SFWA President Russell Davis made the following announcement on his livejournal page July 11:
As part of our ongoing effort to streamline member services and make SFWA a more functional and flexible organization, I'm pleased to announce the creation of the new Ombudsman Committee, to be chaired by Lee Martindale.
The purpose of the Ombudsman Committee is to ensure, promote and facilitate communication of the will of the membership of SFWA to its Board of Directors. Because SFWA is a membership organization, it is incumbent upon the Board of Directors to be informed and responsive to the opinions, needs and concerns of the members.
As the membership has grown and available technology has increased the number of channels by which members directly address the Board, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain that responsibility. Unfocused discussion in multiple venues, low "signal-to-noise" ratio in the content, and the volume of input by a few members overshadowing the input of most has proven detrimental to effective communication of members' opinions and concerns. The Ombudsman Committee is tasked with simplifying and focusing the process as a dedicated channel for member to Board communications.
To this end, the committee will serve as point of contact for individual members having questions, opinions, concerns, and issues they wish brought to the Board’s attention, especially on matters of corporate governance, policies and procedures, and membership services. Further, the committee will facilitate Board awareness of the “sense of the membership” through the use of focused discussions and solicitation of member opinion, the results of which will be summarized and reported to the Board.
A newsgroup has been established at sff.private.sfwa.ombudsman-committee to facilitate this process.
Lee Martindale has been a member of SFWA for ten years and for most of them has been involved with organizational structure and operation. She served three years on the Election Committee, six years as Chair of the Bylaws Committee, and is currently in her fourth year sitting the Mediation Desk of the Grievance Committee. Her pre-fiction-writing professional background includes project and technical management in corporate settings, contract negotiation and mediation, human rights activism, and magazine publishing and editing. Her fiction writing and editing credits can be found on her website, http://www.HarpHaven.net.
I'm looking forward to working with Lee and excited about having this committee in place for the entire membership.