Ahoy! This is Kit (WisCon 2022 Co-Chair & Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent nonprofit) with an important update about WisCon in 2023: We are urgently recruiting for co-chairs so we can have WisCon in 2023! (Nope, no April Fool’s joke here!)
The deal is that I (Kit), as Treasurer, won’t recommend that the Board sign a contract with the hotel for 2023 unless we are sure that we have co-chairs. Signing a hotel contract puts WisCon on the hook for many thousands of dollars, and breaking a hotel contract would effectively bankrupt our organization. We need to make sure that a WisCon is going to happen before we sign a contract, and at a minimum, that means we need at least two co-chairs.
Couldn’t Ira, Aileen, and I just co-chair again for 2023? Co-chairs are asked to take a year off in-between cons so that we don’t burn out dedicated volunteers. This explains in part why there was no official WisCon in 2021: Ira and I had just co-chaired WisCONline in 2020 and no one else volunteered to co-chair for 2021.
What happens if we aren’t able to get two confirmed co-chairs for 2023? In that case, we would plan to sign a contract with the hotel for 2024 and there would be no WisCon in 2023. If that happens, Ira and I are both willing to stay on the ConCom as Fairy Conparents to help document how we actually run WisCon. We’ll encourage all of our current pre-con volunteers to stay on with us to work together on creating department/committee runbooks under a more flexible schedule than con-running permits.
If there is going to be a WisCon in 2023, we need at least two co-chairs. At least one of these people should have had some previous experience with WisCon/SF3 in a pre-con role, meaning that the person is current or former member of the ConCom, Personnel Committee, Comms, or the SF3 Board.
If you are interested in co-chairing for 2023 or if you have questions about co-chairing, please let the current Chairs know via Basecamp or email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
You can find more information about being a co-chair below.
Role: Conference Committee (ConCom) Co-Chair
Department/Team: The Co-Chairs supervise the ConCom and work with other SF3 committees also working on Con business (Communications, Personnel, etc.)
Time Requirements: During the less-busy part of the con year (July-February), each co-chair spends an average of about 2.5 hours/week on con-related tasks. During the more-busy part of the con year (March-May) this increases to 4-5 hours/week; exact time needed depends on how well-staffed the rest of the ConCom is.
Presence at con: Required. At least one Co-Chair is “on duty” at all times during the con.
Term: One year, starting in July.
Role summary: The role of the Co-Chairs is to work together to provide high-level management over other ConCom departments to ensure that WisCon takes place. The Co-Chairs generally keep track of which departments are more or less active and what major tasks need to be done at any given time. The Co-Chairs also help Departments coordinate with each other (especially if members of one department don’t realize something they want to do will impact another department). Co-Chairs also run the Guest of Honor selection process for the following WisCon (details below), and analyze the prior WisCon’s feedback survey results. The Co-Chairs interface with the SF3 Board primarily through monthly reports.
At the end of the day, if a task doesn’t have anyone working on it, Co-Chairs must decide whether to complete the task themselves, delegate it to someone else, or decide the task will be left undone.
- Running ConCom Meetings. This includes setting the dates and reminders, setting the agenda, collecting reports in advance of each meeting, presiding over the meetings themselves, and making sure minutes are published afterwards.
- Tracking Responsiveness/Reports. A large part of the job is keeping track of who hasn’t reported in for a while and what emails are going unanswered to make sure everyone’s on track and to keep morale up. If someone isn’t responding to emails about once a week or so, the Co-Chairs reach out to them, and if they get no response, notify Personnel, who makes a determination on how to proceed. If a role is to be listed again, it should be taken to a ConCom meeting for a discussion, any suggested/agreed-upon modifications made, and then posted.
- Tracking Departmental Coordination. If a Department has a question that can be answered by another Department, or is proposing changes that may impact another department, Co-Chairs must help connect the relevant Departments to each other as needed. Sometimes Departments know who to ask or realize which other Departments are involved with a task, and sometimes they don’t.
- Making Judgement Calls on Events/Roles to Keep/Drop. Sometimes it is not possible to fill a role before the con. There’s a limited number of things that can just be cut, but Co-Chairs must also weigh whether events will keep happening at future cons if they are not formally run at a present con. Co-Chairs have to determine what tasks absolutely have to be done.
- Being On-Call During the Con. There is a chair cell phone that can be used to contact the chairs anytime during the con. Most of the calls will come from the hotel. Chairs can choose how to split up the times of being responsible for the phone. Some chairs alternate days, others take specific shifts during each day — whatever works for the two of you.
- Participating in Safety Processes. If someone wants “to talk to a manager,” co-chairs our our ultimate at-con managers. Co-chairs may also be involved in judgment calls about Safety issues (such as potentially banning someone, asking them to leave, etc.).
- Running Guest of Honor Selection Process. The chairs are responsible for selecting a GOH Vetting Committee and making sure the GOH nomination and voting process is executed according to schedule. This involves collating the GOH suggestions and putting together bios for the candidates, making sure the surveys get run, and contacting the top finalists to invite them (for which there are templates).
- Answering Questions. The Co-Chairs may receive a wide number of questions (both from inside and outside the ConCom/SF3), and they must either answer the questions directly or help forward the question to the person/department who might be able to answer. It’s not uncommon for people to write basically asking to be invited in an “official” capacity. We have an email template for responding to that.
- Analyzing Prior WisCon Feedback Survey Results. Co-Chairs are in charge of analyzing the post-WisCon survey results from the con before theirs. This may involve working with other departments to implement changes based on the feedback received.
- Manage tasks that don’t belong to any other department or that have slipped through the cracks between two departments. This includes supervising printing of standard-sized materials and contacting previous year’s lifeguard and child care team to see if they are interested in working again this year.
- Interfacing with the SF3 Board.
- Task management and delegation skills.
- Excellent organizational skills.
- Excellent one-on-one communication skills (for communicating with other co-chairs)
- Time and ability to check email and Basecamp on a frequent basis
- Some degree of comfort with public speaking in front of large audiences
- Excellent written communications / public relations skills
- Ability to lead meetings effectively, including making sure everyone gets heard, covering an agenda, and sticking to a time limit.
- Ability to take notes during meetings (these do not have to themselves be minutes-quality, just enough to write the minutes later).
- Prior ConCom experience of at least one year preferred
- Co-Chairs should not also be chairing/leading any other departments/teams within WisCon or chairing any other cons
- Co-Chairs should not co-chair two WisCons in a row