News from Term Break – 2011 OTW Board and Committee Chairs

The OTW is officially on break, and will be until mid-January, but it’s a very busy time for many of us!*

A change is as good as a rest, or so we’ve heard! That’s a good thing, because change is what we’re preparing for: a new term, a new Board, and new committees, all well rested and ready for a strong 2011. In some cases, change means new staff in the form of volunteers who are able to increase their commitment; in other cases, change brings brand new people who answered our Willing to Serve post in October.

The start of a new term also means staff who have served on committees in previous terms have a chance at trying their hand at something new, which strengthens communication and helps foster perspectives that embrace our organization as a dynamic whole rather than as isolated projects. It makes us stronger, smarter, and more sustainable. Fandom is about sharing ideas and making new things out of old, about building our own worlds from a combination of all our dreams; in short, transforming the world as we transform ourselves and each other.

The Organization for Transformative Works is pleased to confirm the 2011 Board of Directors: Rachel Barenblat, Hele Braunstein, Francesca Coppa, Ira Gladkova, Sheila Lane, Allison Morris, and Kristen Murphy. After three years of formal service, founding members Naomi Novik and Rebecca Tushnet have become Emeritus Board Members.

Elizabeth Yalkut, who joined the Board beginning with the 2010 OTW term, has stepped down for the year due to personal reasons. We hope she will be able to consider returning to the Board in the future. We’re also happy she will remain on staff during the coming year!

Luckily, we have an excellent candidate who has been heartily endorsed by our members and who has very graciously agreed to step in to complete the remaining two years of Elizabeth’s Board appointment. Hele Braunstein had an excellent showing in the November elections and impressed the other candidates, the Board, and candidate chat attendees with her thoughtful approach and commitment to inclusiveness and diversity. A longstanding staff member with our Translation and International Outreach committees, an active Tag Wrangler, and a liaison to the AO3 Support team, Hele has worked to keep things running smoothly for everyone.

As we look forward we also want to look back and take a moment to thank Naomi Novik and Rebecca Tushnet for both their sterling service as founding Board members and for their willingness to stay on as staff. They are bright lights of the OTW, and we haven’t burned them out! Victory!

Busy even over break, the new Board determined what committees will be necessary in the new term, the best candidates to chair those committees, and asked those candidates if they were willing to serve and crossed our fingers while we waited for their replies — we’re on cloud nine, since every single one of them accepted. \o/ The OTW’s new term begins 17 January, 2011 and there’s plenty of work for all the teams being assembled!

Without further ado, Board officers and committee chairs for the 2011 OTW Term:

OTW Board
Allison Morris, President
Kristen Murphy, Secretary
Sheila Lane, Treasurer
Rachel Barenblat
Hele Braunstein
Francesca Coppa, PhD
Ira Gladkova

Franzeska Dickson, Chair

Accessibility, Design, & Technology
Elz, Co-Chair
Amelia Ryan, Co-Chair

Francesca Coppa, Chair

Elizabeth Yalkut, Chair

Development & Membership
Megan Westerby, Chair

Sheila Lane, Chair

International Outreach
Julia Beck, Chair

Karen Hellekson, Chair

Rebecca Tushnet, Chair

Open Doors
Heather Cook, Chair

Matty Lynne, Chair

Arrow, Co-Chair
Sidra, Co-Chair

Tag Wrangling
Alison Watson, Co-Chair
Renay, Co-Chair

Hele Braunstein, Chair

Francesca Coppa, Chair

Volunteers & Recruiting
Allison Morris, Chair

Kristen Murphy, Chair

Aethel, Co-Chair
Rachel Barenblat, Co-Chair

*We’re not even getting into how busy the amazing coders and testers of the AO3 are right now, but we’re very grateful to them, and are happy to see the good feedback on their work on Twitter and elsewhere! They’d do it even without the pats on the back (they want the Archive to be awesome, too), but the appreciation helps!

  1. Zooey Glass commented:

    Welcome to the new Board members and chairs! And to the returning ones!

    You are all awesome <3

    • allison morris commented:

      we all rise to meet the otw’s mission and goals! we cannot help it if the awesome rubs off on us a little!

      and thank you. we’re excited about the coming year!

  2. Alexandra Edwards commented:

    Congratulations to the new Board Members and Committee Chairs! And to all the new staff members! And welcome back to everyone returning!

    It’s going to be a great year.

    • allison morris commented:

      it really is going to be great!

  3. semielliptical commented:

    Congratulations and thanks to the new board and committee members!

    I’ve been wondering for a while: what’s the difference between “staff” and “volunteers” at the OTW? I can’t tell if they are interchangeable terms or not. At every other membership organization and nonprofit with volunteers that I know, “staff” refers to paid employees, so I find the OTW’s use of the term a little confusing.

    • allison morris commented:

      one of the many things on our agenda for 2011 is making the inner workings of the OTW more transparent — our tools, our jargon, and our processes. this weird vocabulary item is one of the things we would like to clarify!

      it’s true, we have no paid positions, at all. possibly we will someday, as we grow — we won’t rule it out, certainly, and we do have plenty of people who put in a level of effort, professionalism, and time that is more than equivalent to paid jobs elsewhere. that makes comparisons to similar organizations, with similar reach, missions, or audiences, kind of difficult. those organizations generally *do* have paid positions. (the OTW is unique in many, many ways. it’s pretty amazing to see: we’re building a new kind of non-profit!)

      our division is, in practice, kind of similar to the division between paid and unpaid jobs at other non-profits. just…lacking the actual paycheck. but here’s my messy explanation of how we divide the two levels. the division is based on two things, really: level of time/commitment/involvement, and the personal preference of the person who has stepped up to do work.

      – staff are ‘hired’, in a way. they are board-approved, chosen by a committee chair to be on their team, have access to all of our tools, and are eligible to run for a seat on the otw board. staff usually do at least a couple of hours of work a week, are required to attend committee meetings regularly, and need to be able to work in groups cooperatively. all staff are released from their committees at the close of every year-long term, and are asked to indicate that they are willing to be staff again in the next year. staff work in teams.

      – volunteers are accepted as soon as we can guide them in and find a place for them to contribute. they have access to whatever tools they need for their tasks. volunteers generally work independently of the OTW terms. they generally do not have meetings, and if they do, those meetings are irregular and project-driven. volunteers usually work independently.

      we have several large pools of volunteers: tag wranglers, coders, testers, and translators. within those groups, volunteers sort of come and go. we generally ask that they do at least a little work every few weeks, but most of that work depends on the project, like testing and translation. sometimes there’s no testing to do! coders can contribute as much or as little as they like, but wranglers have to look in on their tags year-round – that might mean 20 minutes every three weeks, or 5 hours a week, depending on which fandoms they have decided to oversee. volunteering is a very open process – if a volunteer disappears for six months, that’s okay! we take everyone who is willing to lend a hand, because even if all they ever do is one ten-minute task, that’s still a ten-minute task that wouldn’t have been done otherwise. when a volunteer is proactive, there are lots of ways to get their teeth in on the work they do, and when a volunteer is taking things on and engaged, we usually try to snap them up pretty quickly and talk them into being staff.

      staff work is more focused, and has more immediate consequences if it doesn’t get done. volunteer work is deliberately less pressure. It’s also much easier for volunteers who do a lot to step back and forth, whereas in staff roles you are locked in. We have volunteers who choose to stay at the level so they don’t get overworked. being a staffer is a responsibility, and includes a level of trust from the org that, as staff, you will both discharge your commitments and hold any private information they become privy to in confidence (member and donor information, details of abuse cases, the pseuds of other staff, financial and legal data).

      as an organization, we have a lot of opportunity for people to develop new skills, to learn to code, to learn to manage projects and staff. we aim to grow volunteers into staffers and staffers into chairs – and to develop both staff and chairs into potential board members!

    • allison morris commented:

      wow, i am tl;dr. sorry!

      • semielliptical commented:

        Not too long at all! I really appreciate the detailed explanation.

  4. Nataemubs commented:

    Hi, my name is Natalia. I’m a retired engineer from NY and I’m enjoying reading this forum. 🙂