Kathryn S.’s Bio & Platform


Kathryn S.: Kathryn has spent the last 20 years in fandom, mostly reading and daydreaming elaborate fanfic plots that only occasionally made it onto the page. She has been a volunteer with the Organization for Transformative Works since 2014. Outside of the OTW, she works as a nonprofit administrator, and she is a progressive community activist in her free time.

1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?

I have been debating about running for the last few years, and been encouraged to run by other volunteers who knew about my nonprofit experience. However, I always talked myself out of it, telling myself that next year I would be in a better position. The recent controversies have convinced me that if I chose not to run this year, I would regret not having offered my skills and experience to the OTW community. I love the OTW and I love the work that I do as a volunteer, so I want to do everything that I can to make sure that it remains an organization I can love and respect. Even if I am not elected, I will still do all that I can to support the elected board and my fellow volunteers in working towards the changes we want to see.

2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?

I have been working as a nonprofit administrator for the past 5 years, and have an advanced certification in nonprofit leadership and management. I have experience instituting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, creating new policies and procedures, and managing documentation. I also have a lot of experience in Human Resources (HR), as I was my org’s unofficial HR Manager for over a year while we struggled to hire a new person.

Through my progressive activism, I have a lot of experience with managing volunteers, building consensus, and making sure things get done on a tight deadline.

I also have 9 years of experience as an OTW volunteer. My committee has improved and refined our policies and procedures a lot over the years, and I have seen first-hand the positive effects that new leadership with good ideas that encourage collaboration can have. I want to bring that collaborative atmosphere to the Board and the OTW as a whole.

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 first thing that I would prioritize is hiring a DEI consultant and a Human Resources professional. The work of finding and hiring for these positions is already in progress, but if it were not completed by the time I am on Board, I would dedicate my time to making sure they were hired and able to start their work as soon as possible. I would also do anything necessary to support their work.

These positions have been needed for years, as the current controversies reflect. The OTW has grown to a point where paid expertise is necessary. First, an outside expert can say things without the same fear of repercussions that people inside an organization may have. Second, a paid expert will be contractually required to dedicate their time to this work, without the same risk that volunteers have of being pulled away due to real life issues or distracted by an urgent problem in their purview.

I think that we will likely find that we need more paid positions once these experts are in place, but this is where we need to start.

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.

In the course of my OTW work, I actually communicate with most of the committees on a routine basis!

My first step would be to ensure that the committees and projects have what they say that they need from the Board, as they know best what would help them. However, I am aware that they may not feel comfortable asking for what they need. I will therefore work to rebuild trust in the Board by ensuring that we are responsive and respectful, and do as much as we can to help.

Aside from that, while it is a lot easier to communicate and build relationships across communities with our current messaging and collaboration tools than it used to be, these are largely informal processes. I would like to create more formal org-wide opportunities to learn what other committees do and what their processes are. It is still far too easy to have no idea what other committees do or why they do things a certain way. This contributes to siloing, lack of communication, lack of trust, and missed opportunities.

Several of the positive changes that my committee made over the last few years were practices we learned from other committees! We have also created new practices that other committees might benefit from. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to learn from each other except directly asking or having a member on multiple committees. We can and should be a lot more proactive about sharing good practices so that they can be replicated. We can also be more proactive about sharing our mistakes so that they are not repeated unnecessarily.

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 am going to work hard before the election to wrap up as many of my committee projects as I can, so that I can more easily take a step back if elected. There are some ongoing tasks that I enjoy and do not want to let go of, but I will avoid taking on any new ones in order to devote more time to Board work.