Is the Chairman of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (aka AA GSO) an Alcoholic? (The answer is NO)

In the spirit of answering some of the slogan attacks of Alcoholics Anonymous members of "you're not an Alcoholic so you don't know anything about AA, "How much time do you have in AA Service Work" and "you haven't worked the program so you don't know what you are talking about." I recently found information stating that the Chairperson of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc (AA GSB, also known as AA GSO) bylaws claim that the Chairman of the General Service Board HAS to be a non-alcoholic (meaning he/she knows nothing about AA since he/she is not an alcoholic). It would appear that the Alcoholic designated as a class "B" alcoholic, is not considered smart enough to run the GSO and a non-alcoholic designated as a class "A" alcoholic is.....

If it is true that you have to be a non-alcoholic, so much for those lame slogan attacks already mentioned. Don't all of you "real" Alcoholics feel demeaned by knowing you are excluded, not worthy and can't hold the top position of the GSO?

Should Class B (alcoholic) Trustees be considered for nomination to serve as Chairperson of the General Service Board?"

In 2006, the Conference Committee on Trustees "reviewed background material and experience pertaining to a request that the selection process for Chairperson of the General Service Board be expanded to include past Class B, (alcoholic) trustees, along with Class A (non-alcoholic) as candidates." The proposal came from a trustee member of the Trustees' Nominating Committee. His concerns were (1) that there is not an adequate pool of Class A Trustees from which to make a selection. (2) Whether or not we have, or are able to obtain the services of our BEST QUALIFIED candidates. (3) Stratification of the membership of the board (using only one class of trustee). (4) There is nothing in the bylaws or articles to prevent having a Class B chair. He also stated that the question should be brought up when there is time to make an unhurried decision.

The deliberations of the Conference Committee did not result in a recommendation to the Conference but did result in a couple of additional considerations. "(1) The committee discussed the option of having a Class B trustee serve as chairperson of the General Service Board, and requested that additional relevant background be gathered and reported to the 2007 Conference Committee on Trustees, to include specific questions raised by the 2006 Conference Committee on Trustees. (2) The committee also suggests that all delegates consider discussing this topic in their areas and forward any responses to the trustees' Committee on Nominating by October 2006." (This topic posting is MSCA’s attempt at addressing (2), above).

A short history of the position of Chairperson of the General Service Board. The Alcoholic Foundation was formed 8/11/1938 with three non-alcoholic and two alcoholic trustees for a total of five. The 3 non-alcoholic trustees were Dick Richardson, Frank Amos, and Leonard Strong. The 2 alcoholic trustees were Dr. Bob, and a New York member who got drunk and was replaced. We were not able to determine who was chairman, but there was an 8 member advisory committee to the trustees which was also formed in 1938 and that committee had a majority of alcoholics. In 1954 the Alcoholic Foundation was changed to the General Service Board of AA. In 1955 the board started using Class B "regional" trustees, which were designated as Northeast; Northwest; Southeast; West; and Midwest .

The total on the board fluctuated somewhat but had a majority of non-alcoholics from 1938 until 1967. (Note, B=alcoholic trustee, A=non-alcoholic trustee). In 1939 the Board increased to 4-A & 3-B; sometime before 1945, it increased to 5-A & 4-B; in 1958 it was 8-A & 7-B; 1963, 9-A & 8-B; 1964 thru 1966, 10-A & 9-B; 1967 it started the change to majority of Class B's and was 9-A to 11-B; 1969, 8-A to 12-B; 1970, 7-A to 13-B; 1971 finally reached the current number of 7-A to 14-B.

The information is spotty in the early years, but in 1951 Bernard Smith was chairman of the board. Leonard Harrison was listed as Chair from 1958 to 1961; Dr. "Jack" Norris served from 1961 to 1978; Milton Maxwell 1978 to 1981; Gordon Patrick 1982 to 1988; Michael Alexander 1988 to 1993; Jim Estelle 1993 to 1997; Gary Glynn 1997 to 2001; Elaine McDowell 2001 to 2005; Leonard Blumenthal 2005 (scheduled to) 2009.

How many other General Service Structures world-wide have Class B Chairpersons. An email survey was sent out to other A.A. G.S.O.'s and 20 responses were received. 14 of the 20 responding have a Class B Chairperson of the board, or Class B's are eligible and have served in the past.

Some responsibilities/duties of Chairperson of GSB. The Chairperson chooses all members of Trustee's Committees and their Chairs. The Chairperson is an ex-officio member of all Trustee's Committees. The Chairperson shall have all those duties generally attributable by law and custom to a president (of a non-profit organization) under the laws of the State of New York, with such other greater or lesser duties as may from time to time be determined by the Board of Trustees. The Chairperson may convene or postpone meetings. The Chairperson determines the order in which matters are dealt with in all meetings of the board. The Chairperson chairs all meetings of the board.

Bill W's thoughts on Class B/Class A Chairpersons. The 1962 General Service Conference asked that a pamphlet be prepared and distributed to conference delegates and committeemen. It was titled "Bill's Recommendations on the General Service Board and the Trustees' Comments and Recommendations." In this pamphlet/paper Bill made seven recommendations. Many of them had to do with his wish to change the ratio of trustees, giving the alcoholic trustees a majority.

The first recommendation "At any time the General Service Board should be able to recommend to the Conference whatever ratio change is deemed desirable. This ought to become effective on a Conference consent of three quarters of those present. Consequently the present legal bar to ratio changes should be removed. We should also set aside the General Service Board tradition which still precludes A.A. (class B) trustees from holding its chief official posts." In his comments on this recommendation Bill states in several different ways that Class B trustees are ready for the top posts of leadership.

Recommendations 2 thru 6 deal with other reorganization, however the 7th recommendation states: "We should carefully designate our future world service leadership. The primary leadership ought to be vested in the chairman of the General Service Board, and in an A.A. member chosen from among area (Regional) and Trustees-at-large. Our secondary world leadership ought to be vested in the Vice-Chairman of the General Service Board and in the President of A.A. World Services, Inc." In his comments Bill states that for over twenty years he has been widely regarded as A.A.'s primary world service leader. He further states that it is time to turn that leadership over to the Chairman of the GSB. He also states that up to the present the non-alcoholic chairmen have been really second in command (behind himself). He goes on with several comments justifying turning over the chairmanship of the GSB, not only to a Class B Trustee, but to an "out-of-town" Trustee. In other words to a Regional or At-large Trustee. This, of course did not happen when they finally restructured the GSB in 1966. Bill also advocated that the "Presidency" or Chairmanship of A.A.W.S. also be an alcoholic trustee, which is now the case.

It has also been determined that Chairperson Dr. Jack Norris (in 1966) recommended that the GSB bylaws continue to make the board chairmanship open to both A & B Trustees.

Past decisions by the General Service Conference. In 1977 the Conference Committee on Trustees recommended the following: "The committee would like to go on record as favoring the continuance of having a Class A trustee serve as chairman of the board." In 1986, the Conference Committee on Trustees recommended, and it passed, that: "The practice of having a Class A trustee serve as chairperson of the board continue." In 1993 the Conference Committee on Trustees had an additional consideration as follows: The committee discussed a request from an area delegate that the position of chairperson of the General Service Board not be restricted to a Class A trustee." The committee suggested that the position of chairperson of the General Service Board not be restricted to a Class A trustee, and that the trustees' Nominating Committee look at the procedure necessary to implement this and report back to the 1994 Conference Committee on Trustees." In 1994 the committee passed an additional consideration: "Recognizing that the By-Laws of the General Service Board allow for either a Class A or Class B trustee to serve as chairperson of the board, the committee thanked the Trustees' Nominating Committee for their report." The report from the Trustees' Nominating Committee reported that the current by-laws allow for a Class B Trustee to be elected but past conference advisory actions instruct the board to continue its practice of choosing the chair from Class A Trustees. Assuming that a future Conference revokes that past action, the committee outlined four possible procedures to fulfill that action, including amending the by-laws to provide for a 22nd trustee position for the duration of the tenure of a Class B Chair.

Other pertinent information. It would appear that the last conference advisory action on this subject was in 1986. Therefore even though no conference action is binding on another, it would be wise for the conference to pass an advisory action to clarify the change. They could also recommend, contingent on the passage of that advisory action, procedures to fulfill that scenario in the event that a Class B was selected as chair.



JR Harris's picture

It would appear that Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc (AAWS) and the General Serviced Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc (GSB/GSO) are run by non-alcoholics who don't know what it is like to be an alcoholic. Alcoholics in conference have voted to have the bylaws of GSO changed, but GSO just decides not too (why would non-alcoholics want to listen to alcoholics anyway). Both the President and Chairman of the Board of AAWS and GSO/GSB have historically been the same person and currently makes over $300,000 a year in salary, retirement and perks. They are laughing all of the way to the bank at those lame slogan attacks.......

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

Notice, too, how these heads earn 300K for working only about 40 hours a week.

Have you listened to your Arnold ZeDVille today?

There travel is paid for though. You can see it on the tax returns also.

alcoholic. The alcoholics currently have a majority. Originally the alcoholics did not have a majority because of the way it was set up by Bill W. Once Bill W. turned AA over to the fellowship, the makeup of the GSB changed. The chairman of AAWS has been alcoholic.

Pennywise's picture


Have you listened to your Arnold ZeDVille today?

JR Harris's picture

Dave - "The chairman of AAWS has been alcoholic." AAWS is only a publishing company and the one that sued the AA fellowship members in Mexico and Germany which they gave Jasper almost a half million dollars of AA money to "consult" on. The GSO is what talks to autonomous groups that vote on stuff they ignore. The bylaws say no an alcoholic can't be the Chairman of GSO.

Learn more about the history of AA will you. These sites have been around for a long time.

This is a Global initiative and there are many more sites you don't even know about.

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

know the history with all of them. It's not that important to me.

I did not read all of you info yet, but traditionally a class A trustee is chairman of the GSB. A class a trustee has no anonymity issues to deal with and that is a reason he would make a good choice, he can speak publicly for AA. I helped draft a motion years ago to make it impossible to have a class B alcolholic become the chairman of the GSB. The motion failed. It was brought up again at the next conference and no one really wanted to hear it. Unless something has changed the conference could elect a class b trustee to serve as GSB chair but has chosen not to. Don't forget, according to the history the first one drank.

JR Harris's picture

Oh, so even when AA conferences have voted it changed someone in the GSO just chose to ignore it? Sorry, but that is a lame excuse about anonymity being a factor. Do your research, the Board of trustees consists of both Alcoholics and non-Alcoholics and all of there names are available, including if they are an alcoholic or not. The other thing is that it already has been voted on but the GSO chose to ignore the vote. The definition of insanity is.....

Are you sure you know a lot about this subject? i hope you don't tell newcomers this stuff to talk them into joining a cult run by non-alcoholics that don't know anything about alcoholism and ignore the votes by their District Committee Members.

To quote a slogan from AA "you can be too smart for the program" and the problem with that is it only leaves the dumb ones, the smart ones leave causing a natural selection process that leaves only the ones that the non-alcoholic GSO head ignores. The other problem is that in many AA covens interbreed and Hazelden is trying to prove the existence of an "Alcoholic Gene" meaning their kids will have the made up disease also. It is natural selection. you wouldn't want them inbreeding alcoholics would you? that would give the GSO head lots of reasons to ignore the votes of the fellowship. I wrote about it here:

The Slippery Slope of DNA Research for the Alcoholic Gene - What are the dangers?

University of Texas gets 5 Million Dollar Grant to search for the Bill Wilson "Alcoholic" gene DNA sequence

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

They should make Stanton Peele a class A trustee.

Have you listened to your Arnold ZeDVille today?

live_free_or_die's picture

Stanton seems to be a good guy. Why would a classy guy like Dr. Peele take a position with a cult?

What did Dr. Peele ever do to you? : )

Pennywise's picture

Ha ha!

Have you listened to your Arnold ZeDVille today?

The conference voted no.

can see issues about the fellowship better that the alcoholics.

Pennywise's picture

Right, because "us stupid drunks" are too wetbrained to do anything else of importance other than chant Bill Wilson and serve on some busybody committees where the most important thing on the agenda is how long to make the smoke break and how much to pay Clancy the next time he comes to speak.

Have you listened to your Arnold ZeDVille today?

he just sugarcoated it a little more.

Pennywise's picture

Have you ever thought of dropping out from such a self-loathing group?

Have you listened to your Arnold ZeDVille today?

you on that.

JR Harris's picture

Dave - "I firmly believe the non alcoholic trustees" please make up your mind, I understand you are brainwashed with circular logic, but come on. You have tried numerous times with me the slogan attacks of the cult trying to claim I know very little. Now you do a complete 180 degree switch to the you "can see issues about the fellowship better that the alcoholics." I thought you were just saying the exact opposite. I hope you don't confuse newcomers with the circular logic, it could cause them to go over the edge... Your circular logic is very dangerous to people in need. Have you tried other programs besides AA that don't have these lame slogans and dishonest statements in them?

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

I must have deffective thinking.

JR Harris's picture

Well years in a brainwashing program that tells you that you have defective thinking and teaches you to brainwash other people into believing the same thing can be bad for your mental health and the ones you Sponsor. it's OK, I realize you have not been deprogrammed yet and it will take time. To help you along, here is a link to the debating techniques that AA teaches its victims about sly suggestions, etc... Maybe you could have a workshop about it at your local AA group or have the DCMs have one to help them. Think of it as a Sponsor telling you to read a few pages from the "Big Book."

Look for the similarities, not the differences. Don't worry, everything will be OK. Just keep coming back and we'll love you until you learn to love yourself. Don't worry, you not defective, just brainwashed.

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

The real leadership:

Have you listened to your Arnold ZeDVille today?

live_free_or_die's picture

dave, you said that non alcohol misuser Trustees see better issues regarding AA than alcohol misuser Trustess.

Are you referring to the lawsuit in Germany where the Trustees decided to sue a German AA'er because he was giving away, or selling cheap, 1st edition Big Books. The same Big Book that was no longer under copyright because somebody let the copyright lapse?

Maybe you are referring to the Mexican lawsuit which was basically about the same issue.

By the way, those Big Books in Germany were burned. The best thing that can happen to any Big Book.

Maybe you are referring to the Trustees decision to go after the IWS outfit in upper NY for selling cheap 1st edition pocket book Big books to jail, prisons and drunks?

Are these the Trustess you think have great insight into the issues facing the AA fellowship?

Are these the same Trustees that have completely ignored minority reports that have tried to address the AAproved sexual predators in the roomz. The AAproved violent felons that are in the roomz?

Those Trustees dave?

Dave, despite the upside-down triangle, these people don't want to know the groups have responsibility for themselves because then the Brada case goes nowhere. JR wants to think that AA in New York, the part with all the money, has responsibility. He often posts about the money that AAWs has as a reserve. When there is some issue in a group, the first post is about calling NY despite that some of these people spent decades in AA and should know that will do nothing.

I see

live_free_or_die's picture

March 22, 2000
Dear Tony,

I understand that you have requested of the delegates of the Northeast Region to ferret out and expose those members of Alcoholics Anonymous who have given away 'free' Big Books (the 4th Edition) to other members of the Fellowship.

It would appear that you and our other elected trusted servants now have become police persons and are enlisting the aid of other Conference members to spy and inform. Then you asked the delegates to keep this quiet and not "alarm" the Fellowship. Should we proceed in secrecy and stealth to prosecute members of AA? What shall we tell newcomers now, Tony, when they read in the Big Book, "Give freely of what you find and join us?" Should we warn them that may mean loss of property, fines, and imprisonment? What public controversy would appear when AAWS begins suing its own members? The 5th Warranty warns us of this, but, what the matter, the General Service Board and the General Service Conference have no use for the 5th Warranty and refuse to acknowledge it. The 5th Warranty states, "Nothing could be more damaging to our unity and to the world-wide good will which AA enjoys, than public contention, no matter how promising the immediate dividends might appear."

Why the secrecy? Is it so the Fellowship won't be aware that AAWS is looking into filing litigation action on any and all that have given away the 4th Edition? There isn't a copyright on the first 164 pages of the Big Book. What will the charges be? Unfair competition? There are quite a few AA members who have freely given away the 4th Edition of the Big Book. There should be quite a few lawsuits.

In your opinion how does this all relate to the 6th Warranty of AA? It states clearly that the Conference shall never perform any acts of government … further …
that no action ought to be taken in anger, haste, or recklessness …
that no action should ever be personally punitive … and
Freedom under God to grow in His likeness and image will ever be the quest of Alcoholics Anonymous.
You have involved the General Service Conference when you requests the delegates to take part in this action.

It is high time the Fellowship discusses the surrendering of all intellectual properties to the public domain. If we adhere to our spiritual principles, we cannot fail and we should have no fear. What are you all afraid of? Loss of money, power and prestige?

Jake Ham, Past Northeast Regional Trustee

Click on the image! Gary Glynn, Chairman of AA General Service Board, Inc., 475 Riverside Drive, New York City,
Greg Muth, General Manager of the plaintiffs, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 475 Riverside Drive, New York City
Michael Alexander, Trustee Eremitus
Attorney General, State of New York (Ombudsman)

Copy of the letter here >>

lapse in the US does not mean it lapsed in other countries. Copyright and intellectual property laws are not the same in all countries.

live_free_or_die's picture

You conveniently did not address the IWS 1st edition threat that the Trustess tried to stop. This was right here in the US dave.

In addition, dave, I believe an AA member admitted, under oath, in one of the foreign cases, that he was actually the author of the Big Book in question. That was perjury dave. Have you heard of that fact dave?

So you are saying that the copyright laws in Germany & Mexico were allowing AA to sue these AA members dave? Are you sure you know that as fact dave? Why would a guy (Jasper?) need to lie about being the author of the Big Book?

Were these lawsuits filed because the non alcohol misuse Trustees recognized a threat to the precious Big Book sales dave? Less money for AANY and their retirement funds maybe?

Pennywise's picture

Those are tough questions for defenders of the AA faith, aren't they?

Have you listened to your Arnold ZeDVille today?

This is an area that I did not get involved in. There is so much going on. I met the delegate who represents northern baja (I dont know his area) twice. He was very nice but seemed to be under a lot of pressure. He was meeting with people from NY also and it seemed important. I tried to stay out of the way and let them so their thing. This was between 2005 and 2007 I think.

Are you getting pissed or what, JR? We get that the poster's name is Dave.

live_free_or_die's picture


Actually, no, it isn't. I am just who I have always said I am, and I was posting before she left.

I know very little about the germany and mexico situation. I have read a little about it on the orange papers and have briefly heard some talk about it.. I was quessing that copyright laws in germany allowed aa to sue over copyright infringement. I know most lawsuits initiated by aa are against it's own members. Some members need to stop breaking the law I'm guessing.

live_free_or_die's picture

Yeah, I agree with you on that one dave. All those violent criminals and sexual predators in AA should quit breaking the laws. And those AA members that drive their cars into churches and the front lawn of the Wislon house there in Vermont huh? And lets not forget the AA members that have run their financial scams on other AA members.

Anyway, back to AANY suing AA members. AANY went after Intergroup World Services, Inc. (up state NY) for selling a little Big Book very cheaply, or giving them away. This version of the BB was the 1st edition that was out of copyright dave, yet AANY went after them big time. Nobody was breaking the law there dave, except for maybe AANY, but AANY finally backed down and even apologized to IWS. I have even posted some of the correspondence between IWS & AANY on the OPF. The letters from IWS to the AANY corporate attorney or Chairmen were hilarious because they knew AANY did not have a pot to piss in.

And I believe in one of the foreign lawsuits AA claimed that somebody other than Bill W. wrote the Big Book. Doesn't sound like an altruistic organization to me. Just a greedy corporation pulling out the stops to protect their cherished revenue stream of selling literature.

intergroup little big book thing. I will more than likely look into it more by rereading your info and going from there. Unfortunately I am currently busy obsessing over jr harris's inability to understand my comments.