Why I’m Running for the RWA Special Board of Directors Election
March 2, 2020
As you may know, RWA, the Romance Writers of America, is in a difficult place. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of how we got to this point, because I’d rather focus on the present and future. But I will say that many mistakes were made, and some insensitive and wrongful actions taken that justifiably upset and offended people. I decline to name names and point fingers, but there are more than a few people responsible, and this has been building for a long time. The national organization has lost many members and all of its board as a result.
I watched the collapse of RWA with dismay. A group that I have been part of for over a dozen years has been polarized and decimated. Some of my closest buddies are deeply shaken by the intolerant and discriminatory acts that have taken place, and it breaks my heart. People quit because they don’t see themselves reflected in the organization or don’t think the right people will be able to lead. Many of my writing friends have left RWA or are thinking about it. Nationally and in local chapters, caring, dedicated board members have resigned. (And on the flip side, some people who needed to get out of the way did so. Hopefully, that will help us make progress.) Some of us are vowing to fight to turn things around. I count myself in that group, because I am stubborn and optimistic by nature.
My dream is for a new, better RWA that is truly inclusive, that welcomes romance writers of any subgenre, and does not discriminate against members of any race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, or religion. I want an RWA that will live up to our anti-discrimination policy and value all our writers.
So, how do we get there?
Pillsbury Law completed an independent ethics audit report on the RWA/Courtney Milan case. If you haven’t read the whole thing, I encourage you to do so. Pillsbury offered recommendations that sound very reasonable to me, so I’ll quote some here. First, we need “a shared understanding among RWA members of the purposes of the organization and the appropriate reach of its conduct rules.” In my opinion, the new RWA board should get input from our members and guide the creation of that understanding before it works on anything else. Once we have that, then RWA can use that shared understanding to review and revise our Code of Ethics and complaint procedures, with adequate legal review and help of our new DEI consultant. After that, we can train everyone, especially our board, “on RWA policies and practices and on governance principles” and revise our Policy Manual and programs to create an organization with diversity, equity, and inclusion in word and deed.
RWA is holding a special election on March 13-20 for a board that will serve from March 23 until August 31st, when the next regularly elected board will step in. All General members of RWA, including those who have had their memberships extended or reinstated, are eligible to vote. For more information on the election, members can check out https://www.rwa.org/Online/About/Governance_Folder/Elections_Information.aspx.
RWA members must do some soul-searching and hard work to turn things around and instill trust in our organization. Creating a better RWA will be a marathon, not a sprint. This special election is merely the first step. But I have hope that we can do this, and I thank everyone who is stepping up to run for office. I offer myself as a candidate for Director-At-Large to show support for this process. I am ready to help us get going in the right direction.
I do not know all the candidates. I hope there are some who are more qualified than I am, and I encourage you to vote for them instead of me. This is not an ego trip for me. Here is my official candidate bio. (We were limited to 100 words or less, so I used a lot of acronyms, sorry!)
Please vote for candidates from underrepresented/marginalized groups. If there aren’t enough running, then I offer myself as an able white cis het ally. RWA must reform, per the Pillsbury report, starting with “a shared understanding among RWA members of the purposes of the organization and the appropriate reach of its conduct rules.” We must revise our Policy Manual and programs, involving as many members as possible and with full legal reviews, while promoting DEI. I’ve been an officer in AKRWA (Alaska), and active member of YARWA, and have led online classes with HHRW, OIRW, YARWA, and YRW.
By the way, I am currently the Vice-President of AKRWA, and will step down from that position if elected.
Wherever you stand on the RWA issues or however you vote if you’re participating, I wish you peace and love of your fellow human beings. I hope we have a brighter future, working together.