Evaluating OMPA through an equity lens | 2021 Board Retreat Outcomes

Every year, OMPA's Board of Directors gathers to set the overall vision for the next few years and elect its "officers" for the year ahead.
| By Lilly Joynes

Every year, OMPA's Board of Directors gathers to set the overall vision for the next few years and elect its "officers" for the year ahead. The goal is to come out of the retreat energized and aligned around the org's mission. This year, it's where we really started to dig into our evolved mission: to support a thriving and equitable production industry.

What's a board retreat like in 2021?

Hosted by Zoom, obviously

In a normal year, a local business partner would host us at their location. We'd crowd about 20 professionals into a room for roughly 7 hours of team-building and strategic work, followed by happy hour.

Under a pandemic, we all tuned in virtually from our respective remote work areas, whatever and wherever that may be. Knowing we all undoubtedly have Zoom fatigue and potentially more distractions at home, we split the retreat into two shorter days with optional and required parts. (Are you all taking care at work? Don't forget to adjust!)

Using an equity-first approach

The first half of each day was led by our DEI Consultant & Business Strategist, Nina B. Our board just started engaging with Nina in the last couple of months. Nina came to us when we were seeking a DEI Consultant, but we ultimately hired her for her holistic expertise in organizational strategy. Nina's approach considers diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout every aspect. That means as we define equity, considerations should be integrated into programs, events, partnerships, planning processes, advocacy, and human resources (among others). Nina led an exercise using an "equity lens" as it relates to diversifying OMPA's membership so that we could begin to understand what this work is like.

Nina also led us through a strategic visioning exercise where we imagined what OMPA could accomplish in 5 years if anything were possible. We should know what kind of change is possible—just three years ago OMPA's board was all White!

Paying for Privileges?

The equity-first approach is especially interesting for a membership organization like OMPA because the traditional association model is based on paying for special benefits and privileges. In the last year, it's led us to:

  • Introduce $0 Accessible Memberships with full Pro and Student benefits
  • Create a regular, dedicated space for Black and Brown creators to connect and grow (Creatives of Color Oregon, COCO)
  • Make a more conscious effort to highlight and elevate diverse voices
  • Lobby for a change to the state incentive program that would encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. (Learn about HB 3010 here.)

All of this work was made possible by the support of our community. You are the ones who rise up and make it happen! Isn't it amazing how we can all grow better together? With your help, your local industry can become whatever you imagine is possible.

Read More: "Statement on OMPA's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Efforts"

New distributed leadership approach

The original OMPA by-laws from 1982 describe the expected duties of each "officer" (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer). Some of these traditional roles are quite rigid and biased. It seems unfair, for example, that the Secretary be expected to take the minutes for every meeting. How could they possibly participate fully in the discussions? Or, is it wise to put fiduciary responsibility with a single person, who may or may not have professional finance expertise?

We've found the traditional roles to be a bit at-odds with an equity-first approach, so we're trying to move away from the hierarchy. OMPA's Executive Committee (EC) oversees how we sustains our business, and takes the lead in setting strategic vision. The by-laws may still require the titles, but in the last year the group has evolved to share in all of the work together. (And a staff member takes the meeting minutes!) Between a pandemic and a racial reckoning, it's upended how we believe society should function. We know we're not the only ones making big changes lately!

Making room

Finally, at this year's retreat, the board voted to add a fifth seat to allow for greater representation and sharing of work. Nominees briefly shared a pitch, and those who were present voted for their top 5. We now have a leadership team that is 80% BIPOC and 80% women. We also have Southern Oregon representation among the group. We're excited to see where this new group takes us!

Sometimes that's all it takes for a step in the right direction—you just have to make it happen.

Meet the 2021 leadership team

Get a quick rundown of the senior leadership team below. See our About page to learn more about all OMPA's board members.

Annie Tonsiengsom (she/her)


Based in: Portland Metro

Main Gig: Founder & Executive Producer, Actual Industries

"As a small business owner, I’ve been able to mentor and support so many talented individuals as they honed their skills on our productions. As a board member, I work to advocate for, represent, and support other production BIPOC, women, and non-binary individuals. I aim to help shape and create events and programs that can create mentorship and hands on opportunities that support diversity and inclusion. Over the last decade and a half, our city and industry has changed so much. I have a great deal of respect for all those who have contributed to building this production community, and I’m excited by the influx of new talent to our production community. Building a production community that understands, embraces and supports diverse perspectives and experiences can only make our work more impactful and relevant." — Annie

Patty Brebner (she/her)


Based in: Portland Metro

Main Gig: Independent Production Consultant & Executive Producer

"I want OMPA to be an equitable organization that advocates for every facet of digital and media arts. For a freelance and small business based industry, we provide the necessary tools and glue that others find in large companies. We provide resources, consulting, camaraderie. OMPA needs to ensure we have an equitable, green and sustainable industry that pays a fair living wage and attracts the world's best (and weirdest) talent and projects. Ensure that OMPA is an advocate, working with politicians, the community and other stakeholders, to ensure a healthy and robust; clean and fair work environment for all." — Patty

Jason Chau (he/him)

Based in: Portland Metro

Main Gig: Independent Commercial Producer

"OMPA could be the ultimate resource for our industry. Not just for finding work or finding talent, but also as a mechanism to attract business to the state. I would like to build and improve upon the tools we use to connect and communicate with each other as members, like the website and directory, and also consider how these and other channels are used and viewed by people outside of the state who are looking for the perfect place to bring their projects. I'm also interested in finding ways that OMPA can be a resource for those wanting to improve their craft. Mentorships, training, exhibitions and networking are some of the avenues I'd like to explore as a board member." — Jason

Nisha Burton (she/her)

Based in: Portland Metro and Southern Oregon (Ashland)

Main Gig: Founder & CMO of Reflective Brands and Design Reality

"One vision for OMPA that excites me is finding more and more ways of putting OMPA at the forefront of adapting to these times. It would be great to explore how immersive technologies could help connect and engage the media community. Additionally, I have enjoyed seeing how OMPA has committed itself to connect filmmakers and media professionals from diverse backgrounds and would love to continue helping to brainstorm ways to fortify all of the different creative communities in Oregon." — Nisha

RaShaunda Brooks (she/her)

Based in: Portland Metro

Main Gig: Project Director for Open Signal Labs: Black Filmmaker Fellowship

RaShaunda is a community organizer dedicated to elevating the work of Black and Brown creators, and has been described by her peers as a "fierce equity advocate." Being in Portland, RaShaunda has been able to connect with different familiar communities. Whether it be work with YGB Portland, music management with Brown Calculus, or working with Open Signal Labs: Black Filmmaker Fellowship, it all provides her with room to hold stories of people who don't always get represented. As an OMPA board member, she's interested in making the organization accessible to more people, making greater efforts to inform the public about what OMPA is and how it functions.

Priorities for our future

The board adopted these four objectives as OMPA'S strategic priorities for the next few years:

  • ADVOCATE for production-friendly and equitable policies.
  • INFORM the community through business and career resources.
  • CONNECT a deep and wide network of professionals and services.
  • SUSTAIN an equitable business.

OMPA committees made up of board and community members will lead their own projects to help fulfill these goals. Please join us in this work!

Get Involved

Take your professional skills, extensive network, innovative ideas, sudden free time... whatever it is, and dive into something you're passionate about! OMPA has several committees, and they're open to everyone. See which OMPA committee is right for you!

We're just starting to dig into this work, and there's much more to be done. Please join us on this journey and help shape the future of our industry!

Have an idea for a story or want to be a contributing writer?