ETA September 29: Per Dan’s announcement, Dan Lamson has withdrawn from the ballot.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