Non-Officer Director Candidate Responses 2019

The Non-Officer Director is elected to represent the membership at large. They are not given any specifically defined duties, but are often the heads of various subcommittees as determined by the Mother Grove. There are 4 NOD positions on the Mother Grove, with 2 up for election each year. The Non-Officer Director is a 2 year term, with no term limit.

Candidates:

  • Desiree Cook
  • Julie Desrosiers
  • James Fielder (Pigeon)

Bios can be found here.

The list of all questions can be found here.

Summary:

Desiree Cook Julie Desrosiers James Fielder
Qualifications:

  • served as ADF Members Advocate for 5 years
  • Serve as a president for my Union for 5 years (3 terms) which requires me to sit on a number of boards.

Goals for the upcoming term:

  • Poll our entire membership on their wants/needs from the organization.
  • See demographics in the poll to address how to attract more diversity to the organization

 

Qualifications:

  • Served 2 years as ADF NOD (currently on the Mother Grove)
  • Policy analyst  – I base my decision-making on evidence and data, stakeholder input, and risk/benefit analysis.
  • Public servant with the Government of Canada
  • Background is in communications, interpersonal relations, as well as stakeholder engagement.

Goals for the upcoming term:

  • Facilitate an organizational review
  • Increase membership engagement
Qualifications:

  • Political scientist – trained to use a variety of research methods to assess group performance and well-read on social capital, collaboration, cooperation, and group dynamics.
  • Practical experience in mentoring and motivating diverse teams over a 25-year military career, including four overseas deployments.
  • Full professional CV is located at https://jdfielder.com/c-v/

Goals for the upcoming term:

  • increase interpersonal trust within the organization. “I want that center to be a beacon, not a barricade.”
  • increasing visual contact with solitaries.

Desiree Cook

If it is easier for you to read Desiree’s responses in a separate document, she has provided them here.

Questions for all Candidates:
What do you consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements of NOD to entail, and how are you uniquely qualified to fill it?

I’ve sat on the board for a total for five years as Members’ Advocate and during that time, I felt my responsibilities were to the individuals I was representing in that moment. I look forward to being able to representing all of the members. I think of the NOD positions as chairs or members for the different subgroups of the MG. I also feel the NODs are responsible for the helping determine the “large” picture for the organization. They vote to determine where resources whether money or people are best allocated

Do you have any “day-job” qualifications for the position, and if so what parts do you use most often/benefit ADF the most?

I serve as a president for my Union for 5 years (3 terms) which requires me to sit on a number of boards. I need to take my membership into consideration when making any decision that impacts their employment and health care. I definitely reach out to any member that is directly impacted by proposed changes. I either hold a vote union wide or poll a portion of members for their input before agreeing to wide spread changes.

Describe your leadership style, and why it makes you a good choice for your position.

I believe leaders are such at the will of the people. Leaders should never be an island and should never vote in their best interest but rather for the group they present.

Why are you seeking this office? Why do you love ADF enough to devote substantial time and energy to the organization, and what do you see as the limits and boundaries you would have to place on your involvement?

As mentioned previously, I’ve been on the board for 5 total years. In that time, I’ve not had a vote. While I did have a voice, I feel it was limited by the office and I would love the opportunity to be fully heard and to vote for the members of ADF. I believe the limits and boundaries are going to be less than what I had to maintain for Members’ Advocate.

How will you promote & grow ADF’s commitment to a culture of consent?

I would like us to have an online training program that each leader in ADF must take but is also available to every member. I want us to continue having a meeting at the start of every ADF festival as well as a training like Jenn did at ConVocation. I would like us to require each grove to hold a meeting with their grove members yearly to go over consent.

Share your thoughts on the ADF saying “fast as a speeding oak” and why roots are important to you and to the org going forward.

I think any successful organization needs a strong foundation and slow steady growth and change works well for that. However, any social injustices regardless of how they have been done in the past need to be righted and done so immediately.

Do you believe in the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

I think the many is only as great as the few. If the greatest of the group isn’t lifting up the few of the group to be equal than we’ve failed.

Regarding Solitaries (you may answer these separately or as one response):

What efforts will you take to improve outreach & engagement for solitary members?

I would like to see us have a chair, much like the groves have, that sits on the board and that person’s primary goal is to take the solitaires’ needs as their primary concern.

How will you support those solitaries working through the DP by strengthening the mentoring program or establishing a virtual grove?

I would like us to use training sessions that are more engaging and interactive than just using a book. This could take different routes like using Blackboard like colleges use for online classes or Zoom for bi-weekly/monthly meetings. I think using Rev. Dangler’s program would be a good start and allow new or old people to start or complete the DP as the year continues. I am one of those people that work better with structure and does not do well when needing to self train. I need a classroom setting and I know I’m not alone in my learning style.

With more solitary ADF members, supporting them in their practice may be the most important tasks we face if we want keep them and get new members. What will you do to fix the Mentor program so it can become a robust source of help for anybody who wishes to join ADF, but who is not local to an operating, healthy, teaching grove?

I like the idea of virtual groves and/or online live rituals that members can participate in from their homes. As I mentioned earlier, I would like to see a solitaire chair on the board much as our SDs have one.

What sorts of efforts and contributions do you plan on making to the organization if you do *not* win this election?

I will continue to be a part of the CCG and helping maintain our groves. If there ends up being other volunteer positions I’m qualified for, I will volunteer. I am a service orientated individual and I don’t see that changing.

Non-Officer Director Specific Questions:
Are there any specific problems or goals you’d like to undertake, and what is your plan of action for them?

I would like for us to poll our entire membership on their wants/needs from the organization.
I would also like to see demographics in the poll. I feel the organization isn’t as diverse as we should be and we need to address how to attract more diversity.

How will you engage the full membership to be a part of the major changes that affect everyone in the organization?

Social media seems to have been the most direct way for engagement for others and I don’t see that situation changing over the next two years.


Julie Desrosiers

If its easier to read Julie’s responses in a separate document, she has provided them here.

Questions for all Candidates
What do you consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements of Non-Officer Director to entail, and how are you uniquely qualified to fill it?

Because it has no particular pre-assigned duties, the Non-Officer Director (NOD) position really allows the Mother Grove to make good use of a person’s specific background and skills. Conversely, it allows the person elected to contribute to the organization in the best way they can, with the strengths and skills they possess. While the NOD has no specific job, they are responsible for representing the membership, and giving the folk a voice at the leadership table. They are also tasked with supporting the vision of ADF, and helping the organization succeed in meeting that vision. I believe this is a role I am qualified for, and one for which I’ve trained and developed the necessary relationships.
I am entirely dedicated to the vision of ADF, and to seeing it grow and succeed. I have been Senior Druid of Thornhaven Grove for twelve years and am currently working through the Clergy Training Program. It is my church, warts and all. My magical name is “She Who Sees”, which comes from my ability to see things as how they truly are, see through the “noise”, and get to the source of things. It also allows me to see the big picture, and maintain my vision without getting distracted from the goal. Over the two years that I’ve been NOD, these abilities have helped me to remain focused on two very important areas.
One of my consuming interests as NOD this past term has been to look at the organizational structure. I first brought up the notion of an organizational review at the beginning of my tenure. At that time, there was some resistance and worry about what that might involve, and the notion was deferred until we could complete the Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Threats (SWOT) exercise. For a variety of reasons, it took two years, but the SWOT has recently been finalized, and, as I expected, it supports the need to do an organizational review. In a way, I feel that my work in this area has only just begun, and I’m very interested in continuing to push this initiative forward, as I see it as vital to our survival as an organization.
My other passion has been advocating for membership engagement, and specifically, to find ways to give the membership more opportunities to speak and be heard, to contribute to decision-making, and to be more active in the organization’s development and future direction. I am not one to think that, once you’ve voted for me, you are done voicing your thoughts or input on major decisions for the organization. Only a certain percent of the membership even votes! I want to learn more about our members, what are your interests, needs and concerns, and I want to create multiple channels to help you voice your input.
I have been very lucky to make connections with lots of ADF members, from all over the United States and Canada. These are relationships that I cherish, and ones that I continue to foster as NOD, to ensure that I am representing as broad and inclusive a voice as possible. My geographic oddity (I am Canadian) has some drawbacks- meeting most of you in person can be quite difficult- but it also has strengths. As the first “international” NOD, I do think I was able to provide a unique voice and help maintain the vision of ADF as a truly international organization.

Do you have any “day-job” qualifications for the position, and if so what parts do you use most often/benefit ADF the most?

I have found several of my “day-job” skills have come in handy during my tenure as NOD. For a start, I’m a policy analyst by training, which means that I base my decision-making on a number of factors, including evidence and data, stakeholder input and risk/benefit analysis. As a result, when looking at issues as a member of the Mother Grove, I come from this very analytical perspective. As a public servant with the Government of Canada, I focus my decision-making on how to best serve the people, which means working hard to not let my personal bias or agendas get in the way of doing what’s best for others. I also have a background is in communications, interpersonal relations as well as stakeholder engagement. A significant portion of my work training involved consulting and collaborating with different groups of people to achieve a common goal. I also work in the government, so I know what it’s like dealing with organizational structure. I don’t get discouraged by the rules and bureaucracy. Instead, I try work within it, and advocate for change where it is needed.

Describe your leadership style, and why it makes you a good choice for your position.

I have been a manager of people for almost as long as I’ve been a senior druid. I’ve learned a great deal about leadership from both of those roles. I primarily lead by example, and I expect no more from others than what I would do myself. I fall into the category of leader-as-servant, in that my job as leader is to support and lift those around me. I also idolize Queen Elizabeth the 1st‘s leadership style, mainly in the way that she surrounded herself with wise people who didn’t necessarily agree with her or each other. I’m not one to make unilateral decisions, and I prefer a collaborative decision-making process. I will speak truth to power, and I’ve learned to have difficult conversations with people, rather than let situations fester. I inspire people rather than intimidate them. It is all about communicating the vision, and keeping the faith in times of trial.

Why are you seeking this office? Why do you love ADF enough to devote substantial time and energy to the organization, and what do you see as the limits and boundaries you would have to place on your involvement?

There is so much to love about ADF, starting with the vision and mandate. I was originally drawn to ADF because of the requirement to provide at least 8 public high days, as a service to the Gods and to the community. I have always had a calling to be a priest, and I have found that the structure and support, as well as the quality of the clergy training that ADF provides its priesthood, is incredible, especially since it is all volunteer-based. And it is not just the clergy training- there is such diversity in the study programs, orders and kins, that anyone can find their home. You can see in the quality of the study programs, the poetry of the liturgies, the rigour with which discussions take place on any number of subjects, just how DEDICATED the people of ADF are. I love being part of that.
I’m a big picture type of person. When I look at ADF, I see an organization that has been growing kind of organically. New orders, new rules, new procedures spring up without necessarily looking at how it affects the whole. So, just in terms of the organizational structure, I think it would be good to do some kind of audit. See where the levers of power lie, where the checks and balances are, and where the channels of communication and decision-making exist.
I also see an organization at a cross-roads, asking some BIG questions. Why haven’t we grown bigger over the years? Should we be taking a more active role in social issues? Should grove leaders meet specific standards or have standardized training before being allowed to run a Grove? These are the kinds of questions that need lots of discussion and formal consultation, and so I would advocate for member-wide forums to allow everyone an opportunity to speak and have their voices heard. I understand that these kinds of consultations are time- and resource-intensive, but we can’t underestimate the interest of the folk when it comes to these big questions. As an indication of interest, all you have to do is see how many NOD candidates there are this election cycle!
Finally, I see an organization that needs to take its place in the larger Pagan world. ADF has so much to offer, and has so much potential. But we haven’t yet seized the spotlight or really shown the world what we’re made of. For instance, in the current environment of political and social upheaval, when discrimination of race, gender, sexual preference and religion runs rampant, we should be a beacon of inclusivity and acceptance. The fact that I can study heathenry in ADF without worrying about tripping over some closeted neo-nazi is such a relief to me- and such a selling point for ADF! Or the fact that we are not dualistic in our view of the gods, and don’t emphasize the sexual aspects in ritual, so people who are gender-fluid and/or third-gendered have a space to worship without the constriction of that binary narrative. This inclusiveness is at the core of our values, because it is part of ghosti- offering a haven to all who would enter our halls. Much work has been done to build our relationships with the Shining Ones. If we want ADF to grow, I think we need to work on our relationships with people, which means bringing that message of inclusivity to the forefront of our interactions with the world.
First, though, we need to focus on our existing membership, and establish better ways to communicate and engage together. The people of ADF are our greatest asset as an organization, and we need to do better at facilitating members’ participation in their organization.

How will you promote & grow ADF’s commitment to a culture of consent?

  • I am not aware of any other pagan organization that has invested so clearly in its people, to help build consent culture. Enrolling the Mother Grove members and clergy was an important step forward, and it’s important to continue this work, to take advantage of investments already made, and also build on the momentum, because we know that cultures don’t change overnight. It is also a great opportunity to further define ourselves within the greater pagan community as ambassadors for safer spaces.
  • I’ve created a list of possible actions that we could take to further our commitment, which I have been advocating as a member of the Mother Grove for the last year.
  • Develop rules/principles for consent culture at ADF events, to be adopted by all ADF festivals and events. E.g. training on mandatory reporting, explicit rules of behaviour, verbal consent requirements for workshops involving touch of any kind, etc.
  • Creation of materials repository for use to support workshops, booths, other outreach
  • Documents created by MG and clergy members during recent Cherry Hill course could serve as the source for this repository
  • Develop ADF course on consent culture, and make it required for CTP completion.
    This would allow for further training of leadership without cost. It would signal the importance of this initiative and ensure a basic level of comprehension on the key principles of consent culture. We could consider making the ADF consent culture course mandatory for all SDs. If we choose not to make it mandatory for SDs, we could create a badge for Groves where there is one or more person who has done the training, which could indicate to members and prospective members “We are a safe space”.
  • Encourage presentation of workshops at ADF events on building consent culture in the pagan community. This could even be one of the key offerings that ADF members can provide to the external pagan community, to help make their local communities safer.
  • Human Services Specialist to develop on-line training module for leadership on “How to Support Victims of Assault”

This was discussed at the MG retreat, and should be done.

Share your thoughts on the ADF saying “fast as a speeding oak” and why roots are important to you and to the org going forward.

I must admit that I have chafed a bit under the slow pace of movement as a member of the Mother Grove. I also think I was naïve in thinking that I could affect change quickly, when the organization’s leadership committee is organized around building consensus. I should say that I think this is a good thing. Working in a committee is not for the faint of heart or impulsive of drive, but it’s the safest way of ensuring that we don’t do anything catastrophically wrong.

Because I’m a druid, I see ADF having three roots, all vital to health and longevity of the ADF “tree”. The first root is the vision and mandate. Anything we do should lead back to those core principles. The second root is the Core Order of Ritual (COoR) and the concepts contained within it, which is the spiritual signature of what we do as ADF druids. Whatever variation we may apply in our liturgy, the COoR is the base and foundation. Finally, the third root is the people of ADF. You can’t have a church without the people, and we should never lose sight of that. It’s why membership engagement is so important to me.

Do you believe in the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

In life or death situations, yes, I believe in the axiom of “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. If a train with only two people is going toward a train with 20 people, my choice would be to derail the train with only the two people.

However, in most situations, it isn’t necessary to take such a simple approach. For instance, I have rarely seen a situation where the needs of the many completely supercede or exclude the needs of the few. Often, you can meet both sets of needs, if you take a more inclusive approach.

  • Regarding Solitaries (you may answer these separately or as one response):
    What efforts will you take to improve outreach & engagement for solitary members?
  • How will you support those solitaries working through the DP by strengthening the mentoring program or establishing a virtual grove?
  • With more solitary ADF members, supporting them in their practice may be the most important tasks we face if we want keep them and get new members. What will you do to fix the Mentor program so it can become a robust source of help for anybody who wishes to join ADF, but who is not local to an operating, healthy, teaching grove?

Firstly, I think it’s important to have a good understanding of what supports currently exist. Since the website and social media are the main ways that solitaries connect with the organization, I would also want to ensure these links are as useful as they could be, and serving the needs of solitaries.
As I alluded to in a previous response, I want to establish different mechanisms to help all our members, especially our solitary members, have a voice and speak to their specific needs and solutions. Before going to solutions, I would like to have an online “solitary summit” through Zoom, and consult with solitaries to find out what they are experiencing, and what suggestions they might have to better serve this part of the membership.
For those that are solitary because of geographic reasons (too far from a grove, too far from other pagans to make a grove sustainable), I do think we need to get creative. Maybe some groves have the capacity to be part of an “adopt a solitary” program, and provide a more personal experience to a member through inclusion by skype or other remote means, member pairing for fellowship (like a penpal) or mentoring, simultaneous rituals, proxy offerings and any number of other ideas. It’s a fun concept to explore further, with input from the solitary members themselves on what they would like.

What sorts of efforts and contributions do you plan on making to the organization if you do *not* win this election?

If I’m not re-elected, I will still advocate for both organizational review and membership engagement- and bend the ear of any Mother Grove member that will listen. I will volunteer to any committee that furthers these two goals, as well as continuing to volunteer with the Fundraising Committee and the Grove Coordinating Committee. I may not have as strong a voice as I would in the Mother Grove, but I’m committed to helping my organization in any way I can, and will continue to offer my services to wherever I can best be of use.

Questions for all Incumbents:
Looking back at your previous candidate bio, what goals/intentions have you successfully accomplished?

Because it really is a committee, it is hard to ascribe any one success to my own contributions. That being said, I’ve been fairly consistent through my tenure at keeping the SWOT analysis moving, to the point that it is now completed and the organizational review that I’ve been advocating for is now being considered seriously.

To help answer this question, I looked at the minutes from MG meetings, and found that my interventions were good for clarifying points, staying on track, and advocating for consultation with the membership.

What goals/intentions have fallen by the wayside? If re-elected, how do you plan to bring these goals back into your next term?

I do believe that there is a certain amount of time needed for a new Mother Grove member to learn the ropes and acclimate to the environment. It seemed to take me several months to feel comfortable speaking up in meetings, for instance. I also experienced a serious health crisis last year that detracted from my ability to give my “all” to the position. With the completion of the SWOT analysis and an action plan in development, I’m only now beginning to feel like I can get to work contributing my skillset to the organizational review and to increasing membership engagement. I’m also more aware of what is needed to gain committee consensus.

Non-Officer Director:
Are there any specific problems or goals you’d like to undertake, and what is your plan of action for them?
I have two goals I’d like to undertake, which are:

  1. Facilitate an organizational review
  2. Increase membership engagement

For goal #1, the plan of action involves supporting the development of the SWOT action plan, to start. This is currently underway. Included in this action plan is an organizational review. I would lead or support the implementation of the SWOT action plan, and advocate for the creation of a specific committee for the organizational review, including members of ADF with a background in organizational structure, management and change management.

For goal #2, see the following answer to next question.

How will you engage the full membership to be a part of the major changes that affect everyone in the organization?

I have and will continue to advocate for the creation of multiple channels, geared to reaching and engaging various parts of the membership. I am currently working on a membership engagement strategy that I plan on presenting at our Annual General Meeting (at Drum’s request), which will touch on possible ways that we can engage categories of members, such as solitaries, groves, international members, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be part of major changes or decisions.


James Fielder (Pigeon)

If it’s easier to read Pigeon’s responses in a separate document, he has provided them here.

What do you consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements of NOD to entail, and how are you uniquely qualified to fill it?

Since ADF doesn’t prescribe specific NOD duties, I see NOD as an office through which any member regardless of training can bring personal skillsets, experiences, and voices to bear in advising the Mother Grove and supporting ADF members.

I don’t think I’m uniquely qualified, but do think I have training, education, and personality-traits useful for supporting ADF.

Do you have any “day-job” qualifications for the position, and if so what parts do you use most often/benefit ADF the most?

First, as a political scientist who studies trust, I’m trained to use a variety of research methods to assess group performance and I’m well-read on social capital, collaboration, cooperation, and group dynamics literatures. Second, I also have practical experience in mentoring and motivating diverse teams over a 25-year military career, including four overseas deployments. My full professional CV is located at https://jdfielder.com/c-v/

Describe your leadership style, and why it makes you a good choice for your position.

Oddly for career military, I’m egalitarian, non-hierarchical, consensus seeking, and team focused. I’ve found that, on balance, if I treat people as equals and honor their skills, they will give 150% effort to the mission (a USAFA cadet once quipped I’m the most huggable Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force). I mentor folks starting with their strengths as the foundation before we tackle their opportunity areas (the word “weakness” is downward-looking). Give people trust and agency and they will do wonders–to riff on a saying, I like conjuring favorable weather that lifts all aircraft.

Why are you seeking this office? Why do you love ADF enough to devote substantial time and energy to the organization, and what do you see as the limits and boundaries you would have to place on your involvement?

I’m pursuing NOD since I’m frankly dismayed at the level of interpersonal distrust in ADF, especially given our small size and numerous leadership opportunities at all levels (sense of agency typically fosters organizational trust and buy-in). While I can’t force people to like each other, sharing in the ADF idea should provide us all center point to rally on. I want that center to be a beacon, not a barricade.

As for limits, in the near term I’m facing major life changes: retiring from the military in May 2019, moving, finding new employment (fingers crossed for Colorado State University!), growing a beard of Rev Ellison-level epicness, and so on. Long term, and more personal, I have had chronic headaches for 15 years that recent surgery so far has failed to treat. But speaking to both, I’m running regardless since I’m not letting a few mere obstacles stand in the way of living fully. Further, I’m purposely seeking part time employment so I can engage in activities put aside in the military.

How will you promote & grow ADF’s commitment to a culture of consent?

One of my quirks is I like everybody and treat everyone equally regardless of gender, ethnicity, politics, and creeds. Everyone has a story to tell and I’m an avid listener. Pigeons are gregarious birds, after all. Promoting consent culture is something I do in all interactions, and I hope to set the example through personal demonstration.

Share your thoughts on the ADF saying “fast as a speeding oak” and why roots are important to you and to the org going forward.

Roots provide a solid foundation upon which to build our personal practices. I appreciate that ADF encourages finding personal meaning in our private Hearths yet presents a Core Order and established training programs not as dogma, but as a body of methods largely proven to work over time. Our roots are a spiritual anchor rather than deadweight.

Do you believe in the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

Yes, but I’d rephrase it as “leave no one behind.”

Regarding Solitaries (you may answer these separately or as one response):

Up front, I’ll admit I’m terrible at corresponding via text. Like a toddler gripping a crayon and sticking their tongue out while they think, I’m lucky if I can write a page of anything in an hour–and that’s with intense concentration. However, I like to think I speak well. Thus, I’d like to reach out more via video (Skype, Zoom, Roll20 for the gamers…). Plus, trust is best established face-to-face. Although video teleconference isn’t as good as in-person since the screen creates a veil, it’s still tremendously more efficient at building rapport than text (in short, text lacks interpersonal nuance, which can exponentially result in misunderstandings). Thus, I propose increasing visual contact with solitaries. Indeed, perhaps we could experiment with oral/video essays rather than entirely written documentation for some training programs?

What sorts of efforts and contributions do you plan on making to the organization if you do *not* win this election?

Continue publishing, finish my DP, get out and about more to ADF events across the U.S., and keep being “me.” 🙂

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