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Laurence To Head Philatelic Foundation

2006 de Vries Philatelic Media
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Michael Laurence

Michael Laurence, who recently retired as editorial director of Amos Hobby Publications and before that was editor/publisher of Linn's Stamp News for many years, is joining the Philatelic Foundation in its newly-created position of Executive Director.

"In this newly-created, full-time position, Laurence will be chief operating officer of the 61-year-old Foundation, which is headquartered in New York City," the PF said in a press release. "Laurence's responsibilities will include supervising staff; facilitating board meetings; spearheading the Foundation's various educational activities; overseeing and managing the Foundation's prestigious stamp and cover expertizing service; and representing the Foundation to the stamp world and the public at large."

At Amos, in addition to Linn's, which he made the major force in U.S. philatelic journalism, Laurence had also supervised Scott Stamp Monthly and the Scott catalogues, as well as other Amos publications in coins and autos.

"A cum laude graduate of Harvard, Laurence is a life-long stamp collector who has written extensively about United States stamps and postal history. His specialized collection of the U.S. 10 1869 stamp has won gold medals internationally," the press release said.

"For most of its existence, the Philatelic Foundation has consisted of dedicated professional staffers, managed by part-timers and volunteers. The current board sensed a need for full-time, professional management," George Kramer, chairman of the Foundation's board of trustees, said in a statement. "We're delighted to have recruited Michael Laurence to fill this new position. He's not just an extremely knowledgeable philatelist, but a seasoned executive with the background, the reputation, the experience and the temperament to take on this challenging responsibility."

Laurence retired from Amos in November. He will begin work at the Foundation on June 12.

That was a short retirement, The Virtual Stamp Club asked Laurence.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm not going to go to work until early June, that'll be a longer retirement," he said. But he also cited the many commitments he had planned for retirement and has planned for the next few months before moving to New York: editing the Classics Chronicle, teaching at Stamp Camp, and putting together an exhibit for Washington 2006.

What convinced him to take the PF job?

"It's a very intriguing assignment. They sought me out. I did not seek this responsibility, and I think they basically created this job to appeal to me - and it does. The notion of living in Manhattan certainly appeals" - both to him and his wife, Laurence said. He'll be able to walk to work, as well as to the Harvard Club, of which he is a member.

"I think I can be effective and I think I can make a difference. The foundation is important, and it has never before had an executive director," he added.

PF has always been run by volunteers and "I think the board finally realized it's time for a change.

"I hope I'm going to be able to lead the group into the 21st Century."

What are his priorities for the Foundation?

"The first goal has to be to make the organization financially viable," he replied. "They're currently running at a loss, and that has to change.

"I'd like to diminish the turnaround time for certificates. That's been a huge source of problems," he said.

There are also smaller but important organizational work on his agenda.

"I have run small businesses all my life, this is what I've done. I believe I can help," Laurence said. "The expertise [at PF] is second-to-none. The stamp people have been spending too much time fooling with computers" and dealing with other administrative problems."

He told VSC he will still be the Chronicle's editor.

"That was a precondition. I committed to the Chronicle 30 years ago in a way ... I had always envisioned that in retirement my retirement gig would be to be the Classics Chronicle editor," he said.

"All of sudden I'm going to be real busy," Laurence added. "I'm 65-and-a-half going on 66. I had a long time to get the books I was going to read, the La-Z-boy recliner -- I was ready to be an old man!"

But not yet.

"I enjoy being a public presence in stamps, no question, and with this assignment, once the administrative aspects are resolved, I can wear suits and give speeches."

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