Katarina Harju 2015 Q&A: OTW Culture and Communication, Group 2

What in your opinion are three key aspects in which the Board needs to improve with regards to its interactions with OTW volunteers? What would you personally do to improve them?

The first step, I think, should be to simply have more interaction with the volunteers. Currently there really are no good opportunities for such interaction and that does need to change. Board members should also always remember that there is a power imbalance between them and the volunteers, currently more so than there should be, and that will naturally define interactions between them. I am hopeful that having clear policies for Board behaviour will help both sides feel more comfortable interacting with each other.

For the past several years, candidates who were later elected (or allowed due to uncontested election) have outlined several goals to improve the environment of the Board, the dynamic between the Board and staff, and other aspects of the OTW environment. But reports are that, despite this, things are not improving. Why do you think this is, and what steps will you take to stick to the goals you’ve outlined in this area if elected to the Board?

I believe at least part of the problem is that many of the Board members come from committees that work isolated from the other OTW committees. Trying to change the culture of an organization is not easy in the first place: I think it could prove to be nearly impossible if you are not really familiar with the culture as whole to start with. This is why I do want to stay and work on at least one committee in some form, because it’s a lot harder to lose track of my goals when I’m interacting every day with the people that are a large part of why I ran for the Board in the first place.

There have been reports from past directors and from both current and past volunteers and staff that the Board spends more time on petty disputes with each other and on targeting staff and volunteers who question their decisions than actually caring about the welfare of the organization. Whether it is true or not, the perception is there and it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the organization or the Board. How might you work to change this perception (or reality) and begin rebuilding trust between the Board and relevant constituencies?

I think the only way to change that perception is to move as much as possible of the Board’s work out into the open, and to keep people informed about what the Board does, and simply not engage in such behaviour as the question outlines.