Tough Times, Tough Decisions

Legion of Tech has been going through some rough times. We’ve had high turnover in board membership, volunteer participation is down, and fundraising is more difficult than ever given the economic recession.

However, the most severe hardship we’ve faced is the substantial embezzlement by a former board member. The financial harm to our organization has been nearly fatal. We incurred several thousand dollars in legal fees during the process of responding to the embezzlement. Also, because a large portion of the embezzlement occurred through improper use of a credit card, Legion of Tech assumed and is still paying off a significant amount of debt. All of these things have depleted our financial reserves in a very detrimental way. The monthly payments required to keep our debt in good standing means that our basic operating overhead is very high compared to what it once was.

Historically, Legion of Tech’s only source of income has been corporate and (to a lesser extent) individual contributions for specific programs (like BarCamp and Ignite).

Another source of income for the next several years was to have been from monthly repayments of the embezzled funds. Unfortunately, Todd has defaulted on his agreement with us. We do not know when or even if he will resume payments (more on how we are dealing with this this below).

It’s true that we could continue to raise funds for programs as we have in the past, and try to over-fundraise in order to cover our administrative overhead (including debt incurred as a result of fraud). However, we feel that to do so would be disingenuous at best, and unethical at worst. We don’t want a single penny of the community’s money unwittingly going towards debt incurred via embezzlement or to legal fees.

What this means is that Legion of Tech will cease its programs for the foreseeable future.

We aren’t dissolving (we can’t because we still have the debt to repay). A few board members, including myself, are committed to remaining on the board to attend to administrative duties and to oversee repayment of as much of the embezzled money as is possible.

And don’t worry, BarCamp and Ignite Portland aren’t going away. Legion of Tech doesn’t own them, and we know that there are other capable organizations in Portland that will continue the BarCamp and Ignite traditions. In fact, planning for Ignite Portland 10 is kicking off this week as a non-LoT event. Attend Wednesday’s planning meeting or join the mailing list to get involved.

Regarding recovery of the embezzled funds: there are a number of legal routes available to us now that Todd has defaulted on his agreement. We will pursue them to the best of our ability. All of these options require more cash that Legion of Tech has available, so if you are interested in helping out with a contribution to put towards legal action, let us know. We know many of you want to see the embezzled funds repaid as much as we do. At least a few board members will be contributing their own funds, but that will only get us so far.

As always, please drop us a line if you have any questions.

Outgoing Directors and a Special Election

Serving as a Legion of Tech board member can be a significant time commitment, and sometimes life gets in the way. Over the past month, two members of the current board announced their need to resign in order to attend to other matters. Anne Buckley and Jason Mauer are both stepping down.

We’re thankful to both Anne and Jason for their service.

Soon, we will be holding elections  in a few weeks for two people to serve out the remainder of the outgoing members’ terms (one of which runs through the end of this year, and the other through the end of next year).

Interested in serving on the board? Contact a current board member or email board@legionoftech.org for more information. If you’re pretty sure you’re interested, please fill out the board application. (We’ll get in touch and confirm with you before we elect you, honest!)

Protip: Tomorrow’s Town Hall meeting will be an excellent opportunity to contact current board members and learn more!

Town Hall Meeting Coming Up on April 14

Please help us plan the future of Legion of Tech! In a couple of weeks, we’ll be hosting a Town Hall meeting. Join us on Thursday, April 14, at the Lucky Lab SE (Calagator link). We’ll be meeting in the event room from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Come, enjoy a beverage on us and get an update from Legion of Tech board members about how the organization is doing and our plans are for this year and beyond.

We’ll have plenty of time for you to share your concerns, questions and ideas.

Announcing the 2011 Board of Directors

Legion of Tech held board elections at our regular meeting last week. We are pleased to announce that the following people have been elected to serve on the 2011-2012 board: Amy Farrell, Chris McCraw, Anne Buckley, Reid Beels and Michael Dexter. Christie Koehler and Jason Mauer are continuing their 2-year terms.

New Members

Chris McCraw is a unix geek and coder with tons of volunteer and community organizing experience, including at several BarCamps. Most recently he helped organize Portland BarCamp 4 and did a fantastic job.

Anne Buckley is an Operations Manager at Yahoo Small Business. She has an extensive background in customer relations and also has experience with nonprofit management. Anne did an awesome job coordinating volunteers for the most recent IgnitePortland.

Reid Beels is an Interaction Designer and Software Engineer at Paydici. He’s volunteered for numerous Legion of Tech events, is co-organizer of WhereCamp and co-chair of Open Source Bridge.

Michael Dexter is Program Director at Linux Fund and has considerable nonprofit experience. Among many other activities, Michael organizes the Portland Linux/Unix User Group (PLUG) Advanced Topics meetings.

Re-Elected Member

Amy Farrell is a Software Engineer for Conducive Technology (FlightStats) here in Portland. She is a Legion of Tech board alumna, its current treasurer and an experienced BarCamp planner. Amy is active in local user groups, including PDXFunc and Code ‘n’ Splode.

Continuing Members

Christie Koehler is a Senior Software Engineer at ShopIgniter. She also co-chairs the Open Source Bridge conference, and leads Code ‘n’ Splode, a user group for women in technology.

Jason Mauer is owner and chief architect at Mighty Code, a software development shop based here in Portland. Jason is active in the Portland alt.net user group and spent several years on the SAO’s Developer’s Forum Steering Committee.

Please join us in welcoming the 2011 Legion of Tech Board!

Announcing a Resolution to Last Year’s Embezzlement

It is with a bittersweet note that we announce we have come to a resolution regarding last year’s fraud issue. One of our former directors fraudulently converted Legion of Tech funds of approximately $29,000. As many of you know, it has taken us a bit over a year for the legal system to resolve this issue. We apologize for remaining largely silent during these months; this was done at the advice of our attorney.

Moving forward, Legion of Tech is committed to ensure that such financial impropriety is not committed again. We have now instituted a number of checks and balances to assure our finances are managed appropriately.

We have reached a restitution agreement with the individual and he has agreed to a plan to pay back the funds that he has taken, with interest, along with attorney’s fees and costs incurred in the matter. Our agreement with this individual gives us recourse should he default on his repayment and is designed to be nondischargeable in bankruptcy.

Additionally, he has offered the following apology:

I apologize to Legion of Tech, and especially to the community it serves, for misappropriating funds intended for use by the organization. I regret abusing the trust of those individuals and organizations who supported the mission of Legion of Tech.
— Todd

Finally, we want to thank our community, including our volunteers and sponsors, for supporting us through these difficult times. We look forward to your continued trust and respect and also to continue to bring you fantastic tech events.

Sincerely,
the Legion of Tech Board

Board of Directors Elections for 2011

Hi folks, it’s time once again to elect new Legion of Tech board members. We are trying a different election process this year (see below). Our goal is to diversify our board and open LoT to more community involvement. In particular, we are looking for people with experience in non-profit management and/or finance.

Below you’ll find information about the terms, duties, qualifications, selection process and finally a board application. If you have any questions, please contact us at board@legionoftech.org.

Applications are due: Monday, November 22nd at 10:00pm PST (deadline extended).

Current Board Members

Current board members are: Josh Bancroft, Amy Farrell, Chris Pitzer, Dawn Foster, Christie Koehler and Jason Mauer.

Josh, Dawn and Chris are ending their terms this year. Amy is running for another term. Christie and Jason will continue their existing two-year terms.

Terms

Directors shall serve for two years starting on the first day of the calendar year.

Duties

Board members are expected to put forth their best efforts to serve Legion of Tech (LoT). Duties of the board include:

  • Regularly attend monthly board meetings.
  • Attend as many LoT events as possible.
  • Serve on event planning committees as needed.
  • Act as a liaison between the community and Legion of Tech.
  • Fund raise for Legion of Tech events.
  • Attend to various LoT administrative tasks, including but not limited to: accounting, budgeting and advertising.
  • Recruit and nurture LoT volunteers.
  • Act according to the LoT bylaws.
  • Manage LoT funds appropriately and wisely.

Qualifications

Ability to serve on a working board of directors and fulfill the duties listed above. As a director, you should be ready to commit at least 10 hours a month to LoT business.

Selection Process

We will elect between 3 and 7 board members for 2011. We are not looking for a particular number of board members, but, rather, we want to create the best fit for the organization.

The application window will be open until Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 10:00pm PST. After that time, the current board will review all applications and follow-up interviews will be scheduled as needed.

In order to be eligible to run for the board, applicants must be nominated and then seconded by a current board member. We will announce all those who have been nominated and are running for the board on December 1st, 2010. Voting for the 2011 board will take place at the December board meeting on December 9th, 2010.

New board members will start their term on January 1, 2011.

The 2011 board will nominate and vote for officers (Chair, Secretary and Treasurer) during the January board meeting.

Application

Go to 2011 Board Application (Google form). Applications are due Monday, November 22nd by 10pm PST.

Help Us Plan for BarCamp4

We’ve set a date for BarCamp Portland 4: October 23.  We’ll be announcing the location soon.

I know that sounds like a long way off, because it sounds like Fall, and depending on what time of day you’re reading this, it might actually seem like Summer right now. Actually, it’s time to plan BarCamp!

We’ll be holding a planning meeting on Monday, August 2, at 6:30 PM, at the Lucky Lab Overlook Tap Room in North Portland. Anyone who is interested is welcome.

If you’re interested in volunteering, either by joining the planning team or as an on-site volunteer during BarCamp, please sign up and tell us what you might like to do  so that we can get in touch:

And if you can, please join us Monday!

BarCamp Portland 4 to be Rescheduled

Last month, we announced a date for BarCamp Portland 4, and dove into planning for a combined event with Code Camp. Many of us were excited about the possibility of combining these two events.

After a few weeks, though, we found that the attempt to combine planning efforts was not working well. In particular, several of the BarCamp organizers and volunteers were finding the combined planning process difficult.

We discussed this at last week’s board meeting, and decided to pull BarCamp out of the May 22 event at the U of P.  We will reschedule BarCamp 4 to another date and location.

I’d like to emphasize that Code Camp is still going to happen on May 22, and that it is likely to be an excellent event for developers, as it has been for the past several years.

Want to know when BarCamp is happening? We’ll post it here when we know. If you’re following this blog or following @BarCampPortland on twitter, you’ll be among the first to know.