Malissa's answers to 2018 election Questions

Tell us about yourself
Kim recently did a cool blog post, so I will not bore you with my back story again.

  1. What are some favorite things you have already done for MakeICT?
    Inspiring other members to create, Nation of Makers Conference Bid, reviving our Instagram, #freeartfriday,#beyourowncreator, making Textiles the flex space it is, Textile Tribe, renaming the gallery to Creator Showroom, Heartland Maker Region

  2. What in your opinion qualifies you to be a board member?
    My energy, I have more ideas than I could ever execute myself. I like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. You don’t know what works if you don’t try. I do my best to keep an open mind and test things to see what happens.

  3. If you have served on the Board in the past, What do you feel you did right? What do you think you did wrong, or could have done better?

Creating as many committees as we have is a good thing, were all volunteers and can’t be experts on everything. I hope as we continue to grow that committees become a staple to our operation. My wrong was not having things ready to go on the amended bylaws vote in March. I learned how to address that in the future, so it doesn’t happen again.

  1. Are you able to be at Board meetings, Maker Mondays and other events for the duration of your term?
    I just got selected for Artist INC. Live so for 10 weeks on Monday’s I’ll be getting some business training. So, I will have to be late or miss those conflicting nights. This past year I think I missed 5 Maker Mondays due to illness and 1 Quarterly meeting to a conflicting Family event. Other that that I’ll be there

  2. It is our mission to innovate, learn, and build community at the intersection of art, technology, science, and culture. How would you support our mission as leadership?
    Community is at the core of what we do. We not only serve the community inside the maker space, but we represent that community beyond these 4 walls. While we plan to for our Future build we need to continue with evolving our current space and learn to maximize the space we have.
    What should we do next?

  3. What are your thoughts about MakeICT’s direction in the coming year?
    I think as leadership we should continue to define and clarify the role of the Board and the Maker Space Director. I believe we should allow the New Building Committee to continue to plan a path to what we can take on in the shape of a new build and what that will look like. I hope to continue to make connections with the greater community of Wichita, I don’t want us to be “the best kept secret”.

  4. What’s your agenda for what you want to accomplish in the coming year?
    Work to establish and strengthen the bonds we have forged in the Greater Wichita Community. I will work with Visit Wichita to place another bid for the Nation of Makers 2020 Conference. Help establish MakeICT and Wichita as a regional leader in the Maker Movement.

  5. How will you gauge whether we’re successful as an organization?
    How the community views us. Both the community inside the space as well as the community at large and the maker community.

  6. What should our priorities be in terms of trying to find a different space versus extending the lease on our current building?
    Live in the present, but plan for the future. Rome wasn’t built in a day, comes to mind. These things take time to prepare for and it is my belief we are on the right path to properly prepare by looking at our finances, planning for what we need to move and what we can set aside for down payment, how long will we have to take care of 2 spaces in the process, and how much volunteer manpower we will need to accomplish this enormous task.

  7. Do you think MakeICT should focus on one space down town or multiple satellite locations in underserved communities?
    Having a space downtown is great for recognition and keeping us in the foresight of city leadership, but let’s face it the cost and location availability is limiting, plus there are many who don’t come downtown. Whether, it be us or fostering others to start their own endeavor, it is my belief that multiple locations should not be dismissed. Greater Wichita has 500,000 plus residents, that could benefit from what a makerspaces creates.
    How should we operate?

  8. Do you believe the Board should deal with day to day issues? Should area leads have more authority over day to day operations?
    Leads should have more authority, along with the makerspace director over the day to day operation, but they have to act on that authority and have the tools they need in place to make that happen. I personally pushed for a working session for the board, makerspace director, and leads to have a working session that helped to define what our roles and responsibilities are. Then we can use what we learned from those working sessions to improve the by-laws.

  9. Do you support an expansion of board terms from 1 year to 2 years? Why or why not?
    Yes, who’s running for office shouldn’t be a surprise. 12 months is not enough time to look at the bigger picture and plan for the future of MakeICT Institute. There should be a strategic plan in place with goals for 1, 3, and 5 years, a training program to grow leadership, and terms long enough to have leadership in place to work towards those future goals.

  10. Would a 2 year term affect your decisions to accept a nomination?

  11. Would you support staggered elections June and December for general directors seats? Why or why not?
    No, turning the board faster is not going to create leadership that will focus on long term goals. Leadership need to work together and there is a learning curve involved in working as a team, that electing new board members ever 6 months will just create more chaos. As we have spaced when we select committee leads and area leads, and this move would overlap that as well.

  12. Would you support staggered elections with half the board elected at each Annual meeting?
    Yes, Last election 3 board members returned and 6 new board members were elected. If the election were held today only half the board could possibly be from the last board. If we are to accomplish any future planning or push more of the day to day running to the leads and Maker Space Director, longer terms are need to forge leadership bonds and trust while will allow that type of transition to more naturally occur.

  13. Tell us one thing the Board did in the last 12 months that needs an undo. Be specific.
    I went through all the meeting notes. The only thing I could find was giving devICT their own bank account, which could get us in trouble at tax time but we have already come up with solutions for that.

  14. Tell us one thing not done in the last 12 months by the Board that still needs done. Be specific.
    Define the roles of the board and update the Bylaws to reflect the current size of the membership. This is going to take a Village and if there’s no village ready to pull it off…in may not be as bad as it sometimes reads in our head.

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I think that i agree with you on board terms being increased to 2 years and staggering the elections, but several current and past board members feel that longer terms would not have had any positive effect on their terms or what they were able or unable to accomplish.

I feel that it’s possible that each board turnover acts like a reset under our current terms. Which could be good with a small organization but would potentially cause problems in a larger organization. Maybe It is better to wait on longer terms until it becomes apparent that it is causing problems. Do you see this as a problem now, or do you support 2 year staggered terms as an attempt to steer us away from having the problems that could arise in the future?

I see it as a problem now. If you’ve seen Christian’s spreadsheet the longest average of a board peaked at 2.2, 3 boards ago and is on a decline. It is my belief that the board should be stearing us towards the future and working on intersections, opportunities, community connections outside the space, one year terms don’t provide.

One thing i noticed from Christians chart was that before the board grew to 9 members there was a consistent majority of incumbents re-elected. But when the board grew to 9 it became a majority turnover every year. Maybe that comes with the territory of adding new seats. So far only 1 board member is not seeking reelection this year.

I am with you in the abstract. But…

There are members who make a strong case for re election. David for example needs a 2nd term and intends to step away after he’s finished, and he’s running unchallenged. Would you predict that there will be a majority of incumbents re-elected this year? Do you think we will have another chance to decide board terms in the future if it becomes a more apparent problem rather than a growing pain?

The 3 hardest positions on the board are secretary, treasurer, and president. Those positions need longer terms to help find and groom replacements, while we don’t have to elect who’s been trained, it gives us extra sets of eyes who understand the process of the position. I’m not going to predict anything with the election, while everyone has there opinion, are able to voice their opinion, in the end it is only their opinion, the only way to gauge the opinion of the membership is with an actual vote. It’s been my experience with many things that people who don’t like them usually speak up more than people who like things. After meeting with a strategic planner, it was highly recommended to change our terms, I agreed to lead that charge because while the ship may be upright , it seems to be taking on water. With the 2/3rd approval any changes to the bi-laws are going to be difficult and the longer we go get harder to address.

Ray Dalio (hedge fund manager – which inherently must go against the grain, and be right about it) wrote a book called “Principles” and talks a lot about what he calls an idea meritocracy. The idea being that his leadership team earns individual “baseball card stats” as to their strengths and weaknesses which gives their opinions added weight on any particular issue that needs that trait. Someone who is thoughtful for example earns that added weight on their opinion on a topic. (Determining What in fact is reality is another major point of the book.) An idea meritocracy recognizes that thoughtfulness doesn’t necessarily accompany aggressiveness in an individual since thoughtful people must stay open to alternative views, but the trait is still integral and recognized with weight. This type of group leadership requires cohesiveness. Each member must recognize and accept their own real strengths and weaknesses as well as accept those around them.

I think you are very thoughtful. And i think longer serving boards than we currently have begets a more cohesive and productive board.

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It seems that you’ve made some great improvements in the textiles area during your time as the Area Lead for that area. I appreciate all the volunteer time and energy you’ve put into the Textiles area. However, I have concerns about your approach to some important issues that have come before the board over the last year. I’d like to hear your thinking about some of the issues since you’ve played a key role in them while on the board.

I find your professed strategy of “throwing spaghetti against the wall” to be a rather remarkable approach for a board member representing our organization. To me this feels like a method of last resort, that you should only use when you don’t have any better options. I think the limitations of this approach can be seen in your pursuit over the last several months of possible future buildings for MakeICT.

For instance, if it had been successful, your pursuit of the “firehouse” building in partnership with E2E would have resulted in us having less space than we have now. How does that make sense? And your desire to pursue an offer on the Scottish Rite building, which is a roughly 75000 sq. ft. historic landmark, is equally perplexing.

Also, the significant amount of work you’ve done to try to get MakeICT chosen as a future host organization for NOMCON without fully examining the impact that might have on our overall organization and on our ongoing search for a bigger building seems shortsighted to me. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until we’ve found a new building and gotten approval from our membership before spending time on this and possibly obligating our organization to such a major project commitment?

But more importantly, in order to find a new building, don’t you think it would be better to take advantage of the best resources we can find by consulting people experienced in commercial real estate who are familiar with our local market before making offers on buildings? That way we can be sure we have a reasonable plan for a new building instead of putting out offers on seemingly random buildings that don’t appear at all to meet our needs.

And what about fund raising for the new building? It seems to me it is likely we will need to raise upwards of $500k for a new building, in addition to possibly borrowing funds on top of that. Shouldn’t these issues be investigated, discussed, and worked through before you start throwing spaghetti at the wall? Otherwise you may just be just throwing spaghetti out the window.


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Nothing I have pursued would have bound MakeICT into any situations as you have described as above. NOMCON would have been the city as a whole. In fact we had the largest support package of any city, both in kind and in letter form. Wichita loves us and wants to see us flourish. That, in it’s self, is a major complement The fact that no one on that committee had ever done anything like that before and we got as far as we did and as much community support is AMAZING. We have a lot of passion at MakeICT and it shows. It makes me proud to see what we can accomplish when we work together.
I knew with what e2e had, and the time frame, we would never have gotten the firehouse. In fact if you’ve been following the process, Butler Community College pulled out of there proposal the day before the public presentation. Nothing is binding until after city council has their say. What that did was let all of us know that there are some who never want to partner with another organization. It also let our District 1 Council representative know we are looking. So he reached out about anther project, 9th Street Redevelopment, that now has written $100,000 in their grant proposal with the understand that we may not be interested in moving to their location but some guidance will be given if they receive the location that they want to develop at 9th and Hillside, if they receive the grant. It’s also got us a meeting with Downtown Wichita, they want to keep us centrally located and want to meet to see what they can do to help, the first meeting will be later this month.
Yes, I know the Scottish Rite build was far fetched, but it opened up a conversation we hadn’t had and reinforced some wants that had already been stated and we got a spreadsheet.

I’ve been thinking about capital as well, but I don’t think we need $500K. It would be nice if each of our members could put a little something extra in for the building fund,$5 per month per member would generate an additional $24,000 in a year. Before we start asking outside for funds, we should have something internal going. Jens is doing a thorough job at prepping and I’m sure he’ll address that and other issues when he’s ready.

No Risk, no reward. Right? So what risk would you take?

I’m not sure what you mean by “So what risk would you take?”, but if you’re asking what would I have done, I can answer that question:

  1. I would have made finding a new building the number one priority for the new board.

  2. I would have continued the effort I started last year to directly develop a meaningful relationship with members of the City Council.

  3. I would have quickly come up with a set of rough requirements for what we want in a new building along with a realistic estimate of the cost.

  4. I would have interviewed a short list of commercial real estate professionals to find the best professionals to assist us.

  5. After reviewing our list of requirements with real estate professionals and reviewing existing sites suggested by the RE professional, I would launch a capital campaign to raise something like $400k-$500k over the following 12-24 months.

  6. I would have met with heads of several local banks to explore what sort of financing would be available to us.

  7. I would have launched a promotional campaign as part of the fund raising effort in order to raise awareness of our organization and our building search.

What I wouldn’t have done is spend time putting together offers on buildings that are clearly not appropriate for our needs.

I feel like we’ve lost up to a year on our journey for a bigger building, simply because key members of the new board didn’t seem sure they even wanted a bigger building, let alone making it a priority.

So for this election, I’ll be voting primarily for candidates who clearly are going to make finding a new building their top priority and who will be willing to seek out experienced and professional help in areas where they lack direct experience. So while I appreciate that you’ve put a fair amount of effort into this over the last few months, I don’t feel “throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks” is a reasonable plan to get us a bigger building. I also don’t think expecting 100% of our members to voluntarily kick in an extra $5 per month is a realistic plan to fund a bigger building within the next 24 months. But we each tend to gravitate towards what we do best and what we feel comfortable doing. Unfortunately, this can create major blind spots in cases where a person may not even know what they don’t know, and so doesn’t know when to ask for more experienced help.

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I apologize, I meant to mention in my last reply that I truly appreciate my work in textiles hasn’t gone unnoticed. Thank you, for the compliment. As we are all volunteer and we can’t possibly know everyone’s interest, expertise, and time availability we have calls for volunteers for committee leads, why didn’t you place your name in the running when we ask for who’s available to lead the committee? Why didn’t you bring to light the information you listed above to any of the board meetings leading up to the selection of a new building chair?

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I won’t attempt to rehash history here, but I feel I have been pushing hard on the new building issue and I have reached out in the past - multiple times. Mostly I didn’t even get a response. And I must have missed the public notice about electing a new building chair. Where was that posted? It’s my understanding that someone on the board reached out and explicitly asked the person who was elected as the new building chair to put their name in the hat. So I’ll turn it around and say, why wasn’t I asked as well?

i think things like NomCon should be voted on by the board before being pushed. From the multiple Board members I have talked to, Most of them were happy we weren’t chosen. To be fair many feel we just aren’t ready for something like that. This leads me to believe that too many people are going rogue with their ideas. If it was up to the board to vote on NomCon, and they voted no, would you be ok with that?

@curt.gridley I wasn’t aware of that.

@JeremiahB at that point I would have gone to Visti Wichita and discuss with them how they wanted to process. If they were on board, then I would have asked the board if they intended to support Vist Wichita in perusing this venture and asked for a support letter.

If you could only choose 1, would you rather be on the Board, or be an area lead? please explain your choice.

Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?

If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?

What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?

If you could change three things about yourself, what would they be?

I’m not ignoring your questions, I got over welmed at NOMCON and hit the ground running when I got back. I will try my best to answer them by Friday night/Saturday morning.

Side note: I would love to hear or read about your experience at NOMCON. Since you’ve joined MakeICT, I’ve been pretty constantly impressed with your initiative - like helping with our social media, as Textiles lead, teaching classes, volunteering at events, representing us at early-morning meetings with the Entrepreneurship Task Force down at the Chamber of Commerce, networking with who-knows-how-many other organizations on behalf of MakeICT, being a dutiful board member, and probably a dozen other things I don’t even know about. I’m not surprised but still impressed that you somehow managed the time to head to NOMCON!