Update from the RWA Board of Directors

January 14, 2020

We know that this has been a difficult and painful time, and we know that many of you have contacted both the Board and staff with thoughts, concerns, and questions. We’ve heard your deep hurt and anger, and we’re sorry that we have not met the expectations of our members and ourselves – we’re working to fix that. We appreciate your feedback and are doing our best to respond with the answers and clarity you deserve.

We know that we’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us to regain your trust in the months and years ahead. Over the coming months, we hope you will join us in building a stronger and more inclusive RWA, and that starts by being as transparent with you as possible.

We have a long way to go, but as of today, here’s where we are:

  • Following the resignation of RWA President Damon Suede on January 9th, the Board has decided to not immediately fill the office of President. In the absence of a President or President-Elect, all decisions during this interim period will be made by the Board as a whole. 

  • The Board also has decided, for now, not to fill the vacant Board seats. If for some reason the Board needs to fill one or more Board seats prior to the August election, we will notify membership in advance.

  • The Board has accepted the resignation of Executive Director Carol Ritter and will appoint an interim Executive Director upon Carol’s departure in the coming weeks.

  • We have hired an expert, independent law firm to conduct an audit of the recent ethics matter that will include interviews with key individuals as well as findings and recommendations on improving our ethics process. 

  • We are in the process of identifying a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant who will be hired to assist RWA with diversifying Board and staff recruitment, as well as the design and structure of future membership programming and events. The Board will provide updates to the membership, and seek input, throughout this process.

All RWA staff are fully cooperating with the audit to provide relevant information and materials.  We’ve received a few questions on this process, and while we need to ensure the integrity and independence of the audit being run by the outside law firm, we do want to reassure you that this is an independent review that is being handled by experts. The Executive Director has recused herself from all duties pertaining to the facilitation of the audit, and Leslie Scantlebury has assumed the role of RWA staff liaison to the law firm conducting the audit. Leslie is not in any way managing the process; the law firm is managing it. The law firm will be reaching out to individuals directly to schedule and conduct one-on-one interviews, with no staff involvement in that process. 

If you have materials you believe are relevant to the audit, please contact [email protected] and she will ensure the appropriate information is passed on to the law firm. The Board, as you know, has committed to sharing the audit’s findings and recommendations with the membership.  

All of us at RWA recognize that the membership needs to not just have trust in the new leadership but also needs to determine who those leaders are. This August, every Board seat and officer position will be up for election by the membership. One important way to help shape the future of RWA and our community is to run for one of these seats. We need energetic, enthusiastic candidates who represent the diverse voices of our membership, and we encourage all of you to consider running for a leadership position. 

This newly elected Board will then form a search committee to identify a new, permanent Executive Director.

We believe we can build RWA into a stronger, better and more inclusive professional home and advocate for romance authors – and we hope you will join us. Please reach out to [email protected] with questions.