(This page updated for the 2019 Elections. Updated January 2019.)
Thank you for your interest in running for office on the SFWA Board of Directors! The following information will give you a good idea of what positions are available in the current election cycle, what holding those particular offices entail, along with explaining the duties and benefits of serving as a volunteer in this capacity.
There are particular requirements as dictated by our organization’s bylaws for each of the following positions, and you can find our bylaws here. As you read on, if you decide that running for office is right for you, make sure that you can meet the requirements, or ask the election committee to check for you.
The SFWA Board is made up of:
- Vice President
- Chief Financial Officer
- Five (5) Director-at-Large Positions
In the current year, the President, Secretary, and three (3) Director-At-Large Positions are up for re-election.
General eligibility requirements for all positions include at least two years’ active SFWA membership in good standing, in addition to other requirements listed below.
Duties of every SFWA Board member – in the words of SFWA Secretary, Curtis C. Chen:
- stay up to date with Board discussions and votes on the online forums
- attend at least one operations call a month (online meeting)
- attend annual in-person Board meetings (once or twice yearly, always at Nebulas and possibly at Worldcon)
The requirements for seeking this position are: Previous experience on the Board or other significant experience relative to the position as specified in the OPPM. A stable internet connection and device which allows communication, posting, and the ability to read the membership discussion boards. Candidate’s membership must be in good standing at the start of your prospective term of office.
The position in the words of a SFWA President – Cat Rambo:
The President is one of the major faces of the organization. As such, they do need to keep in mind that anything they say on social media or in interviews may be taken as having “of SFWA” appended to it, whether or not they want it to. The President bears this more than board members, and needs to be mindful that the membership may interpret something they say as indicating the overall board’s opinion. I personally suggest having a disclaimer that your opinions are personal and do not represent the organization on places like social media profiles.
The President will be familiar with the bylaws and OPPM and work to bulletproof the organization against anyone wishing to do it harm. They must work side-by-side with the board, the Executive Director, the Deputy Executive Director, the financial team, and a slew of volunteers and contractors to make sure that SFWA remains true to its mission while growing and adapting to the evolving and ever-changing publishing landscape.
In order to do that, the President needs to stay on top on what’s going on–which can be difficult at times, given the volunteer nature of the position and the stressors of life. They need to be available to people who need them or arrange someone to cover them when on vacation. But it’s also usually easy to keep up with things and often just a matter of checking in on the discussion boards and e-mail once or twice a day. I do want to note that many e-mails are time sensitive and not paying attention can result in holding things up in a frustrating way for other people.
The President also needs to make sure the other Board members also stay on top of things and they work in tandem with the VP to ensure things remain on task. One tradition that’s been implemented are regular video calls with the Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director, and SFWA Board. There is also a monthly call with the Volunteer Wrangler and frequent calls and texts with Griefcom. (It should be noted that there is a requirement to have Internet access should you decide to run.)
The President needs to review the financials in a timely fashion along with the rest of the SFWA Board and be able to sign off on decisions with some authority as well as make informed decisions on their own. They have a small discretionary fund; I have used mine on outreach and learning and funding some minor low-cost projects.
The President needs to provide the membership with regular and thorough information about what’s going on, in the form of reports for the Singularity and Binary, the President’s letter in the Bulletin, and posts on the discussion forums. (I’ve tried to do this for the public as well, with things like my blog series on SFWA and independent writers and a piece I’m working on right now about game writers.)
The President should be willing to attend events such as the Nebulas and conventions as well as representing SFWA at other conventions and conferences. They must attend the various receptions and functions–including the Volunteer Breakfast and Spouse/Partner party at the Nebulas. At conventions and particularly the Nebulas, the President should pretty much figure 90-100% of their waking time will be devoted to SFWA-related stuff–networking and engaging the membership, along with leading Board and business meetings, spending time in the SFWA suite or table if there is one, and participating in SFWA-focused programming.
The President must know the organization, its resources, and the frameworks around those resources, including checking on their status periodically. There is a constant flurry of people asking for assistance or guidance with communications coming in through a multitude of channels, including telephone, e-mail, and social media, and 90% of the time it’s a matter of steering them to the right place, whether it’s the office, the Emergency Medical Fund, the ombudsman, Griefcom, or something else.
The President needs to not give into the temptation to Do All the Things, particularly since they will find people presenting them with worthy projects and efforts on a weekly basis. The President needs to be someone good at working with or steering people to the Volunteer Coordinator to find roles for volunteers that will be rewarding for both sides as well as working with the Volunteer Coordinator to make sure volunteers are getting recognized.
The President needs to be a good leader, mindful of the varied needs of the membership, and willing to put energy into learning in order to fulfill the organization’s needs as well as occasionally set the organization above their own interests and/or ego. It is one of the most rewarding–and occasionally the most frustrating–roles I have filled in my life and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have done it.
The requirements for seeking this job are: A stable internet connection and device which allows communication, posting, and the ability to read the membership discussion boards. Candidate’s membership must be in good standing at the start of your prospective term of office.
The position in the words of a SFWA Secretary (Curtis C. Chen):
Primary duties of the SFWA Board Secretary:
close Board votes on the online forums and post announcements of results
handle communications with publishers seeking to be SFWA qualifying professional markets
take notes during in-person Board meetings (once or twice yearly, always at Nebulas and possibly at Worldcon)
compile twice-yearly issues of The Forum Binary, the official record of SFWA activities
Directors-at-Large shall be responsible for facilitating communications and representing the concerns of the membership to the Board.
Directors should stay abreast of the concerns and needs of the membership by means including but not limited to:
- Reading SFWA’s publications, including the Bulletin and the Singularity;
- Attending conventions according to ability and inclination, particularly the Nebulas and Worldcon;
- Participating in or monitoring online discussions in venues both under and not under the Corporation’s control;
- Seeking out and consulting or corresponding with members and potential members through a variety of media and in person.
- Directors-at-Large shall maintain and monitor electronic accounts as needed to perform their duties, and shall participate in the online discussion boards.
The position, in the words of one of the current Directors-at-Large, Sarah Pinsker:
The bare minimum for the Director-At-Large position would be showing up online for votes and discussions, being board liaison for a couple of committees, trying to make the Monday evening call when possible. That takes as much or as little time as you put into it. It’s hard to put an exact number of hours on all of this, because I think it varies from director to director. It’s also good if you can make it to the board meetings at the Nebulas and Worldcon, and the membership meetings at the same (and also great if you can conduct meetings or info sessions at other cons). I’ve been on boards where an all-day meeting would be a hideous prospect, but we get a ton done face to face, and I look forward to those opportunities.
Most directors are placed as committee heads according to their interests and skillsets. There are also opportunities for a director with ideas to pursue programs of their own suggestion.
I personally love the initiatives I’m working on and the time I spend with our intelligent, generous, dedicated staff and volunteers.
Okay, Now What?
Great! The next step on your path to running for office would be to submit your name to our current Elections Committee Commissioner, Fran Wilde. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will go over your eligibility and be able to answer or find someone who can answer any further questions you may have.
Once your eligibility has been confirmed via a check of our membership database, you will be asked to provide a platform. This platform will be linked to on the ballot as well, for those members who do not use the membership discussion boards. Every member who chooses to participate in the elections will be able to see the reasons why you have thrown your hat into the ring. The more detail on what you’d like to see the organization accomplish and how you’ll ensure that if elected, you’ll be able to shepherd those processes, the better.
The current timeline for our election process begins January 15.
Should you wish to run for SFWA office, please contact me up to and including the 1/15 call for candidates. All statements of intent and platforms should be posted by 2/15. You must have your eligibility validated by the election commission and SFWA Executive Director, Kate Baker BEFORE posting your platform.
- Official call for candidates 1/15
- Platforms posted 2/15
- Voting link posted & optional paper ballots mailed 3/14
- Ballots counted after 4/14
The Election Committee is made up of:
Fran Wilde – Chair
Laura Anne Gilman – Member
Maurice Broaddus – Member
President Cat Rambo – Board Liaison
Executive Director, Kate Baker – Adviser