Greetings.  I am Lauren Sindt and I am running for the position of Director of Hospitality Division.  Some of you know me, some of you know me well, and there are some of you I have yet to meet.  I was asked to provide a background, a history of my experience within our community, and the goals that I hope to achieve if elected to the Board of Directors of Convergence Events. My response to these prompts is as follows:

Prior to the Spring of 2012, I was loved and accepted by family and colleagues but had no strong social connections.  I felt mostly like a geek all alone in the universe.  My interests were seen as odd, my sense of humor was described as dark, referential, and confusing, and I felt required to exert a significant effort in all interpersonal interactions to pass as mostly neurotypical.  I was connected to and involved in the world, but was not rooted to any place, people, or concepts.  Through a series of fortuitous events and the kindness shown by then strangers who have now become some of my closest friends, I was introduced to the geek community in the Twin Cities, and attended my first CONverence that July.

The experience was a panacea.  A quenching draft for one who had not realized the extent of their thirst.  I was able to speak to people using my natural language. I felt comfortable in a large social setting for the first time in my life, because I was with “my people”.  I felt connected and tied to all of the individuals that I met that first weekend.  It was life changing.  The existence of CONvergence membership, and connection to the overarching local community is very significant to my past, present, and future.  The experience I had is not uncommon, many before have felt the benefits and many more shall need them in the future.  This is why I wish to become a greater part of making CONvergence a reality every year, and to make it an inviting inclusive haven for nerds, misfits, and weirdos of every sort.  This is why I am seeking a position on the Board of Directors.

I first volunteered in 2013, was brought in as a SubHead in CONvergence Operations in 2014, and was made a Co-Head of Operations part way through the 2015 cycle.  I have continued in that position through the 2016, 2017, and 2018 cycles.  My major initiatives in this role have included spearheading the revision of our convention harassment policy and development of the member code of conduct, developing the training and procedures to consistently and effectively implement our member conduct policies, revision and clarification of the CONvergence Safe Space initiative, significant efforts to recraft the public perception of the CONvergence Operations department held by the membership and members of the ConCom, and a broad pilot program to develop training and mentorship opportunities for new members of convention leadership.

In my role as a Co-Head of Operations I have worked with many people in many different departments on numerous projects, and have come to appreciate the value of integrated initiatives.  I was also the primary coordinator for JofShop, a monthly seminar for local con-runners to collaborate with each other and to learn best practices and takeaways from past experiences.  JofShop was active from January 2016 – June 2017 and through this I learned a significant amount about how many different departments at various local cons operate, as well as the most commonly confronted difficulties faced and the details of triumphs achieved.  The underlying philosophy of Jof is that everyone, regardless of their time and level of experience, has things to share with others and things to learn from the experiences of others.  This is a philosophy in which I firmly believe and hope to make a more integrated part of the CONvergence ConCom culture.

My goals, if elected as a director, can be reduced to the convenient mantra of communication, collaboration, and inclusion.  I will work to enhance and further develop initiatives to make CONvergence a space of inclusion, a haven and place of belonging for all of the people still looking for their tribe, and a place where all people who have an interest in sci-fi and fantasy feel welcome and included, in spite or, more importantly, because of their specific identity attributes.  We need to increase our communication with members to enhance the sense of community.  We need to take efforts to create channels for collaboration between departments and across the ConCom. Our current  structure is too forgiving of silos and too accommodating of silence as an answer.  It is my opinion that departments need to actively work with each other throughout the year. I will endeavor to foster and develop future leadership, to create the pipeline of future con-runners and to support people who are in new leadership positions.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with each and every one of you in the coming years.