that “Berk issued a news release that is disparaging and denigrating to the ANA” , and “Berk’s release stated Shepherd was fired”. Please see the press Release below from HJB to draw your own conclusions.

c) It also seemed odd that the ANA release and Mr Mischler’s comments in particular would personalize the situation with words such as “great disappointment” and “dignified manner” and then goes on to state “that Mr. Shepherd has resorted to a public discussion that the ANA cannot comment upon” Seems like the Press release itself just continues the public discussion, and like the original release on August 23rd, just raises more questions that it answers.

Wherever the truth lies in all of this, it does appear that there is an escalating “war of words” surrounding Mr Shepherd’s termination as the ANA Executive Director, and that absent facts concerning the specifics, we will have increased speculation and discord until the parties involved truly decide that it is time to move on.

ANA Press Release sent to CoinWeek on October 6th

ANA Board of Governors Respond To Statements from Former Executive Director

Following is a statement issued Thursday, Oct. 6, by the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors in response to recent statements by former ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd.

“The former ANA Executive Director and others recently released statements regarding his termination. The Governors of the American Numismatic Association have made every effort to take the high road and not air a private personnel matter. We thought it best to promptly move on.

“The ANA declines to disclose those matters because they involve other personnel or third-parties outside the ANA. The decisions to first suspend then terminate Mr. Shepherd were not ‘political,’ nor made in haste. They were made after a review of the facts and with careful deliberation.

“Mr. Shepherd subsequently hired legal counsel who suggested that the ANA has defamed him. The ANA has not defamed Mr. Shepherd and, in fact, carefully avoided making any statements in an effort to avoid a rancorous, public discussion on personnel matters which are normally best left private.

“Mr. Shepherd’s attorney directed the ANA to have no contact with him, and the ANA honored that request. Yet, despite that directive from his attorney, Mr. Shepherd has contacted ANA Board members, as did his new employer, Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. In addition, Berk issued a news release that is disparaging and denigrating to the ANA, based on opinion, not fact.

“The ANA considerately stated that the employment relationship with Mr. Shepherd had ‘ended’ to specifically avoid a public announcement that he was fired. Berk’s release stated Shepherd was fired. The ANA now confirms that Mr. Shepherd’s employment was terminated, and in view of all of the factual information reviewed by the Board, correctly so.

“This was not a decision that resulted from new Governors coming on board, but it was reviewed by both the outgoing Board and the newly elected Board in an unprecedented joint session. All 12 Governors concluded that it was appropriate that Mr. Shepherd be placed on leave while the matter was under review. After this review, termination followed.

“Governor and Past President Clifford Mishler has succinctly summed up the ANA’s thoughts on this matter:

‘Having participated as a board member in both the hiring and termination of Larry Shepherd as Executive Director of the American Numismatic Association, I want to express my deep disappointment that a relationship that commenced with great optimism has concluded on such a sour note. In both instances the decisions were unanimous. Unfortunately, a commitment which commenced with great promise, transitioned into one of such great disappointment.

‘Ultimately, the Board lost confidence in Mr. Shepherd as the ANA Executive Director.’

“It is most unfortunate that Mr. Shepherd has resorted to a public discussion that the ANA cannot comment upon, instead of moving forward in a dignified manner. We are deeply saddened by his decision. Rather than dwell on past mistakes, the ANA will move forward and fulfill its educational mission to serve the best interests of the entire numismatic community.”

The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 30,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or visit www.money.org

The Following is the “Press Statement” Issued by Larry Shepherd on September 29th

I am proud of what was accomplished during my 3+ years of employment at the ANA. I worked diligently to restore soundness and trust; and to move the ANA forward and to bring it up to date with modern times, changing member preferences, and current technology. I saw the need for vision and forward thinking leadership, to adjust the ANA to the evolution of the hobby, and I tried to provide that. I employed new staff and implemented new ideas and initiatives to prepare the ANA for the future. I emphasized the need to attract new members with a broader range of ages and collecting preferences. I recognized the serious challenges that lie ahead, and realized that they would not be met by looking backwards or just re-employing the policies of the past. I challenged the Board and the ANA staff to do the same; to view the future by looking forward, rather than through a rear view mirror. I realize that many people are resistant to or fearful of change, but with an aging and dwindling membership base we could not (and can not, going forward) afford to keep our head in the sand. I knew that my forward thinking policies and efforts to force the existing staff and the Board to deal with uncomfortable strategic issues might create some dissention and/or enemies, but I did what I thought was best for the long term benefit of the entire ANA community, not just the vocal minority.

Following this philosophy I pushed hard for results and accomplished them. Over the past eighteen months we made great strides in upgrading the quality of our magazine, thanks largely to Barbara Gregory and her terrific staff. We greatly improved communications with our members, and emphasized transparency through magazine articles, mailings and emails. Through the efforts of RyAnne Scott, my goal of becoming more active in social networking and introducing innovative programs to appeal to members of all ages was achieved. We worked hard to increase the exposure and improve the quality of Summer Seminar, to provide top-flight and affordable education to all our members. I created the Museum Showcase to bring the educational benefits of our museum to our convention attendees. I viewed ugrading our conventions and bourse activities as key components of our overall marketing strategy to promote the hobby. In response we produced the largest, and perhaps most successful and acclaimed convention and coin show in the ANA’s history. Despite the obvious negative reference to that in the ANA’s press release, I am very pleased with that.

I have received enormous praise and appreciation from the members and the dealer community for the job I have done. I believe I achieved for the ANA member and dealer community what the ANA hired me to do, and I will always be proud of that fact.

During my tenure at the ANA I have not violated the ANA employee handbook, or the code of ethics as stated in the ANA bylaws. I did not violate any provisions of the ANA conflict of interest policy. I did not violate federal EEOC anti-discrimination or harassment guidelines (sexual, age, race, etc.). I offered to the General Counsel that I would take a polygraph to clear up any issues or concerns that may have arisen due to unfounded rumors and innuendo, but I sensed they were more interested in finding a cause than in finding facts, as evidenced by my being told on August 20 that I would not be coming back, even before the outside investigation took place.

I want to thank everyone in the ANA community for the tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement I received during this trying period. I especially appreciate the courageous ANA staff members who contacted me from their homes or who expressed their feelings to the numismatic media. These actions have meant a lot to me.

Here is the Text of the Press Release from Harlan J Berk LTD written September 23rd

Larry Shepherd joins Harlan J. Berk Ltd.

Harlan J. Berk, Ltd is pleased to announce that Larry Shepherd, long time numismatist and former Executive Director of the American Numismatic Association, has joined the U.S. Coin team at HJB Ltd. Larry joins Mike Printz, Robert Greenstein, and David Greenstein in their continuing effort to enhance their presence in the high grade U. S. coin market. Sammy Berk and Dennis Forgue are recognized experts in U. S. Paper Money, Maps and U. S. Medals. Tom DeLorey’s encyclopedic knowledge of U.S. coins adds further experience and depth of knowledge to the team as a consultant.

“I’m thrilled to join such a well rounded team of experts. Harlan and the staff at HJB have an outstanding reputation for honesty, integrity and expertise across a broad spectrum of numismatic fields. I look forward to working closely with Mike Printz, who I’ve valued as a close, personal friend and have respected for his client oriented expertise for nearly 20 years. The opportunity to work closely with Mike, Harlan and the rest of the staff was a strong incentive to join the firm,” says Shepherd.

Harlan Berk adds: “Larry’s unquestioned integrity and extensive knowledge of rare coins and the coin market allows us to supply our customers with an even larger inventory of high quality coins to choose from. We feel this will enable us to move into the top tier of U. S. Coins, which we have occupied in the field of Ancient Coins for the last several decades. Additionally, Harlan J. Berk Ltd. is able to provide Larry’s clients with a wide array of numismatic products and services.”

Larry can be reached via email at: Larry@HJBLtd.com or via phone at 719.464.8801

ANA Press Release Announcing the “termination? of Larry Shepherd as the Executive Director Posted on CoinWeek October 2nd

The American Numismatic Association Board of Governors today announced that it has ended its employment relationship with Larry Shepherd, as Executive Director, effective as of September 20, 2011. The vote of the Board to sever that relationship was unanimous.

Coinciding with placing Shepherd on leave in August, the board initiated the process for a comprehensive organizational review of management issues and employment matters, and engaged the assistance of Employer’s Resources of Colorado.

The human resources consulting firm has identified employment policy deficiencies, and provided recommendations for improving internal operational practices and positive motivational development as the ANA moves forward.

“We appreciate Shepherd’s past three years of contributions, but the Board determined the association needs to move in a different direction going forward, providing greater focus on its core educational mission,” said ANA President Tom Hallenbeck.

“The ANA is about more than just being a big coin show. It’s about our individual members and member clubs. It’s about educating our members and the general public, doing so by creating a positive numismatic experience for the many diverse segments of our organization and the greater hobby community.”

Hallenbeck added that, effective immediately, the board has repealed the fee instituted by Shepherd for ANA member clubs to occupy tables at the annual World’s Fair of Money convention and the National Money Show

Hallenbeck also announced that the ANA is establishing a corporate governance committee, and that ANA Governor and former President, Clifford Mishler, will chair a new strategic planning committee.

“We will begin an Executive Director search with a new focus on the association providing a more balanced approach to serving its educational mission. We will be seeking a new Executive Director to help us achieve this objective in a way that will better serve the total hobby community,” Hallenbeck emphasized.

Shepherd was hired in March 2008. He was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 20, 2011, by unanimous vote of the Board.

CoinWeek Article from August 23rd Breaking the Story about  the ANA  was placing Larry Sheperd on “Administrative Leave” pending and “Organizational Review”. Included were comments made by an ANA Board member on the PCGS forums which was subsequently removed.

The following is from a press release CoinWeek received from the ANA this evening:

“American Numismatic Association Executive Director Larry Shepherd has been placed on administrative leave during an organizational review process, President Tom Hallenbeck has announced.”

That’s it, no other information was released, no details or reasons were given.

New ANA Governor Greg Lyon did make a few statements on the PCGS message boards in response to some questions, His posted comments are below.

“Unfortunately, I cannot add much to this discussion beyond what was released in the press release. As many of you are aware, there are significant legal reasons why details cannot be released. This decision was not taken lightly and was clearly in the best interest of the ANA.

At this point, an investigation will be conducted by a third-party group and any further decisions will be made by the board subsequent to that investigation.

I am saddened that this had to be one of the first actions I took after joining the board. I welcome any questions — which will be answered as best possible — through this thread or private messages.”

The “Third Party Group” Mr Lyon referred to is Employer’s Resources of Colorado which handles HR issues.

Mr Lyon went on to say that “There was a board vote taken, as the ANA Press Release states. This is not a political move — and has nothing to do with the convention (other than timing), but rather one based on evidence presented to the board.”

In response to another comment Mr. Lyon continued,“I would love to provide you more details, but because of legal reasons, I cannot. The Board felt that there was significant reason to take this action but details cannot be shared.”

CoinWeek will be contacting as many sources as we can to follow-up on this situation to see if we can provide additional details as to the nature of the issues involved and the reasons the Board felt it necessary to take this action at this time.

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