[Note: There will be 3 Q&A posts total, covering all the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. Candidates were limited to 300 words per answer.]
What are a couple of major issues that you know the OTW Board struggles or has struggled with, and how would you personally act to avoid them if elected?
I think that many issues that the Board has struggled with are part of the role. These issues are not necessarily linked to the Board itself but to the Organization as a whole. Some issues mentioned in the following questions, like lack of transparency, lack of decision-making power, and communication with committees’ chairs, are all part of the role. Lots of decisions are hard to make and even though I like to think that we all try our best, some issues honestly do not have perfect solutions. I trust that current Board members’ experience and new members will help bring positive change.
What do you feel is the area where the OTW is currently most lacking, and what plans or ideas do you have for improvement in that area?
I feel that the OTW is still lacking in terms of transparency with its members and the general public. I know that the Communications Committee is doing a lot of work and I am thankful for this. However, I know that I have access to more information as a volunteer than I do as a member of the OTW. This is normal since we cannot share some information about ongoing and future projects. Some information would not be interesting to the general public, or would not be clear enough without access to internal documents. However, I think that there is room for improvement. Board has regular meetings and it has been asked that meeting subjects be shared ahead of time. This is a way to allow for more transparency and allow for more discussion. It could also allow us to be more proactive in dealing with requests and comments.
The Board’s lack of executive control over all aspects of OTW operations has always severely limited its internal power. How do you think the Board should act if there are strong disagreements with a committee chair’s vision for a task or project?
I feel like the fact that the Board has limited executive control and hence limited internal power is good. The Board should have limited decision-making power and be a secondary role compared to chairs and committees. Its role is not to decide what each Committee is supposed to do or how each Committee is supposed to work. Board’s role is mainly to mediate and encourage communication to find middle grounds and the best solutions possible to reach our goals. If very strong disagreements arise with a committee chair’s vision for a task or project then Board members should aim to resolve the conflict as expected by listening to the point of view and concerns of the chair and discussing. If no solution or compromise can be found, then the task or project should be delayed and discussed further. In some cases, voting and asking other volunteers to weigh in could be a way to resolve conflicts.
The board appears to be reverting back to 2015 and is once again pushing out volunteers and chairs that they don’t agree with and/or get along with. How would you support fairness and impartiality in handling personnel issues if you noticed fellow board members being neither fair nor impartial?
I believe that even though personal preferences are unavoidable, they shouldn’t impact our decisions. As is the case with all human relationships, board members can agree or disagree with others and have preferences when it comes to working with other people. However, these preferences should not impact how chairs and other volunteers are treated. If there are legitimate reasons to give responsibility to a specific person instead of someone else, then these reasons should be discussed and agreed upon by several people. If I noticed board members being unfair then I would express my concerns, in the same way that I would like them to tell me if they thought I was being biased.
Earlier this year the OTW’s volunteers got targeted in a malicious attack. What do you think should be changed to keep something like this from happening in the future?
The only way to keep malicious attacks from happening would be to live in a perfect world where no one wants to target us. Unfortunately, ill-intentioned people will always try to find flaws in our organization and tools to bother us.
I think that we should be more careful during recruitment and that we should train volunteers to stay cautious with what they decide to share with others. Our volunteers’ data should be more protected and security regarding personal information should be a permanent concern. Thankfully, Board and several Committees have been implementing changes to protect volunteers’ personal information and potential tool changes are being considered to protect volunteers and create a safer workplace.
Do you think OTW needs to improve external transparency? For instance I’ve seen people who think the recent appointment of a volunteer to find a Diversity Consultant means there was no work done on the subject before that appointment, which as an internal volunteer I know isn’t true.
Yes, I do think that the OTW should improve external transparency. As stated above, I know that I have access to more information as a volunteer than I do as a member of the OTW. I think that many misunderstandings regarding the OTW’s work come from the lack of external transparency. I would love for an external newsletter to be made available to all members and possibly be posted on the general site regularly so that people could stay informed and better understand how the Organization works.
Do you think moving towards hiring employees is a key structural priority for the OTW? If not, why not? If so, what do you think is a major obstacle keeping this from happening?
Hiring employees is a key structural priority for the OTW, in particular for specific roles (for example for a Diversity Consultant position). This would allow us to make sure that some specific goals are met and would probably help us be more efficient in some aspects. However, there are legal, financial, and structural aspects to take into account before hiring employees. Moreover, the OTW is entirely run by volunteers who dedicate a lot of their energy and free time to the organization, sometimes as much as they would if their volunteer role was a job. Deciding to hire employees would be a significant change for the Organization and for volunteers. Therefore, all aspects linked to this change should be anticipated and thought through.
[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.]