Kari Dayton 2021 Q&A: Board Work/Communication

[Note: In total, there will be 3 Q&A posts to cover all of the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. Candidates were limited to 300 words per answer.]

Being on Board, you will experience periods of high-volume, high-stress work, and receive feedback ranging from thankful and enthusiastic to angry and hostile. Have you thought about what self-care routines and support systems you might need to have in place to maintain good mental health during your term?

Yes, I have thought about this. I think my experience with Support and my work experience with escalated customers will help me to put some context behind any angry or hostile feedback, so as to not take comments personally and to evaluate what information can be obtained from such comments. Negative comments are not inherently bad and should not just be ignored; instead, they can spark a conversation and inspire us to re-examine how we do things. This doesn’t mean that all negative comments are useful, but I think it’s always important to evaluate them instead of outright discarding them.

As to self-care, I have some very robust self-care routines in place already, which include reading (well, of course!) and ignoring the internet for a short time (usually a few hours while listening to a book or podcast).

The board isn’t very accessible to members that are not also volunteers. One example of this is the infrequency of public meetings. What do you think the board can do to be more accessible and accountable to paying members?

Currently, Board holds quarterly meetings, open to the public. Board is also definitely accountable to OTW members as Board consists of elected officials: OTW members have voted them in. If I am elected, we can definitely investigate ways to make Board’s day-to-day work more transparent (perhaps in the style of a blog post/series from a Board member’s perspective?). Board’s role is mainly guiding and signing things, and while they are public-facing, Board members hold a lot less power than you might think. However, if you’d like to get in touch, they are contactable at all times through email ([email protected]) or via the contact form.

The OTW Board often has to speak with one consistent voice when answering questions and requests from the public, individual volunteers, and various committees. This sometimes means enforcing policies for the good of the OTW that may go against your personal preferences. How would you balance this need for consistency?

I will always discuss with fellow Board members before stating anything, and always workshop any statements, and never say anything as “Board” unless it is approved by other Board members. My “personal preferences” don’t factor into it – if I am elected to Board, I speak as a Board member when doing Board work, and as myself (either as an Org volunteer or as a fan) at other times. My plan, if elected, is to always make it clear when I am speaking as a Board member versus when I am speaking as an OTW volunteer or as a regular fan. I am also aware that being elected to Board means that I must treat what I say and do in public spaces as always potentially connected to Board and the OTW (given that I am running under my legal name), in much the same way as other elected officials.

Committees with heavy workloads vs available volunteers like AD&T and PAC don’t seem to recruit as much as other committees (like Tag Wranglers). Should the board get involved in directing/monitoring recruitment cycles if individual committees have more work than their volunteer base can handle and aren’t recruiting?


Board can ask committees if there is anything they can do to help support these committees, but it is not inside Board’s purview to interfere with other committees and tell them how to do things. Additionally, it’s important to remember that recruiting and training new volunteers (for any committee) takes significant time and resources away from existing volunteers, so committees must balance a desire for more members with the rate-limiting effect of recruiting and training.

Essentially: more people is (almost) always good, but new people means time spent training them – which means less work is getting done while the new people are being trained. Recruiting more people isn’t an instant-fix solution, unfortunately.

Is there anything y’all have learned within OTW/AO3 that you didn’t know before?

One of the things that has become increasingly apparent as I’ve answered these questions and written my platform, during which time I have discussed Board and questions about how Board does things with others in the Organization, is how little power Board holds, which I think is a very good thing. The OTW is a very egalitarian organization, one that encourages and requires committees to govern themselves, and one in which there should never be a need for Board to step in, unless under direst circumstances. The OTW trusts its committees and chairs to run themselves – Board is mainly here to facilitate the work that the committees do, and help ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the Organization.

[Note: All questions from members and candidate responses appear in the form they were submitted and represent only the views of the individual who wrote them. Questions and responses are not endorsed by the Organization for Transformative Works.]