J. Michael Tomme, Sr.
PRESIDENT GENERAL 2016-2017
In his own words: “It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 113th President General of the National Society Sons of the American Revolution. I am humbled and I appreciate the confidence you have bestowed upon me by electing me to this position. I am excited to serve you and this worthy organization. I take great pride in that I am a member of the SAR. This is your society and each of us has an important role to play. We should take every opportunity to educate the public on who we are and why we are relevant. I believe we can increase our identity and have the SAR become more recognizable to the public. Over the years, a lot of our compatriots and colleagues have worked hard to make this organization into the largest, strongest and best society that it can be. However, there is still a lot of work to do, both now and into our future. At the Spring Leadership and Trustees meeting, we took an important step into the future. We engaged in discernment and debate of the proposal, and then the Trustees voted to pay the final installment of the interpretive plan to Solid Light and approved moving ahead with the Educational Outreach Center, when we have the money in hand. I believe that our compatriots, like our Patriot ancestors, came away from this session with an overall appreciation of the process and agreed to move forward. This facility will be a wonderful addition to our society, not only now, but into the future of our organization. With our headquarters located on Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky, among numerous museums and tourist attractions, this Educational Outreach Center will not only enhance our visibility, but should attract new prospective members who visit the area. Visitors could tour our educational center and then exit next door to our library to conduct research on their own family history. I will continue the Implementation Committee that PG Lawrence started. This will be chaired by PG Nathan White. This committee will continue to be made up of stakeholders from the following: SAR Foundation and the IT, Education, Budget, Finance, and Strategic Planning committees. They will continue to review our existing plans, programs and needs as we progress into the future and continue to prioritize them. The committee will continue to set forth and present to the ExCom and Trustees a list of priorities. I am also continuing the following committees and programs, which were in place before I was elected:
• Compatriot Doug Collins will continue as chair the Patriot Ancestors’ Biographies. • PG Brock will chair SAR Medal of Honor Recipients and work to finish this project.
• Compatriot Chuck Sweeney will chair the Veterans Recognition Committee. • Compatriot Paul Callanan will chair the Congress Review Committee.
• Compatriot Dr. Rudy Byrd will chair the Council of Youth Awards. • Compatriot John Dodd will chair the Governance and Organization Committee.
An important part of the SAR mission is patriotic education and therefore it is our responsibility to share our knowledge of the founding of this country and the struggles of our forefathers and ancestors. That is why my first initiative is Education Outreach. To enhance our Educational Outreach beyond the borders of Louisville, this new Educational Outreach Team initiative will extend this mission into our chapters and reach out to the children in their schools, Scout organizations, civil groups, religious institutions and other patriotic societies. The long-range goal of this initiative is to develop and share educational program presentations by SAR members. These presentations would be Colonial Living History (era before or during the American Revolution), a discussion about our founding documents, presentations on battles or personalities, or other appropriate patriotic programs targeted for children. The long-term goal is to have an NSSAR database of all Educational Outreach Teams and their programs. This would enable educators to access a database of our nationwide programs, including contact information and scripts and/or videos. NSSAR Education Director Colleen Wilson, Brooks Lyles, Educational Committee chairman; Bill Stone, Educational Outreach Center production chair; and Tom Jackson, Web based Educational Learning Subcommittee chair and others on the NSSAR Educational Team will work together to develop this initiative. The NSSAR educational director could assist in the developing of new presentations. The details of this long-range initiative can be found on the NSSAR website. There will be two levels of the program, one for those chapters that have never offered an educational outreach program and the other for those chapters that already have an educational program in place. The basic requirements are the same and will require chapters to share their program information with NSSAR to be included in the national education website. Streamers will be available for those chapters that complete this initiative between now and May 31, 2017. But this initiative does not stop in 2017. It continues for many years into the future. My next initiative is the Mentor Program. When does the mentor process begin? It begins when a new prospective member inquires/seeks information on becoming a member of the Sons of the American Revolution by a casual conversation, email inquiry, or responds to an ad in the local paper. At that time, the process should be an offer to assist or a referral to a mentor in the chapter. The president should have a list of mentors in the chapter to assist in this endeavor. Each chapter should have mentors regardless of chapter size. The mentor should assist the applicant through the process of acceptance and continue on once he becomes a member to assimilate the new member, ensuring a meaningful relationship with the current members and a commitment to the mission of the society. It has been recognized that the retention rate of members, especially new members, should be increased. I believe the retention rate may be significantly increased by involving a new member in the chapter’s activities. The mentoring of members is a responsibility of all SAR members and especially the first-line sponsor and chapter. Therefore, I am asking the Membership Committee to spearhead this project. I am requesting that they review their policies, pamphlets and brochures and bring them up to date. Their publications should be “eye catching.” I would charge the Membership Committee to work with the Medals and Awards Committee to look into the possibility of tying a portion of this program to the Liberty Medal. The goal of this initiative is to create an effective mentorship program, which will enhance not only our enrollment numbers but the quality and quantity of our SAR programs. Our youth programs continue to be strong. We continue to have strong leadership in these committees. Our Council of Youth Award’s has put together a wonderful brochure listing all of Youth Awards. I am aware that additional money is required to increase the awards provided by the various programs. Therefore, I am issuing a challenge to each state society to donate $1,000 or more to the Council of Youth Awards (not to the individual youth programs) between now and June 1, 2017. Those states that meet the $1,000 challenge will receive a streamer. If 100 percent of the state societies donate $1,000, Cilia and I will donate $10,000 or more to the Council of Youth Awards. The total donations would then be divided among the various programs. I would charge the committee to look at the various programs and determine how to equalize the awards. (Last year, PG Lawrence funded such initiatives from First Lady Mickey Jo Lawrence’s shoe budget. Cilia doesn’t have a shoe budget, so I guess we’ll have to raid her Colonial-attire budget.) Our NSSAR Children of the American Revolution program continues to grow. I am asking Chairman Darrin Schmidt to make sure that each state society has a state C.A.R. chairman. I would like the state C.A.R. chairman to encourage each chapter to create a C.A.R. liaison. Chapters should encourage SAR members to become senior leaders in the local and state C.A.R. societies, as well as at the national level. I would like each SAR chapter to enroll C.A.R. members as junior members in our society. Once they become SAR junior members, the chapters are encouraged to get them involved in our committees. Many of the C.A.R. members are already serving on committees in the C.A.R., so why not with the SAR? This would increase our membership. Once the Junior Member ages out, they would continue on into the parent organization. This year the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th year. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Historic Site and Celebrations Committee to build our relationship with the Park Service and partner with it in its year of celebration. The Park Service is engaging in a campaign to reintroduce the national parks and the work of the National Park Service to a new generation of Americans. Therefore, I am issuing a challenge to the Historic Site and Celebrations Committee to build upon our relationship with the National Park Service. Many of our American Revolutionary historic sites our maintained by the Park Service and with our increased involvement, this would bring increased visibility and promotion of the SAR to a potential new member base. In closing, I would like to reflect on the exceptional members we have in the SAR. We have all given of our time, talents and financial assets to make this organization prominent. Now is our opportunity to take the SAR to a new level and commitment. We must continue to promote the SAR to the public, so that we are recognizable. We must constantly tell our ancestors’ stories and those of the early Patriots who fought for our independence. We live in the greatest country and enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers fought for more than 230 years ago. We are obligated to continue to preserve our heritage, our mission, and the historic principles upon which this country was founded. I ask that you please keep Cilia and me in your thoughts and prayers as we travel this great nation to carry out the business of our society. We both look forward to a wonderful year. Thank you once again for the confidence you have placed in me. I look forward to working alongside you for our Society, a society of gentlemen, the Sons of the American Revolution. God Bless America and each of you.”