I have been in correspondence with Tristina Wright and I am deeply apologetic about what happened, as I have told Ms. Wright in e-mail. This should not have happened. I and the rest of the SFWA Board apologize again to Ms. Wright again for this egregious blunder. Normally, correspondence as it pertains to the Emergency Medical Fund is held in the strictest confidence to protect the privacy of those involved, but because Ms. Wright has made the details public and people are asking for future elaboration, here is what I know of how this occurred.
With SFWA’s recent reincorporation, the Emergency Medical Fund rules and processes have changed in a way that we are still trying to develop. The reincorporation means that a) the organization can now make grants rather than loans, and that b) the grants do not have to be restricted to SFWA members. With these changes come added responsibilities to make sure that the fund is administered correctly, fairly, and in a way that supports SFWA’s mission to work for genre writers.
In order to do that, the organization has been working to figure out how to make the process more transparent. We are working hard on this matter and have been talking with previous applicants on how to improve the process and redesign the web portal.
The EMF Committee has also been working out the how to handle the grant versus loan change and is currently trying to figure out responsible guidelines for handling grants from non-SFWA members. Until that has been worked out, we have been postponing opening applications to non-SFWA members so that we have a process that is fair. Admittedly, the work has been slowed by the need to handle new requests as they come in as well as turnover in committee members. Our plan is to have such guidelines in place by January 1, 2017.
I wrote earlier to Ms. Wright to apologize for the lack of response and erroneous letter sent in December. As expressed in the e-mail, I would like to have the committee re-examine her application when they have the non-SFWA member guidelines in place, but I wanted to acknowledge the fact that, given how much we’d bungled things at that point, she might not want that. I hope she will be willing to give us another shot.
In the meantime, I’m still trying to find out how and where the process failed. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time we’ve had such an incident. My plan is to make it the last as well.