Matty Bowers’s Bio and Manifesto


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.


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.