October 2013 Elections: Meet the Candidates

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On this page you'll find information about all of the candidates running in the October 2013 Elections.

We also hope to see you at the Candidates Forum on Sunday, October 20, 2013, at 7pm, where you'll have the opportunity to ask the candidates questions.

Contents

Candidates for Board of Directors

We have five candidates for the Board of Directors, listed in alphabetical order by last name. There are two open seats for Directors. When voting, members select anywhere from zero to all candidates on their ballot, in order of preference.

Andrew K. Bressen

Background:

At AA, I was the first director of Outreach; I represented us at events from Union Sq to Maker Faires and got lots of people involved with the space. I helped do class-planning, everything from scheduling to posting to soliciting new instructors and writing class descriptions. I architected our bylaws, and shepherded them through approval. I also provide the Cruft Shelf.

In business, I'm an entrepreneur and IT manager. I've started a successful dotcom, and managed workgroups of up to ten and budgets around $1.3M. I put Calvin Klein and Doubleday Books on the internet, ran email and web for all of Tufts U (18,000 accounts), and have evaluated companies for venture capitalists. I've had exposure to the workings of a large number of not-for-profits and a few municipal governments as well.

As a maker/hacker, I learned to solder at age 5 and use a chemical darkroom at age 8. As a teenager I ran a cable tv station, hung gallery shows in Manhattan for an abstract impressionist, and socialized with the staff of 2600. Went to my first burn in 1999.

Also, I run a dance; a non-profit that uses a mix of paid and volunteer labor to serve a community of around 500 which will only continue to exist if people enjoy themselves.

Candidate Statement:

My belief is this: AA is both a business and a community, neither can succeed without the other. We've done a solid job with the business in the past 16 months, but the community side has some issues. We have a perfect opportunity to fix that; two new employees, financial stability for the moment, and elections.

If elected, I would focus on the following issues:

  • Communications: talking about decisions before they get made
  • Volunteerism: Making it easy to volunteer, treating volunteers well
  • Awesome parties
  • Making sure the membership has a role in decision making
  • Facilities: are the shops meeting needs, and when do we get a laser cutter?
  • Inclusion: all ages, all income levels
  • Cashflow: we have rent increases coming in a year, how will we pay them?
  • Real estate: how can we afford to stay at Tyler St? is parking ok?
  • Integrity: keeping our promises, apologizing when we screw up

Additional Information:

Lenny Foner

Background:

I've been an Asylum member, and volunteering as our main IT person, ever since the very first meeting at Windsor Street. I believe this may make me our longest continuously-serving volunteer, and I've spent enormous amounts of time doing everything from cruising around the ceiling running cables, to administering our main web server, to doing serious software development. I was officially made our IT manager around the time we moved to Tyler, working with staff, desk workers, shop monitors, and trainers. I've also been a renter for the last two years, and have taken a wide range of classes, in a variety of craft areas. This has given me well-rounded knowledge of the organization as a whole across its entire lifetime, and good insight into both how the Asylum operates and what it's like to do extensive volunteering here---including where the weaknesses are at the interface of the two.

Outside of the Asylum, I have many years of experience in the intersection of civil liberties, privacy technologies, privacy law, and computer security. I've spent considerable time working with academics, industrial sponsors, government agencies, and NGOs, and have also served, for the last two decades, on the Program Committee and as CIO for the annual conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy.

Candidate Statement:

Now that the Asylum will be outsourcing its IT, I have the time and ability to contribute to the Asylum in a very different capacity. I've been a constant advocate for keeping the Asylum a member-focused organization, even in the face of the increasingly corporate style of our operations as we grow.

Focusing on members means two things: (a) Ensuring that members continue to have the ability to fundamentally shape the Asylum's future, and (b) ensuring that we treat our volunteers well. The Asylum needs both of these. We aren't just a space with some tools; we're a community which revolves around members' sense of self-determination. That community also depends, as does the very financial survival of the Asylum, on our volunteers---and treating them well and fairly has been a never-ending struggle as long as we've been around. Having been a long-term volunteer, and having known so many others across three years, I've seen how things go both right and wrong. My primary goals on the Board will be to promote and encourage the health of our community and the happiness of our members and volunteers. This includes, but is not limited to, working to increase the transparency of the Board and its decisions, working closely with members to make sure they're always in the loop on our future direction, guaranteeing that member input will always be an important aspect of Board decisions, and making the Asylum as welcoming as we possibly can to new members.

Additional Information:

Erik Heumiller

Background:

My background is in marketing and video production. I've worked in news, television and online marketing campaigns. I am also a small business owner who is familiar with time, money and people management within a space like Artisan's Asylum.

Candidate Statement:

I am running for the Artisan’s Asylum board of directors to have a more prominent role in how the organization is managed.

I have always been active in communicating with the staff, volunteers and members of the Asylum on ways to improve or streamline the processes involved with managing a complicated space like the Asylum.

As a member of the board of directors my main drive will be to ensure the stability and growth of the organization over the course of my term and well into the future.

About myself:

  • I have been a renter since Tyler St. opened
  • I have been a shop warden, teacher, student and volunteer at the Asylum
  • I have first-hand knowledge of the ups-and-downs of each of those aspects
  • I spend 5-7 days a week at the Asylum in some capacity
  • I work in nearly every shop area
  • I’ve grown a small business within the Asylum
  • I am one of many who have had billing and communication issues
  • I have been impacted by the constant broken tools
  • I speak with a great deal of other renters and members on daily basis

Through it all, I recognize that running a space like Artisan’s Asylum is a monumental task and my goal as a board member will be to provide direction and oversight to help eliminate the problems and improve the overall operations of this organization. I plan to do this using those daily conversations and experiences within the Asylum as reference for how to improve the space.

I am also interested in using my connections in various industries that I have developed through my work in video production to further grow the Asylum and our outreach potential whenever and wherever possible.

I’m happy to speak more in depth with anyone who is interested. I’m usually around in the evenings and on weekends in the woodshop, printshop or in Space #70 back near SCUL.

Additional Information:

Derek Seabury

Background:

I'm Derek Seabury and I am running for both the Artisan's Asylum Board of Directors and for the office of President. Let me tell you a bit about myself and why choosing me to represent you will make the Asylum a better place for us all.

An electrical engineer and computer scientist by training I am retiring from my position as a enterprise software consultant but will continue my work as a SCUBA instructor here in the Boston area. My first job was teaching Autocad in a machine shop an embarrassing number of decades ago. Professionally I have worked with international standards bodies and consulted in intellectual property issues. I have worked in software development, product marketing, branding, market analysis and emergent technology evaluation.

Personally I have worked with charitable organizations since high school. My most extensive work has been with a local community theatre where I manage set construction sometimes of my design.

Candidate Statement:

I first visited the Asylum in Tyler Street and fell in love with the place. As an aspiring mad scientist the fantastic collection of tools and shops was impressive, but the amazing collection of artists, craftsmen and makers was awesome. I began volunteering whenever the call went out; doing everything from sweeping the floors to assembling the studios in building 13. Today I am a front desk volunteer and acting E&R area manager. Wednesday nights I am teaching soldering and basic electronics at our free circuit hacking night. I give tours to visitors and I get excited again every time for the place. My current project is working with an amazing team of inmates building a new laser cutter that we hope to deploy soon.

If elected to the Board of Directors I would focus on being accessible and available to members and the community. If the intended way for members to influence the direction of the Asylum is via the board then the board needs to be on hand and a familiar part of the place.

Additional Information:

W. Aaron Waychoff

Background:

For most of my life, I have been involved in complex business and technical systems, and have nearly always held advisory and decision-making roles. Below is a brief outline of some of the highlights.

At the University of Idaho, I helped to build a small printing service into a full-fledged digital imaging bureau serving the entire campus, was a key part of a new professor education program in technology, and contributed significantly to my small department being handed the role of directing and managing the technology infrastructure campus-wide. My forward-looking decisions were a key part of this progressive direction and I was regularly brought in to consult with the highest levels of university management.

During my time at Bandai America, I guided the company into a mature technical foundation balancing extremely tight budgets against long-lived solutions. I developed hundreds of pages of policies and procedures for technical, business and HR purposes, and became the defacto head of the day-to-day technology infrastructure.

While at Seven for All Mankind, I designed and implemented an entire technology and security infrastructure from the ground up by synthesizing the needs of a half-dozen departments, the business requirements of management, and the aesthetic desires of an architecture firm. Through negotiating with all departments, we had a perfect working system for all departments when moving into the new headquarters building with a minimum of procedural changes required. Through my role in the retail department of the company, I gained valuable marketing expertise as I grew a small $4M/yr ecommerce site into a $17M/yr site in less than 18 months.

I served as a Director on the board at Willoughby and Baltic prior to the organization moving to Joy Street. Many of the issues we discussed during that time continue to face Artisan’s Asylum.

I have also been involved in various fundraising activities since high school, I have a keen interest in marketing and have an eye for effective campaigns, and I have been seen as a voice of reason in every role I have held, professionally and personally, throughout my life.

Candidate Statement:

I speak below about my stance on some of the issues that seem most important to our community based upon my individual conversations with a large number of you. This is not at all exhaustive, and I will engage in rational discourse about any issue, addressed herein or not, upon request. I will take questions at the Candidate’s Forum as the format and moderator allow. Additionally, you may post questions for me to answer at http://waychoff.com/board/

Artisan’s Asylum is a very important institution for me. Joining this community and having access to the resources here quite literally changed my life. I cannot guess how much longer it would have taken me to find my passion in metalsmithing without the Asylum and its community. I am committed to keeping the Asylum open and accessible to as many people as practical so that others can experiment, play, create and share in ways that are important to them. Part of this commitment must include stewarding the institution along a path that will protect it and ensure that it exists to serve not only those individuals lucky enough to be members today, but also the members of the future and the community at large. I am confident that the decisions I will participate in will not always be popular with everyone, but they will be driven by the need to keep the Asylum healthy and as available as practical.

I am a strong supporter of our current Board of Directors and staff members. Each and every one of them have poured an unbelievable amount of energy and time into this institution and I am quite sure that the Asylum would not be where it is today, in scale, function or notoriety, without their contributions. I do believe that with hindsight comes insight. While I believe that given the same circumstances and information at the time, I would have come to the same decisions as the board over this last year, it is nevertheless possible for us to do better as we all learn what does and does not work for this community. In particular, I will work to bring a stricter adherence to the processes and procedures that govern this institution because these procedures were put in place by our community, to serve our community, and cannot be ignored. However, I think we have also learned that some of our procedures are no longer appropriate or workable with the state of the Asylum today. We have grown exponentially, learned a lot along the way, and can put in place a better set of rules today than we have in the past. To that end, I will work to present the proposed bylaws changes in a more clear fashion and, ideally, as a true revision to our current bylaws rather than a completely new document. I think it’s important to understand exactly what changes are being proposed and the rationale behind them. In my conversations with many of you on this subject, when the essence of most of the changes is addressed, there is little disagreement. It is important to me to present the needed changes clearly and mapping these changes onto the existing bylaws is one way I hope to achieve this. One contentious element of the new bylaws I support is the concept of having the company officers appointed by the board, from the board. Board members incur personal liability in their positions, and are, I believe, better suited and more motivated to ensure a good candidate is selected for important, legal officer positions such as President and Treasurer. However, I do strongly support oversight which, in our current bylaws, falls to the Secretary. I will work to devise an agreeable system whereby the board continues to be accountable to the membership in a way that avoids as much conflict of interest as possible.

I do believe that fundraising should be prioritized as much as possible, and I do believe that there are funds available to us, but I do not believe that grants will ever be able to sustain or even provide the bulk of the budget for the Asylum. Because we are a well-functioning institution, I suspect many grant-givers could think their funds better used elsewhere, so in this way, our success may be a hinderance in obtaining funds. But there are supporters out there who have not been reached, and I will participate happily in our efforts to bring them to the Asylum

I want the Asylum to be as accessible to as many people as feasible, without incurring unnecessary risk to the institution. While I would love to be able to throw the doors wide and invite anyone into our facility and community, I am confident that would mean the end of the Asylum in short order. But it is true that we do not focus enough on providing opportunities for under-served, skeptical, and young people in our broader community, and I would work to help change this. In this area, I see the most opportunity for finding sponsors who will help defray the costs involved in these outreach programs.

The education offered by the Asylum is one of the best ways we can reach the community outside our walls. The skills that can be learned here for the cost we charge can’t be matched anywhere, and I believe that continuing to grow this part of our institution is key in our long-term health. I would like to investigate ways to increase our class capacity without adversely affecting members, ways to offer scholarships for classes, and to identify outside communities who should be part of our educational offerings both as instructors and students.

The bottom line, for me, is this: Artisan’s Asylum is a place for people to come and create, with access to resources and education. Most of us do come to this building and make things -- and that is what we want to continue to do. We want space. We want resources and education. We want a community that is supportive. This is our mission and everything I do for the Asylum will always be measured against this.

Additional Information:

Candidates for Officers

We are electing one President, one Treasurer, and one Secretary. When voting, members select anywhere from zero to all candidates on their ballot, in order of preference.

President

We have two candidates for President:

Molly Rubenstein

Background:

  • 3 months as full-time volunteer Outreach Coordinator, July-September 2011
  • 13 months as Director of Operations
  • 12 months as interim Executive Director
  • Proudest accomplishments as ED: doubling revenue, doubling staff, improving communication infrastructure, establishing regular staff meetings, office hours, and community updates
  • Most important goals for the coming year: increasing fundraising, increasing community engagement, improving morale, increasing volume of cheap/free programming, improving long-term security (negotiating long-term lease, creating 3-5 year budget projections & business plan, developing community and funder relationships)

Candidate Statement:

I want to confirm that I am running for the officer position of President in the upcoming elections.

Additional Information:

Derek Seabury

Background:

I'm Derek Seabury and I am running for both the Artisan's Asylum Board of Directors and for the office of President. Let me tell you a bit about myself and why choosing me to represent you will make the Asylum a better place for us all.

An electrical engineer and computer scientist by training I am retiring from my position as a enterprise software consultant but will continue my work as a SCUBA instructor here in the Boston area. My first job was teaching Autocad in a machine shop an embarrassing number of decades ago. Professionally I have worked with international standards bodies and consulted in intellectual property issues. I have worked in software development, product marketing, branding, market analysis and emergent technology evaluation.

Personally I have worked with charitable organizations since high school. My most extensive work has been with a local community theatre where I manage set construction sometimes of my design.

Candidate Statement: I first visited the Asylum in Tyler Street and fell in love with the place. As an aspiring mad scientist the fantastic collection of tools and shops was impressive, but the amazing collection of artists, craftsmen and makers was awesome. I began volunteering whenever the call went out; doing everything from sweeping the floors to assembling the studios in building 13. Today I am a front desk volunteer and acting E&R area manager. Wednesday nights I am teaching soldering and basic electronics at our free circuit hacking night. I give tours to visitors and I get excited again every time for the place. My current project is working with an amazing team of inmates building a new laser cutter that we hope to deploy soon.

If elected to be the President of the Asylum I would work to create more opportunities for members to make contributions and participate. We can work to achieve the all of the goals put forth by candidates in this election if we empower the membership, but not if we rely on the board and staff alone. Member based committees should be working with the staff to accomplish our goals.

Additional Information:

Secretary

We have two candidates for Secretary:

Ellen Blackburn

Background:

I am an environmental engineer and former Army officer. I've been involved with the Asylum since it first started back in Joy Street, doing various types of volunteer work and serving as a warden during the Asylum's early days, as well as taking classes in pretty much every craft area. I very much want the Asylum to continue to be successful both as a community and a non-profit going forward, and would like to be able to contribute more significantly to this goal.

Candidate Statement:

After 20+ years in environmental consulting and before that in the military, I'm comfortable working with a wide variety of people, attending meetings, keeping organized notes and filling out mandatory state paperwork, which are the skills needed for the Secretary position. The position of Secretary has been vacant for a long time, resulting in late minutes and unnecessary demands on staff or board members who already have enough work of their own. The current situation clearly shows how important it is for the Asylum to have a dedicated and dependable Secretary, both to prepare minutes and thus serve as a conduit for greater transparency between the board and the members, and to perform the legally required paperwork so as to take that burden off people who could better spend their time supporting the Asylum via their actual positions.

I have the background, time, and reliability to fill this position, and hope you will consider voting for me.

Additional Information:

Kelsey Schur

Background:

  • Current Secretary and House Manager for Section 17 Project for the Arts of Boston, MA
  • 29 months of volunteer service to the Artisan’s Asylum
  • Graduated from Tufts University’s Combined Degree Program with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in May 2012 with a BA Music, BFA Studio Art, and a minor in English
  • House Manager at Crafts House & Crafts Center at Tufts University, 2011-2012
  • Educated in writing by a retired Bell Labs technical writer
  • Perfect SAT Reading score and near-perfect SAT Writing scores in 2006

Candidate Statement:

On the June night when I first ascended the stairs to the Joy Street location of the Artisan’s Asylum as its first intern, I had no idea that the Asylum would become an irreplaceable part of my life. Even after the suspension of the internship program, I have had the pleasure of volunteering for the Artisan’s Asylum for over two years in various roles, including as the Assistant to the Interim Executive Director and Front Desk Volunteer Coordinator. Currently, I assist Brian Johnson in planning and executing events for the Asylum, but since stepping back from organizing the front desk volunteers, I have felt too removed from the community. When the elections approached, I thought back to the evening last July when I sat in on an Asylum Board Meeting to take minutes and realized that becoming the Secretary would be an excellent way to continue serving the Asylum while using my skills to help the community harmoniously work with its own agreed bylaws.

I believe that it is extremely important for any group of people that works and coexists in a shared space to have an agreed set of written protocols and standards. When this document works well, it gives direction to the group, helps to resolve and avoid disputes, and evolves with the needs of those who follow it. In May 2012, I joined the Section 17 Project for the Arts, a coworking and events space in South Boston, and noticed that no such set of written agreements existed. I immediately began gathering and compiling information about how the space functioned, and three months later, I produced a policies and procedures manual for the group. Beyond functioning as a physical, accessible record of all past group meetings, the manual has helped resolve member disputes at Section 17 during times of turmoil.

While in college, I was the House Manager of Crafts House, the on-campus vegetarian co-op, which also ran what can be seen as a “mini-Artisan’s Asylum” called Crafts Center. As the House Manager, I was responsible for passing on 30 years of organizational culture to a house that was half-populated with entirely new residents during my final year. That year, we increased our standing on campus, and I’m happy to report that while the make-up of individuals in the house has changed, one year after I left my proteges to run the house without me, it is still the den of weirdness spewing glitter and yarn onto the stoic Tufts campus that its founders envisioned. My experience with helping groups create, maintain, and use their records will be a resource to me as Secretary when explaining and enforcing the Asylum’s bylaws.

As for my qualifications as a record-keeper, I’ll start with the numbers. With perfect and near-perfect SAT scores in reading (800/800) and writing (740/800) in my pocket, I entered college intending to major in English. Unfortunately, Tufts’s English program did not have much to offer me, and I eventually changed majors. However, I pursued an English minor alongside my two undergraduate degrees because writing remains one of my passions. It may sound bizarre, but I find deep enjoyment in taking notes. Organizing verbal information into an easily-digested document comes naturally to me. This may be because my mother was working as a technical writer for Bell Labs for most of my childhood and harangued me about proper speech and writing beginning when most parents are simply thrilled that their child can write his or her own name. This may have been annoying when I was a teenager (most things parents do are in fact annoying to their teenagers) but today I am extremely grateful for the thorough education she gave me in the written word.

I have served the Artisan’s Asylum for over two years, and in that time, I have met most of the voters who will be reading this application. It is my impression that I am an approachable member of the community and already seen as someone who has a clear idea of how the Asylum is moving forward and why its policies have been set down in the past. While I do carry some of the friendships that began at the Asylum outside of the building, as a volunteer, I have always been committed to the Artisan’s Asylum as a whole first, and I will continue to prioritize the good of the community in my actions as Secretary. I hope that my long commitment to the Asylum and my outside experience and qualifications show you that I will make an excellent Secretary and that I will have your vote in the upcoming election.

Sincerely,

Kelsey Schur

Additional Information:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/kelseyschur

Treasurer

We have one candidate for Treasurer:

Mimi Graney

Background:

  • Been lending assistance to AA in the background.
  • Executive Director of Union Square Main Streets (ArtsUnion, Design Annex, farmers markets, Fluff Festival, small business assistance, economic development.)
  • Former Executive Director of Somerville Community Access TV
  • 20+ years non-profit management including strategic planning, board development, fundraising, bookkeeping/financial management, program planning.
  • Recent work has been building the creative economy in Massachusetts/Somerville with a specific emphasis on collaborative work spaces and business development.
  • Long-time Somerville resident with relationships with local, state government.

Candidate Statement:

http://unionsquaremain.org/ -- http://www.mimigraney.com/

My family's business is a tool & die/prototype machine shop and we're all tinkers, inventors, DIY'ers. I share the Artisan's Asylum's values of community building, sharing equipment and skills, collaboration, and l so appreciate the spirit of enthusiasm, creativity, play and learning of the Asylum. I want the organization to thrive and to have a solid foundation. I'd love for it to remain in Somerville. I want to help provide the resources for this to happen.

Additional Information:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mimi-graney/6/50/6ab

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