Jess White: Jess White is an avid consumer of all things fandom, and has been since she discovered her aunt’s Kirk/Spock zines in the early 90s. She then graduated to scribbling her own fanfic in notebooks with sparkly pens, then eventually creating content on message boards, individual fandom forums, livejournal, and eventually AO3. Jess has volunteered in the OTW for the past six years, predominantly in the Policy & Abuse Committee. She has also worked briefly in Support (for about two years) and is currently also volunteering with Fanlore as a Policy and Admin staffer. Outside of fandom, Jess has been a teacher for fifteen years.
1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?
I decided to run for Board for a lot of the same reasons I have volunteered for six years: because I believe very strongly in what the OTW stands for. I want to continue to give back to the community in which I spend so very much of my time, both as a volunteer and creator. With three seats open this year, I decided that I can further offer my services to serve on the Board of Directors.
2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
My biggest experience that I will bring to the Board is the ‘adapt to survive’ aspect of being an educator in an American public school system. I teach teenagers and adults in a critically underfunded district. Balancing conflicting needs of the students, their education, the school administration, and their parents takes a bit of adaptability, such as constantly trying to find better resources and improvising with the materials that the school provides. All of us must navigate a variety of opinions and experiences in order to communicate. As a Board member, I will need to employ much of the same skill set, only focused in the fannish community. As well, I believe my work on Policy & Abuse can give me a unique glimpse into the back end of how projects like the Archive of Our Own works; I have seen firsthand how vital it is to have multiple committees work well together.
3. Choose one or two goals for the OTW that are important to you and that you would be interested in working on during your term. Why do you value these goals? How would you work with others to achieve them?
The most important goal for me is continued transparency between the OTW committees as well as transparency of our organization to both the fannish and nonfannish public, as I know that in the past that has been an issue. I do believe that the current Board has done very well in continuing to build transparency with news posts- e.g. the Finance committee, the work of the Translation committee, Docs, and Communications to ensure that our news reaches a wider audience, the often Herculean tasks of AD&T to ensure the OTW is always improving, and the updates of the OTW’s Strategic Plan. I would like to continue to work towards these endeavors. Many people only use AO3 and don’t realize how much goes on behind the scenes of the OTW to keep projects like the Archive running. We have hundreds of volunteers working on several projects to make sure that people have a place that works to preserve fannish content. The “for fans by fans” part of the OTW has always been something I’ve been interested in helping with, and I believe serving on Board will offer another perspective. As for working with others, I would like to actively support the committee Chairs, and by extension the committees where I can, and ensure they have what they need to continue to reach as wide an audience as possible.
4. What is your experience with the OTW’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Try to include a range of projects, though feel free to emphasize particular ones you have experience with.
Most of my experience lies with the Archive of our Own’s Policy & Abuse committee and as a Fanlore staffer. I have also volunteered with Support, and have recently begun volunteering for Fanlore. In Policy & Abuse, we work very closely with Translation, Legal, Support, and AD&T to ensure that all reports that users submit get some sort of resolution. I also work on the Fannish Next of Kin team, which continues to lay the groundwork to help preserve fanworks in case of a user’s demise or incapacitation. AD&T has been able to give Policy & Abuse staff tools to make our workload more efficient. There has been discussion of paying staff from AD&T and Systems to help support the work that they do, and I think this is something that we as an Organization should actively move towards. Having seen how far we’ve come since I’ve begun volunteering is really exciting, and I would like to continue to collaborate with these and other committees to ensure that we continue to do well. As for Fanlore, there is a lot of collaboration between the different Fanlore teams, but my capacity there is more to help users with issues they’re having. I am still new, but so far this experience allows me to work more closely with users.
5. 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 have been interested in running for Board for several years, and now is a good time to run. I have asked other Board members how they balanced everything, and believe that focusing on Board work will not be an issue. Going into a new task with foreknowledge of the expectations involved will allow me to achieve the balance needed in order to effectively use my time.