Soledad Griffin is a Literature undergrad student who is currently working for a governmental educational plan for Argentinian youth called Jóvenes y Memoria. She designs and leads workshops about Argentinian social issues, organizes events that range from office parties and small regional meetings to gatherings of more than 10000 people, and trains, supports and manages volunteers to help with these tasks.
She has been in fandom for more than half her life, starting out in the Spanish-speaking anime fandom at the tender age of ten and later participating in a wide variety of fandoms. She has written fanfic, run fanclubs, organized conventions, created fanvids, and written meta, but these days her main fannish engagement is journal-based roleplaying.
Sole joined the OTW as a wrangler in 2010 and became part of the Tag Wrangling staff in 2011. She joined Internationalization & Outreach in 2012 and has since became chair of I&O. She has also served in the AO3 Support committee and the Survey workgroup, and was the lead of the Category Change workgroup.
1) Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?
The OTW has changed, expanding our scope and our userbase, but its internal structures still have many issues, and we continue to outgrow them at a fast pace. The internal atmosphere can be harsh and unkind, making the org an incredibly difficult place for many of us (volunteers, staffers and Board members included). I want to support my fellow OTW volunteers, and I want the org to be sustainable in the long term.
I have opinions, ideas, and skills to help with the transition towards a more sustainable organization and with internal structures that can handle the expansion that has already happened. I believe that the Board is the ideal place for me to do so.
2) What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
In terms of OTW experience, I’ve served in the org for four years now. I’ve been in several committees, and my work in the Category Change workgroup taught me how to navigate complex issues that became even more complex after years of unfruitful discussion.
I have participated in all sorts of fandoms – in more than one language, both locally and online, etc.
I also have over eight years of volunteer experience that gave me a background in managing volunteers, facilitating debate and consensus, planning events, and working well under pressure. I know how to support other volunteers, how to inspire confidence, how to handle workloads fairly, and how to discuss disruptive behaviour in a productive manner. I know how to debate painful, complex issues with people from wildly differing backgrounds in such a way that everybody feels heard and secure.
Once you have successfully survived a three-day event with 2000 teenagers and no hot water, you can survive anything.
3) What goals would you like to achieve during your term?
In Spanish, ‘confidence’ and ‘trust’ are the same word – confianza. That’s my first and most important goal: to engender ‘confianza’ in ourselves and in each other so that working in the OTW is easier and more rewarding for all involved.
One of my goals is to define a clearer path towards the future, taking into consideration what we have learnt since the org began and allowing ourselves to rethink and rebuild our internal structures, how we make decisions, and how we work.
I am currently Internationalization & Outreach’s chair, so further expanding and widening our volunteer and user-bases is central to me. Our volunteers and staffers have very diverse backgrounds that we should be able to harness in order to reach out to currently underrepresented fannish communities and traditions. This way, we might be able to learn from them and they might be able to benefit from what we have to offer and that .
4) What is your experience of the OTW’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Please include AO3, TWC, Fanlore, our Legal Advocacy work and Open Doors, though feel free to emphasize particular areas you’re interested in.
The primary project I’ve worked with is the AO3, starting as a tag wrangler and then both as Support staff and the Category Change workgroup lead, so I’m very familiar with both the behind-the-scenes process and our users’ needs and opinions.
As an I&O staff member, I’ve been in contact with many of the other projects and areas of the org, given that our mission involves the whole org, but my knowledge of those other projects is less hands-on and more second-hand.
My first step to collaborate and support those committees would be to ask them what are their needs are, what are their goals and where they are regarding those goals. In general, I think that it’s important to make sure every stakeholder is and feels involved in the decision making process regarding their own purview. The Board should also ensure that the attention and resources that the OTW gives to each of its projects is equal and appropriate.
5) Choose two topics/issues that you think should be high priority for the OTW, both internally and externally. What do these topics mean to you and why do you value them? How will you make them a part of your service?
The first topic I would like to address as a Board member is outreach. It’s probably clear by now, but my org work in the past years has been about what strategies we can devise to make the OTW more diverse and to use that diversity in a way that benefits us and our members and users. However, in order to reach out to different fannish traditions that have historically felt left out or distinctly not catered to by the OTW’s projects, we first have to ensure the org is welcoming and can address their needs. This interest stems from a very personal stand-point – most of what I have done fannishly is outside of the areas where the OTW is a familiar presence. I want to change that.
From a more internal point of view, ‘confianza’, as I have already mentioned, is my main interest and goal. While many committees are great places to work, in general, we do not trust each other in the organization. We should be able to trust not only other individual staffers, but also that this organization has our best interests at heart, and we should be able to do this even when we disagree with others in the org. This trust on a general level would mean that we can feel secure and confident, knowing that we have each other’s backs and being more able to deal with criticism of our work. We need to make sure that we all are involved in decision-making, that communication lines are open and frank across the org, and that everybody feels valued.
6) What do you think the key responsibilities of a/the Board are? Are you familiar with the legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors?
I am familiar with those requirements, and many of them are guiding principles that I already strive to fulfill in my org work as a chair and as a staffer in general.
Personally, I believe the Board’s main work is to articulate our goals as an organization and the best path to achieve them. From experience, I believe that to attain this, the Board must facilitate discussion internally when needed, create consensus, and be understanding of different perspectives (while being aware that not everybody will agree and that decisions must be made). The Board also has a responsibility to identify problems and diagnose solutions for internal conflicts and to oversee and advise committees.
7) How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the OTW, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?
Currently, my only role is as Internationalization & Outreach chair, a committee that is in the midst of a very long and occasionally confusing process of re-organization and re-defining its goals and work methods. I cannot realistically leave that post short term, but I am exploring options for succession plans. I plan to leave my staffer role as well once this process is finalized and the committee is back on track, knowing that in my position as Board member I would be able to advise I&O.