Board Candidate TheEileen
(2009) Eileen Gormly, or TheEileen
Here is the Who Am I statement for the other two boards I sit on:
Eileen Gormly has spent over 20 years working in the Information Technology field. Learning on the job was and is her path to broadening her knowledge base and keeping up with the changing IT world. Her introduction to Electronic Medical Records came when she took the job of Medicine Residency Coordinator at the San Francisco VAMC, where she also functioned as the Data Processing Coordinator.
To be better able to teach and support the staff, she learned all she could of the programming and user sides of the EMR. From that she transitioned into teaching staff how to use the EMR. This lead to her being hired into IRM as the EMR instructor. Since she knew the systems best, as the teacher, Eileen worked on the Help Desk, answering all the questions associated with the EMR. Wanting to know more about the structure of the system she was teaching, Eileen studied basic MUMPS programming using just audio tapes and books.
And, the more she taught clinical staff of the system, the more she was able to see the connection between the work the clinical staff were doing and what the programming staff were doing and how they were doing it, and was able to facilitate and advance that work, functioning as part of the vital constant feedback loop. Now Eileen was working as a Clinical Applications Coordinator, spending time with clinicians of all stripes (nurses, techs, doctors, lab staff, pharmacy staff, etc.) and then working to translate that knowledge into useable information for the EMR developers. Eileen was invited several times to work on changes and provide "real-world-type" testing; she was considered one of the best at "breaking" new options, since she could use them the way staff would. She would give input as to what was needed and what it needed to look/sound/act like for the easy use of the clinical hands-on staff.
As challenging as all that was, it was four jobs instead of one job and eventually Eileen took a break. She stopped working for the VA and began working for the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. This introduced her to the more NT/Network/LAN side of the IT world. She learned about information security, eventually taking that knowledge and skill set with her to Seattle, where she was recruited by the Puget Sound Health Care System to take on the job of Information Security Officer. That's the job she's held ever since.
A Coast Guard veteran who receives her care at the very place she works, Eileen is committed to the VA as a whole in providing the best care possible to vets while preserving the security and integrity of their information.
On a personal note, Eileen volunteers at her local library and "works" every day at the website "Distributed Proofreaders", a group of volunteers committed to putting every book in the public domain on the web for free in a text format so that everyone, no matter their technology, can have access to every book (www.gutenberg.org).
(All of these excerpts are cited from the Discussion of DP Foundation Board Restructuring forum thread. They are posted in roughly chronological order. Any questions asked by other community members are in italics. The excerpts were chosen to show the candidate's experience, viewpoints and philosophy, while clarifications and asides were avoided.)
I bring the "not done everything yet, interested, but can't quite get there" perspective. Sort of the "newbie" as it were of PM/PP/PPV.
I agree with a lot, but not all, of what my fellow nominees have said - after all, I appeared to be one of the minority all along (per various polls and thread discussions) in that I have no problem with working on a project today that I know won't get posted until 5-7 years from now. I am fully aware that this is NOT something most people (who have responded on poles or thread discussions) feel here. But I do believe there is a core, non-forum-participants, who feel similarly - that isn't where their "reward" is in volunteering at DP.
The biggest drawback I see at DP is also its strength. We are a volunteer driven organization. What this means is that if someone isn't driving, it isn't happening. If someone is driving, what gets accomplished is amazing (it is also done the way the driver likes). Some of us would like to drive - think we have a good car or a good destination, but we can't even find the road and we run into a brick wall of "well, WE found the road, you should be able to find the road". (having "driven" that metaphor into the ground... ) Some of don't quite have that, um, self-confidence to just barge and and start. We think it's rude to walk in the door and tell everyone else they've been doing in wrong or our really spiffy idea that we have or worse yet, here is the work I've done on this spiffy idea I'd like to implement it now. Forum threads of newbies doing exactly that and getting generally politely slapped down back me up on that. A lot of oldbies were able to do that, I think enough has changed that it is dang near impossible to do that now. But the expectation still comes across sometimes. "If you don't like it, fix it" "okay, here's my fix" "you can't do that!"
Back to another strength and drawback of an all volunteer organization: as has been said time and time again, people here do what they like. What we don't seem to have is someone with the time and skill set who knows enough about DP to be able to Project Manage a coherent change path. The people that come here, we like to work on books. Some of us also like to fiddle with computers. I don't see a lot of "hey, I'd love to project manage something that isn't a book or magazine! How can I get that sweet volunteer gig?"
What would I do with some $$. Well, with a "mere" $1000 (which is honestly not that much money from an organizational point of view), I'd spend it on equipment. Expand our memory, upgrade something, buy another year on a security license, something like that. With "real" money, I would seriously think about hiring someone, but not someone doing something anyone is already doing (not CPing, not scanning, not working on software). I'd seriously look at hiring someone who KNOWS work processes, can look at DP's, can take into account the very real limitation that you cannot tell anyone here "you must now work on this because it benefits us, the organization, rather than what you want to work on", look at what has been proposed, look at what is possible, gauge our "staff" skillset and "time available", and give us some realistic proposals on what can be changed from a disinterested but knowledgeable third party.
But first, I think one thing we the board have to really decide is - what is the goal of DP? Because defining that goal is the engine to moves all other actions.
Many of us came on when the goal was stated simply as "Put public-domain books on the web in a format that could be read by as many people as possible".
Our goal appears to have migrated somewhat to "Put as close to perfect reproductions of public-domain books on the web in a format that could be read by as many people as possible".
Right now, we are a "quality over quantity" organization. Not judging that for a "good" or "bad" idea - but, deciding if that is true for DP and that we want it to stay true for DP will drive everything about the actions we the Board would take.
I just hear and read over and over that "we" need to make all these changes to our processes to fix this or that problem, and I just never see anyone taking into account one of the main componets of any process issue we have. Our organization is not set up to tell people what to do and where to work. We can ask, we can't make.
If any solution involves volunteers doing what they are told, then will we eventually get to a point, to reach the organization's goals, of saying on our opening page: "hi, we'd love for you to volunteer with us, you can read a page a day and help get books on the web. Please be aware, however, that we actually want volunteers in software development, formatting, html, and project verification. Our goal is to get you familiar with our processes and then out of proofreading and into another job area as quickly as possible" ??? Or Hi, we are looking for software developers who like books - no one else need apply?
I'm not saying I have any solution (cuz I assuredly don't) but it is a key, key, key point.
One of the things I like best about policy governance for non-profits is that the Board's job is to set the goals and objectives and "deliverables" for the corporation and but not the METHOD. The "how it gets done" is the General Manager (or Executive Director, as the position is often called).
So, I do truly believe that the Board's main purpose in starting should be to make sure we have clearly defined goals (and a method for re-defining them as time and membership in the corporation change) and then work, as Simon says, in supporting our GM/ED to accomplish those goals.
And make sure that we provide a good process for our "stakeholders" to contact us with their feedback - and probably solicit it from our more quiet members also. But that may be too far also down the "doing things" path.
The question I have for the nominees is: after researching and deciding on a new direction (like moving to a roundless system, changing to UTF-8, the implementation of distributed post-processing tools, etc) how will the Board engage the community to make that happen both with social buy-in and implementation-wise.
I believe that having the DP Board account with associated "email" such as DP-Help and DP-Feedback are set up is one of the key ways to do this.
The Board would put out a notice that it was soliciting suggestions or input or buy-in or whathaveyou in as many places around the site as possible with a forum thread AND the ability of those volunteers who are shy of using the forums, feel like they can't speak freely or clearly on the forums[A], are uncomfortable with public forums to be able to directly give their input to the Board.
Then the Board, being as transparent as possible, would provide the basis for their decisions. Transparency is key but so in generalization. The Board should be able to say "we had 400 people say yea in forums and private communications and 200 people say nay and the other 6000 didn't say anything so ... ". And I also feel that there are going to be occasions when the Board is going to have to say, "five very vocal people were for this but 600 people were against it so you Five ... tough noogies." Very Happy No honestly, I see this at work and on the other Board I'm on. The inability of Board members to say "We said no, and I know you don't like our decision but there it is we aren't debating it anymore". Instead, it drags on and on because people seem to think that "consensus" means "unanimous". It does not. Some times people ARE going to be unhappy and have to deal with not having things go the way they think they should.
I would ask those people to give the change a chance though. Several people who thought the two round to four round system would be the end of DP as we know it and swore they would leave because the theory sounded terrible (since we had no practice at the time), ended up staying and finding they liked the split. The theory of things often doesn't turn out to match the practice as we all know, so I would also ask the community to be kind to the Board who will always be striving to do what's best for the community as a whole and meet the goals and may make boos-boos along the way. We all do - as long as the Board has the space and dignity to say "Okay, that didn't work, let's try something else" without being attacked ... I think we'll be good as a group and the Board can work better also.
(Footnote A: There are some people I am very well aware who don't like to post on the big discussion forums of big changes because they feel that what they are saying or trying to say gets twisted, or people focus on the one small point and not the big one, it becomes a jumping off point for someone else's rant and their post gets associated with that rant and they feel dismissed, etc. etc. It happens, I've seen it. We are all trying to have a healthy discussion but let's face it, when 50 people are all talking at once ... things get lost. Sometimes people just want to state their opinion and not have it open for critique and debate. That doesn't mean they don't follow the forums and sometimes!! change their minds after reading the discussion. But not everyone is comfortable ON the debate team. )