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.

Atiya Hakeem’s Bio and Manifesto

Bio

Atiya Hakeem (Lady Oscar) received her undergraduate degree in biology from the California Institute of Technology, then went to the University of Hawaii for a PhD in biomedical sciences. After working at Caltech as a neurobiologist studying autism and social cognition for many years, she has recently returned to Hawaii, and currently hangs out with aardvarks as a volunteer at the Honolulu Zoo. She has always turned to fandom as an escape and a creative outlet, with interests including Star Trek, baseball, the age of sail, Hawaii Five-O, and anime, which last led to serving as con staff at Anime Expo and AX New York. She joined the OTW as a volunteer in 2012 with AO3 Support and has since answered some 5,000 user inquiries. Motivated by a desire to be directly involved in keeping the Archive running, she joined AD&T (the Archive’s coding and design committee) as a tester, and is now the Quality Assurance & Testing subcommittee lead. She also has served on the Category Change and Survey workgroups.

Manifesto

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

After spending the last three and a half years working for the OTW, I have reached the point where I would like to use the experience and knowledge I have gained to help lead it. We are not a generic non-profit organization – our position as an international, virtual, and fandom-oriented group makes us unusual, as does the extremely diverse but inter-related nature of our projects. I believe it is vitally important for the future of the OTW to have a Board that understands the particular characteristics of this Org and its volunteers, and I am in a position to help provide some of that understanding.

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

First and foremost, I bring my experience in the OTW itself. As a veteran AO3 Support staffer, I have a good feeling for the concerns of our member base, as well as a great deal of experience in dealing with those concerns in a helpful and professional fashion. I have interacted with the fannish public extensively through Support ticket answers, News Post comments, and the AO3 Status twitter. As a member of AD&T, I have experienced the challenges of running a large multi-committee project. While my work has primarily been with AO3, I have also had the opportunity to meet and interact with volunteers from all parts of the Org in the Category Change and Survey workgroups, topical chats, and Org social spaces.

In terms of real life, I have two relevant sources of experience. First, I have spent many years working in an academic lab setting. From this I have gained experience with budgeting, project planning, personnel management, and mentoring and training. Second, I have experience with a number of non-profit organizations both as a member and a donor, and have seen first-hand how many “real world” non-profit practices work or don’t work for them.

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

  • Streamline processes such that any inquiry to Board receives a timely response, and that decisions are made promptly
  • Bring Board debate and decision-making to open spaces for everything except confidential personnel matters
  • Improve fiscal management, including adding predictive budgeting and transparency
  • Be part of a Board in which all members work together productively and professionally

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.

My primary experience is with AO3, as both Support and AD&T. As a member of AD&T, I have collaborated with all the Archive’s committees as we work together to maintain and improve the Archive. This includes the Open Doors project, as AD&T assists OD in its work in importing endangered archives to AO3. My experience means that I know intimately and in an ongoing way what the AO3 committees need and do not need in terms of Board assistance and oversight, and I hope to be able to contribute that understanding to the Board as a whole. Because AO3 is both the greatest consumer of the OTW’s financial resources and the highest profile project for attracting donations, I feel it is vitally important that the Board fully understand and support it.

Fanlore is a project that has some of the same technical challenges as the Archive, but with even greater staffing and resource issues. I would like to help them establish stronger underpinnings, allowing staff more freedom to focus on the project’s goals.

TWC and Legal are currently very effective and functional. I have been impressed with the professionalism and competence of their staff as an outside observer, and in my dealings with Legal when referring Support issues. I feel that the best thing I could do for them as Board would be to simply support them as they request.

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 think the biggest priority for the OTW right now should be getting our own house in better order. Our financial management needs to be more sustainable: not just one person overseeing all our accounts unaudited, and no more fundraising without concrete spending goals and planned budgets. This is something that the successful “real life” non-profits I have been involved with do well, and I intend to use their work as a model.

Our volunteer environment needs to be healthier: less overwork, better tools, better communication, better information flow from Board and through committees.

Working on AO3, I frequently encountered situations in which our work was made more difficult and the ongoing stability of the Archive was put at risk by a lack of support from Board. Delayed decisions prevented vital equipment purchases from happening when needed, despite the money being available. Policy decisions made without transparency and with insufficient understanding of the issues resulted in loss of volunteer morale and derailment of projects. As a director, those past experiences will guide me in working to improve support for all our projects and volunteers.

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 have investigated the legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors online. Beyond them, however, what we need from a Board is a group that our volunteers can count on to:

  • Keep themselves informed about the Org’s projects
  • Make transparent, informed and timely decisions
  • Provide responsible fiscal oversight
  • Publicly represent the OTW

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?

It’s important for Board to remain in touch with the day-to-day functioning of the Org’s committees. Thus, I do not intend to entirely step down from my roles. Support has recently recruited a promising set of new staffers, and I intend to focus my involvement there on mentoring and providing a reservoir of knowledge, reducing my time commitment. As QA & Testing lead I intend to recruit a staffer to help with volunteer management tasks; we are also improving our suite of automated tests, reducing the involvement required from me in supervising manual testing.

In the past, I have performed my committee work alongside a full-time job in real life. Currently I am taking some time off to focus on my volunteer work and career development, which should leave me able to devote all the necessary time to my Board commitments.

Andrea Horbinski’s Bio and Manifesto

Bio

Andrea Horbinski is the Secretary of the OTW Board of Directors and a Ph.D. candidate in modern Japanese history with a designated emphasis in New Media at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2015 she was elected to the position of Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Ada Initiative, which was dedicated to increasing the participation of women in open technology and culture. She was previously a Fulbright Fellow to Japan and served as the chair of the OTW’s Internationalization & Outreach committee before being elected to the OTW Board in 2012. She joined online fandom in 1999 after writing her graduation speech on her love of Star Wars, and soon became involved in anime and manga fandom as an AMV editor and later a fan translator. She has discussed fandom, anime, manga, and Japanese history and folklore at conventions and conferences on five continents, and her articles and reviews have appeared in The WisCon Chronicles vol. 6, Mechademia, and Transformative Works and Cultures.

Manifesto

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

I have acquired a wealth of practical experience through my service on the OTW Board of Directors and on the Board of Directors of the Ada Initiative, and I’m eager to continue to use my skills and expertise to strengthen the OTW and help to support its mission. Moreover, the Board has become a place where my skills and experience are not just valuable, but valued, which makes the choice to run for another term easy.

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

The skills and experience I bring to the Board of Directors are a combined three and a half years’ service on Boards of Directors (a year and a half of which is as a Secretary), a total of seven years’ experience with the OTW in various roles, and a broad familiarity with other organizations working in the fields of open source and open culture. For instance, this year I served on the reviewers committee of the Inspire campaign, a Wikimedia Foundation effort to increase gender diversity on Wikipedia and its related projects through funding community-proposed efforts, and I’m also currently the Video Archivist for WisCon, working to digitize and make available the con’s rich history as a feminist science fiction convention. All these experiences have made me broadly familiar with several different organizational models as well as what sorts of policies, structures, and philosophies make for a well-run organization in general.

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

I’m concerned that this question’s phrasing gives people an inaccurate idea of how the OTW Board (or any board) works! As directors, we’re responsible for the overall management and governance of the OTW, so the fundamental goal for any director’s service is to have executed their responsibilities to the best of their ability in order to best serve the organization and its mission. That said, the Board’s overall goal for the next three years is clear: to work to implement the OTW’s strategic plan by supporting Strategic Planning and VolCom in their work, by working with various committees to execute the goals identified in the plan that relate to them and their projects, and by doing the work to carry out the goals related to its own roles. So on one level, that’s the goal I want to work with the rest of the Board to achieve; but more broadly, in three years I want the OTW to be a non-profit organization with a growing budget that is well-positioned for long-term sustainability. To be clear, this is a challenge, but it’s one that we–the OTW as a whole–are completely capable of meeting.

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 member of the Board of Directors I’ve interacted with all of the committees responsible for these projects over the past three years, and in my personal and professional life outside the OTW I interact with all of them in various capacities: AO3 is the primary place where I consume fanfic at this point (though never as much as I’d like!); I’ve published a scholarly article with TWC and have cited the essays it publishes in my own academic work; Fanlore has explained to me many things about fandom(s) that I didn’t know; and the OTW’s legal advocacy work has been very important in working to defend and extend protections for my experience of the internet in various ways, not least among them its efforts to secure DMCA exemptions for vidding practices, since I am a vidder. Open Doors and its work have inspired me to think carefully and critically about archives, archiving, and the value of doing the same for non-digital fandom history, which helped me formulate my goals for my work as the Video Archivist for WisCon.

It’s an unfortunate reality of the OTW Board of Directors as it currently stands that executing our dual responsibilities of governance and management mean that we don’t really have much time to actively collaborate with the committees we’re overseeing. It’s far more often the pattern that committees come to us with proposals for various projects, which we then review: most of our collaboration consists of working with committees in this phase to address concerns they may have missed in their initial proposal(s), sometimes because those concerns involve aspects of organizational operations that they’re not familiar with because they fall under the Board’s purview. I look forward to continuing to work with these committees to grow the OTW’s projects!

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?

One question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is sustainability. The topic first came up for me as part of the discussions about shutting down the Ada Initiative, and though that was the right choice for Ada, it’s obviously not for the OTW: so, what do we need to do to make sure that the OTW is sustainable over the long term, not just three but five or ten or twenty years down the line? There are still a lot of choke points in the OTW where we ask too much of individual volunteers or don’t have adequate provisions for the loss of key people (in a “hit by a bus” scenario, or for whatever reason), and dealing with those failure points is definitely a big part of making the OTW sustainable. Executing the strategic plan will help towards that sustainability as well, obviously, but it’s something I think we on the Board have only started to surface explicitly in our thinking, and we can and should do that more going forward.

Another question I’ve been thinking about is visibility. One thing that I sometimes find frustrating in my conversations with people around the world is that they haven’t heard of the OTW, or if they have, they only know about the AO3–and plenty of AO3 users have no idea that AO3 is a project of and supported by OTW! There’s clearly plenty of scope for the OTW to be more visible in the spaces of open culture and open source activism and to advocate in more visible ways for fandom and fanworks as legitimate activities outside the legal sphere, and doing so would be in service to our mission. That’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s another task that will ultimately strengthen the organization.

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?

The key responsibilities of the Board of Directors are stated in the bylaws: the Board is responsible for the overall governance of the OTW in service to its mission, and since the Board has not delegated any of its responsibilities to a paid employee like an executive director or director of operations, that means the Board is also currently responsible for the OTW’s day-to-date management. As Secretary, one of my key responsibilities is to maintain the OTW’s bylaws; thanks to that, my service on the Board of Directors of the OTW and of the Ada Initiative, and my work with other organizations, I am very familiar with the legal requirements for a U.S. based non-profit.

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 am not currently serving in any other OTW roles.

Elections Committee Note: on Sept. 14, a typo was fixed in the response to question 4 (first paragraph, last sentence) with the permission of the candidate.

Aline Carrão’s Bio and Manifesto

Bio

Aline has a Law degree from the Universidade de Juiz de Fora (Brazil). She has worked in consumer protection and civil law and is currently continuing her education to work as a civil servant. Aline discovered fandom back when Harry Potter was taking over the world and never left. You can find her under the fannish identity of LilyC at AO3 and on Tumblr. She joined the OTW in 2013 as a tag wrangler and slowly got involved in other parts of the organization; she’s now staff in Support and Translation. In Support, she’s addressed concerns, questions and feedback from users; in Translation, she manages over 150 volunteers and has completed projects with strict timelines in an atmosphere of constant and productive team-wide communication.

Manifesto

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

I believe I have valuable experience to bring to the Board as a member of several OTW committees and liaison to yet another. It’s useful to have people from a variety of committees on the Board; different teams have different experiences and needs, and bringing in people who have had contact with how work is getting done successfully in various projects will help Board have a broader perspective on the OTW and its committees.

Also, managing Translation volunteers has given me insight into working with a hugely international and diverse group of people, an experience I hope will help getting the Board and the committees working toward the same goals.

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

I have worked for the past year managing volunteers for the OTW’s Translation committee, overseeing independent teams with different needs, goals, and capacities. Some of the diverse tasks required include arranging and leading meetings with people from all over the world; recruiting and training volunteers and staffers; handling 50-100 emails a day on average; writing internal documentation; leading and participating in projects big and small; and collaborating with a large number of committees. Because Translation works with several parts of the OTW, I have learned to work closely with other teams while taking into consideration their needs and specific restrictions. I believe these experiences will be very helpful when stepping up to Board work.

I have carried out a great deal of personnel management and project coordination in the org, and have learned what works and what doesn’t work. I believe right now the OTW needs, more than anything else, the ability to organize itself in a practical and goal-oriented way so our volunteers’ and projects’ objectives can be reached in a reasonable timeframe with a minimal amount of hassle for all involved. I think my experience so far can be very helpful with that.

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

I want to achieve a Board that is more open to feedback and receptive: one that fully acknowledges that committees are in the best position to determine what their day-to-day needs and goals are, and that works towards supporting and enabling these goals without creating unnecessary obstacles or delays. A Board committed to answering questions, proposals and requests in a timely and comprehensive fashion, taking into consideration that everyone’s time and skills are valuable and need to be respected.

I would like to see a Board that is comfortable being open about their plans and explaining the background and content of their decisions to the rest of the organization and the membership. That is able to communicate openly and inform the OTW’s volunteers about ongoing discussions in an accessible and understandable format, and whose members can put grudges and fraught personal histories behind them and work with committees and staff in a productive way.

The OTW would benefit from a Board that accepts that plans and “best practices,” while useful, need to be adapted to the reality at hand and our very particular circumstances; and that habits, procedures and tools should always be subject to change as the OTW grows.

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’m a longtime AO3 user, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I access the site at least once a day—even aside from being a wrangler and part of the AO3 Support team, working closely with all other committees that maintain the Archive. I have also had contact with all other OTW projects to different degrees, be it through looking up an article on Fanlore, translating a news post about Legal’s work, or contacting Open Doors to talk about an archive import announcement.

I think what our projects need is support that empowers them and helps them to do their work as well as possible. The best way to collaborate with any of those committees and projects is to accept first and foremost that each of them is different, and has a distinct culture and environment. As a result, we should listen to what the committees tell us, understand how they work, and plan and act accordingly as much as possible. If, for example, Open Doors needs a new tool, or Fanlore needs more staffers, or AO3 coders need to hire a contractor, we should facilitate these things to allow the committees to do their work.

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?

Accountability: I would like to see a change in how accountability is currently a one-way street in the OTW. Committees are expected to keep open, clear, and up-to-date meeting minutes and agendas; to report monthly on what they have been doing to Board and to other committees; to present well-researched proposals whenever they’re thinking of doing anything; and to document their internal procedures and structures thoroughly. This standard is not followed by the Board and this has to change. The Board should abide by the same level of accountability that is expected of OTW committees—it should lead by example, not lag years behind.

In more practical terms, this means discussing non-personnel matters in open meetings by default, except when explicitly requested otherwise by the committees or people involved; keeping meeting agendas and minutes accessible and understandable, with context and relevant information about decisions made; reporting monthly to all volunteers and committees about what the Board has been working on regularly; and keeping Board’s wiki section up to date with relevant documentation about its internal structure, responsibilities, roles, roadmap, projects and non-personnel matters under discussions. OTW volunteers shouldn’t find out about major org news from twitter or tumblr; there should be internal communication of what’s going on, and currently there is absolutely none.

Cross-committee collaboration: There is far less cross-committee collaboration in the OTW than there could and should be: we lack the tools, the open communication channels, and the flexibility. It makes everyone mostly unaware of what everyone else is doing—and getting anything done together is unnecessarily difficult. We need to work to facilitate more talking between different committees, without tying that to a rigid format or hierarchy. Moving away from choke points in communication can only benefit the OTW and we should do all we can to acquire the tools and create the environment that will make this possible.

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 done some reading into the legal requirements for nonprofits in Delaware, where the OTW is incorporated, and more specifically with what is expected of nonprofit directors under US law: essentially, legal, management and financial oversight, executed with due care, with loyalty to the membership, and in good faith.

Board has the responsibility to uphold the goals and mission of the OTW and its projects, and to support the volunteers working to achieve said goals. This means not only networking with other organizations and individuals working towards the same objectives, but also making sure all committees and staff have the tools they require to do their work. Board has a duty to supervise the financial well-being of the organization, and to ensure that fundraising, spending and accounting are happening responsibly, honoring all the fans who have entrusted us with their donations. Board should communicate with chairs effectively and behave with integrity and commitment in order to ensure an overall environment of feedback, helpfulness and productivity.

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 don’t have any chair roles at the moment, and I can step down from my current positions should it become necessary. I intend to wait and see how much work and time Board will demand and restructure my OTW roles as needed taking this into account.