Board of Directors Nominee for Appointment: Anna Genoese

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The OTW Board is pleased to introduce Anna Genoese as a nominee to the board. The final vote to decide Anna's appointment will happen by December 21, allowing the nominee, if the vote passes, to take office at the beginning of the term in 2014. If you'd like to ask Anna questions, just leave them here on this post.

Anna Genoese is a lifelong fan and professional editor/author who currently works full time for an international nonprofit focused on youth development. While working as a professional editor, Anna published the original fiction of several fanfic writers. Using a pseudonym, Anna has written fanfic and performed podfic in a number of fandoms, which can be found at the AO3. Anna has worked with the Strategic Planning Committee of the OTW since January 2012, and has been the chair of the committee since August 2012. Anna is also a volunteer tag wrangler.

Q&A with the nominee

Why did you decide to accept nomination to the Board?

I truly believe my skills and talents will lend themselves to helping the OTW improve, grow, and strengthen.

Can you list for your prior experience in the OTW and in Non-Profit work?

  • 2003 - 2004 - Demos (public policy org) - Freelancer (website design, editing)
  • 1/2012 - 8/2012 - OTW, Strategic Planning Workgroup/Committee staffer (participated in the identification of stakeholders, gathering information)
  • 9/2012 - current - OTW, Strategic Planning Committee chair (led staff through the process of identifying stakeholders, gathering information from them, and creating a strategic plan)
  • 4/2012 - current - OTW, Tag Wrangling volunteer (metadata)
  • 2013 - current, 4-H - Development Coordinator (organizing data, working with fundraisers)

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

I have a tremendous amount of experience in leadership and people management, in mentoring, and in working with teams toward a complex, complicated goal. (For example, at my last job I managed a department of 8-10 people; from 2001-2007 I worked for a publishing company where, amongst other things, I published my own imprint and also ran the internship program.)

What is your vision for the direction of the organization over the next year and how do you see working with your fellow board members to accomplish it?

My big vision for the OTW is very focused on internal changes. My goal for my tenure on Board would be to bring together the staff and help make the inner workings of the organization more smooth and inclusive. After working with the Strategic Planning Committee for so long, I have a great amount of insight into the internal troubles of the OTW, and I would love to be able to use that knowledge to focus on helping to heal the cracks in the organization from the inside out. This is something that absolutely requires the entire Board to work together and be on the same page. I know that a healthy, whole organization is something the whole Board wants, but someone has to be the point person to organize everything and bring everyone together, synthesize the information, come up with plans, and make sure those plans get implemented. As someone with a huge amount of energy and dedication to the OTW, I feel that I can be that person.

What is your experience of the OTW's projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them?

I would love to be able to use my experiences in Strategic Planning to help the org become more matrixed -- that is, to help the org chart of the organization become less silo'd so that all the teams can work together more easily. So many of the teams replicate each other's work because they aren't communicating (through no fault of their own!), so I would hope to work with Board and chairs to put a structure into place that allows teams to have an easier flow of information. For example, bringing back a Grants Committee and allowing for grants to be written to bring in more money that could help DevMem's needs for more/different merchandise, Systems' need for more databases, the AO3's need for full-time coders, etc. Allowing the organization's staff to have a better understanding of the inner workings of other committees is really one of the keys of having a healthier organization.

From a different perspective, I think so many of the OTW teams are incredibly talented and would love to see them given more of an ability to work together in order to provide each other with more support. Fanlore working with the AO3, Open Doors working with DevMem; the field is wide open for collaboration to create amazing opportunities!

What does transparency mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?

This is a huge question! I value transparency tremendously because it's through transparency that accountability for commitments is created. The OTW needs transparency on every level. This doesn't mean breaking confidentiality -- in fact, the opposite. Transparency and accountability allow for confidentiality and allow for an environment where people can and do feel comfortable because the organization has espoused and is seen to follow a code of ethics and a code of conduct. Appropriate ethics that are aligned with the goals of the organization create an environment where people can be more productive.

For myself, transparency means being open and honest about my successes and failures. As chair of the Strategic Planning Committee - as in all things I do - I strive to create a culture for my staff where we are open with each other, and where critique comes from a place of compassion and a desire to enhance a coworker's performance. When we're honest about our motivations and adhere to the code of ethics we've set for ourselves, our environment becomes a place where people aren't afraid to make mistakes and therefore aren't afraid to make suggestions, to be creative, to reach out and learn and do new things.

For the organization as a whole, I actually think we need to do more to educate people about what transparency truly is, so that when people demand transparency and accountability from us, they really know what they're saying. For example, there's a big difference between a closed-door meeting and not telling people anything about what your team is working on; there are easy ways to construct minutes for a closed-door meeting that gets across what you've done without breaking any confidentiality. That is something I train my staff to do so that Strategic Planning's meeting minutes are always comprehensive for people who want to know what's going on with us. In the last few years, the OTW has been so much better about transparency as a whole; the problem is that the stakeholders (both internal and external) have been almost traumatized by the lack of transparency of the first few years of this organization's life. It's not just that the org now needs to continue with its efforts in transparency and accountability both, it's also a matter of overcoming that bad press and getting people on board. This is difficult work!

What does inclusiveness mean to you personally, both inside the organization and between projects and between the organization and fandom? How do you value it and how would you make it a part of your service?

Organizationally, to me inclusivity refers mostly to the idea of "cultural competency" (a common phrase used in nonprofits); it's the understanding that diversity makes organizations stronger. I cannot emphasize enough how strongly I believe in this. A diverse community that can come together to create something has a much better perspective, and that leads to a better chance of sustainability as well as more creativity in pursuits and a better chance of serving the entire population, rather than just a select group.

Personally, inclusivity means much the same thing, but includes a level of sensitivity to the cultures and norms of others that needs to be respected. However, respect is a thing the entire organization needs. When people respect each other (it can't just go one way!), then there can be collaboration and compassionate professionalism.

I have brought this with me to my service with the OTW to date; it's incredibly important to me to embrace the diversity fandom brings, and also to note the places where there aren't voices, and try to bring those voices into the organization. This includes types of fanwork and diverse fan populations as well as cultural and ability diversity.

What do you think the key responsibilities of a/the board are? Are you familiar with the legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors?

In general, it is the job of a board of directors for a nonprofit to create the mission and purpose for the organization, guide, excite, and support the organization's members, staff, and volunteers, make sure the organization is financially stable and secure, handle both long-term and short-term planning, serve as monitors of the organization's programs, and be strong role models for the entire org's ethics.

While the legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors vary, in general I understand that legally a director is held to the responsibilities of obedience to a charitable purpose, due care, and loyalty.

How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the org, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?

I plan to step down from the Strategic Planning Committee, but I will continue to volunteer as a tag wrangler. Since I don't hold any other org positions, I'll be able to fully focus on Board work.

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