(This page updated for the 2020 Elections. Updated January 2020.)
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 Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and two (2) 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: a stable internet connection and device which allows communication, posting, and the ability to read the membership discussion boards. Your membership must be in good standing at the start of your prospective term of office. To be elected Vice President, the member must have previous experience on the Board or other significant experience relative to the position as specified in the OPPM.
The position as seen through the eyes of a SFWA VP:
First, the VP is a member of the Board, which means spending time on the forums, checking in to the Board discussion area to participate in discussions and votes, and being available to members. As with the Directors, I also think the VP should take on projects that help advance the mission of SFWA as a whole, whether that’s picking up something that needs a bit of an extra push (for example, when I spearheaded the push to get the OPPM out to the membership), taking on a project that hasn’t started yet (the recommended reading lists), or creating a new initiative from their own interests (for me, the SFWA History Project, which has seen the least movement so far).
Beyond being a Board member, I see the VP as a second to the President, though I imagine if the VP disagreed with the President on serious matters, that pushback is also part of the role.
- staying informed about larger issues facing the organization
- checking in to see if the President needs something taken off their plate
- generally nudging things along (I may have pushed a bit hard occasionally, nagging others on the Board that there’s a vote that needs their attention.)
- Ideally the VP is more available to members, the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director, and the rest of the Board so that the President can focus more intently on fewer concerns.
Chief Financial Officer
When SFWA was founded in 1965, the current treasurer at the time had no money to buy supplies. He went out to a local store and bought a record book with his own money. In 2018, under the careful stewardship of the Chief Financial Officer, and the financial team that reports to the CFO position, SFWA’s record book has grown quite considerably. We are seeking someone with extensive expertise and experience with non-profit entities to further ensure the success of the organization. One of the more heavy duty roles of the organization, time commitment can be considerable each week.
The position as seen through the eyes of a SFWA CFO:
The Chief Financial Officer position has changed remarkably in the last eight years from simply making deposits and writing checks to managing the organization’s investment and bank accounts, setting financial policies, ensuring accurate and timely tax reporting, keeping the Board informed on SFWA’s financial standing, organizing and managing a multi-year budget, and evaluating advice from the Financial Advisory Board,Comptroller, Tax advisor, and Bookkeeper.
Being a member of the Board is at times boring, intense, exciting, burdensome, or rewarding but, on the whole, terribly fulfilling to be a part of something larger than yourself.
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. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The commissioner 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 the elections committee. 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 4/11
The Election Committee is made up of:
Matthew Johnson – Member
Maurice Broaddus – Member
Peng Shepherd – Member
Executive Director, Kate Baker – Adviser