Source: Sherman Publications

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Citizen experts help meetings run right

by Phil Custodio

May 18, 2011

Coco Siewert of Birmingham, second from left, leads a parliamentarian study session with, from left, Art Margerm of Hazel Park, Barbara Bonsignore of Rochester Hills, Elizabeth Haynes of Windsor, Ontario, Linda Meadors of Independence Township, and Gretchen Denton of Rochester Hills. Photo by Phil Custodio
Almost every group and organization big and small has meetings – the Birmingham Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit is there to help.

Linda Meadors of Independence Township leads the group this year as incoming president.

"I am very honored," Meadors said. "This is a group of frighteningly accomplished people."

For the past two years, Meadors has been the unit's education chairman, while serving as vice president. Part of the education chairman's charge is to help prepare attendees to be tested for additional certification.

"We learn together by doing," she said. "Learning can be intoxicating."

Meadors, along with Barbara Bonsignore of Rochester Hills, Elizabeth Haynes of Windsor, Ontario, Art Margerm of Hazel Park, and Gretchen Denton of Rochester Hills, are receiving instruction from Eleanor "Coco" Siewert, charter member of the group, former Birmingham mayor, professional registered parliamentarian, and member of the National Association of Parliamentarians.

As newly installed president of LSPU, Meadors hosts study sessions at her home in Independence Township, and will be one of the LSPU delegates attending the National Convention in St. Petersburg, Fla., this summer.

"I'd like to expand membership and increase outreach to schools, municipal government, and volunteer groups," she said.

The parliamentarians are experts in Robert's Rules of Order, written in 1876 as a how-to guide to run public meetings.

"It's incredible how far sighted this engineer (U.S. Army Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert) was," Meadors said. "They're based on democratic principles, civility, expediency, so everyone can put their two cents in."

"It promotes democracy and civic engagement," Siewert said. "Everyone has meetings – people need to know how to run them."

They consult with all kinds of organizations, including municipal government, university, home owners' associations, non-profit groups, and other organizations.

The LSPU was founded in 1976 by Louise Saks, a professional registered parliamentarian, and was chartered in 1978 as a Parliamentary Unit of Oakland by the National Association of Parliamentarians. It is an affiliate of the Michigan State Association of Parliamentarians.

For more information, call 248-394-0478.