On August 25, IOI held its first community session on its work to advance accountability and community oversight of open infrastructure. This call provided an opportunity for the public to learn about IOI’s current efforts, including the formation of a Community Oversight Council.
The informational community session provided a forum for community members to learn about how this governance work is acutely connected to IOI’s recently announced three-year strategic plan and Steering Committee nominations. Two informational community sessions were held (one at 10am EST and the other at 7pm EST) to ensure regional accessibility. Content covered was the same for both sessions. Video from the morning session is now available here.
Governance is part of what I love. I feel like when we give it due respect at the beginning, and get things in place well, it produces more healthy organizations, and they do better things in the world." - Katherine Skinner, Executive Director, Educopia; IOI Steering Committee member
Community Oversight Council
Over the past year, IOI has been thinking deeply about governance, oversight, and community responsiveness, both to advance IOI’s core mission, as well as that of the community it serves. Recently, IOI shared more about its plans to rethink the IOI Steering Committee structure as well as introduce a new mechanism for community engagement - the IOI community councils.
Community Councils reflect IOI’s commitment to stakeholder conversations with the purpose to inform current and future strategies for IOI as well as IOI’s attentiveness and responsibility to the needs of the communities that IOI serves - and beyond. Community Councils are non-voting bodies, established to provide input on specific community aims, needs, and timely issues and inform IOI’s work. Community Councils are also a mechanism to respond as topics and events arise that directly impact the communities IOI serves and advocates for.
The Community Oversight Council is the first of these councils. This council is intended to exist as an entity that engages, challenges, and supports IOI leadership, the Steering Committee, as well as the community. Oversight as an exercise and governance mechanism can and will be uncomfortable - and that’s part of its purpose. The Community Oversight Council is intended to surface the hard conversations in service to equity and justice.
How can we ensure that the work that we're doing is responsive to the community needs - recognizing that we operate across a few different communities and around different subject areas? That's where the thought of the Community Councils as sort of the non-voting bodies that help inform our work [came from]. Not only for IOI leadership, but also for the steering committee, and ensuring we have that regular conversation, to help ensure that we're staying tuned to the needs of those that we're looking to serve." - Kaitlin Thaney, Executive Director, IOI
What is the structure of the community councils? The Community Councils will consist of core council members, community advisors, and the community (public) at-large. The core council members and community advisors will be selected via nomination and community referral. The councils will have two or more council co-chairs who will serve as the council’s primary point of contact and guide the work of the council as well as liaison with IOI. Councils are a one-year commitment with the option to commit to an additional year if the council is still relevant. Councils are not intended to exist forever. They are intended to exist as long as they are relevant and supportive of the needs of the IOI and community. In the case of the oversight council, the council will start this September 2021 and reflect on next steps in August 2022.
We are thrilled to share that the Community Oversight Council will be co-chaired by Sarah Lamdan (CUNY Law School) and Shea Swauger (UCDenver). They will be joined by core council members Rob Montoya (UCLA), Jennie Halperin (Library Futures), and Maya Wagoner (technologist). The starting advisory group will consist of: Stacy Wood (UCLA), Tina Baich (IUPUI), and Robin Ruggaber (University of Virginia). In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to those interested in being part of the community oversight council advisory community.
What else can be expected on informational community sessions? Like with this recent call, the IOI informational community sessions will offer an additional mechanism for IOI - and the Community Councils - to share more about what is happening behind the scenes. Community sessions provide a chance for the public to learn more about what they see publicly through blog posts, research, and webinars as well as learn more about what the public doesn’t always see like decision making processes and strategic rationale. This informational community session as part of the Community Oversight Council work and IOI’s commitment to accountability was intended to be the first of many, each with a focus on a variety of topics.
In addition to the Community Oversight Council and IOI’s new Community Council approach, IOI Executive Director Kaitlin Thaney spoke about the work done over the past 18 months that has informed IOI’s three-year strategic plan. That work has included the Future of Open Scholarship research as well as the dedication of IOI’s 20 person steering committee. IOI aims to offer new approaches to funding and investments in open infrastructure as well as to cultivate a new kind of steering committee and steering committee approach. The intent is to build a Steering Committee that reflects diversity of people, location, industry, and expertise who put community at the core of their respective work and are eager to explore pathways of impact.
You can watch the session in full here.