Nikisha Sanders 2015 Q&A: OTW Culture and Communication, Group 1

When Elections was ordered to remove Nikisha Sanders from the 2015 Election ballot, the committee was told to erase all information about her candidacy from the website. However, Elections firmly feels that there is no situation in which candidates, whether former or current, should be silenced or erased from Election information. As in all circumstances, Elections’ policy is to only edit and/or post candidate-written information with candidate permission. Therefore, with Sanders’ permission, we have posted the Q&A responses she completed prior to her removal.

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

The only answer I can think of here is “as openly and honestly as possible.” I’m terrible at two things, lying and keeping secrets. I suck at equivocating, too. So I already know that I’ll answer nearly any question with as much information as I have and can give without violating someone else’s privacy or rights. In terms of specific steps, I will likely hold office hours as some of the Board has done in the past, and give staff and volunteers the opportunity to talk to me there. I also made a point during my term on Board of visiting committee chat rooms and meetings, whether I was the committee liaison or not. I expect to continue doing that. Reaching the membership is a little trickier because there aren’t many built-in mechanisms for it. If people wanted to engage me specifically, then I’ll likely have a DW and LJ post open for questions, and be posting to both about Board work. I’m a novice at Twitter but learning, and that would be another place I’d welcome dialogue about OTW. For communication from the Board as a whole, I’d like to see better and more frequent use made of the internal messaging systems and email lists already in place, and the restoration of org-wide public meetings on a regular schedule with a set agenda.

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

DevMem does an amazing job of organizing all of the moving pieces of the two drives. The entire drive is a collaborative process, whether it’s determining the theme or answering donor emails. While I wasn’t a formal part of DevMem last October, I spent a fair bit of time in their chat room to help with emails related to budgeting and other financial details. This past May, I was fully involved with the drive. The major lessons I took away from it both times was how smoothly several committees can work together, and how quickly something can go from a wild idea to a solid reality if people are willing to just speak up and trust each other to give kind feedback. I admit I needed concrete reminders of those things after my Board term.

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

Effective meeting management–start on time, follow the agenda, finish on time
Collaboration & cooperation–work with other groups in good faith, and demonstrate that their contributions are valued and valid
Documentation–track everything in an accessible and organized way

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?

Overall, I think it benefits us to take advantage of every opportunity we have to meet other fans and supporters of the org, online and off. The balance between linking one’s public identity to their org identity is something everyone has to find for themselves. Some of us are incredibly comfortable meeting new people face to face, some aren’t, some need a more controlled situation and some are down for whatever. I want people to do what they feel comfortable and safe with, and for the org to make accommodations when needed. For instance, making it clear at the start of an in-person meeting that people are free to leave the room as needed, or providing the option of attending by phone, video, or chat room if someone needs to. There’s a lot of value in all the types of communication and meeting spaces we have available, and it’s up to each person to decide whether a given form works for them.