Why did you decide to run for election to the Board? What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
There is no way to talk about why I decided to run for the OTW Board without sounding like an egomaniac, so with that having been said, let me move on to the questions. I have been planning on running for the Board for a good year now, since just before the contested election of 2011 brought the OTW’s structural problems – familiar to me since my service on I&O began in 2010 – out into the open. I have long experience with majority-female volunteer organizations (I have been a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts USA since the age of five) and with the fractious politics of relatively tight-knit institutions (such as academic communities), and I felt that joining the Board was the best way both to give back to fandom as a whole and to put my skills and experience with running organizations and managing people to work for the OTW at the broadest possible level. Furthermore, as a longtime member and the current Chair of Internationalization & Outreach, I am always convinced that the OTW could do more to support and enact the committee’s goals across the org, and I hope to work to support their achievement as a Board member.
What is your vision for the direction of the organization over the next year and how do you see working with your fellow board members to accomplish it?
Having served as a committee chair in this 2012 term, the single most important element of my vision for the Org in 2013 is the need to support the work of the Strategic Planning committee and then, when their review is finished, to take their reports about the state of the Org to heart and to craft a long-term plan that acknowledges both our strengths and our deficits. Along those lines, I’ve also become increasingly concerned over this term with the need for all committees to be responsive to the needs of other committees and the rest of the org. I find the question of “how do I see myself working with my fellow board members to accomplish this?” somewhat odd, as anyone who’s worked in these arenas can tell you that politics, like sausage-making, is a process that no one really wants to see happening in detail. Everything is going to get accomplished by discussion, and by being able to convince others that what I or the people I’m representing want isn’t a threat, is doable, and is worth doing. There are a lot of emails in my future, obviously.
What is your experience of the org’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 of the org you’re interested in.
As an I&O member and then Chair, I’ve worked in passing with most if not all of the Org’s committees, and I personally have been associated with Translation, Journal, and tag wranglers as well as with I&O. I’m also lucky to count a large number of OTW staffers and volunteers among my personal friends and acquaintances, and over the course of this summer I’ve met, spoken with, and visited many of them as well as many people I hadn’t met before. I use and have contributed to Fanlore, have an AO3 account and was a tag wrangler, read and have contributed to Transformative Works & Cultures and write for the TWC blog, and have read some of the Open Doors materials that are available online and am part of a research project that is planning to donate an archive of fannish oral histories to the University of Iowa thanks to the OTW’s connection with that institution’s holdings, to say nothing of using the DMCA exemption that the OTW’s Legal advocacy obtained in many of the AMVs and vids that I make. As much as I love AO3, I think some of our other projects such as Fanlore and Open Doors are equally cool, and I’d love for them to become better known and more widely used. I know a lot of committees that don’t deal with the Archive can easily feel like they’re not feeling as much of the institutional love, so to speak, and I hope as a Board member to more equally redistribute it, and to equalize the usage of the OTW’s resources across projects.
What does transparency mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?
I find the question of “what transparency means to me personally” to be (ironically) somewhat opaque, but that being said, I think transparency both inside and outside the Org is very important. I do make a point of talking, when inspired and as far as I can without violating confidentiality, about various OTW topics on my legal name journal, though in my experience, unfortunately, transparency can only do so much. Making information available is no guarantee that people will read it, whether inside or outside the Org, and I think it’s important to recognize that limitation. That said, I absolutely believe that the OTW should be as transparent as possible within the legal and operational limits of its status as a non-profit organization incorporated under U.S. law.
What does diversity mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?
The work of I&O is to “work toward inclusivity, accessibility and visibility for the OTW and its projects, both from a fannish and an international standpoint.” As an I&O staffer and then Chair, I have constantly tried to solicit a diversity of opinion within the Org for our work and our goals (diversity of opinion yields a higher likelihood of reaching consensus), and I have also tried explicitly both to foster and to support diversity of members and of opinion across the Org and its projects. One of the reasons that the I&O committee decided to conduct the audience survey in 2011 – which became a committee earlier this year – was because we were convinced that the survey would make visible the fact that the Org’s audience and membership was already more diverse, on multiple axes, than popular images indicated – and I think that the survey results released so far have actually borne this out. I remain committed to fostering diversity within the Org and its projects and to recognizing it within our audience, because I agree with Ada Intiative co-founder Mary Gardiner, as the title of her keynote at Wikimania 2012 in Washington, D.C. earlier this year had it, “fostering diversity [is] not a boring chore, [but] a critical opportunity.”
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 requirements and expectations of a non-profit board of directors under U.S. law, and I consider all of them to be essential both for fulfilling the OTW’s role as a non-profit to serve the public interest – which I believe passionately, in this role of burgeoning threats to a free and open internet from Big Media, that we do and are – and for strengthening the OTW’s institutional infrastructure. In particular, I think the Board’s advisory and supervisor responsibilities are key. Once we have a strategic vision, it is essential that we on the Board make sure that our strategic vision is implemented successfully. (In my opinion, a good part of the Board’s current work boils down to actually realizing already articulated visions, and strengthening the foundations of existing projects.)
How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the org, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?
Though I have been involved with a wide range of OTW projects, I am currently serving only on two committees, as a member of the Journal committee (through a courtesy appointment due to my status as one of the people writing for/running the TWC blog) and as Chair of I&O. I don’t anticipate, once the three of us on the TWC blog finish our project to redesign it, that continuing to write an average of one blog post a month will be too much of an additional strain on my time and resources. Although I’ve loved being Chair of I&O, I recognize that chairing a committee in addition to serving on Board is going to be too much, and I intend to co-Chair I&O for the 2013 term, with a firm commitment from me to phase out my Chairmanship by the end of next term (and probably by the beginning of the next election). Co-Chairing will allow the two of us to cover for each other while not leaving I&O bereft of stable leadership and not forcing me to default on my Board responsibilities, which can and should come before any individual committee.