The following post was written by Elections Officer Eylul Dogruel to bring OTW members up-to-date results for the election in 2013 and on decisions made by the OTW Board in response to the lack of candidates standing.
Open seats and candidacies
The OTW Board of Directors is elected by the membership of the OTW, with one-third of the nine Board seats up for election every year. Thus, for 2013, there were three seats up for election. Two of these seats are held Ira Gladkova and Kristen Murphy, who will be completing their three-year terms at the end of this year. The remaining seat is currently vacant; it was previously held by Francesca Coppa and Maia Bobrowicz.
There is also a fourth vacant seat, one previously held by Julia Beck. Since this seat was last up for election in 2011, it will be up for election again in 2014.
All eligible OTW staffers received a message in early September, which notified them of their eligibility for Board and encouraged them to run. The deadline was the end of September, which was then extended by two weeks, at the end of which no candidates had come forward.
Is the OTW in trouble? Is there something going on?
The answer to the first question is no. The answer to the second question is somewhat involved.
One reason for the lack of director candidates this year is the eligibility requirements. The main requirement for eligibility to run for the Board of Directors is nine months’ prior service as an OTW staffer. This requirement naturally limits the number of potential candidates.
Adding to the previous issue is that the OTW has been going through some long but needed transformations in its staffing process over the last year. The volunteer intake process has changed radically, and is now much more in line with non-profit best practices. Unfortunately what this also means is that there were no new staffers inducted for an almost six-month period from 2012 to 2013, and that even now many committees are understaffed and working on preparing to recruit, recruiting or training new staffers. These are very positive medium- and long-term developments, but in the short term they mean that experienced staffers are in especially short supply this year. As a matter of fact, several eligible staffers expressed interest in running for the Board in the future, but were concerned that leaving their committees or projects at this point would be too damaging.
Can’t you relax/revise the eligibility requirements?
The Board considered this question in August 2013 after seeking input on it from OTW staffers. The conclusion that they came to, after considering staffers’ opinions, was to leave the eligibility requirements in place. (However, they did clarify them so as to fit the revised staff and volunteer intake processes.) The OTW is a large and very complex organization that is very different from many other non-profits, and less than nine months’ service on staff is simply not enough time to become familiar enough with the OTW’s structure and workings. The decision was that allowing candidates to run for Board with less than that amount of experience and proven commitment would be detrimental to the Board and to the OTW as a whole.
Board decision and next steps
The Board of Directors has decided to make appointments to fill the three full term seats as candidates become available. In line with the previous board decision earlier this year concerning vacant seats, the fourth seat that has one year remaining will not be available for appointment. It is the consensus of the Board that appointing anyone to less than a two year term does not give them enough time to become familiar with the workload and expectations of being an OTW Director, and would be unfair both to appointees and the Board.
The Board is currently anticipating a more detailed process of introducing appointees to the OTW membership than with previous appointments. More details on this will be forthcoming soon. In the meantime, the Board encourages any staffer who is eligible for Board now or who will be eligible in 2014, and is thinking of running for a seat or who would like to be considered for an appointment, to reach out to the Elections Officer.