Colleen G. Reed, 80, of Westbrook was elected president of the Thomas B. Reed Unit of the National Association of Parliamentarians in January. The unit has just begun sponsoring a series of sessions on the first Thursday of each month, from 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., at the Walker Memorial Library, where procedures and effective meetings will be studied. A professional registered parliamentarian, Reed said the sessions are for present or future officers of any organization, who want to improve their understanding of structure of meetings. Reed recently sat down with the American Journal to talk about who Thomas Reed was, why she enjoys parliamentary procedure and how much parliamentarians get paid.

Q: What does the National Association of Parliamentarians do?

A: Study meeting procedures – Robert’s Rules of Order. It’s a book for meeting procedures. He started writing the book way back when. Robert was a general, Gen. Henry M. Robert. He went from place to place, and they chose him to be a leader a lot, and he realized there weren’t really any rules for running meetings. There’s a lot of other books, but Robert’s is considered to be the encyclopedia. Over the years, after he died, his daughter took over, then his grandson. His grandson just died. They update it every 10 years.

Q: How did you become interested in parliamentary procedure?

A: I belonged to the Business and Professional Women’s Club when I first moved to Portland in 1956 or 1957. I come from Strong, Maine – it’s up near Farmington. It was the largest toothpick center in the world. When I came to Portland, I joined the club, and at each meeting, they used to have about 10 minutes of parliamentary procedure. It wasn’t until the 1980s that I decided to go to Westbrook College, where they had a night course. Thelma Cope from the National Association of Parliamentarians was teaching a class. When you take the class, at the end, you take an exam. I became a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians in 1981, then I became a registered parliamentarian. That’s the next step up. To become a professional registered parliamentarian, we had to go to a national convention, and you have to do a two-day workshop and then write papers.

Q: What do you like about studying parliamentary procedure?

A: There’s something new all the time. You can make $100 an hour if you’re good at it. In Maine, they don’t want to pay. They think it’s a hobby. I taught the Windham Town Council and got paid $100 per student. People who come to the meetings at the library are getting a free lesson.

Q: What is the Thomas B. Reed Unit?

A: We’re a small group of people. We used to have 20, but now we’re down to about six. Everybody’s died off, and nobody new is joining.

Q: Why do you think parliamentary procedure is important to study?

A: There’s a lot of knowledge and I don’t know it all. It’s interesting and it’s informative, but you get very disturbed about how meetings go on. Sometimes I can’t go to meetings, because I can’t stand the way they act.

Q: Who is Thomas B. Reed? Are you related to him?

A: No. Thomas B. Reed had a statue up on the Western Prom in Portland. He was the speaker of the House in Washington, D.C., in his time. He’s the one that first used “the motion to reconsider.”

Q: If there was a movie about your life, what would it be called and who would play you?

A: I don’t know the movie stars. It would be called “The Life of Colleen Pratt Reed,” because not only this, I’m into genealogy, too.

QA Reed2 (in Leslie’s pix) – Colleen Reed of Westbrook is a professional registered parliamentarian. Starting March 6, she and the other members of the Thomas B. Reed unit of the National Association of Parliamentarians will be holding a series of 14 meetings about parliamentary procedure at the Walker Memorial Library.

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