Chat Transcript with Margaret MacRae and Jessica Steiner – Nov 1, 2014

Trey C

I think we can just get started? People can always come in whenever.

Hi everyone, and welcome to our candidate chats! This is the final one of a series of three, 90-minute-long chats with two of our Board candidates – the candidates present today are Margaret MacRae and Jessica Steiner. The purpose of these is to see how candidates interact, both with each other and the public, and to give OTW volunteers and members a chance to ask questions not already covered in their manifestos, bios, and Q&A, as well as to ask individual questions of specific candidates. If you missed the first two, the transcripts of all three chats will be posted publicly on November 4.

We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

– Please keep them reasonable and polite (I may declare a question out of bounds if necessary, in order to spend our limited time on questions the candidates can reasonably answer).

– As I said earlier, make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the manifestos (http://transformativeworks.org/news/board-candidate-manifestos-qa-and-chats) or the Q&A (http://transformativeworks.org/news/elections-2014-qa-and-chats). If it’s a follow-up, please say so.

– Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.

– Raise your hand to speak, like this: o/. You will be called on when it is your turn to speak. Use /done when you’re finished.

I don’t think I have any questions left over any more, so I’ll go ahead and open the floor.

😀

Trey C

Anyone?

Jessica S.

Everyone’s still recovering from Halloween parties

Trey C

Point, Jessica xD.

M. J. MacRae

or halloween party fails

Jessica S.

Yeah, I’m sorry MJ :<

Trey C

Alright, I’ll start us off then. This question is aimed at both candidates.

Jessica S.

I didn’t actually attend a Halloween party but I did have nearly 200 children rob my house of candy

Trey C

(Gah, worst thing about Halloween is all the KIDS)

Anyway, yes. What steps would you plan to undertake as a Board director to foster healthy communications between the Board, OTW committees and workgroups and users or OTW members?

Jessica S.

(It totally cramped our Elementary-watching with pausing every 10 seconds)

I can get this one first, MJ?

M. J. MacRae

cool

Jessica S.

I think a lot of it is somewhat outside of my control.

Jessica S.

But on a personal level, I am making a real commitment to listen to feedback, even if there’s that knee-jerk reaction of like “Oh it’s that person” or “No they’re wrong”

One thing that I really truly believe, and this goes back to my background as a writer, that all concrit had something to it

Even if you disagree, the reason why someone is saying what they’re saying is often valid and can indicate legit problems elsewhere that also should be addressed

(And if this makes no sense, I apologize. I’m not yet caffeinated)

I also want to try to encourage the same attitude in my fellow Board members

Trey C

(You’re good, no worries!)

Jessica S.

Furthermore, I want to spend time with each committee, either on some kind of rotation or whatever, so that people feel comfortable coming to me and so I have some idea of what’s going on directly with committees

And finally I intend to maintain office hours

/done

Trey C

MJ?

M. J. MacRae

First, I plan on continuing office hours. Or I should say I plan on having office hours; I can’t speak for anyone else. Overall, I believe in documenting Board’s actions as much as possible. I know that people will not always check minutes, and emails, but the Board’s actions should be clearly documented

that includes soliciting feedback, and listening to it

Elz

o/

M. J. MacRae

Much like Jess I strongly believe that there is value to all constructive criticism, and I think its really important to understand why someone responds they way that they do to a situation

finally, like Jess I am hoping that I will be able to meet with every committee on a rolling basis so that staffers can put a “face” to my name

/done

Trey C

Thank you both! Elz?

briar_pipe

o/

Elz

this is a very nuts-and-bolts kind of question, but do you think there’s anything practical that could be done to get board meeting minutes posted more quickly? I know they have to be approved, but there’s often important information in those, and not everyone is able to attend the meetings in person /done

SunnyB

o/

M. J. MacRae

I’ll take this one first

Yes! I do. So I want to recruit support staff one of whom will be in charge of taking minutes

ideally that person would take them, immediately after a meeting edit them, send the draft to board for review, board comments and votes over email, and the staffer gets them up on the wiki

I am shooting for a 24 hour turn around

BUT board will have to vote on them within that window to make it happen

M. J. MacRae

(which is somewhat outside of my control, but I plan on asking for us to adopt it as a standard practice)

/done

Jessica S.

^this

No but seriously

I’m personally quite curious if every individual person on the Board really needs to vote on minutes – I’m not certain if it’s a bylaw thing or a practice that’s been adopted? But I think if we can’t get to that 24 hour thing, I would suggest looking at that seriously and seeing if we can do a quorum instead, and put the minutes up anyway

/done

M. J. MacRae

(both a bylaw thing an possible a US legal thing. Legal will need to weigh in

the minutes are legal documents that Board can be held liable for.)

Jessica S.

(Yeah if that’s the case then you can’t do anything, obviously :<)

Other than try to really get a commitment from everyone to look at minutes in a timely fashion

/really done?

M. J. MacRae

I think it is quorum right now? I’ll look after this meeting

quorum should be fine

Jessica S.

Cool

Trey C

Alright, moving on for now, I’m sure that’s something you can keep in mind for later. briar_pipe?

briar_pipe

Thanks, Trey.

My question is for both candidates. First, have you seen the latest Drive information from DevMem and Comms? And if so, does that change any of your thoughts on our financial future, which you posted to the Q&A?

/done

M. J. MacRae

my last convo with dan was at the beginning of the drive, and I have not seen the final numbers. Until we can duplicate it I am hesitant to say this is more than a flash in the pan

and no matter how much we raise at drives, I dislike that our fundraising is limited to a single method. /done

Jessica S.

I’ve been following it generally, and I did see the final total. Obviously it is very exciting to blow through our goal so completely, especially since I know we weren’t sure we’d make it

I am slightly concerned people will take this and sit on their laurels. I understand some people (outside the org) are saying “Oh isn’t this great now you don’t need to do a drive in April” which isn’t realistic

And definitely agreed that we need to figure out what we did right and try to reach a consistent number we can rely on, as well as having more ongoing sources of money we can count on regularly for stability

/done

Trey C

Thanks! SunnyB?

SunnyB

thanks Trey

ok, so I had a question typed out, but I’d first like to ask a follow-up question if allowed re: multiple sources of income

Trey C

That’s fine, you can go ahead.

SunnyB

What do you see as possible alternative sources of income for the OTW, outside of Drives? I believe MJ mentioned grants in her Q&A, any others?

Jessica S.

I know it’s a somewhat fraught conversation, but the merch store would be an example

M. J. MacRae

capital campaigns

Jessica S.

(fraught because I know lots of people want it, but it’s more complicated than it sounds to set up)

/done for me

M. J. MacRae

developing large donors, corporate gifts (this one is fraught with some hard issues)

the merch store is a great idea and one that is not really fundraising to me. Dan can talk about the ton of development tools that we don’t really make use of as an org…yet

M. J. MacRae

(I have an NP 101 on this planned)

/done

Trey C

Awesome. Feel free to ask your original question, SunnyB.

SunnyB

thx for the answers!

ok, pretyped question: My question is to both candidates. Both of you have mentioned (I think even in the earlier chats) the idea of rotating through committees to learn more about them. How do you intend to for this to happen?

where I’m coming from is that the OTW is not like a RL workspace, where you could just walk into the department and by being present soak up what’s happening

how do you intend to “rotate through the committees”?

/done

Jessica S.

This is something that’s being talked about still, as part of replacing the liaison system.

M. J. MacRae

So, another support staffer for board I want to recruit will do calendaring, and essentially would set up meetings for me and then tell me to be there. I know not every committee has meetings like Legal uses a listserve, but the particulars will get ironed out (I am also assuming that these meetings will be scheduled at the committee’s convenience not mine)

Jessica S.

The basic idea is to attend meetings for those committees that do have meetings, not to participate but to just be there and answer questions if necessary and just to see how things are going

For committees that don’t have meetings, we’ll have to get creative.

M. J. MacRae

in a perfect world I would like to meet with each committee once a quarter but that will need to be tested and figured out

Jessica S.

Either way, it’d depend a lot on what the committee can accommodate and what’s practical. So conversations with chairs will be important to figuring it out

/done

M. J. MacRae

like I don’t want to impose to often or ignore anyone at the same time

/done

Trey C

Okay, I think SunnyB was last in line so we’re open now. Would anyone else like to say anything?

Lady Oscar

o/

Trey C

Yay. LO?

Lady Oscar

It sounds like with the support staff (I’m finding that confusing with Support staff ^^; ) taking over administrative functions and Ombuds handling disputes, Board will have more capacity free for other things. Ideally, what would you like those things to be?

/done

M. J. MacRae

First, working with chairs and volcom to get chair succession plans in place (I hate the term admin staff bc irl suit job the admin staff are treated like second class citizens and it drives me batty. They run the fucking courthouse numnuts!)

second, working with devmem to create and implement a development plan

third, working with AD&T and Systems to figure out how/where/when to hire contractors to offer the most assistance

those are the three off the top of my head./done

Jessica S.

First, figuring out what the Board wants to be! And how to make that happen.

M. J. MacRae

(oh thats a really good place to start)

Jessica S.

+1 to what MJ just said

I see the Board’s proper place is ensuring that the overall work of the org is moving us towards our vision, and that the committees are doing the work they should be doing

I don’t mean that in a micromanaging way, but for example, if a chair disappears, then the Board should be responsive in ensuring that the gap is closed as soon as possible

Or if a committee wants to start a new major project and submits a proposal, the Board shouldn’t be so bogged down in admin work and mediating interpersonal disputes that they can’t respond

So I think a lot of this admin staff idea is less about opening the Board up to doing things they aren’t already doing, but giving them time to actually do that important stuff in a timely fashion as well

/done

M. J. MacRae

in a timely fashion!

yes!!! this!!!

/done

Trey C

Thank you both xD. Any other questions?

(We’ll probably wrap at the hour if there aren’t)

Jessica S.

Well if there aren’t questions, I have one for you guys to finish us off

Trey C

Go on, Jess?

Jessica S.

What’s the first concrete thing that you would like MJ and I to do when we start our work on the Board?

M. J. MacRae

(you can include Sole, we will pass it along)

Jessica S.

(Totally XD)

Elz

o/ in answer

Trey C

Go ahead, Elz.

Elz

figure out how we’re spending our money next year in a way that will build trust with donors and encourage them to continue supporting us /done

Trey C

Anyone else?

briar_pipe

o/

Trey C

Yes, briar_pipe?

Eylul D.

o/

briar_pipe

Restructure Board basic task tracking and documentation to be more efficient and consistent, so that Board members are less stressed and more effective. /done

Jessica S.

Amen

Trey C

Eylul?

M. J. MacRae

word

Eylul D.

pace yourself enough that you can stay for full 3-year term. 🙂 (it is good for the org too)/done

Jessica S.

o7

Trey C

That looks like a salute! Was it a raised hand?

Jessica S.

It was a salute XD

Trey C

Oh! That’s pretty cool.

Alright, I think that’s it for the 2014 elections!

Before we finish off, I’m aware there was some frustration with the format of these chats – please feel free to send in any feedback you have (either about the chats specifically or the elections process as a whole) either via our public form: http://transformativeworks.org/contact/elections or directly to [email protected]