Internal:Board election (2011)

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Candidate statements

Nicholas M. Bashour

I am a member of the founding Board of Directors and I would love to serve on the board again. During my time on the board, I have participated in every board meeting called and I helped refine and adopt several policies that laid the foundations for this organization. We are still a young organization and there is still a lot of work to do. As a member of the Board of Director, one of my areas of focus will be to present a professional and polished image of the organization to the community, and I will ensure that the organization will succeed in its mission and maintain its integrity.

Questions for Nicholas M. Bashour

  • Hi Nicholas. You stated that you will help WMDC present a professional and polished image. Can you please explain how you will attempt to do that? Do you think having folks who have never served on non-profit boards before will cause that to be a challenge? Also, is this your preferred user account User:AutoGyro? Thanks! SarahStierch 14:59, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
    • Every organization needs to project a positive and professional image in order to grow. With a background in journalism and new media, I plan to project that professional image through media outreach in both traditional outlets as well as social media. As the activities of the organization expand, and with the support of other board members, I plan to serve as one of the promoters and as a point-of-contact for the media and other local groups interested in our organization. As for your second question, I do not think the number of non-profit boards nor the length of experience on such boards is an adequate or necessary predictor of how well they would perform in their role on this board. There are many people with professional qualities who have never served on non-profit boards. In fact, as we continue to grow, I welcome the involvement and nomination of members with various levels of experience. Wikimedia, to me, is about passing on and sharing knowledge, and what better way to do that than for those on the board who have plenty of non-profit experience to work alongside those who do not, but who still have the passion and level of professionalism to perform well in their role? As to your final question, User:AutoGyro and the global accounts associated with that name are the only handle I use on Wikimedia projects. --AutoGyro 14:27, 30 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Can you give an example of a project that you would like to see WikiDC undertake (besides Wikimania)? How would you foresee WikiDC facilitating such a project? Kaldari 17:36, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
    • I believe outreach is an important part of any new organization. One project that I hope to implement is one that involves social media as well as local outreach, and it's a project that I called "I'm a Wikipedian," where people from all different ages and disciplines talk about how Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects factor into their everyday life. At the various fairs and outdoor events that will be happening during the the spring and summer of 2012, I hope to sign up for tables or booths to represent the organization, where people come and learn about us. Visitors to the booths will also have the option of recording a brief video message in which they talk about how they use Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects in their everyday life. These videos will then be posted on various social networking outlets under the theme of "I'm a Wikipedian." I believe this to be a fun and interactive way to engage the community at large. --AutoGyro 14:30, 30 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Your question here

Katie Filbert

I am Katie Filbert (User:Aude), a Wikimedian since 2004, active and serve as an admin on both English Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons.

Since 2007, I have organized numerous DC meetups and been involved with local outreach to cultural institutions. I helped established relationships between Wikimedians and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, and the National Archives and Records Administration. Currently, I am supporting the Library Lab project at the DC Public Library. As interim Board Member and President of the Wiki Society of Washington, DC (Wikimedia DC) since May 2011, I have helped lead the organization through the Wikimedia chapter approval process; provide technical support, and continue to lead outreach efforts including the Library Lab project and co-organizing GLAM-Wiki meetups in Baltimore in July.

Goals for next 1-2 years:

  • I would like to continue to have a leadership role in the chapter ,with the following goals in mind:
  • Support Wikimania 2012 planning, as our top priority between now and next summer
  • Ensure the IRS 501(c)(3) application process goes smoothly, and seek any additional expertise (e.g. accounting) that we may need for this and ensure we are in compliance with IRS and chapter requirements going forward.
  • Maintain good working relationships with other chapters, chapter-less folks, and the Wikimedia Foundation, and collaborate when sensible in working towards shared objectives.
  • Continue outreach to cultural institutions and other organizations in DC, and to the broader DC local/regional community to increase participation, diversity, and support for our work. The Library Lab project can be a key part of community outreach, and help connect us with branch libraries and local neighborhood organizations within DC itself and the broader region.
  • Tap into the local DC regional tech community more, and to do this, I'm interested in organizing one or a series of hackathons. Topics may include addressing GLAM-tech needs and MediaWiki accessibility bugs and fixes.
  • Build our presence beyond the immediate DC area, through additional meetups and activities in Baltimore, along with efforts to build ties in West Virginia (e.g. Morgantown), and southwestern Virginia (e.g. Virginia Tech and/or University of Virginia) and support outreach efforts at James Madison University.

Questions for Katie Filbert

  • Hi Katie. Thanks for running. If WM DC runs into problems (like in Baltimore) in regards to "ownership" over the region, i.e. NC/VA/MD/WV, how will WMDC go about addressing this matter? Also, will WMDC develop any partnerships or programs with Wikimedia New York? Is User:Aude your preferred user account for Wikimedia? Thanks! SarahStierch 15:06, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • It's probably best that the chapter have a supporting role, as much as possible, supporting local groups (e.g. student organizations, meetup groups) etc. James Madison University is a great example of what I'd like to see, with Sadads (a student there and Wikipedian) really taking charge, leading the student group, campus ambassador program, etc. For West Virginia, I now have a good contact in Morgantown who would like to organize a meetup sometime, and think it's important to try to invite students at WVU. If it works, great and they need to take the lead, call their meetups or group whatever they want and we'll support them as they need. And the Baltimore outreach efforts can be called whatever ("Mid-Atlantic outreach initiative" or something).
  • For partnering with Wikimedia NYC...
  • they are a partner in organizing Wikimania 2012. That's our big project of the year and their involvement (e.g. being volunteers on-site, helping with scholarships, program, whatever) will be critical.
  • GLAM projects is another possible partnership area. The Library Lab project in DC is being developed in a way, with modules, so that it can be replicated elsewhere and I think the NYPL and WM NYC is a likely candidate to build something upon the concept in DC.
  • In the longer term, a number of us (e.g. harej, ...) in DC have been semi-regular attendees of NYC meetups for years now (my first Wikipedia meetup ever was in NYC -- not DC -- in 2006), and vice versa. Regular communication and interaction with them has been invaluable and I don't see why we wouldn't work in close collaboration with them on various projects in the years ahead. Aude 23:26, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • You basically already answered my questions. Thanks for the thorough introduction. Kaldari 17:36, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Please don't hesitate to ask me any additional questions. For program ideas, I'm trying to be realistic in what we can do whilst busy organizing Wikimania. A year from now, it's really tough to project what we might be doing and where we might be as a chapter. Working now with NARA + the Library Lab project + Smithsonian + organizing Wikimania that we're doing now beats my wildest expectations that I had a year ago. We're probably close to capacity in what we can handle now and we need to grow our membership, volunteer base and organizational capacity to do more. With Wikimania and all we're doing, who knows what's possible in terms of our growth and program / outreach opportunities. Aude 23:26, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Your question here

James Hare

As one of the seven Wikimedians who formed the interim Board of Directors, I am now seeking support from the community to be elected to the Board. I have been involved with the local community since moving to D.C. in August 2010, where I helped prepare the successful bid for Washington to host the eighth annual Wikimania conference in 2012. As a director I worked with the Board to guide the nascent Wiki Society. I advocated for policies which promoted accountability and fiscal control. As the first Treasurer, I set the precedent for meticulous record-keeping and regular reporting on the financial state of the corporation. While much has been accomplished, there is more that needs to be done; for a massive event like Wikimania to be successful, the organization backing it must operate professionally. Thank you for your consideration.

Questions for James Hare

  • Hi James, thanks for running. Who will replace you as Treasurer (N00b question but...)? Also, how will you go about balancing your role as the Director of Wikimania 2012 and your role as the board? What type of fundraising events and activities will WMDC develop? Is User:harej your preferred account? Thanks! SarahStierch 15:09, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
    • I intend on remaining as treasurer, but for Wikimania I will outsource much of the processing work to an outside accountant to make sure everything is properly managed. The demands of serving on the Board of Directors are not as great as my Wikimania role, and there is some amount of overlap so I am not too concerned about that. As for the fundraising events, that is a good questioned. I had hoped to incorporate those new ideas into the 2011-2012 budget, but a more prudent strategy would be to spend this upcoming year developing them, preparing them for use in 2012-2013. The best approach to fundraising would be a multifaceted approach that targets different donors. As I proposed on the mailing list, we would have a local fundraising dinner to target the wealthy benefactors of D.C. and an online fundraiser to target our out-of-area supporters in the Wikimedia community. This would be combined with grants which would help fund specific projects. Finally, yes, my username on Wikimedia projects is "Harej". James Hare 16:44, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Can you give an example of a project that you would like to see WikiDC undertake (besides Wikimania)? How would you foresee WikiDC facilitating such a project? Kaldari 17:36, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
    • The Library Lab initiative is fascinating and I would like to see us go above and beyond with that. I hold the view that we as Wikipedians don't need a corporation in order to exist as a community, but because we have one, we should do everything in our power to make lasting improvements on the Wikimedia projects. To use the Library Lab example, the reason why it has taken off is because one of our members, Sam Klein, attended one of our Board meetings, made the case for his project, and we as a board voted to endorse his project. Since then, we have been working with the D.C. Public Library to build a library lab in the downtown library. To further this cause, I am proposing a budget line item which will fund the equipment for this lab. Not only does this kind of project foster community growth, it's an actual project which can be funded because there is a non-profit organization underwriting the cost. These kinds of projects are what Wikimedia DC should strive to operate. James Hare 02:31, 1 October 2011 (EDT)

Kirill Lokshin

As one of the founding members of the Wiki Society of Washington, DC, I've spent the last four months serving as Secretary on the Board of Directors. My main focus has been the variety of legal and procedural elements involved in operating a non-profit corporation, and I've played a key role in ensuring that our organization complies with regulatory requirements.

As we turn our attention to preparing for Wikimania and pursuing partnerships with cultural institutions, we must not forget that our continued success as a charitable organization also depends on our ability to build a solid legal and financial foundation. While this sort of work is not nearly as glamorous as the outreach programs we pursue, it is nevertheless vital, and failing to give it the attention it requires will leave us in dire straits.

In the coming year, the Society will need to grow into its roles as an established charitable organization and a full-fledged member of the Wikimedia chapter family. Achieving these goals will require dedication, diligence, and professionalism—all qualities that I believe I can provide. I ask for an opportunity to once again serve as as a member of the Board of Directors, and hope to continue my contributions to the smooth operation of the Society.

Questions for Kirill Lokshin

  • Hi Kirill, thanks for running. What previous experience, if any, do you have working on non-profit boards, or within non-profits (not including Wiki Society of DC)? How will you develop this "solid legal and financial foundation," and will you work with outside legal and financial organizations to strengthen and develop these? Also, I'd like to know more about your thoughts regarding absentee voting. Is User:Kirill_Lokshin your preferred Wikimedia account? Thanks! SarahStierch 15:13, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
    I've volunteered for a number of other non-profits in the past, but not in a leadership role; aside from my work with the Society, I've never served on a non-profit board.
    In terms of developing a legal and financial foundation, I see three main priorities for the coming year:
    1) Continue to take the steps necessary to establish and maintain our status as a non-profit corporation in good standing. This will involve, in the short term, the filing of a number of key applications with DCRA and the IRS to secure our ability to raise funds and our tax exemption. In addition, we will also need to start preparing the periodic reports due to both the DC government and the IRS. I don't anticipate that these items will require or lend themselves to any significant collaboration with outside organizations.
    2) Revamp and continue to strengthen our internal corporate framework. The chief element of this will be a process to re-draft the current bylaws, which were originally written in some haste (so as to enable a rapid incorporation for Wikimania planning purposes), and to which a large number of potential imporvements has been suggested. In this, we have already begun to collaborate with the Wikimedia Foundation (largely by way of the Chapters Committee), and will likely seek input and advice from other organizations who have dealt with similar structural concerns.
    3) Secure a steady stream of funding. While much of our focus has been on obtaining funding for Wikimania, we will also need to solicit grants and donations for other purposes, both contemporaneously with Wikimania planning and after Wikimania (and the associated funding) ends. This is the most likely avenue for productive collaboration with other organizations; there are many charitable organizations with similar goals to ours, and the influx of publicity brought on by Wikimania puts us in an advantageous position to approach them about fundraising partnerships and similar ventures.
    As far as absentee voting is concerned (and I assume that by "absentee voting" you mean allowing members to vote by mail-in ballot and the like), I'm broadly in favor of it in principle; given the increasing size and geographic distribution of our membership, allowing members to vote on proposals without having to attend a specific meeting would be beneficial, both because a larger cross-section of the membership will be able to participate, and because the use of ballots would reduce the chance of a meeting having to be adjourned without action for lack of a quorum. The main concern I have is the risk of some external group's members joining the Society en masse and thereby electing a board that will pursue a course of action favorable to said external group; but this is a risk that will hopefully become less significant as our own membership increases to the point that such a takeover will become infeasible, as well as one that can be partially mitigated even if absentee voting is permitted. We might require, for example, that all candidates for the Board have attended some number of meetings over the previous year; that, at least, would reduce the risk of an external group installing its own members on the board.
    User:Kirill_Lokshin is indeed my SUL account across all Wikimedia projects (with the exception of en.wikiquote, where it was apparently registered by an impersonator).
    Kirill 20:15, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Can you give an example of a project that you would like to see WikiDC undertake (besides Wikimania)? How would you foresee WikiDC facilitating such a project? Kaldari 17:36, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
    Offhand, I can think of two relatively straightforward examples:
    1) A local Wikimedia- (and, more generally, free-culture-) themed conference. The loss of the New York WikiConference has left us with relatively little activity of this sort in the US; and yet the work of the European chapters shows that regional conferences are both feasible and beneficial to the movement. The role of the chapter in such a venture would be similar to our work organizing Wikimania, albeit on a smaller scale; with an experienced post-Wikimania team, the idea should be relatively simple to implement.
    2) The publication of a wiki-themed/collaborative-knowledge-themed/free-culture-themed academic journal. This is admittedly a more far-fetched idea; but it would provide a useful forum for academic study of Wikimedia and similar projects, as well as bringing us increased recognition in the academic world. The chapter's role in this would vary depending on the presence or absence of other partners (such as universities or academic presses); but it would likely entail raising funds, providing publicity, and perhaps even publishing the journal itself.
    Kirill 20:15, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Your question here

Robert C. Platt

Robert Platt is currently serving as Vice President of the Society. He is a lawyer admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York. He has served on the Board of a number of other non-profit groups, including as a Trustee of Cornell University. He chairs the Legal Committee and is heading the effort to get tax-exempt status for the Society.

Platt has incorporated the Society and drafted many of its initial policies. He serves as venue and catering coordinator on the Wikimania Planning Committee and played a large role in drafting our successful bid to host Wikimania 2012.

If re-elected, I will work to assure that the Society conducts its business in a transparent manner and that Wikimania will be a great success. I am planning visits to the outer perimeter of the Society’s region to recruit members and to give short classes on how to edit Wikipedia. The Society should conduct regular monthly meetups as well as special events. I also recognize that an important element of the Society’s mission is to provide a fun, social experience for Wikipedia editors and I want to experiment with a number of new social activities to help members meet and interact in person.

Questions for Robert C. Platt

  • Hi Robert, thanks for running. How will you balance your role as a board member for WMDC and an active planner for Wikimania 2012? What type of new social activities are you developing? Also, can you please elaborate on your one year banning from English Wikipedia per Racepacket? Do you believe that this will cause any problems amongst the community on a local, national or international level and if not, why? Thanks so much! SarahStierch 15:17, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Can you give an example of a project that you would like to see WikiDC undertake (besides Wikimania)? How would you foresee WikiDC facilitating such a project? Kaldari 17:36, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Your question here

Tiffany L. Smith

As a founding member of the Wiki Society of Washington, DC, I hope to continue representing our membership on the Board of Directors. It's been an incredibly exciting year so far, and we have an ambitious few years ahead of us. Hosting Wikimania 2012 will be a challenge; however, it's a challenge we can meet together with a Board that aims to showcase the best of our community in close collaboration with the Wikimania team. In addition to the natural excitement about Wikimania, the 2012 conference also provides a great opportunity for us to bring in new and underrepresented voices to both Wikimedia projects and the local and partner activities we seek to support and develop in the years to come. My role thus far in the Society has primarily been that of consensus builder, and I hope to help grow and sustain our momentum as we work to expand our membership and enhance Wikimedia DC's value to our broader community.

Questions for Tiffany L. Smith

  • Hi Tiffany, thanks for running! How will you "help grow and sustain" the momentum of WM DC? Also, do you have interest in helping to close the gender gap, and if so, what type of opportunities do you think exist as your role as a board member to help do so locally, nationally and internationally? Also is Metabrarian your preferred user account for Wikimedia? Thanks! SarahStierch 15:19, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
Hi, Sarah! Great questions. I think that one of the most important things we can do with WM DC this year is to grow our membership: there are tons of students and professionals in the area who are interested in our work but haven't yet joined our group or attended our activities. Finding ways to encourage their membership is really important to me, and I'd like to do this by reaching out to local colleges and universities as well as the library and information science community in the DC area.
Regarding gender gap, I think we can do more than we've done so far to invite women to contribute to wiki projects. I know that we'll have better projects to share with the world when we add more voices and more diverse perspectives to the editing process. As a board member, I think I would be most effective with outreach to traditionally female professions, but I also think that there's a lot of room for outreach to university students. I see a great deal of potential in integrating gender gap activities with public policy or other classroom activities: women at colleges and universities may be less intimidated by participating if the activity is integrated into curricula.
Yes, that's my user account. I have historically kept this fairly quiet (though not untraceable): my limited activity is performed in my personal capacity, not my professional capacity, and does not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.
Tiffany, 22:12, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Can you give an example of a project that you would like to see WikiDC undertake (besides Wikimania)? How would you foresee WikiDC facilitating such a project? Kaldari 17:36, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
One benefit of not replying very quickly is that I got to see Kirill's reply: I love the idea of an academic journal! :) The project I'm most excited by right now is Library Lab, and I'm looking forward to more actively supporting it and recruiting volunteers in the coming year.
Tiffany, 22:16, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
  • Your question here