Welcome to part three of my four-episode series, RWA: One Month Later. Today, we’re hearing from RWA.
Jessie Edwards, Marketing and PR Manager for Romance Writers of America, joins me to answer questions about loss of trust, steps being taken to address member concerns, filling leadership positions, and what comes next for RWA, for the national conference, and for the membership.
Check your podcast feed tomorrow, February 3, for the other episodes in this series, including an episode with the officers of CIMRWA, and a conversation with RWA past president HelenKay Dimon. Tomorrow, February 3, you’ll hear from Courtney Milan.
↓ Press Play
This podcast player may not work on Chrome and a different browser is suggested. More ways to listen →
❤ More ways to sponsor:
What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at [email protected] or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.
Thanks for listening!
❤ Click to view the transcript ❤
Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 390 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell, and this is part three of my four-episode series, “RWA: One Month Later.” Today we’re hearing from RWA. Jessie Edwards is the Marketing and PR Manager for Romance Writers of America, and she is joining me to answer questions about loss of trust, the steps being taken to address member concerns, filling leadership positions that are currently vacant, and what comes next for RWA, for the national conference, and for the membership.
If you’re just joining this series, there are two episodes prior to this one that should be in your podcast feed. There’s an episode with the officers of CIMRWA, and there’s an episode with past President of RWA HelenKay Dimon. Tomorrow, February 3rd, I will have an episode with Courtney Milan.
I want to extend a special thank-you to our Patreon community. Without the Patreon community, the episodes wouldn’t be transcribed, and it’s important to them and to me that each episode be accessible. So thank you to the Patreon community for each and every pledge that makes sure that we can transcribe these, and thank you to garlicknitter for transcribing all of these episodes so quickly. If you would like to join our Patreon community, have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches.
If you’re a long-time listener or a short-time listener of this show, you probably know that most episodes are pretty chill; they’re very casual. I, myself, am a very silly person. This episode is a little different. This is a very serious and difficult conversation, and I want to thank Jessie for taking the time to talk to me and answering the questions that I had, which were not easy questions by a long shot.
If you have feedback or suggestions or ideas or you want to tell me what you think of this series, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at [email protected].
And now, let’s get started with episode three out of four of “RWA: One Month Later” with Jessie Edwards.
Sarah: Would you please introduce yourself and tell the people who will be listening what your job is inside RWA.
Jessie Edwards: Sure! Hi, I am Jessie Edwards. I am the Marketing and PR Manager at RWA. I joined the organization a couple years ago, and before that I was in romance publicity for about seven years. At RWA, I am involved in communications. I work on strategic partnerships. I organize our presence at trade shows and festivals and, and different things like that. And yeah, I’m here today to just talk to you about, and share more with our members and anyone who’s listening, you know, what we’re doing to regain trust and rebuild our organization.
Sarah: Now, I want to be clear: there are limitations to what you can talk about. Is that correct?
Jessie: Yeah, correct. So we, you know, need to ensure the integrity of the audit that we’re conducting into our specific ethics matter and our ethics process. We won’t be speaking on that in detail.
Jessie: – can say that, you know, we’ve hired an independent, outside firm to, who are an expert in association ethics issues. We are fully cooperating with them on this matter, and they are currently in the interview-conducting phase, and you know, once that’s complete and once they have their final report, we are going to be sharing that with the membership.
Sarah: So let’s start with what you’ve already mentioned, that RWA has acknowledged in writing and, you know, just now that there is a loss of trust in the membership. What steps is RWA taking to address that loss of trust?
Jessie: Yes. You know, we know that, as you said, we’ve lost, the membership has lost trust in, you know, the leadership, but, and it’s going to be a long process to regain that back! But the Board and staff are, you know, committed to doing so, and, you know, concrete steps so far, as I said, you know, we’ve hired this firm to conduct the audit. In their report, they’re going to have findings on this specific matter, but they’re also going to have recommendations for our ethics process moving forward.
Jessie: We have announced leadership transitions? Leslie Scantlebury is our new interim Executive Director, and we are very thrilled that she is in the, in that position. She’s a great step-in. We’ve, she’s been on staff for ten years. She was gone last year for a new job opportunity, but she came back in November, and, you know, she’s been, through that decade she’s been here, she’s been a really great resource for members, and the members have been giving her really positive feedback, her appointment really positive feedback.
So we’re excited about that, and then we are currently in the process of identifying a DEI consultant, or a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant, who’s going to work with us on a bunch of different things: Board and staff recruitment; membership programming; events, including our conference; training for the staff and the Board and chapter leaders; and then just really taking a foundational look at our policies and procedures. And, you know, we’re going to keep members updated on that process and, you know, the continued steps that we’re taking.
Sarah: Wasn’t there already a DEI consultant?
Jessie: Yes, Sunny Lee-Goodman. She was in for a specific – you know, she had a separate and specific scope of work, and she was working with us on, you know, the RITAs –
Jessie: – is going to do some training for the Board and staff and, you know, but now, we are taking propo-, like, we’re looking at a, a broad range of proposals at this point.
Sarah: So you want, you’re looking to expand the scope of any consultant you hire so that it’s more than just the RITAs and it’s more than just judge training.
Jessie: Absolutely, and Sunny was going to do, you know, there were some other things within the scope, but this is, this is a much broader scope of work that’s going to look at every aspect of the organization, and, and so, you know, as we expanded the scope of work, we expanded the proposals that we’re looking at.
Sarah: In looking at the trust of the membership, what do you think can be done right now?
Jessie: You know, right now, I think the most important thing, and I think what they’re asking for and what we’re trying to provide is communication and transparency. And they want to see that we are taking steps, and they want to see that we’re, you know, as we say that we’re committed to these things, that we actually are, you know, I guess, walking the walk or, yeah, whatever that phrase is, walking the walk. And so I think it’s the most important thing for us to communicate with them often and more and to be really clear about how we’re working to get through this and to regain their trust and to make the organization better.
Sarah: Does RWA acknowledge that there is a problem with racism and bigotry in the membership?
Jessie: You know, this has been a really difficult and painful time for us and for the romance community, and, you know, not like, unlike other organizations, you know, we’re grappling with the ways we need to change to better address issues surrounding diversity and con-, and, and inclusion, and acknowledging the ways we haven’t served our members from underrepresented communities, identifying those ways, you know, which we’ll be doing with the help of the DEI expert, consultant, and, you know, as part of the scope of their work, as I said, they’re focusing on foundational policies and procedures, our forums and how those are handled, programming, training, and, you know, I think one of the issues that we’ve had, you know, through the years, as, as the Boards have, as the various Boards have been committed to DEI issues and, and, and increasing our focus on that and making it more than just a line item on the agenda, but as, you know, a commitment that permeates everything, I think that, you know, they’ve been trying to implement change without the help of experts, and now we have this impetus and this opportunity to bring on those experts to guide us through so that we don’t have to make piecemeal changes, we don’t have to make incremental changes, and we can really look at things from tip to toe and, you know, build – I, like I keep saying, foundational, but you know, build things from the foundation to address those issues. You know, we want to create a, a safe and diverse and inclusive community, and we want to be able, when issues do crop up, you know, we want to have the processes and the procedures and the training in place to properly handle them.
Sarah: So is there a problem with racism and bigotry within the current membership that RWA can acknowledge?
Jessie: So I think that we’re a nine-thousand-member organization, and there are people from all different backgrounds and viewpoints in our organization, so, you know, we’re a microcosm of the greater world.
Sarah: Mm-hmm? And with the understanding that RWA itself cannot fix racism and bigotry all by itself because that’s impossible, and neither can it eradicate white supremacist thought, because that’s baked into pretty much everything, I still want to come back to the fact that if you say that you want to create an inclusive and safe environment, that does include acknowledging where there are problems. Can RWA acknowledge a problem within the membership that appears, especially in in-person events and in the online forums and in chapters, that there is an issue with bigotry and racism in the membership?
Jessie: I think that there is an issue with the processes that we have in place to deal with things like that and to, you know, acknowledge and – I, I think that there is not a – I’m trying to think how to say this; I’m sorry –
Sarah: It’s okay; take your time!
Sarah: I recognize that this is not an easy conversation, and I am, I am remiss in not saying thank you in advance for having it.
Jessie: Well, you know, it is a hard conversation, and I’m not willing to paint a swathe, I guess, over our nine thousand members? ‘Cause I think that the problem is with how issues have been handled, and, and the support and the, the solutions need to come from a change in policy and procedure, and, you know, with leadership setting the example and really leaning into that idea that DEI is not a line item on our agenda; it is one of the most important aspects of every single thing that we do: every program that we put in place; of every event that we have; of, of, you know, every educational offering that we have. I think that’s where the problem and the solution is.
Sarah: So the problem is in policy and lack of integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the policy level of the organization. That’s where you see the problem at the moment.
Jessie: Yeah! And I think that, you know, that’s where I see the problem, and I think that when you have a top-down commitment to this and you say, as the Board and the staff, that this is what’s important to us, and this is what we’re going to accept, and this is not what we’re going to accept, that, that is, that’s what creates change within an organization.
Sarah: How many members are there, are there currently? Has membership declined in total number since round about, say, December 23rd?
Jessie: So right now we have about eighty-eight hundred members, you know, give or take, and, you know, through this month we’ve had people join, we’ve had people reinstate and renew, and down, I think we’re down twenty members?
Sarah: Well, as one of the people who renewed to preserve my, my standing, I understand that!
Jessie: I saw that. I checked!
Sarah: [Laughs] You actually checked if I was still a member?
Jessie: Well, only because, only because you said, you said that eNotes used to be my thing! And I was like, does she not get eNotes anymore? Is she not a member anymore? So I was –
Sarah: No, no! I, I, when I said that I meant I used to be the editor of the eNotes. That used to be my job!
Jessie: Are you serious?
Sarah: Yes! For, like, oh gosh, like three or four years, I was the editor of the eNotes, before it was moved back in-house. I think it’s, gosh, it was, like, several presidents ago. It used to be a volunteer position; that was my job. I was the eNotes Editor –
Sarah: – for like four or five years. When I said that was my thing, I literally meant, that was my thing.
Jessie: I was so confused. I had no idea about that.
Sarah: Oh, well, it’s – there you go! [Laughs] It’s not very exciting at all! But yeah, the eNotes used to be my job for many, many years.
So I do have a question about leadership; you did mention leadership.
Sarah: What is the organization doing to fill the absence of leadership? Because it was my understanding, and I am not entirely fluent in Texas nonprofit law, that the law requires a president and possibly also a secretary to be in place. Between now and August is a long time. How is RWA addressing the leadership absence at this time?
Jessie: Yeah, so you’re right. Texas nonprofit corporation statute and our bylaws state that we must have, we shall fill the office of President and Secretary, and, you know, it’s the current Board’s, it’s top priority is ensuring the members have the leadership they can trust, and so we’re in the process of filling those positions. You know, once we hire the – or I guess let me back up a little. So the way that our bylaws work, if there’s a vacant president’s seat, the president-elect moves up, but if there’s a vacant president and president-elect seat, the Board appoints the president. And so, you know, we want to, you know, Leslie’s going to be working with the Board and the DEI consultant that we hire to determine a process for appointing this interim president that, you know, as much as we’re able, is going to allow members to have, you know, some sort of input in that decision. Again, you know, going back to trust, we want them to be able to believe in who is in that position. And so we’ve consulted with legal counsel and been advised that as long as the current Board is acting, like, as unit, like, no, you know, not one of them is making any singular decisions, I guess, any decisions they make are legal and enforceable, you know, as we move forward with this process, but I can say that, you know, once we hire the DEI consultant, that’s going to be top, number one priority.
Sarah: So first the DEI consultant and then addressing the absence of the president and the secretary.
Jessie: Yes. I mean, you know, there’s, you know, stuff going on behind the scenes now, like, you know, figuring out who’s eligible and things like that, and then, but then once the DEI consultant is hired, create the process, appoint the president, and then once the president is appointed, we can use a similar process to appoint the secretary; just, the way the bylaws are written, we have to, the president has to be in place, and then the secretary.
Jessie: And then, you know, in August, all the officer, director, and adviser positions are up for election, and so the membership will be able to vote on all those, and then the new Board, which’ll take office September 1st, is going to form a search committee to look for the new full-time Executive Director.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. So when would elections be held?
Jessie: Just the same they’re regularly held: August.
Sarah: Is there a possibility of an election between now and then?
Jessie: No, nothing in our bylaws provides for that.
Sarah: So if I’m understanding correctly, based on the advice of the Romance Writers of America attorney, as long as the Board is acting in a cohesive whole, the organization can operate between now and August without a president, without a, a secretary.
Jessie: The – you know, we’re not going to do that. The, we’re going to appoint a president and a secretary.
Jessie: But the decisions that the Board makes while there isn’t a president or a secretary will, you know, are legal.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. And they’re binding for the organization then.
Jessie: They’re binding for the organization, yes.
Sarah: So what about National convention? I know, I know registration is supposed to happen soon. Is National convention going to happen?
Jessie: So, yes. It will happen in July in San Francisco. Actually, we just announced – well, we’re about to announce as we’re recording this – [laughs] – we’ve just announced that registration will now be opening March 10th, and, you know, conference is going to look different this year. We’re going to have, of course, educational offerings, but we’ll also be working with the DEI consultant to create, to select speakers and, and to create an agenda that’s going to, you know, bring our members together and create a space where we can discuss these issues that we’re facing, like, as a community. So, you know, we’re going to take this time between now and the opening of registration.
Sarah: So the hiring of the DEI consultant is the most urgent position that you’re looking to fill at this time, because that person is going to advise on a lot of things. Do you have a timeline or goal or projected date by which this person will have been hired?
Jessie: I don’t have a projected, a specific date or anything?
Jessie: I mean, very soon. Like, incredibly –
Jessie: The, the Board, we’ve, we’ve talked to and seen proposals from several different people. The Board is currently reviewing them, and, you know, I mean, it’s imminent.
Sarah: Do you, do you get to see the proposals?
Jessie: Mm-hmm, I do.
Sarah: Can you tell me anything about them? Are they people who have experience in crisis management? What is the scope of some of them? Are there things in there that were particularly interesting to you? I’m just curious what you thought!
Jessie: I’ve only seen a couple of them.
Jessie: I can, I can ask to look at more of them, but I’ve only seen a couple so far. And, you know, we’ve, we’ve talked to people with lots of different backgrounds. We’ve talked to people who have worked with, you know, huge corporations and, and banks, and we’ve talked to people who have worked with associations, and we’ve talked to people who have worked with, you know, have a background in education. You know, they all come at it with a slightly different approach, but you know, all of them have been, they’ve all done their research and really focused on what RWA needs specifically and are, you know, ready to work with us on all those things I, you know, mentioned with the appointing new leadership and, you know, working on conference, and then doing reviews of our policies and procedures. They’re all very comprehensive. I mean, I, I’ve been incredibly impressed with the people that we’ve talked to and, and their backgrounds, and they’ve all been interested and excited to tackle RWA’s challenges.
Sarah: Looking at the potential involvement of this person with, with the national conference, have you extended any invitations to keynote speakers, or is that, has, has all of the development of the conference that would have taken place by now been tabled to restart with this new consultant?
Jessie: Yeah, so a lot of, a lot of what would have taken place by now has, has been tabled, but, you know, we’ve, as staff, have been, you know, researching and looking around and, and reaching out to potential speakers, but the bulk of it I think will be done with the consultant.
Sarah: The consultant appointment is longer than just until August.
Sarah: This is a longer term position. What about chapters that have announced that they are disbanding or discussed disbanding? What efforts are being made to address the chapter level fallout from what has happened in the past month?
Jessie: Yeah, so we know our, our chapters have been having, you know, a really challenging time as well. Leslie has begun reaching out to chapter leaders, just to talk with them one-on-one, to hear their concerns; you know, answer the questions they might have; talk about, you know, areas they’re struggling in, ideas they might have. You know, just, just to determine, talk to them about how we can best support them in this time. You know, for chapters that disband, we’re putting things in place so that the members can still, you know, stay connected and, and, you know, be a part of a community, but just ultimately right now, we’re working to rebuild those relationships and, and get everyone the information and the support that they need!
Sarah: Have you received more communication from chapter leaders regarding dissolution?
Jessie: I couldn’t personally say? I think right now, you know, they’re just talking to, just trying to figure out, you know, different things with dues and, you know, if they have had Board members quit, how they can appoint new ones, you know, qualifications for that, what’s the process, but I, I’m not quite as involved in, not quite as involved in that.
Sarah: The scope of your job is also to – you don’t make any of the policy decisions.
Sarah: You just represent those decisions to the membership through PR.
Sarah: So you’re not in charge.
Jessie: No! [Laughs]
Sarah: If you were in charge, is there anything that you would do right now?
Jessie: I mean, I, I think that right now my job as it is is one of the most important, because as you say, or as I said earlier, we need to be communicating with or members and with chapters, and so that’s what I would be doing. Our current Board is incredibly committed to rebuilding the organization. I have been glad to have their support during this time, and, and I know that they are working really hard. I mean, they’re working incredibly hard to, I guess, right the ship and then, and then make it better. You know, we’re, we’re only a month, we’re only a month into this!
Sarah: I know.
Jessie: Not to make –
Sarah: Seems much longer.
Jessie: I’m sorry, is – oh, yeah, it feels like much longer. They’ve, they’ve had to make lots of decisions rapidly, and, and you know, I’ve been – they, all their conversations have been around, how do we make this better? How do we support our members?
Sarah: How has the, how has this past month affected the, the advocacy efforts on behalf of romance writers?
Jessie: You know, that’s, that’s hard, because, you know, advocacy is one of our main purposes, if not, you know, the main purpose. It’s, it’s what we’re here for, and it’s been really a difficult month for that, for us and for the members, and you know, we’re committed to having an organization that can focus on advocacy, but, you know, in the short term right now, we’re working on re-establishing our leadership and building processes that are going to make us more effective advocates for all of our members.
Sarah: What, what can you tell me about RWA’s efforts to help members who are authors of Dreamspinner, Dreamspinner Press who haven’t been paid? Is there anything you can say about that?
Jessie: I mean, you know, last year, I can say that last year staff reached out to Dreamspinner about missing payments, and when it was determined that, you know, they were violating our industry code, we gave them thirty days to rectify the matter, and when they didn’t we put them on probation, which may, and, and, which means they’re taken off of our Qualifying Markets list and they can’t participate in any RWA activities, they can’t be in our publications. Just to explain, our Qualifying Markets list is a list of publishers who we have reviewed and, you know, determined that they’re not in violation of our, any of our industry code; they’re not participating in predatory publishing practices; and so when members look at that list, they can see, okay, you know, these are, these have been reviewed by RWA and deemed to be in compliance with these things. And so we took them off that list, and, you know, they remain on probation, and right now we’re looking at other ways, you know, we can assist affected members within the legal bounds of what we can do as a professional association.
Sarah: Do you remember when last year that happened?
Jessie: So they were informed on August 29th that they had thirty days to rectify the matter, and they were put on probation on October 1st.
Sarah: Can the organization communicate more of what it is doing to help the Dreamspinner authors who are RWA members?
Jessie: As we look at, you know, what more we can do, yes, we can absolutely communicate with members, but, you know, the concern with it last year was, our legal counsel, you know, they advised us not to speak out too publicly on this, because, you know, just in the interest of, you know, not doing anything that, you know, could push them in bankruptcy or cause other damages that would have opened RWA up to a potential lawsuit, and also when publishers go into bankruptcy it, you know, can, it can delay or absolutely prevent authors from getting payment, from receiving their payments, and, like, at all –
Jessie: – and then if they go into bankruptcy, they’re, the bank can take control of their rights for their books –
Jessie: – and that’s even authors who have had their rights reverted to them. If it’s within a specific time period, the bank can say, no, those are ours now. I mean, I’m not sure about the legal term – [laughs] – but they can take back control of those rights, even after they’ve been reverted. And so it was really crucial for us not to have that happen, not to open up RWA to a lawsuit and to make sure that we didn’t do anything that would further prevent authors from being paid.
Sarah: So what can you say to members who no longer trust or believe that RWA can work on their behalf, because of this, because of other incidents, because of the past month? What can you say to members who are unsure or don’t believe that RWA works on their behalf as romance writers?
Jessie: You know, I can say that the Board and staff are working really hard to regain that trust and to put things in place to show that we are ready and able to work on their behalf! I mean, you know, this is, this, this past month has been new territory for all of us, and we’re working on a lot of different fronts, and, you know, we may not always get it right, and we want to be really thoughtful in how we proceed, but our primary focus is to rebuild the organization, you know, one that our members can be proud of, and I feel like – [laughs] – I, I don’t know if this is a weird thing to say, but I feel like it’s, it’s, it’s kind of exciting that we’ve been given this opportunity to really get down to the nitty-gritty of how RWA works and to be able to rebuild it from, you know, the ground up; to not be making in-, incremental changes; and we’re going to take advantage of the opportunity, you know, to make sure that RWA is working for all of its members.
Sarah: Then what are the benefits to joining or renewing membership in RWA right now? With so much in transition, with so much undecided and so many people to be put into place and so many policies to be written, what is the benefit of joining RWA at this time?
Jessie: You know, RWA is built, RWA is built to be a place for community, for writers to come together, you know, all different stages of their career. You know, we’re supposed to be a place where authors can feel like we have their back, like they’re not alone in their profession, and, you know, we’re built to provide them advocacy and education so they can succeed in their careers, and, and we’re absolutely still committed to doing that, to advocating and to educating and creating community, and, as I said, we’re, we’re working to build an organization that members can be proud of and that fulfills all of these purposes for all of our members. You know, through all of this, it’s really, it’s kind of been, it’s been inspiring and, and heartening, the passion that our members have for what RWA could be and, and what we should be, and, and we want to build an organization that lives up to that passion, and we hope our members and, and, you know, members of the romance community who are thinking about joining can work with us to, to create this stronger and more inclusive organization.
Sarah: So who does RWA serve?
Jessie: We serve our members.
Sarah: And who are the members? What is the, the population, the audience, the community of Romance Writers of America?
Jessie: For the most part, our members are romance writers, both published and unpublished. We do have members that are industry professionals, you know, editors, agents, things like that, but for the most part career-focused romance writers, and that’s who we’re here to serve. That’s our mission.
Sarah: See, the, the problem where I as a, as a member –
Sarah: – the problem where I balk at the stated community of RWA is that I don’t believe that you can have a welcoming and inclusive community of romance writers that serves everyone, including those who have been marginalized, that doesn’t ad-, address the members who maintain the marginalization of other members, and I think that it is RWA’s responsibility to openly and specifically address how that’s going to be changed.
Jessie: Well, and I think that’s, that’s the, the plan, for the Board to address those issues, to address them with the DEI consultant, to work with the membership on this. I, I, I don’t, I think that’s their plan!
Sarah: I, I hope so, because, like you said, it wouldn’t be so hard and it wouldn’t be so fraught, and people wouldn’t be so angry if it didn’t matter.
Jessie: You’re right, and it, it does matter, and it matters a great deal, and I think that, I think that the Board shares, shares that belief that it matters.
Sarah: Are you, are you optimistic about the next year?
Jessie: Yeah, I, I actually am. I, I really am, because I believe in the people that I’m working with, and I believe in where, you know, they want the organization to go, and I think the place they want the organization to go is in a direction of being more inclus-, inclusive and diverse and equitable, and I, like I said earlier, we, we’ve been given this opportunity to, to reshape the organization in that way.
Sarah: I hope that it happens. I, I am not as optimistic! I must say, I am not as optimistic –
Jessie: Well –
Sarah: – because I see what people feel safe saying in the PAN forums, which at this point are not moderated, am I right about that?
Jessie: So they are on a self-moderation system, which means that members can flag posts that they think violate the forum rules, and then staff goes through and reviews the moderated posts. There have been a huge amount of –
Sarah: I was going to say! With what time? That’s a full-time job! I know that, ‘cause it’s my job! [Laughs] It’s a job I do! Has the organization considered not having the forums for a while?
Jessie: I think there’s been – I mean, that’s a Board discussion that I haven’t necessarily been part of, but, you know, I think there’s lots of discussion around the fact there needs to be discussions and decisions about the forums, but I, I’m not privy to what those might be.
Sarah: I recognize that there are things that, you know, you’re not, you’re not making policy decisions all day. I, I fully recognize that. But like I said, I do see what members feel comfortable saying and what beliefs they feel comfortable espousing that fundamentally deny the humanity and right of other members, and I struggle to see the future with optimism. But like you said, still a member. I’m a cranky member, but I’m still a member.
Jessie: Well, I, you know, even cranky members are, are there to help us fight for this change!
Sarah: Is there anything you would like to say to, to the people who will be listening?
Jessie: I would like to say that I believe in this organization. I believe in what RWA can do for the romance community, and I think that everyone from the Board members I work with, the staff I work with, the chapter leaders, and the membership want RWA to be better, and even if they’re struggling, as you are, know that it can be better and, and we can create an organization that is there to be a safe and inclusive place for all of our members, and it’s going to be a lot of work, and it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take resources, and I think that we’re committed to getting it done! I’m, I’m very hopeful. I’m very optimistic and hopeful.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this episode. I want to thank Jessie Edwards for her time and for answering my questions. Tomorrow, February 3rd, I will have the final episode in this series on “RWA: One Month Later,” and I will be speaking with Courtney Milan.
If you would like to get in touch with me, you can email me at [email protected]. I would love to hear from you!
Thank you to garlicknitter for the transcription of each episode, and thank you to our podcast Patreon community, whose support makes transcripts of these episodes possible. If you would like to have a look at our Patreon, patreon.com/SmartBitches.
Thank you for listening. I will see you back here tomorrow for part four of “RWA: One Month Later.”
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more outstanding podcasts to subscribe to at frolic.media/podcasts.
[slowly moving music]
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.