by Jackie B

My name is Jackie and I am an alcoholic. I serve the San Francisco Fellowship as the Chair of our General Service District. While Intergroup serves the local needs of members in San Francisco and Marin Counties, our General Service District links the meetings in San Francisco to AA as a whole. Marin County is in its own separate District.

Intergroup Representatives (IGRs) discuss and vote on matters that affect SF and Marin groups locally – like our meeting schedule and the multi-faceted operations of Central Office, bookstore, Teleservice, Chat Help, The Buzz, The Point and the website On behalf of their home groups, IGRs guide the policy of the Intercounty Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (IFAA) Board of Directors who are fiscally responsible for Central Office and its combined services. 

Intergroup Reps vote on matters that affect SF and Marin groups locally – like our meeting schedule

On the other hand, General Service Representatives (GSRs) discuss and vote on matters that affect the policy of the General Service Board, the legal entity that owns and oversees the operation of AA’s worldwide headquarters, known as the General Service Office (GSO) in New York City. They also produce the AA Grapevine and our Spanish-language publication, La Viña.  GSO produces, translates, publishes and distributes literature and pamphlets, including Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Living Sober, Daily Reflections and of course our “Big Book” Alcoholics Anonymous. The Big Book is currently translated into 73 different languages, the most recent being Tartar and Navajo.

GSO is also responsible for AA’s national and international public relations with the press and professionals working in the fields of corrections, medicine, psychiatry, clergy and government.  Our world service headquarters helps AA start in other countries, often requiring coordination with the US State Department, foreign governments and international embassies. Our paid staff at GSO shares decades of experience and best practices with any member or group who writes in or calls with a question or problem.  

To have a voice at Intergroup or General Service, a group needs representation

Both Central Office and GSO never tell a member or group what to do. They only offer suggestions based on the lessons of experience. Just as Tradition Two says,  “Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.”

Intergroup is responsible for providing local services to approximately 700 meetings and groups in San Francisco and Marin. GSO serves over 125,000 groups around the world, almost 70,000 in the United States and Canada alone. So while the A.A. groups in San Francisco and Marin can directly send a representative to speak to the IFAA Board of Directors, this kind of direct representation is not possible when it comes to General Service. If even 10% of the groups in the US and Canada were represented directly, that would require a quorum of 4000 to get anything done.

In order to make a representative body effective at the level of General Service, the groups in the U.S. and Canada have had to delegate. We elect delegates to carry the group conscience of the AA groups in their “area” to an annual business meeting called the General Service Conference. Because we have so many groups per capita, California is made of seven different General Service Areas. San Francisco and Marin are part of Area 06, called the California Northern Coastal Area 06 (CNCA 06: Click here to check out a map of all the Areas in US and Canada).

GSRs vote on matters that affect the policy of the legal entity that oversees the operation of AA’s worldwide headquarters (GSO) in New York

For the delegate to be fully informed about the groups in their area, GSRs have to connect with their Area Delegate at Area Assemblies. In CNCA 06, we hold these area-wide gatherings four times a year. The next upcoming Assembly will be on Saturday and Sunday, April 4 and 5, 2021 on Zoom. It is what we call a Pre-Conference Assembly, because it is taking place right before the General Service Conference. It is a time and place when GSRs can directly tell the delegate what their group thinks about some of the items up for discussion and voting at the Conference. 

This March, GSRs collected group consciences on different items related to the Big Book, the Twelve and Twelve, various existing and proposed pamphlets, GSO finances and policy, public relations kits and more. Not every group can share its opinion on every item up for vote at the Conference, but every group can participate by sharing their opinion on the items that matter most to their group. This could be revising the first 164 pages of the Big Book or adding gender neutral pronouns to the AA Preamble. 

To have a voice at Intergroup or General Service, your group needs representation. And if your group doesn’t have an Intergroup or General Service Representative, bring it up at your next business meeting or during group announcements. If no one is able to step up to the plate, you can still share your individual opinion as an AA member. Central Office and General Service want to hear from you! There are lots of ways to stay informed and be of service. Locally, you can sign up for The Buzz and The Point. At the world service level, you can sign up for GSO’s quarterly newsletter Box 4-5-9. For more information, email [email protected] (DCMC Panel 71, San Francisco General Service).

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