Chat Transcript – July 29 22:00 UTC

[Note: All questions from members and candidate responses appear in the form they were submitted and represent only the views of the individual who wrote them. Questions and responses are not endorsed by the Organization for Transformative Works.]

​​Marion McG

Hi everyone, and welcome to our 3rd candidate chat for 2023!

Today you’ll have the opportunity to observe 2 candidates: Anh P and Jennifer H.

My name is Marion and I’ll be hosting the candidate side today. On the audience/open_chat side, your host will be my fellow Elections Committee member Dae.

Dae, can you wave so everyone can see you?



Marion McG

Thanks, Dae!

A transcript of the candidate side of the chat will be posted publicly on our website. The open chat transcript will not be posted there, but its transcripts will remain visible until after the election. During the chat, you may see candidates fix their typos; this is to make Elections Volunteers’ job easier later.

As the candidates discuss each question, audience members can notify Dae that you have questions for the candidates – either follow-ups or new questions – by raising your hand like this: o/ (for new questions), or o// (for follow-ups to the current question)

A moderator will post the questions in the #questions channel. Please vote on questions you’d most like to see answered by reacting to them in the #questions channel with the :uparrow_otw:  emoji. I will ask them during appropriate pauses in the conversation between the candidates. We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

– Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.

– Refer to everyone in the room by their username in this conversation. Don’t use other names you may know them by.

– Please keep questions reasonable and polite, as well as under 50 words (these are our expectations:

– Please note that we will not accept questions that require candidates to read and respond to any linked posts;

– Make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the platforms

( or the Q&A ( If it’s a follow-up to one of those, please say so.

Now, I’d like to welcome our candidates and invite them to say hello.

Jennifer H

Hi everyone!

Anh P

Hello everyone!

Marion McG

Our first question of the chat is for both of you! There has been a consistent and unfortunate pattern of Board members resigning before their term is complete. What are your thoughts about this? How would you approach or balance the obligation to serve the needs of the OTW as a Board member and your personal capacity to do so?

Anh P

I mentioned this in my Board work II answers:, but I can elaborate further:

I don’t think the current workflow distribution for Board members is productive. I’ve talked about this with Kari Dayton, and one major stressor for Board members is that people often forget that Board members are also fellow volunteers with commitments elsewhere, and it’s illogical and stressful to ask Board members to contribute more of their volunteering hours to tackle both Board work and their work in other OTW committees.

I proposed the Board assistants, or as some other volunteers prefer to call it Board Assistants Team (BAT), with the hope that we can lighten some of the workload for Board members. During several weeks of Elections, I’ve spent at least 10 to 15 hours researching and fact checking, sometimes significantly more – for example this week, as I have 2 candidate chats and 1 Q&A. It’s fortunate for me that my day job permits me to do so, but I’m aware that several of our current or former Board members do not have that time.

I also mentioned in my Board Work I Q&A about how I plan to take hiatus from Fanlore and Open Doors to accommodate my Board training and Board work. I hope that, similar to how I receive support from fellow volunteers during the election process, I will receive support from them again in the upcoming months for Board training.

Jennifer H 

This will not be true for every former Board member who has resigned, but I feel as though this is consistent with my hypothesis that Board work is not treated as seriously as I feel it should be. For example, in the most recent Q&A post (, I mentioned “Former Board members have shared that they put an hour or so into Board duties a week and I have found that to be appalling, especially in the context of everything that the organization needs to work on.”

My thoughts are that once Board members realize how much work is actually needed to fix the many (and varied) issues the organization faces, it can quickly become overwhelming. It may be that they feel they are not equipped to tackle some/many of these issues and therefore feel the need to resign. I believe myself and all of my fellow candidates have a better understanding of what the work needed will take.

One thing that will help is managing expectations with users, volunteers, and members on what the Board is reasonably able to accomplish in a certain time frame. We will not be able to fix everything in our tenure, although I certainly hope that we will make large and much-needed strides. My aim is progress, not perfection. We often let perfect be the enemy of good.

My approach would be to lean on my support systems, both in fandom and in my personal life, when I am tackling more challenging aspects of the role. I will also set reasonable short and long-term goals to keep focused (and leave room in my life to respond to urgent issues that may arise throughout the years).

Marion McG

Thank you both! Next we have individual questions for each candidate.

For Anh, we have a question that Jennifer answered earlier in Chat 2: It’s become apparent that there are missing checks and balances within the OTW to hold those in leadership positions accountable for misconduct. Once elected, what first steps would you take to cover these gaps?

And for Jennifer: You’ve mentioned you’re very new to the OTW in general, what benefits and issues do you think this might pose as you serve on board?

Jennifer H

While I am new to the organization, I am not new to fandom—this allows me to better understand the users and members of the OTW. As I have only recently taken the leap into volunteering, I feel as though my perspective aligns more with those on the outside of the organization.

Some of the benefits of this include:

I am less ingrained in the “usual ways of working” and I am able to question procedures and policies that are typically seen as “set in stone”

I understand how it feels to be on the outside of the organization and the lack of information that is shared—something that is very important to me, as I want to greatly improve external (and internal!) communications

Some of the cons include:

My institutional knowledge is lacking; I have been reading internal documents and guidelines to better understand the varying committees, but some of this knowledge is quite spread out or out of date—and I don’t always  know who to ask or where to go to find out more

I am aware that there are many aspects of the organization that I am unfamiliar with and I don’t necessarily know what all of it entails—these ‘unknown unknowns’ are something I’m trying to be conscious of. I know I will need to listen to what more experienced volunteers have to say while still respectfully trying to question their assumptions about how things ‘must be done’

Anh P

I also mentioned this in my Board Work II answers, specifically the part related to Code of Conduct violations. I want to reach out to VolCom, as they are often the neutral party in CCAP and Codes of Conduct violations, to develop procedures to help volunteers and chairs provide context and citations in the case of Codes of Conduct violations. I also want to reach out to volunteers and let them know that the Organisation is developing those procedures and policies to hold those in leadership positions accountable for misconduct.

One of the issues that I’ve observed within the Organisation about reporting misconduct and Code of Conduct violations is that volunteers are often unaware of the process, and how to report, as well as who to reach to express their concerns. I’ve discussed this with one of the VolCom chairs, and they expressed their willingness to be a neutral party to help volunteers when there are concerns about misconduct related to their chairs.

I acknowledge that our current conflict management is still lacking, and I want to start by helping volunteers to be aware of our current resources, such as VolCom, and to address their concerns about holding leadership positions accountable for misconduct.

Marion McG

Thanks for your thoughtful answers! Our next question is: What would you consider to be a successful first year as Board member? I.e. at the end of the year, how would the OTW have changed in ways you considered to be positive?

Jennifer H

Most of the major issues with the org are not things that can be solved in one year (structural racism, volunteer burnout, committees being silo’d, etc) so progress is likely to look like making steps towards solving issues, rather than solving the issue itself.

This will include setting up and putting systems in place to tackle these issues, as well as reaching out to external experts on these topics (reviewing the CCAP system, internal/external audit, etc).

With the above said, one of the more tangible tasks would be reviewing the bylaws and drafting documentation around board members taking hiatuses and how that should be handled. We can also have documentation drafted around how board members and chairs should be disciplined should their behavior fall afoul of the conduct expected of volunteers, as this has historically been lacking. Additionally, the CCAP rehaul process is something that should be prioritized and be completed well before the end of one year.

Anh P

In short, I want to complete my training in the appropriate time frame. I also mentioned several projects as well as the major types of Board work that interest me in my previous Q&A (specifically Board Work I & II). I hope that by the end of my first year, OTW will improve our transparency in communication, both externally and internally. I also hope that the HR outsourcing project will reach completion by the deadline and OTW will receive the several necessary HR functions to deal with our issues.

Furthermore, since I also expressed my concerns about elected Board members vanishing from the public after the election, I hope that by the end of my first year, OTW will develop better ways of communicating and PR. I want fans outside of the Organisation to follow and contribute to the improvement of the OTW, and that we reach key stages in our Strategic Plan for 2023-2026:, specifically regarding Paid Staff and Documentation.

Marion McG

Thank you both!

Here’s our next question: “First, I want to thank all candidates for choosing to run during this tumultuous time. As many of you stated that the decision wasn’t easy, do you have any any suggestions on how to encourage people to run or to improve the experience of running?”

The audience member said that they want to make it clear they think it’s fine if the answer is broad or if you only answer one half of their question. They’re just curious about the perspective from someone who is in the middle of the process.

Anh P

I want the OTW to have procedures in place to better protect its volunteers, and not just the election candidates. Elections has done a wonderful job supporting and preparing me for my candidacy which has been very helpful and encouraging to me.

That being said, I’ve seen several worrying examples of the Organisation choosing to release statements and announcements that, in the process of protecting the Organisation’s best interests, also accidentally throw its volunteers under the bus. In discussions with fellow volunteers about how the OTW can better protect our volunteers and candidates, several volunteers have proposed pursuing an informal research project about how the OTW can improve our democratic process.

For example, is it feasible for the Organisation to transition to another vehicle of non-profit governance aside from the current corporation model, such as a Trust? I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve spoken to fellow volunteers who are lawyers or law students and are excited to tackle this. I also contacted the Legal committee about this proposal, and I hope that we can research a better way to practise democracy in the OTW, while decreasing the risk of doxxing and harassment toward candidates.

That being said, Governance Research and Governance Development are also amongst our key goals of the 2023-2026 Strategic Planning. As a Board member, I’d help monitor and support the implementation of them, alongside the Strategic Planning committee.

Jennifer H

One suggestion would be more support for the Board in general to make running seem like a less daunting task; this may look like delegating tasks to a board assistant subcommittee to free up board time to actually make decisions instead of e.g. drafting all the paperwork themselves. I also think de-siloing the board and making the process more approachable would help here as well.

I acknowledge that the ‘wallet name’/’real name’ is off-putting for many people, especially given the way some people will use this information to find details on candidates. However this is a legal requirement that cannot easily be changed and it’s important for people to know who they are voting for, especially if they are in a position of power. I think this further consolidates the need for a way for capable and enthusiastic volunteers to be able to contribute to the board’s strategic work in a way that won’t make them feel unsafe, such as the board support subcommittee I mentioned before.

Sometimes being a Board candidate is deeply scary and vulnerable. You’re putting yourself and all of your thoughts out there for thousands of people to read and respond to. But in some ways, this should feel daunting, as the decisions we make as board members will ultimately influence the direction of an entire organization which serves millions of users. I don’t want to say this and scare off anyone from running—I just think it is important to be cognizant of the position that you’ll be taking on.

I want reaffirm that the elections committee and general volunteer base has been exceedingly supportive during this election process. People are very happy to answer questions, look over Q&A responses, and in general share kind words of support. I want to show future candidates that you will have a support system and we will all be cheering for you!

I also want to note that I really like and agree with Anh’s answer!

Marion McG

Thanks! Now on a lighter note, what’s your favorite tag on AO3?

Jennifer H

My favorite tag is “Take Your Fandom to Work Day”! I will read any of those fandom blind 😍

Anh P

It’s a very challenging question, as I don’t think it’s possible for me to pick one single favourite tag on AO3.

So I’m going with my top three here — in alphabetical order, but no fic recs as my bookmarks stay between me and Cthulhu:

BAMF![insert my current fandom obsession/blorbo]

Crossover and Fandom fusion

Time travel ruin-it/Time travel break-it

Marion McG

You’re right, that was a tough question! 😄

Thank you both

Here’s our next question: from recent events we see that there is a delicate but critical balance between a reasonable confidentiality policy while upholding accountability and transparency. As board members, what do you think are the most important factors to consider when finding that balance?

Jennifer H

I think, when measuring confidentiality versus transparency as it comes to people (e.g. volunteers undergoing a disciplinary process), it is important to consider who could (or will) be harmed. In some cases, confidentiality harms our volunteers who are unfairly treated and feel they have no recourse. In some cases, transparency harms volunteers whose privacy is compromised. It is a delicate, but critical, balance for sure.

When it comes to the organization and processes as a whole, transparency would mean more proactive communication with volunteers and outside parties; volunteers often think that the Board are making decisions in a silo with no external input, and that perception is only worse for users who are not also volunteers. While this is not what the question is driving at, I do want to note that I think the way OTW works is actively opaque, and our communication needs significant work to rectify.

This would also allow for accountability. If we as the Board talk about making changes that the volunteer or wider user base consider troubling, then this offers them an avenue to comment on this, rather than the Board forcing through the change without input. Ideally, this would mean the Board can talk about things in a way that doesn’t breach any confidentiality policies.

Anh P 

The most important factors to consider when finding that balance are how we can protect our volunteers from harassment due to the lack of transparency and accountability, and to respect our volunteers’ wishes for privacy.

I’ve seen volunteers discuss that in a typical case knowledge and information should stay on a need-to-know basis. I’ve seen examples of Board members or people in leadership positions releasing hasty announcements to explain themselves, and in the process they accidentally release information that should stay confidential.

I want the Organisation to improve our procedures to counter these risks. I want volunteers to feel reassured about our commitment to privacy, but at the same time allow us the right level of transparency and communication to ensure accountability.

This also echoes my wish to improve our existing procedures related to Code of Conduct violations to allow for clarification, citation and context. I also want more detailed policies, and perhaps informal best practices, regarding Confidentiality clauses for the Organisation.

Marion McG

Thanks! Our next question is about race and racism in the OTW:

it can be uncomfortable when white and non-white volunteers work to tackle racism, since there’s inevitable emotional tension between them. have you found yourself in an uncomfortable situation like that to address racism within or out of OTW? did you manage to work around tension and achieve positive outcome? what have you learned from that?

Anh P

Okay first I have something to confess, I’ve been uncomfortable with a number of white people and their actions/reasoning when discussions related to racism happened on the OTW internal chat tool. Fortunately for me, I have several white friends in the Organisation who have been kind enough to offer to be my trusted white people to talk on my behalf –  a volunteer of colour –  to those uncomfortable white people.

I also discussed these issues with one volunteer of colour who is vocal and outspoken about racism inside the Organisation, and they actually reassured me that not everyone could be “rabblerousers” in the fight to address racism within the Organisation, as we would need diplomats too. I was very relieved to hear that.

The fight to address racism within the OTW is ongoing, and I’d imagine that it’ll continue for years to come. However, since I’m not alone in this fight, and we volunteers of colour actually receive support from several of our white volunteers, I believe we can maintain solidarity and cooperate across our differences to address these issues.

Jennifer H

As a white volunteer, I definitely do feel uncomfortable when talking about, pointing out, or addressing racism in and out of the OTW. It is uncomfortable to be confronted with the reality that my words or actions (or the organization that we are in) can and do hurt people. But that uncomfortability is for me to address within myself and not let it affect the work that I am doing to support non-white volunteers and to address the systemic racism within the organization.

Recently I have called out the racism of a former Board member both internally and publicly (through another volunteer’s post). I have called out the racism and racial bias reflected in a recent volunteer’s CCAP. I have made it clear that certain questions sent through to a fellow candidate were appalling and unacceptable. Through this, I have learned that it is better to put myself out there in solidarity than to stay silent and allow it to continue.

Marion McG

Thank you for your thoughtful answers. Here’s our next question, and our last question for this chat:

Besides AD&T, are there any other existing committees, as opposed to HR and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), that you think could benefit from paid help?

Anh P

A committee besides AD&T that would benefit greatly from paid help is Finance. I believe that the committee has been recruiting for volunteers to help with investment of the OTW surplus fund for at least two years without results. I think it’s time to look at the issue from another perspective and ask professional paid help about it.

From my discussions with Strategic Planning volunteers, and from my understanding of our 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, I’m aware that research about fundraising is one of our key goals. However, if it took us two years to find no volunteers to assist with our investment, I don’t want to spend another three years waiting to appoint someone as a Fundraising Research Officer to tackle these issues. I hope that after we reach the key stage of Paid staff transition in our Strategic Plan, we can start the process of hiring paid help for investment.

Of course, additional research about fundraising models should happen simultaneously while we’re looking to hire someone, as I believe such knowledge is important.

Jennifer H

This is an interesting question, because one of the reasons AD&T is an excellent candidate for paid help is the fact that they have easily definable tasks that require little to no fandom knowledge. Finance, Systems and Webs could benefit here as well.

I also believe that the organization should be more willing to reach out to external experts, such as in the event of a crisis where PR specialists, external legal counsel, or trust & safety expertise is required.

Once again, I agree with Anh as well 😊

Marion McG

That’s all the questions we have for today!

Thank you to our audience for being so supportive and for submitting questions! Thank you also to our lovely candidates. Thanks to Dae for modding the open chat, and to our other moderators working in the background. We’ll have the transcript of this room up on the website within a few days. Have a great day, everyone!

Jennifer H

Thank you, all! Miss January and Miss December (my cats, for the transcript) wish everyone the best as well

Anh P

Thank you Elections team and question askers, for another session of thought-provocative Q&A.

And I want to say thanks to two of the OTW volunteers who helped me beta-read my answers too.

Jennifer H

I also had two volunteers who helped me with my chat this morning and just now – thank you both!