Dear MAGFest Community…
We are writing to you today with heavy hearts to let you know that MAGFest is facing an unprecedented, existential threat. This threat is undermining the years of work you all have poured into building this community, and every core value we collectively hold. It is endangering the safety of the MAGFest office employees’ working environments. It is destroying the relationships and mental health of volunteers. It is creating a culture of persecution and harassment against innocent people. It is a true, existential threat to MAGFest, beyond anything COVID-19 has posed.
That threat is MAGFest’s Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors are the people who have the legally final say in what happens to and at MAGFest, although from our perspective, our events and community thrive in spite of them and not because of them. No matter your role at MAGFest, they impact your day-to-day work, whether you see it or not. Their actions and inactions affect every employee, staffer, volunteer, and attendee. The MAGFest you know and love cannot continue to exist with the current board in charge.
Over the last year, the board has:
- Harassed and threatened multiple office employees
- Harassed and threatened multiple volunteers, including the staff-elected board nominees
- Asked employees to compromise their personal and professional ethics in the course of their normal job duties
- Not responded in a timely manner to formal HR complaints made about the Executive Director by all 6 full-time employees
- Not taken appropriate steps to resolve formal HR complaints made about the Executive Director by all 6 full-time employees
- Not communicated any resolution to formal HR complaints made about the Executive Director by all 6 full-time employees
- Subverted existing HR procedures in order to retaliate against and discipline employees inappropriately
- Subverted existing internal procedures in order to retaliate against and discipline volunteers, including the staff-elected board nominees, inappropriately
- Created a culture of fear and secrecy around all dealings with them
- Removed employees from key situations, including those in the employees’ written and signed job descriptions, with no warning or explanation
- Delayed and subsequently refused to add staff-elected board nominees to the board
- Refused to act on any attempts at feedback, honesty, and collaboration from employees, staff, and volunteers
- Took attempts at feedback, honesty, and collaboration as material for retaliation against employees, staff, and volunteers
- Acted in bad faith, repeatedly and unquestionably, to the detriment of the organization and everyone in it
We have extensively documented the details of these incidents in this Google Drive. While we are unified in what we’ve seen, the specifics of our experiences are different, and we urge you to take the time and read through as many of our letters as you are able.
As you read, we hope you start to understand that we are not speaking hyperbolically when we say the board poses an existential threat to the organization we all know and love. These situations have occurred again and again, in ways that cannot be explained away as being misunderstandings. The board has their own rationale for the actions they have taken—we feel the facts speak for themselves when it comes to showing the board’s unwillingness to collaborate, properly lead the organization, or work for the benefit of MAGFest.
We have taken their actions in good faith for as long as possible. We have tried to talk to them, time and time again. They are not willing to listen, and they are not willing to change.
When things are festering, we have to drag them out into the light to move forward. The board wants to let this fester in the hopes that over time, these legitimate and serious complaints will fade away, as they have in the past. We want to get back to work. It’s time to take action.
WHAT WE WANT
We want to do our jobs, paid or volunteer, without fear of retribution or harassment. We want to be able to communicate openly and honestly. We want to stop living in fear of the board.
To that end, we request:
- The entire current Board of Directors to step down, to be replaced by the top 3 candidates from the most recent nominee election, and further members to be added via a new staff election.
- An immediate stop to inappropriate employee disciplinary actions that have taken place outside of the existing HR process.
- An immediate stop to inappropriate volunteer disciplinary actions that have taken place outside of the existing Staff Operations and/or SAFE processes.
- An immediate stop to private meetings requested by the existing Board of Directors of individual office members, for the purposes of harassing, disciplining, or intimidating them.
- An immediate stop to private meetings requested by the existing Board of Directors of individual staffers or volunteers, for the purposes of harassing, disciplining, or intimidating them.
- A new set of bylaws mandating clearer board terms and staff-elected members.
We request concrete, demonstrable action be taken to address the above actions by December 20th, 2020, and ask for the community’s help in holding the board and ourselves accountable to this deadline.
Board members may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss these further. We are no longer willing to communicate via private 1-on-1 conversations, as the board has repeatedly utilized those as a way to harass, intimidate, and avoid accountability.
Staff and volunteers may contact us as a group at that email address, or may reach out to any letter signer individually, via Slack, email, or phone. When communicating via MAGFest channels, such as MAGFest’s Slack or @magfest.org email, staffers should be aware that the board may wind up gaining access to those conversations, and has shown a disregard for personal privacy and ethics in the past. We strongly recommend that any conversations take place outside of MAGFest channels.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The names and Slack handles of every member of the Board of Directors are below. Please reach out to them, ideally in a public forum, and let them know that you stand in support of these demands and the timeline.
We strongly advise against attempting to contact board members privately. Other staffers and volunteers will likely share your concerns and will benefit from seeing public discussion around these topics. Additionally, the board has a long history of weaponizing private conversations and using them as tools of manipulation and secrecy.
You can contact the entire board by emailing at email@example.com or tagging @Board of Directors on Slack.
|Jack||@jack||President & Member|
|Bunny||@radrac||Secretary & Ex-Officio Member|
|Eli||@eli||Treasurer & Member|
|Paul B.||@PB||Ex-Officio Member|
We expect retaliation for this letter. Speaking truth to power is never easy, and the board has shown themselves willing to take quick action to stamp out disagreement with them, and silence perspectives they find inconvenient. By writing this, we face professional and personal losses. Some of us may lose our jobs, some of us may lose access to our friends and community, some of us may face even worse reprisal.
Knowing all that, we chose to write this anyway. MAGFest—the MAGFest we all know and love—is worth it. We want that MAGFest back. We hope you do too.
Friends of MAGFest
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