Aline Carrão 2015 Q&A: Conflict of Interest

How would you define the term “conflict of interest” and how might it apply to you while serving on the Board?

A conflict of interest is any situation where a person’s individual interests make them partial in a vote or decision. In the case of a board of directors, this makes it questionable that the person can make a decision aligned with the interests of the institution that they represent.

I can see this situation arising for me as a board member in two different ways: a conflict of interest related to an external element that would make me personally interested in the outcome of a decision (for example, a venue I want to visit for leisure being considered for the board’s annual retreat) or a conflict arising from a situation internal to the organization itself (any decision regarding a volunteer, committee, or proposal that I have a history with that might influence me too much, to the extent that my judgment would be clouded). In both cases, I believe that it is the duty of said director to disclose this position, situation, or interest, and to remove themselves from the decision if necessary.

Given that some of you intend to keep your other Org positions, how do you intend to deal with conflicts of interest when matters arise which impact your committee?

a. For example, if your committee wants to implement a change which requires Board approval, but is not necessarily in the OTW’s best interests, or would have an impact on another committee, how would you ensure that your contribution to the Board’s decision reflected your position as a Board member and not your personal opinion as a member of the committee?

b. Conversely, if another committee sought Board approval for something that would impact your own committee, how would you ensure that you were giving their arguments a fair hearing?

If a situation arises where my personal position as a member of a specific committee goes against the broader interests of the Organization and I believe I can’t distance myself enough to make a decision, I intend to recuse myself.

That said, our personal opinions, not only as members (and former members) of committees but also as individuals, will always be a factor in the way we approach issues and proposals. Being aware of that and consciously working to minimise this factor while hearing different views and approaches to the same issue with an open mind is the best way we can work to find a fair decision to all parties involved.

That is why I believe it is important to have representatives of diverse parts of the OTW in the board of directors and work in an environment where there’s open feedback and debate with the whole organization. This way we can ensure that opinions balance each other out, which increases the likelihood of an unbiased outcome.

2015 Elections Candidates Announcement

The OTW is pleased to announce the following candidates for the 2015 Election (in alphabetical order by given name):

*ETA September 27: Per this announcement, Nikisha Sanders was removed from the 2015 ballot by the OTW Board.
**ETA September 29: Per Dan’s announcement, Dan Lamson has withdrawn from the ballot.

Because we have 2 seats to be filled and 8 candidates, the 2015 election will be contested–that is, the members of OTW will vote on which candidates fill the seats.

The Elections Committee is excited to begin the process of introducing the candidates to all of the members of the OTW! Included in this post are links to short bios and manifestos written by the candidates. This post also marks the beginning of our Q&A period, during which we invite the public to submit questions for the candidates. Additionally, we will be holding a series of live chats – dates and times for those are to be announced based on candidate availability. Information on the voting period and how to vote will also be posted shortly.

In the meantime, there is a timeline of Elections events available here for your reference. Read on to learn more about our candidates and how you can submit questions for them!

Manifestos and Bios

We asked each candidate to provide us with a bio that sums up their professional and fannish experience, as well as to write a manifesto about their goals for their term on the Board by answering the following questions:

  1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?
  2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
  3. What goals would you like to achieve during your term?
  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.
  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?
  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?
  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?

You can read both the candidates’ answers to these questions and their bios by following the links below.

Question & Answer (Q&A)

Candidates will also answer questions from the public. Anyone may submit questions via the Elections form. Please submit all questions by 11:59pm UTC on September 21. (What time is that where I live?) All 8 candidates will answer each question submitted, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Questions must not be repeats of questions from the manifestos. This is to allow candidates to spend their time answering new questions.
  • Similar questions will be grouped together so candidates don’t have to repeat themselves. Elections staff will decide which questions are similar enough to group.
  • If you have a follow-up to a manifesto question, please specifically mention that it is a follow-up so it isn’t treated as a repeat.

The posting date for answers will be chosen depending on the number of questions received.

Nikisha Sanders’s Bio and Manifesto

ETA: Per this announcement, Nikisha Sanders was removed from the 2015 ballot by the OTW Board.

Bio

Nikisha Sanders holds a BA in sociology and anthropology from Earlham College, where she authored a senior thesis on gender representation among queer women. She has worked as an activist for AIDS awareness and education, lobbied for LGBT rights at the local and state level as staff for the Fairness Campaign, and served as member of the board of the Kentucky coalition of Jobs with Justice. From 2007-2011, she served as staff on the OTW Finance Committee. She served on the OTW Board of Directors from 2011-2014, was the organization’s Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair from 2011-2015, and joined the Development and Membership Committee as staff at the beginning of 2015, bringing experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and financial accounting, and a personal interest in outreach to fannish communities of color to each role. She joined online fandom in 2000 as an avid reader of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic and has been writing fan fiction in various television and film fandoms since 2006. Most recently, her fannish interests have grown to include vidding, online comics, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Manifesto

1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

I served three years on the Board after being elected in 2011. The decision to run again after a year serving as an officer of the OTW and a regular staff member is one I’ve spent months thinking about. I will be candid: I’m still not sure this is the best decision. I made mistakes the first time. I am certain to make mistakes this time. What I know, however, is this: for each mistake I made, I also made efforts to apologize, correct my errors in action or thinking, and be accountable for those mistakes.

During my first term, I was able to be a voice for staffers on the Board when other Directors weren’t speaking up for or listening to them. I was able to build and maintain relationships with a number of committees and individuals who felt alienated from the Board, leaving those relationships in a much stronger place. I was able to give concrete support to the implementation of several projects and practices that have changed the internal operations of the org for the better.

I believe I can not only do this again but that it is much needed. I disagree with the direction the 2015 Board has taken. They have operated in a way that is less transparent rather than more, reversing progress made during my term toward discussing more issues in open Board meetings and fostering wider dialogues between Board members and staff. I’ve personally seen the disconnect between committees and Board liaisons. I have seen little being done to provide regular interaction with non-chair staff, and instead witnessed a Board making decisions that impact work delegated to committees with little understanding of or engagement with the realities of that work. This can only be changed from the inside.

2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

My past career experience includes twenty years in the nonprofit arena, serving as everything from a volunteer to an executive director. My responsibilities included fundraising, volunteer supervision and mentoring, outreach, finance management, and meeting coordination, among other things. Due to my various past and current roles with OTW, I also have experience carrying out each of these responsibilities within organization.

As an OTW Board member, I was one of two Directors responsible for building the initial Strategic Planning workgroup and helped develop and implement the first phases of the strategic planning roadmap. I worked with the Volunteers and Recruiting Committee to secure the Code of Conduct and Constructive Corrective Action Procedure, adding protections for all OTW personnel. Additionally, I advocated for VolCom’s changes to the recruitment and induction policies. Within the Board, I assisted other Directors in their respective pushes for increased Board documentation, open Board meetings, and laying the groundwork for conflict resolution policies increasing the accountability of all staff, including Board members.

Each of these achievements resulted in policies under which I’ve worked for the better part of 2015 as regular staff and as an Officer detached from the Board. I’ve seen firsthand the strengths, weaknesses, and repercussions of decisions I made while on Board and how those things impact staff and committee work. This perspective is one only a handful of OTW personnel hold— returning to staff after serving on the Board is a rare act— and is one from which the Board would greatly benefit.

3. What goals would you like to achieve during your term?

I want to set OTW up to still be vital in fifty years, starting with the implementation of the strategic plan and pursuing contracted executive level staff. At minimum, I see us with the following: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technical Officer or a Lead Coder and Lead Systems Manager/Analyst, In-house Legal Counsel, and Human Resources Director. Ideally, priority will be given to advancing OTW staff who’ve already been serving in similar roles to paid full- or part-time contract positions. In conjunction with this goal, I would like to see some of our current staff able to reduce their volunteer hours to a more manageable and balanced number as needed.

Our sustainability also depends on expanding our fundraising and outreach capacity. DevMem already has great ideas for this that I want to see implemented, chiefly building a major donor program, structuring planned giving and legacy gifts, and increasing the presence of OTW representation at conventions and conferences. As a Board member, I would support them in building a solid plan for these things and working with other current and emerita Directors to find the best opportunities both to connect with existing and potential supporters, and to promote OTW’s projects to new audiences.

Ultimately, by the end of my term, I want to see the Board functioning primarily in a manner closer to traditional boards of directors, focusing on the larger picture of governance. In order to get there, Board must improve Directors’ management skills and find the balance between benign neglect and micromanagement. The incorporation of outside training and building a steering committee of veteran staff, chairs, and contractors will allow for a better approach to management while freeing Board to focus on the long term goals of the organization.

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.

As a Board member, and subsequently as Treasurer, I’ve worked with all of the committees of OTW in some capacity, and I am very familiar with all of our projects. I know from experience that my role as a Director would largely be to follow the lead of the committees, trust their expertise, and be responsive to their requests, while also sometimes asking the hard questions to make sure their work fulfills the overall mission and needs of the organization, as well as the legal requirements we face as a registered charity.

A specific example of this came up at the end of last year and into the start of 2015. A project was proposed which certainly fit within our mission and goals, but the proposal didn’t address needed collaboration with other committees and didn’t fully take into account some of the financial repercussions of the plan. I was able to raise those questions and discuss with the committee ways to address those gaps, leading to a stronger understanding of the project, its needs, and its potential impact on the organization all around.

In general, I think that’s one of the best things I can bring to the table: working with each committee as needed to see different perspectives on their work and helping them connect those projects to our overall shared goals.

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?

I still fundamentally approach working with OTW through a fundraising and financial lens, and those are among the areas I believe should be high priority internally. We are in better shape both in terms of fundraising ability and financial management than we have ever been. We need to maintain both states, as well as expand our fundraising capacity to incorporate different activities: building a major donor program, structuring planned giving, and adding additional interest-bearing accounts all would increase our revenue.

Externally, I would like to see OTW building more relationships with fannish communities in online and offline spaces. My particular interest is in increasing our presence at conventions, conferences, and other physical venues. The ability to connect in-person with other fans is a privilege and we have the means to make it possible for more of our staff and volunteers while promoting OTW’s work. We can use these platforms to host panels, provide keynote speakers, and access other opportunities to start or further conversations about fan works, the legal hurdles we face as creators, the emerging academic fields for fan studies, and the importance of preserving fan histories and artifacts. My goal is to work with DevMem and Board to build a focused outreach program and take advantage of the opportunities we have to network and promote our work.

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 very familiar with the legal requirements for a nonprofit board, having served on two previous to joining OTW, both as a staff representative and as a Director, and having worked with several more over my twenty-plus years in the nonprofit field.

The question of key responsibilities, for me, breaks down to two areas. First, there are the strict legal and fiduciary responsibilities of good governance, the duties of loyalty, care, and obedience that guide financial and resource management. Those are the basic tenets of nonprofit management. Secondly, I believe boards have the more complicated and sometimes nebulous responsibilities to the people with whom and for whom they work. Those principally include honesty and accountability; being available to staff for support, mentoring, guidance, and collaboration; and keeping an eye on the big picture, while making all reasonable efforts to understand the details, in order to set out a plan for sustaining the organization into the future.

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?

I have already resigned from my position as Treasurer, something I had intended to do before the end of the year in any circumstance. I intend, regardless of the outcome of the election, to remain part of the DevMem staff. Given the relatively low workload for DevMem outside of the two annual drives, and my desire to see Board take a more active role in fundraising, I have no concerns about balancing the requirements of the two roles.

Matty Bowers’s Bio and Manifesto

Bio

Matty first stumbled upon fandom back in May of 1998; however, she didn’t truly get involved until 2001. Her first fandoms were Highlander and Buffy, however she quickly fell into a variety of other fandoms. These days she is very much a fan of fandom; she’ll read pretty much any epic length work in any fandom! Matty mainly lurked the first few years, but eventually started contributing to fannish projects such as newsletters and rec communities. She was fascinated and intrigued when she first heard rumblings about building a place where fandom owned the servers, and joined the OTW as a tag wrangler when the call for volunteers was made in 2009. Since then she has worked on the Support, AO3 Docs, and Abuse committees. Matty graduated with a degree in Education and spent over ten years teaching before moving on to a job in the tech field. She is currently working as a manager for a local business, and in her spare time works as tech support for her many friends and family.

Manifesto

1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

I have served in the OTW as a volunteer, a staffer, and a chair in various committees in different situations—I’ve worked in functional and nonfunctional teams, and learned what it takes to improve. This hasn’t always been easy, but I’m willing to put in the work needed. Along with some amazing staffers, I helped transform both Support and Abuse from nonfunctioning committees to thriving committees. This experience has helped me understand how the OTW works, or doesn’t work, on multiple levels. I believe we’ve reached a critical point in the OTW’s development and I want to help the Board and OTW grow and move forward.

2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

Throughout my career, both as a teacher and a business manager, I’ve gained an enormous amount of experience dealing with people in a variety of different situations with different deadlines and needs. Communicating quickly and effectively is a key part of teaching; this is another quality I think will serve me well on the Board. Working in elementary education also teaches one how to handle multiple projects and get things done.

These experiences served me well when faced with the task of bring Support, then Abuse, back from the brink of collapse. Both committees were overwhelmed with the workload and faced severe staff shortages. With the support of some amazing staffers, I was able to improve our workflow and training, create more effective ways of communicating with other committees, and maintain a stable core of dedicated and active volunteers that allowed us respond to user needs in a much more timely manner. The foundation built should help both committees grow as user demand increases. I’m very proud of this work, and of the teams we’ve built together.

I think Board has reached a critical point as well, and I believe that the lessons learned from working on Support and Abuse will be of great use while serving on Board.

3. What goals would you like to achieve during your term?

One of the first things we need to do is take a look at where we are now and learn what committees actually need from Board. To do this, it is important to involve all the chairs in dialogue about the state of the OTW and its committees. I would like to be part of a Board that can have this dialogue with chairs — that is aware of ongoing problems and that can promote integration and collaboration among chairs to reach solutions to the problems we have in common.

In the past few years we have struggled with consistency. Some committees seem to be thriving, while others are continuing to struggle. It is imperative that the OTW find balance and ensure that all of its committees and the Board are working together by the time I leave office. Our internal and external communication often seem fractured; this gets in the way of our projects’ progress and of a happy and productive environment for our volunteers. This needs to change, and I think that the first essential step is for the Board’s culture to change.

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.

I have worked on Support, AO3 Docs, Abuse and Tag Wrangling for several years, and as chair I have collaborated frequently with AD&T, Systems, Legal, Translation, Communications, and Open Doors staff. I’ve seen first-hand how incredibly dedicated everyone in these projects is, and how effective collaboration among them can be, with the right processes in place. On a personal level, I enjoy working on Fanlore and enthusiastically devour each journal and consider these important fandom resources.

I think the most important thing I can do as a Board member is to find out what each project needs and do my best to accommodate that. The Board should be ready and available to offer resources and guidance to committees and staffers as needed, but allow them to stand alone on day-to-day actions. One of the first things I’d like to do as a Board member is reach out to every project and have an open, honest dialogue concerning where they are and where they are looking to expand. I will then make these needs a priority and ensure that all projects have the tools, staff, and resources they need to be successful.

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?

I would like to see more transparency and communication between the Board and the OTW volunteers and members. OTW volunteers should understand why the Board makes the decisions it makes, and what it’s planning for the future. Not only does increased transparency allow for greater accountability from Board members, it also gives staffers and volunteers a better understanding of what is going on within the organization. Being able to view the big picture allows everyone see how their efforts are shaping the OTW, and to feel more engaged with the organization as a whole.

I’d also like to ensure that every committee has the help and resources it needs to succeed. From past experience, I know exactly how difficult it is to chair a committee without enough staff or the appropriate tools. I think it’s essential that committees that badly need new tools to do their work should receive support and approval to implement them from the Board within a reasonable timeframe. Committees should be able to get all their bills paid on time. Staffers should be approved in a timely manner. Emails should be responded to promptly. This hasn’t been the case so far, and it’s something I hope to change.

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’ve spent several years working for offline non-profits and as Support chair, I did quite a bit of independent research into the requirements for US-based nonprofits.

The Board needs to be responsible for overseeing the OTW and making decisions that serve the best interests of the organization and its members. I believe it is the responsibility of the Board to ensure that volunteers and members are kept abreast of what is happening in the organization, from finances to the day-to-day decisions of the Board. We need to ensure the OTW is in a stable to place to achieve its mission to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms..

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?

I recently stepped down from both Tag Wrangling and Support, and I have started a chair track training program for Abuse. By the beginning of next term, I should have a shiny new Abuse co-chair. At the end of next term, we should have several other staffers who have finished chair track training; one of these lucky staffers will join as co-chair, allowing me to step back to staff level. My goal is to stay on with Abuse in some capacity in order to keep in touch with committee concerns. I feel that it is important that Board members stay involved and understand committees’ needs. Remaining with Abuse, an AO3 committee that works with all the other AO3 committees as well as directly with the user base, would allow me to stay connected to these other parts of the OTW and to the Archive’s user base.

Katarina Harju’s Bio and Manifesto

Bio

Katarina is a Swedish-speaking Finn currently working towards a degree in Information Technology. Prior to this, she worked in accountancy for many years. She went searching for fandom in 2000 after reading about it in a magazine (and is eternally grateful that she happened to pick up that particular one in a moment of boredom). She has created fanworks for a variety of fandoms, many of which can be found at her AO3 userpage. Somewhere along the line, she fell in love with podfics, and she still writes fic, records podfic and even makes some fannish crafts now and then, though not as often as she’d like. Katarina followed the OTW’s work closely from the beginning, getting involved herself in 2013 as a member of the Translation committee, where she is currently a translator and staffer. She spent time as a tag wrangler in 2014, and currently also serves on the AO3 Abuse committee.

Manifesto

1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

During my service in the OTW, I have come to care a great deal about the OTW’s goals, my fellow volunteers and the users of our projects. There are, however, several areas of the OTW’s functioning that I’m not satisfied with, including some aspects of how the current Board works. I felt that running for the Board was the best way to serve the needs of all of those aforementioned parties, and to help the Board’s work reflect these needs. I’ve been following the OTW’s development from the beginning, and I’m very invested in its mission and projects. In the past two years, I have seen many committees thriving, collaborating and making progress on their goals, whereas others struggled due to miscommunication and mismanagement from the Board. I think volunteering to join the Board is a logical way to try to help fix this.

2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

I have professional experience in bookkeeping, and though the regulations differ since the OTW is US-based, the essentials and the best practices of accounting and budgeting hold as true for the OTW as they do for the companies I’ve worked with.

As part of Translation staff, I have practical experience in both management and administrative work, including dealing with a great quantity of emails with extremely diverse queries in a short amount of time, managing task assignments for our more than 150 volunteers, writing documentation and collaborating with other committees.
I have experience in working with people from various backgrounds and cultures, both in the OTW and my offline life, which forms an excellent basis for working on the Board of a diverse organization such as the OTW. I also have experience in IT, and, although I have never been part of the group of people who ensure that the AO3 stays up and running and keeps getting better, I do have a working understanding of what they do (and appreciate it immensely).

3. What goals would you like to achieve during your term?

I would like to see the Board move in a direction where it does not deem it necessary to involve itself in the everyday running of things—a Board that does not micromanage and is focused instead on high-level decisions and plans to move the organization toward achieving its mission. Where Board involvement is required, as it sometimes is, I would do my best to ensure that things run smoothly and, more importantly, speedily, so as not to delay the work of the committees unnecessarily.

Furthermore, I would like to see the Financial committee reinstated in some form, or make some other sensible arrangements for the way our finances are handled. It does not seem reasonable to have all of this work fall on the shoulders of only one person as it does now. Irrespective of that person’s ability to handle the work, it is simply irresponsible not to have some built-in redundancy with regard to the handling of our finances. Because our accounting is handled by one single person, who is also responsible for interpreting the financial reports to the Board (and may even be part of the Board), there is not enough oversight of the finances or the bookkeeping. There is currently no internal or external audit, which means there is no way we can sufficiently demonstrate accountability.

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.

I was a tag wrangler for some time and I’m currently a member of the AO3 Abuse committee, and I’m also an AO3 user, so I do have more hands-on experience of the AO3 than the other projects. However, I am also a member of the Translation committee, which works together with many of the OTW’s projects, and as such, I’ve had many opportunities to familiarize myself with their work, as well as with the committees that make the projects possible.

Overall, I think that it is important that the Board be approachable, and that the Board be able to find out what the committees’ needs are through open dialogue, since the committees themselves are in the best position to know. Oftentimes it seems that bringing a proposal to Board is more like an obstacle in the way of getting things done rather than an opportunity for change and useful refinements of plans. So one thing I want to do for all projects is to be as approachable as possible and to do my work in a timely fashion.

I believe the committees should be trusted to do the work they have shown themselves capable of handling, without needless interference. For the ones that need help and support, it should be offered to them, but not thrust upon them. We should listen to other committees who have managed to overcome similar problems, learn how they managed it, and encourage the ones struggling to follow suit. Board cannot magically fix everything or be everywhere, but it can have the background knowledge to help make connections between people who can help each other.

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?

In my professional career I’ve worked with managing other people’s finances and bookkeeping, and I can’t help but focus on the way the OTW’s finances are currently handled. It seems very inadvisable to have all that responsibility on the shoulders of one single person. What happens if that one person, for whatever reason, suddenly becomes unavailable to us? Furthermore, we do not currently have a prospective budget, which is something that is important when planning for the future and for setting fundraising goals.

And speaking of finances, I think that we should re-think them in other ways as well—namely, our fundraising. We have had several very successful membership drives (and we are immensely grateful to all our donors), but the truth is that most of that money is still sitting in a bank account being used for nothing. How can we justify asking our users for more, when we have not made use of the money they have already donated? There are useful things that could be done with it, such as paying for contractors to help with the AO3 code or the OTW website, or ensuring that we invest in new servers for our projects in a timely manner. In case we cannot come up with any good use for the money that we have, we should be upfront about it when asking for more donations.

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’m not a US citizen, but I am familiar with the legal requirements of a US-based nonprofit, and the responsibilities of this Board in particular. I would not seek any position if I hadn’t first researched the responsibilities that come with it to the best of my ability. I think the most essential legal requirement is a director’s duty of care towards the organization and its membership: staying informed about what’s going on in the organization, making decisions based on its best interests and mission.

I believe it’s the responsibility of the Board to look at the big picture, and to guide the organization in accordance with its goals. The Board should not be responsible for the day-to-day management of things. The OTW Board of Directors has sometimes found it necessary to get involved to a degree that is not ideal; because the OTW’s internal structure was not suited to grow at the rate it has, when such involvement does happen, it should be handled efficiently and in a way that ensures the day-to-day work is not hindered or, if that is not possible, that it is allowed to resume as quickly as possible.

I also believe that it is part of the Board’s responsibility to be as open as possible about its work. Currently a lot of what the Board does happens in spaces where it is not accessible to people who are not members of the Board, even when dealing with discussions for which such privacy is far from necessary. Such an appearance of secrecy—unintentional as it may be—is something the Board should strive to get away from.

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?

I’m currently serving as staff on the Abuse and Translation committees. I’m grateful to work in committees that are stable enough that I know that I can step down from my roles without inconveniencing the rest of the team too much. I know that they can take over my part of the work without needing to do any significant restructuring.

In Translation I work as a staffer, which is a more managerial position, as well as a translator. If I am elected I will retain a position in the Translation committee, because I find the work satisfying. The sense of community I find there also helps me remember why the OTW is so important to me. I feel similarly for the Abuse team, and I cherish the opportunity to interact with and help AO3 users, even if it is often in delicate and less than happy circumstances. I would hate to have to step down from either of my roles; however, if it does turn out that Board work is too taxing for me to remain in both committees, then I would consider removing myself from the Abuse team.

Daniel Lamson’s Bio and Manifesto

ETA September 29: Per Dan’s announcement, Dan Lamson has withdrawn from the ballot.

Bio

Dan Lamson is the executive director of a small nonprofit in Florida, USA focused on local environmental and quality of life issues. He graduated from Ursinus College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Politics and international relations and a minor in creative writing. He went to work fundraising for a homeless shelter for five years, helping to raise much of the organization’s $300,000 budget. Dan has put his experience in nonprofits to use for the OTW by chairing and co-chairing the Development and Membership Committee for the past year. He has previous experience working with boards of directors, as well as staff and volunteers. Dan fully understands the responsibility he is looking to undertake. Dan loves to travel and enjoys meeting new people and learning new things. He enjoys playing video games and participates in several media fandoms including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, and Warcraft.

Manifesto

1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

I love the Organization for Transformative Works. I have ever since I found out about it. I started my career with the OTW in the Abuse Committee when I saw a post come across my Tumblr that they were recruiting. Later I joined Development and Membership because I’ve always loved fundraising; I am currently one of the co-chairs of that committee. Through these positions, as well as my interactions with other committees, I’ve come to see and understand more of the OTW.

As my role within the OTW has expanded, I appreciate the work, people, and projects more and more and want to give back as much as I can. I’ve always been motivated towards service, and I feel that with my relevant real life and OTW experience I will be a good addition to the OTW’s Board of Directors. I know that my experiences and enthusiasm will make me an effective Board member and team player.

2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

My entire professional life has been dedicated to nonprofits. I’ve worked with boards for the last several years in ‘real life’, and I understand the importance and responsibilities therein. I will bring experience in this regard to the Board. Further, I am a very optimistic person. I always look at the bright side of things, and I feel that with a good attitude, a lot can get done. I’ve not been involved with the OTW as long as some people, which I do not believe is a detriment to my candidacy. I feel that I will bring a new outlook on things and a different approach to problem solving that will help the OTW not only to grow, but also provide new vision on past and current issues.

3. What goals would you like to achieve during your term?

I believe in openness in communication, and I believe in moving things forward at a reasonable speed. I would like to see the Board become more approachable and communicative if elected. When I first started volunteering for the OTW, the concept of “the Board” intimidated me. Board members were involved, but aloof. This has gotten better recently, but I want to help cultivate a culture where this is not so, and the Board is easily approachable for anyone interested in doing so to facilitate constructive dialogue. I feel the demystification of the Board will help make the organization stronger.

Further, I like to get things done. There’s nothing quite like scratching something off your to do list. I feel that the OTW sometimes moves very slowly. That is the way things have to be sometimes, but I feel that there are times when the organization could meet its objectives more quickly. My overall goal is to encourage efficiency without impacting the quality work of the Board and the organization as a whole.

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.

I have been a volunteer with the Abuse Committee and currently serve as a co-chair of the Development and Membership Committee. Before that I was an avid user of AO3, as well as Fanlore, as the need arose.

I will be the first to say that I don’t know everything. Not even close. As a Board member, I would respect various projects and their associated committees because I feel that they know what they need more than I (as a potential outsider) would. If a project said they needed something for their continued operation and told the Board why they did, I would more than likely support such a measure. I would not force my will on a committee or project without talking to them first. I may make suggestions, but at the end of the day, it is up to the committees/projects to determine the day-to-day operations of issues under their purview.

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?

I feel that board members should be involved in the fundraising more than the OTW’s Board has been traditionally. This includes more than Board members making an annual contribution to the organization. All Board members should have an intrinsic understanding of the way we fundraise and why we do what we do. Board members should also be involved in communicating directly with donors more and in cultivating our membership. This is a key component of many nonprofit boards. The OTW is a different kind of organization than many, so some of the traditional methods may not work, but there are plenty of ways to accomplish Board participation in Fundraising. If elected to Board, I plan to continue on as a member of the Development and Membership Committee to better facilitate board/fundraising communications.

Right now, the OTW stands mostly apart from other organizations dealing with similar issues of free speech, copyright, and fannish culture. I feel that we could reach out to other organizations and work together to achieve more. We are fundamentally stronger together than apart. As examples, I would like to explore closer relationships with organizations such as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Wikimedia Foundation, the First Amendment Coalition, and so many more. Fannish issues and free speech fall under the purview of many organizations, and donor support is spread among many of these. Working with these other organizations that I also support makes sense to me, and I would encourage relationships with them.

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 the legal requirements of a board of directors of a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and I believe in the three primary legal duties of the board: ‘duty of care,’ ‘duty of loyalty,’ and ‘duty of obedience.’

Board members have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization they serve. The ‘duty of care’ says that Board members should care for all the people the OTW touches, all of its activities, as well as being stewards of its mission. The ‘duty of loyalty’ says that Board members put the OTW above their own interests should the two come into conflict. Finally, the ‘duty of obedience’ says that the nonprofit does what it has to legally and ethically and that it sticks to and works for its mission. I also firmly believe that a Board member should be an advocate for the organization.

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, I serve as a co-chair of the Development and Membership committee with a very talented and competent person. I have planned for several months to step down as co-chair after the October Drive to allow for more voices to be heard in the committee. This is the precursor to a leadership track in the committee, so that institutional knowledge and procedures are not lost. I plan to stay on the committee as a staffer to help fundraise and cultivate our membership going forward.