I am running for SFWA secretary

For the past several months, I’ve been helping out by recruiting volunteers for SFWA. As I do, it becomes apparent to me that the organization faces several hurdles.

1. It lacks continuity.
2. There are no clear lines of communication
3. The public interface is out-dated.
4. Volunteers’ time is not efficiently managed.

Here is how I would like to tackle those items.

1. When I was the Secretary of UNIMA-USA (The American branch of the International puppetry organization, which is the oldest continually operating arts organization in the world), I was responsible for updating and maintaining an Officer’s Handbook. This contained, not only the minutes and the bylaws, but also a detailed description of the goal of each committee and the semi-annual reports of the committees.

I would like to implement a similar system for SFWA.

2. At the moment, when a committee is created, it exists as an entity of its own, without reporting to a specific member of the board. The problem with this is that when a committee becomes inactive, it can languish in this condition for months or years without anyone noticing. Several times during the past months, I’ve contacted a committee chair, only to have them say, “Oh. Am I still on that committee?”

I would like to re-evaluate the committee structure, and rebuild it using more vertical lines of communication. This will create more accountability and a smoother line of communication. For your interest, I have done a diagram of the current committee structure and a proposed restructuring.

3. We all know the website is outdated. Rather than using a committee to redesign this, because we all know how successful design by committee is, I would like to see SFWA hire an actual web-designer to do a complete revamping of the system, including adding a forum.

In particular, I want to see redundancies removed. For instance, we have a team of extremely hardworking volunteers who update the Nebula Recommendations. It is all hard-coded with HTML in several different places. This is something that cries out for automation, so that the volunteers merely need to moderate it and check for errors.

4. SFWA uses the principle “Want something done, ask the busy person” so that the brunt of the effort comes down on a few people. I want to implement online volunteer management software, which will track availability, hours, and skills. Let’s stop burning out the volunteers.

About me: I have spent most of the past seventeen years working in the non-profit sector. Volunteers are the backbone of non-profits and I’ve managed them on projects ranging from running a week-long festival to getting envelopes stuffed to making a cyclops head. In addition to being a writer, I’m a small business owner and freelancer. I’ve got the publishing credits to be an active SFWA member, but more importantly, I know how to run a non-profit efficiently.

Did you know you can support Mary Robinette on Patreon!

16 Responses

  1. David W. Goldman

    Well, this will be an easy choice for my vote! (You’re really really sure you want to jump into this, right?)

    (BTW, if there’s a webmaster these days, have her/him get in touch with me so that I can do my volunteer job!)

  2. Evan Nichols

    I know what this means: Awesome Campaign Videos!

    Seriously, though, it sounds like you’ve got the experience, skills and vision to do an excellent job. Best of luck!

  3. Mr Radley

    I’d vote for you. 🙂 I’ve witnessed your organizational skills in action (Shimmer, et al), and I’d happily attest to that. And I believe that you’d be the dandiest secretary ever. Best of luck!

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  5. Charlie Finlay

    Hey, Mary, this is an election love letter. Thank you for staying focused on the issues, for your thoughtful formulation of solutions to problems, for balancing your criticisms with praise, and for your continued patience in explaining your positions. Good luck.

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