Got Culture? An Inside Look at Academic Writers Studio

Academic Writers Studio operates as a nonprofit start-up organization that relies heavily on the technologies of virtual meetings. For the most part, there was no significant change in operation when the COVID-19 crisis reached the United States. Because of their virtual presence, there was little to no interruption in their ability to empower underrepresented and minority scholars of color. Like most nonprofit organizations that I’ve worked for, the staff is small with two full-time leaders, Laura and Berkeley. I think the two operate as a team because of their roles (executive director and operations director). Still, they are both capable of and often completed self-directed work. Because of how much flexibility I had in the work that I finished, I would say that employees are autonomous so long as they complete assignments promptly. There are a few standardized practices such as daily check-ins that became a part of our everyday routine, but besides that, there wasn’t much of a governing procedure that guided my work and interaction. Although there are only two full-time staff members, I would say that decisions are made in a decentralized way. Academic Writers Studio has an advisory board that plays a significant role in any considerable judgment. Although the opportunity to meet with and engage this advisory was offered to me several times, I never took advantage of it. I would also say that the relationship between leadership and all community members is positive, trusting, and loving. People within the AWS community are not afraid to ask questions or for help, and they all come together to help one another as needed. This sense of community is evident in how scholars request help in one of much Slack chat. This community component is also apparent in the way that Laura and Berkeley support each other and me. The two of them give me best friend vibes, and I’ve honestly felt like I was a part of a fun and exciting family passionate about social justice work. In terms of leadership style, I want to say that all the staff members (including myself) are individual workers. We check in to confirm tasks and assignments, and then we disappear into the realm of “get work done.” That might sound scary or unwise, but it works for Academic Writers Studio because of how small the organization is an how committed each of the staff members is to their work.  

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