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Surprised by the answer?

What’s the most pressing problem facing the American Numismatic Association today?

Yesterday I posed that question to Jeff Shevlin, who will begin his new job June 18 as executive director at ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

His answer?

The ANA website.

That’s right, the ANA website.

“The most urgent task is the website. They’re having issues with that. The progress is not as good as it could be,” he said.

Websites are important in our modern world. I have seen complaints online of the functionality of the ANA website, so there is no question in my mind that it needs addressing.

But compared to the past decade or so of wrestling with budget deficits, one leadership crisis after another and a membership that became both more cynical and outraged, it is refreshing to see the website cited as the most important issue.

The boards elected since 2007 have eliminated the deficit problem and have changed the question into one of how can ANA get the most bang for the bucks it does have.

Shevlin’s appointment process took a very long time starting last September, because the ANA board was determined to get it right after two prior appointments didn’t work out to the benefit of the organization.

Membership has shrunk to 28,000 after having spent some years at 32,000.

A new website will be part of the turnaround effort.

“The ANA has a huge opportunity to offer more value using technology. I think we can do a lot better. I expect I should be able to grow membership considerably,” Shevlin said, who was a member of the ANA technology advisory committee before his appointment as executive director.

Naturally, Shevlin knows there is more to setting a future course for the ANA than fixing the website.

“I do kind of have my own vision of the ANA,” he said.

After discussing conditions at ANA for a while, Shevlin formulated six goals:

1. Achieve a well-managed, issue-free ANA headquarters operation.

2 Make sure there is a strong board of governors with members that are looked upon as leaders.

3. Get the membership more engaged. He specifically cited the need for volunteers.

4. Increase membership considerably.

5. Expand the functionality of the website and recognize the growing social element to online activity.

6. Put a better focus on fund-raising.

Summing up, he said that the next five years should be spent “making an organization we all believe it should be.”

It is hard to quibble with goals like that.

Implementation, as always, will be the test.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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