Bill Schroer Goes On The Record About AANR
Bill Schroer Goes on The Record About Being Fired By AANR
For those of you who are just now finding out about this issue, you may want to read our first two articles about AANR and Bill: Beverly B. Price president of AANR Fired Bill Schroer – WTF?!?! and AANR Nudist Clubs Ratings And Update On The Firing Of Bill Schroer.
For those who might not know, Bill was recruited by AANR. He went through the interview process and then was hired by the American Association For Nude Recreation – AANR. This was during the previous administration when Susan Weaver was president of AANR. He was fired October 15 by AANR’s new president, Beverly Price.
I asked Bill how he felt about being approached and subsequently hired, last May, as their new executive director.
His response was as follows:
“I considered the job a privilege. I have been involved with nude recreation for many years and was truly honored to be given such a wonderful opportunity. I would also like to mention that I enjoyed working with the AANR staff who are a wonderful and dedicated group of people.”
Ever since the news came out about AANR firing Bill Schroer, there has been endless speculation and chatter about what happened. There have also been a lot of personal attacks and claims about Bill that just did not seem to add up. So naturally, I was very happy when Bill agreed to have a sit down with me and explain once and for all his perspective about what happened. In this article I will do my very best to explain the main issues and correct any misconceptions that I have been able to confirm based on my conversation with Bill, as well as other sources from within AANR (many of whom who were unwilling to be named or go on the record).
So what really happened? Let’s begin from the day Bill’s contract with AANR was terminated.
On October 15 at 8:00 in the morning, Bill was sitting by his computer in his office when newly elected president of AANR, Beverly Price, walked into the room accompanied by Julie Erlenmeyer, who is on the Board of AANR Florida. (I assume that Beverly brought Julie in as a witness and because she works in Human Resources at a local theme park.)
Beverly turned to Bill and simply said that AANR decided to terminate his employment contract – and that was that. Bill, quite shocked by her statement, did not put up a fight nor argue. He simply acknowledged it, gathered his belongings, said goodbye to the staff and walked out.
Since Bill accepted what she said without any argument, I asked him to explain why. Here is what he said:
“I think it’s important to note that one reason I accepted this without resistance was that I believed, at the time, Beverly Price had had a secret meeting with the Board and had the approval of the board to terminate me. It was not until later I learned the board had not been informed. I may have reacted differently had I known then what I know now.”
Since, based on the AANR bylaws, only the board could terminate the ED’s contract, I tried to figure out why Beverly acted on her own, clearly in breach of AANR’s own rules. Since Bill had no information to provide, I had to look elsewhere to find the answer.
After some conversations with people within / close to AANR, I began to get the feeling that Beverly, for whatever reason, simply decided that she no longer wanted him there. That said, the Board had a scheduled meeting only a month away. Why not wait and present her case to the board? I simply could not understand the rush to action, especially since that action was in clear violation of AANR’s own bylaws?
One Trustee said (off the record) that they thought Beverly fired Bill early because she wouldn’t have had the votes if she waited for the meeting. Not only did he feel that she would not have been able to get the motion passed, he went on to say that based on his understanding / feeling, Beverly didn’t want to have to justify her actions to the board with Bill in the room.
* Bill, however refused to speculate.
Perhaps realizing that she had overstepped her boundaries, Beverly brought up the vote on terminating Bill’s contract five days later in an emergency telephone meeting with the Board (the motion to terminate passed 10 to 4).
This is a sign that about 30% did not agree with her action and were brave enough to cast their vote in a manner that reflected their true feelings.
But this still leaves many questions unanswered. The biggest one of those questions being why. This is where all the rumors come into play.
A list of the most mentioned, speculated and gossiped about reasons that I had come across were:
– Bill was advocating to include swinger lifestyle clubs into the AANR nudist club network.
– Bill was treating his staff harshly, working them long past their normal work hours and not willing to pay overtime.
– Bill had misused AANR funds and racked-up unexplainable expenditures.
– Bill had decided on his own to get rid of AANR’s lawyer and get a new one.
– Bill was forcing AANR to restructure the organization based on the Carver model which is used by many other non-profit corporations.
– Bill was trying to bypass the chain of command in order to push through his own personal agenda.
I asked Bill point blank about these issues.
Rumor #1: The AANR Rating System
Bill explained that he was working on a rating system similar to the one that was put in place by the Motion Picture Association of America. His concept was to allow certain clubs that are CURRENTLY part of AANR to retain their AANR charter under this new rating system. The rating system would have addressed the fact some existing AANR clubs were operating outside the strict guidelines of the AANR system and complaints were being directed to him at the AANR office.
Some clubs felt they had to engage in more adult theme activities on Saturday nights to attract an audience. He stated that he never intended it to go beyond that and never advocated to include new sexually-oriented swinger clubs.
As we were talking, Bill noted an important fact. The term “adult activities” is somewhat ambiguous. So he explained that years ago, there were clubs that did not allow couples to dance together in the nude as that was considered too sexual / “adult.”
Today, most clubs host dances. While most people would agree that dancing with a loved one is not a problem, some clubs don’t even agree on that. Bill believed a rating system would allow some flexibility within the AANR system so “one size didn’t need to fit all.”
So what kinds of activities would be sanctioned by this new rating system? He explained that many would agree that “leather and lace” parties can, and most often do, have a sexual or adult connotation.
Under the new rating, the clubs that throw those kind of parties or that sell / allow the consumption of alcohol would fall under some form of higher rating classification (as in – rated “R” vs “PG-13”).
He went on to stress the fact that all he was doing was putting recommendations together for the board to consider. He made a point to say, on numerous occasions during our discussion, that he did not have the power nor desire to force any of his recommendations on AANR without the Board’s approval first.
Bill says that he was given no direction. Therefore he was doing what he thought and felt needed to be done. He says he kept all the executives and staff informed about his daily tasks and never went behind anyone’s back or tried to exceed the powers granted to him by the AANR board. He was never in breach of his employment contract.
He was never cautioned that he may not be spending his time effectively and he was never told that what he was doing was wrong.
Furthermore, his rating recommendation was presented, in its entirety, during the annual AANR meeting in August. While I was not present at the meetings, I did get emails from AANR people shortly after the annual meeting and all the feedback I heard was positive.
So, based on all the digging around, I am pretty certain that on a personal level, I can strike that item off the list of why AANR terminated his contract.
Rumor #2: Issues with the AANR staff
For those who might not be aware, AANR has employees that are paid. Some are on an hourly basis while others receive a yearly salary. Bill explained that he never told nor demanded anyone to work overtime. He would discuss with the staff whether they were willing to put in overtime or not. It was largely the staff person’s call.
No one was forced to put in overtime on a consistent basis and especially not for free. There was also a rumor that he was forcing employees to become exempt employees (as in not eligible for overtime pay). Again, Bill explained, that was an inaccurate portrayal of what happened.
There were some employees who were managers or directors who legitimately are “exempt” from being paid overtime (due to their employment contract and salary arrangement). In his capacity as the ED, he was clarifying and communicating the correct rules with selected members of the staff.
He went on to say that he enjoyed working with the staff and was pretty sure that the feeling was mutual. When he was fired, most expressed shock and sadness. One of the people he worked with even reached out to him recently to express the fact that he is missed.
*As a side note… Bill was fired 2 days before his birthday. The staff was actually planning a surprise office party and cake to mark the occasion. That does not give me the impression of a tyrannical slave driver boss who is hated by his subordinates.
So I think it is safe to say that while sometimes things do happen in a work setting and while people do bump heads in any workplace, in my opinion this was more than likely not the reason Bill was fired from AANR.
Rumor #3: Bill had misused AANR funds and racked up unexplainable expenditures
I heard this reason being talked about in a few places and from a number of people. When asked, Bill said that he is unaware of any such actual claims. The only thing he could think of was his meeting with some Florida free beach people and the Bare Necessities Cruise team during a trip to Haulover Beach.
Bill, a long time NAC and TNS activist, has made friends in both organizations. While employed by AANR, he felt it was time to bridge the divide and try to heal some of the old wounds.
As such, he met with a number of people from the Free Beaches Movement in Florida and the Bare Necessities Cruise team. He wanted to talk about having a more cooperative relationship with all groups that share the same basic ideals.
After the meeting, he took them out to dinner. He submitted the bill for that dinner as an expense, but also reiterated that if Beverly had an issue with reimbursing him, he would be willing to pay for the dinner from his own pocket.
In the business world, making connections and building strong relationships is an integral part of the day to day. Buying a client lunch or taking them out to dinner is part of the costs of doing business.
Since this was the only item as far as I was able to find out, I seriously doubt that this would be grounds for termination and thus I will scratch that off the list.
Rumor #4: Bill was meeting clubs that were removed from AANR due to sexual activities with the purpose of reinstating their AANR charter.
I asked bill flat out if he met with clubs like Caliente and Paradise Lakes in his official capacity as the AANR executive director. And if so, what were the goals and reasons for doing so?
Bill confirmed that he did visit both Caliente and Paradise Lakes and added a third resort to that list – Gulf Coast Resort. He said that the purpose was part of an orientation to clubs which used to be part of the AANR nudist club network. He was hoping to better understand what their behavior policies are and said that he absolutely was not encouraging them to return.
As part of the research he was doing on the rating system, he wanted to understand how much distance there was between a place like Paradise Lakes (where the homeowners association is still part of AANR) and the formal AANR guidelines. That was his only purpose for visiting those clubs.
Sounds like a good and plausible reason. Since I was unable to find any information that would indicate otherwise, as far as I am concerned, I can scratch that reason off the list.
Rumor #5: Bill had decided on his own to get rid of AANR’s lawyer and get a new one.
When confronted with this question Bill said that was not inaccurate. Bill said that in consultation with the Beverly Price, he felt that AANR did in fact need a new attorney. Beverly Price actually knew of his recommendation and concurred with his assessment.
Bill felt that it was a major issue that their current Indiana-based attorney, Jawn Bauer, was not licensed to practice in Florida. Though AANR is a national organization, the 13 member staff is in Florida. Since most of the legal questions pertained to employment, it would require an understanding of Florida labor law which Jawn Bauer simply did not have.
Bill went on to explain that as far as he is aware, there was never any problem with Bauer and none of this should have been a surprise or an issue with the board as Price was fully aware of every step he took.
Since Beverly Price knew what was going on, this is really a non-issue in my opinion. Therefore, I will scratch it off the list.
Rumor #6: Bill was forcing AANR to restructure based on the Carver model
Bill felt that the current structure of AANR was too cumbersome. The organization itself was structured in a way that making changes, course corrections, decisions and so forth was an extremely difficult and lengthy process. He felt that it would make things clearer, and the decision making process and implementation far easier by converting to the Carver model.
The Carver model is a system for organizational governance. It is a popular model with many major non-profit organizations and many school boards, to which Bill compared AANR. Under the Carver model, the policy governance is clearly defined. It guides appropriate relationships between an organization’s owners, its board of directors, and its chief executive.
Again, Bill pointed out that this move would only happen if the board agreed with his assessment. While Bill himself is a Carver trained professional, he did not want there to be even the appearance of him being biased. Therefore he researched and found a local Carver professional that he recommended AANR speak to.
Since, as far as I can tell, he did not try to force this on AANR, I think it is safe to say that I will scratch it off the list of reasons why Bill was let go.
Rumor #7: Bill was trying to bypass the chain of command in order to push through his own personal agenda, such as the new AANR guide he wanted to publish
Bill immediately dismissed that accusation. He reiterated that not once had he gone behind anyone’s back. He kept everyone up to date on every aspect of his doings. He had never tried to push through anything and reiterated the fact that all he was allowed to do, based on the terms and conditions of his employment, was to make recommendations to the board. If the board decided to accept or reject his recommendations, that was up to them to decide.
He was just doing what he was hired to do: identify weaknesses and address them.
But what about the new AANR club guide that the board had voted not to pursue – why pursue it anyway?
Bill explained that no one, including the board, ever said anything about not publishing a new AANR club guide. Apparently, they knew he was looking at it and he heard there were concerns about the cost. Therefore he had Martha Young and Ashley Beahan (two of the AANR staff) work on lining up advertisers to make sure that AANR would have enough finances in place.
He had told Martha that his plan was for the guide to be revenue neutral (as in – funding itself and would not cost AANR any money to produce). He explained that it was part of the platform for getting a green light on producing the guide.
There were no official communications from the board about going forward or not going forward. He said that he had received almost no direction from them. His plan was to formally propose to take on the guide at the November board meeting by which time he would have the financial pro forma, the list of advertisers, the schedule for production, etc.
* As a side note… Apparently there was a rumor that Bill was pushing ahead with a rating system in the guide even though the rating system was not approved. In fact, Bill did consider putting the ratings into the club questionnaire (which must go out a year in advance of the Guide being published).
He specifically asked VP of the Board, Sharon McLeod, if she thought it would be acceptable to put the rating system in the questionnaire. There would always be the option of not using the information if the rating system was turned down by the board.
Sharon did not think it was a good idea to put the rating questions in the Guide questionnaire. He acknowledged her opinion and advised Martha Young, editor of the guide not to include it in the Guide questionnaire. Bill indicated that he and Martha were clear on that direction and that was the end of it.
Bill concluded with a thought about the need for clear ongoing communications. “I own some of this…. I’ve always thought I was being open about what I was doing… maybe I wasn’t being heard or the pace I move at was not comfortable for the board. I should have sent more radar signals to verify I was being heard and understood and pushed for more affirmation of direction. Lessons learned.”
Since he never tried to exceed his powers (as far as I can tell), I can safely conclude that this, too, in my opinion, is a non-issue and therefore I will scratch it off the list.
Conclusions about AANR and Bill
This was quite a big undertaking and getting all the information took a lot of time and energy. But now that I have gone through the main issues (that I am aware of) with members, supporters and / or officials of AANR as well as after speaking with Bill directly, I can safely say that I have no clue as to what lead to the terminations of Bill’s employment contract.
What I can say is that I have heard some really nasty accusations after the fact about what Bill was doing and some even nastier ones about him as a person. While people tend to pass judgment before hearing the facts, I find such bully-like behavior to be quite off putting and downright mean!
Now, for full disclosure, I have never met Bill personally, but I have been in communication with him for the last few years. Throughout that time, he has never, not once, given me any reason to second-guess his morals, ethics or actions. He has always been straightforward and direct – regardless of whether we agreed or not. He was always willing to give his honest opinion which indicates, to me at least, that he is not the kind of person that would conspire, gossip or go behind anyone’s back (which is more than I can say for some).
Attacking someone’s character when you have no real proof is bad, perhaps even libelous. Attacking him publicly online, making nasty remarks and so forth is even worse. Looking at it through Bill’s eyes, I understand why he wanted his side of the story to be heard. Setting the record straight is important, especially with regards to any future employment opportunities.
In today’s world, employers tend to conduct online searches before hiring people and nobody would want these innuendos on his or her record.
By making unfounded accusations in public, people endanger his ability to move on with his life. This should serve as a notice to everyone – think before you rant and if you were wrong, make sure to say so in the most public way possible! What’s fair is fair.
My Opinion: Afterthoughts about AANR
While I am perceived by many as being anti-AANR, I am not. I have taken many hits from people about my words on this issue. People said that I have no right to express my opinion because I am no longer an AANR member. Others claimed that I am just out to close them down. Some went so far as to call me out for not being a team player and not caring about the repercussions of what I am posting.
To all those who made such claims, let me say this… if I did not care I would not have spent so many hours researching this issue. I would not have put myself in the direct line of fire if I did not care. Like it or not, the nudie world is small. What YNA does is not directly related to anyone else but for people to think that it has no effect is ludicrous. The same goes for AANR. If they do something that we perceive as damaging to the greater good, it is our responsibility to make our voices heard. The flip side is that if AANR does something we support and agree with, then we will give them all the credit.
Like it or not, YNA does not hide, lie or deflect responsibility.
Though I feel there are hardly notable achievements that were made by AANR (as far as I know) in the last few years, I am looking forward to a time when that statement is no longer true.
My experience with AANR has honestly been a frustrating one. They have made false statements, took credit for things that they were not involved in, attacked both me and Felicity personally and have policies in place that I could never support.
That said, perhaps this issue will serve as an eye opener and call to action. It is nice to have committees and board meetings. But I think it is safe to say that it is also time for action. It seems apparent to me that AANR is only around today because certain clubs force their members to be AANR members. If AANR cannot survive without the forced support of a large number of its members, many are arguing that perhaps there is not enough public support to justify their existence.
In closing, I just wanted to make one more point. When I say AANR, I am only talking about the AANR national organization. For those who don’t know, AANR National is the umbrella, and the regions are all independent corporations. On the regional level, I am 110% supportive. National is different, and that is who is collecting and spending most of the money that the local clubs are generating.
Please do comment below. If I have made any errors or if you think I missed anything then I NEED TO KNOW! The truth, as they say, will set you free.
This article was written by Jordan Blum for Young Naturists and Young Nudists America – YNA.