Andrea Horbinski 2015 Q&A: Conflict Resolution, Group 2

According to the 2014 Strategic Planning retreat summary, Board has difficulty “recognizing the positive aspects of people they have had complex relationships with”. Do you believe this is a current problem in the OTW? What do you think can be done to create a more professional environment?

No Answer Provided.

Several of the Board’s minutes for their closed sessions this year had items like this: “Discussion of how to proceed in a complaint against a staffer.” Under what circumstances do you think it appropriate for the Board to file complaints against individual staffers? Do you foresee any potential problems or conflicts of interest with regards to something like this?

No Answer Provided.

The Board has retained an outside lawyer on a pro bono basis to advise them on various issues, including the involuntary removal of volunteers from the Org. What impact do you think this decision has had on the Org’s culture? Do you believe this is a useful tool for conflict management? Under what circumstances do you think external legal counsel specifically retained by and for the Board alone, in opposition to other volunteers in the Org, might be an appropriate step to take?

No Answer Provided.

There have been repeated complaints about the behavior of Directors toward staff and volunteers who have expressed that they have no avenue for addressing this sort of behavior. While Directors may now remove each other, most of these reports indicate that the rest of the Board was either dismissive of the concerns or actually supported the abusive actions of their colleagues. What are your feelings about exploring and instituting a process by which a requisite number of chairs, staff, and/or volunteers can call for a vote of the membership to consider the removal of a Director who has engaged in unprofessional conduct, abusive behavior, or otherwise violated the organization’s Code of Conduct?

No Answer Provided.

Andrea Horbinski 2015 Q&A: Other Questions, Group 2

Can you say something positive about three of your fellow candidates?

No answer provided.

A lot of the current problems seem to come back to a lack of scalability, especially with the massive growth of the Archive. A) What are your short-term plans to make this growth spurt work, B) What are your long term plans to avoid this problem in the future, when there’s another massive increase (of traffic, users, and/or fanworks etc.), a.k.a what structural changes would you strive for to make the OTW, and especially the Archive more sustainable.

No answer provided.

Whenever internationalisation is brought up in relation to fandom, I often hear the argument that it’s not needed yet, since there isn’t an “insert country/language/non-English fandom” presence in the OTW/on the Archive. Personally I feel like this is a chicken/egg situation. Is the OTW/AO3 so American/English language focussed because there isn’t enough of a non-English fandom interest, or is there no interest because there’s not enough non-American/English accommodation?

A) Where do you fall on this? What should come first?

B) If the next growth spurt is of a non-English, different fandom culture nature, how will you accommodate that?

No answer provided.

Andrea Horbinski 2015 Q&A: Election Process

After a few years of uncontested elections (including one which garnered 0 candidates initially), there are now more candidates than ever before for the smallest number of seats ever up for election. To what do you attribute this sudden surge of candidates, and what would you do during your time on the Board to promote consistent contested elections for Board seats?

No answer provided.

While the current election process is more independent than it was in previous years, it is still subject to some decisions made by the Board, which can be passed at any time without input from volunteers. It’s possible for the Board to even change the rules while an election is in progress to exclude some candidates or voters or to punish volunteers for visibly participating in the process. If elected, how would you ensure that each future election is unaffected by interests within the sitting Board?

No answer provided.

What do you think about the fact that two changes to the bylaws (reduction in size of board from seven to nine [sic], and the ability of two-thirds of the board to vote off another member with or without cause) means the board could dilute the election process? Effectively, the standing board could vote off any candidate who wins and with whom they disagree until they reach a candidate of whom they approve. Are you concerned about this?

No answer provided.

Andrea Horbinski 2015 Q&A: Conflict Resolution, Group 1

Please describe your approach to conflict resolution.

No answer provided.

What do you feel the Board’s role should be in staff and volunteer performance issues and/or disputes, if any? What guides your opinion on this topic?

No answer provided.

Throughout the years, the Board as a whole has had a reputation for personal conflicts with some OTW chairs, staffers and volunteers, as well as among themselves. Have you ever witnessed this during your years in the OTW? What do you think might fix this?

No answer provided.

In a hypothetical situation where you believed your fellow directors were behaving with hostility towards an OTW staffer’s request due to a personal grudge, how would you react? / How would you address a fellow Director who has been disrespectful or abusive to someone else in the organization? What if they refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for their behavior?

No answer provided.

Andrea Horbinski 2015 Q&A: OTW Culture and Communication, Group 1

How do you plan to engage staff and volunteers in dialogue regarding Board decisions and the direction of the organization? How about the membership?

No answer provided.

Talk about one thing a committee you served with did really well and how this taught you something valuable about collaboration in the OTW.

No answer provided.

What are three things you think Board can learn from committees?

No answer provided.

What are your thoughts on a more public ‘in person’ presence being established by the Org? How might you see this balanced with the desire and in some cases need for privacy?

No answer provided.

Andrea Horbinski 2015 Q&A: Finances, Group 2

Can you describe your ideal setup for OTW finances going forward, given that many of you flagged the current situation as an issue?

The current Board is emphatically aware that the current situation is less than ideal and has set out the general structure for the OTW’s finances going forward: by the end of this year we will have engaged a CPA to set up a structure for the OTW’s bookkeeping, as well as another CPA to review the books on a regular basis. We will also engage a firm to prepare the OTW’s tax returns from now on so that this important part of maintaining the OTW’s 501(c)3 status is taken care of quickly and accurately by professionals who have the expertise to do the best possible job. As we continue to grow the organization we will engage financial professionals who can help the OTW structure its overall finances and investments so that we are able to responsibly grow our assets while maintaining adequate funds to carry out our operations in service of our mission and to maintain the financial reserves mandated by the current strategic plan.

There is currently no internal or external auditing structure checking the OTW’s bookkeeping (no legal worries, here: the Delaware state laws do not require annual auditing from nonprofits). If you join Board, is this something you would like to change? If so, how?

The current Board is emphatically aware that the current situation is less than ideal and has determined how we will change it in order to move closer to best practices. By the end of this year we will have engaged a CPA to set up a structure for the OTW’s bookkeeping, as well as another CPA to review the books on a regular basis. We will also engage a firm to prepare the OTW’s tax returns going forward so that this important part of maintaining the OTW’s 501(c)3 status is taken care of quickly and accurately by professionals who have the expertise to do the best possible job. Each of these parts of the process will act as a check on the other, just as the Board and the Treasurer act as a check on them and each other. This accounting structure is very much a basic foundation; as we continue to implement the strategic plan we will continue to refine our financial tools, policies, and practices so that the Treasurer’s job does not become too much for any one person and so that the Board and necessary personnel maintain adequate access to the accounts while making them as secure as possible. At a minimum, however, this accounting structure will provide for regular external audits going forward so that we are able to quickly and accurately examine the overall state of the finances and details as necessary at any time.

Our finances are currently being overseen by only one person with actual decisional and content-producing power, which is concerning in terms of transparency, and efficiency. If elected, how would you go about building a sound administrative Financial structure for the Organization?

It is not correct to say that the Treasurer is the only person with decision-making or content-producing power in terms of the finances. Every financial decision is reviewed and approved by the Board, and every director has the ability to review the accounts even under the current, irregular bookkeeping structure. The draft budget was reviewed collaboratively by the entire Board with support from other attendees at the annual meeting in Vancouver. Other key personnel also have the access they require to do their work for the organization. As said above, the Board has set out the general structure for the OTW’s finances going forward: by the end of this year we will have engaged a CPA to set up a structure for the OTW’s bookkeeping, as well as another CPA to review the books on a regular basis. We will also engage a firm to prepare the OTW’s tax returns going forward so that this important part of maintaining the OTW’s 501(c)3 status is taken care of quickly and accurately by professionals who have the expertise to do the best possible job. This accounting structure is very much a basic foundation; as we continue to implement the strategic plan we will continue to refine our financial tools, policies, and practices so that the Treasurer’s job does not become too much for any one person and so that the Board and necessary personnel maintain adequate access to the accounts while making them as secure as possible.

I saw many concerns about finances in the candidates’ statements, but I did not see outsourcing financial oversight mentioned as a solution. I’d like to know what the candidates think about outsourcing (paying for) some responsibilities, in particular engaging a company with a background in financial services for non-profits.

An internal, volunteer Audit Committee would have made perfect sense several years ago when the OTW’s finances were still relatively simple and, equally to the point, when we had a much smaller asset base and effective operating budget than we do today. The Board has reviewed the position of the Treasurer as it was constituted until the present and concluded that the duties it consisted of (essentially, everything) were and are too much to ask of any one volunteer. In particular, the OTW is now at a point where its assets are or should be of sufficient complexity that finding an individual with the necessary skills to accomplish all aspects of the job essentially meant finding a professional, and also was less than desirable from the perspective of responsible oversight of the finances. Accordingly, the Board has determined that by the end of this year we will have engaged a CPA to set up a structure for the OTW’s bookkeeping, as well as another CPA to review the books on a regular basis. We will also engage a firm to prepare the OTW’s tax returns going forward so that this important part of maintaining the OTW’s 501(c)3 status is taken care of quickly and accurately by professionals who have the expertise to do the best possible job. Engaging professionals for these aspects of the job greatly lessens the burden on the Treasurer, ensures that these parts of the operations are taken care of accurately and regularly by people with proven expertise, and enables us to better support the OTW personnel working in service to our mission on a volunteer basis.