Aline has a Law degree. 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. 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.
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.
At the request of the candidate, this post has been edited to remove personally identifiable information.