Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today’s post is with Jenny McDevitt, who volunteers as a co-chair and communications specialist in our Elections Committee.
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
I’m a Co-Chair and Communications Specialist for the Elections Committee. We run the annual elections where OTW members elect who sits on the OTW’s Board of Directors. We work hard to ensure all the seats on the Board are full, preferably by holding contested elections so that our Board is made up of members who represent the interests of OTW members. The process involves recruiting candidates, ensuring both OTW staff and OTW members know the details of the election process, running election events like Q&A and chats, and setting up the election software itself.
As a Communications Specialist, I write templates for internal and external newsposts and coordinate with the Translation and Communications committees to post election news every year. As a Co-Chair, I support the rest of the committee in their work, do administrative paperwork, and help recruit new Elections Committee members (my favourite part of the year!)
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
“Typical” really depends on what time of year it is! Before the election, we decide on the election dates, coordinate the posting schedule, get all our posts for the season ready to go, and update the Elections website with new deadlines. During the election season, I show up when it’s time to publish newsposts, lend support to our Candidate Liaisons, sometimes moderate chats if we need an extra hand, am present when we open and close the election, and am generally on-call in case something needs attention.
After the election, we collect feedback from other committees and from the candidates to help us make our roadmap for the next year. We try to improve the election process for everyone every year. This is also when we recruit new committee members! From there, our workload is quieter while we make those changes in response to feedback, and then the whole cycle starts over with the lead-up to the election.
What made you decide to volunteer?
It was 2014 when I first started volunteering, which seems like a lifetime ago. I remember being excited to make some friends, give back to fandom, and get a useful CV line while doing it, and I’ve certainly been able to do those things. I value my Elections Committee colleagues, especially those I’ve been working with for years, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I’d also never heard about the OTW election process at the time, and I felt that we should try to improve our visibility, as well as work to maintain the integrity of the election process. I’m really proud of the work we’ve been able to do in that regard.
What part of your work do you find most interesting?
I love meeting the candidates every year and helping them through the process of running in the election. We get such a wide range of people from around the OTW and the world, and it’s always interesting to read about their accomplishments as OTW volunteers and hear their opinions during the Q&A and chats we run. That answer might be cheating, though—everyone can meet our candidates by following the election.
What fannish things do you like to do?
I’m first and foremost a fic reader and writer, but I love consuming podfic, vids, and art as well! I’ve been primarily writing in Men’s Hockey RPF for the past few years, but I also livetweet Critical Role religiously every week and have recently succumbed to the relentless charms of BTS. I’m always reading in many fandoms, and I’m a huge multishipper—I’ll read almost anything, but I have a soft spot for pairings no one else is paying attention to. I’ve been the first to post a fic in more than one rarepair tag and written the primers to convince people to join me to varying success.
Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you’d like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.
The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.