Board Retreat Report and Our Six Current Priorities

During the weekend of August 13-14, 2016. the Nolose Board of Directors held a board work retreat at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services ( in Oakland, California.

Photo of the August 2016 Nolose board standing and sitting in front of the "Celebrate 40 Years CompassPoint" poster at their retreat: back row Sarah Doherty, Sally Smith, Shana McDavis-Conway; Front row Lissette Cheng, a chair with Sarah's laptop showing Cicely Smith google chatting in from Pennsylvania, and Crystal Newman. There's a window on the left side of the picture and a framed poster to the right of the large orange CompassPoint poster that says "shaping change in communities, imagine what can be."

The Nolose Board of Directors at CompassPoint. Photo by Amy Benson

The goals of the work retreat were to:

  • Build bonds among NOLOSE Board members
  • Plan the next three years of NOLOSE’s focus and programming
  • Map out organizational priorities, create benchmarks, and assign roles
  • Build a volunteer structure that supports the work of NOLOSE
  • Identify ways to incorporate transparency and accountability into NOLOSE, including how we work on cissexism and transmisogyny.
Image of five slightly overlapping crayon and marker drawings and word sheets drawn by board members at the retreat to imagine Nolose's possible futures. A few crayons are also visible. The sheets are not layered together physically but through photo editing. Photos and editing by Sarah Doherty

Marker and crayon vision-for-Nolose worksheets created by board members



During the strategic planning session, brilliantly facilitated by community member Amy Benson, the board initially identified a total of 33 items worthy of NOLOSE’s efforts over the next three years.



Following a thoughtful discussion, the following six organizational priorities emerged for the next year:


  1. Continue SPAL Grants: Small Projects Across the Land will provide funding to support projects that expand the reach of fat queer activism!
  2. Become an “Incubator” for Larger Projects: This could include supporting local and regional conferences through funding and mentoring, BIPOC  conferences or projects, partnering with community members and groups to launch fundraising events or other projects that will eventually become self-sustaining, and other larger-scale projects.
  3. Restructure Committees: Pare down existing committees and shift responsibility for discrete tasks from committees to coordinators or working groups so that community members have the capacity to become more involved in NOLOSE by taking on manageable commitments.
  4. Increase Communication/Transparency: Reaching out more to community members and using multiple communication channels to engage the community.
  5. Board Recruitment: Work toward adding three additional Board members by year’s end and filling vacancies.
  6. Develop Fundraising Plan: All Board members will participate in developing and implementing a NOLOSE fundraising plan, and we invite community members to co-lead with us!
A paper train with an engine and cars with one letter each, spelling out Nolose, taped to a whiteboard. Photo by Sarah Doherty

All aboard the Nolose train! This is the result of a reflection activity led by Sally during the retreat.

Due to the Board’s small size and limited capacity, a 2016 national NOLOSE conference was not included in the six priorities. However, the board welcomes community members’ efforts to organize regional conferences and a national BIPOC conference, and strongly feels that NOLOSE can fund and mentor organizers of regional conferences and national BIPOC conferences. Within the next three years, we plan on supporting a National NOLOSE conference on a new cycle of every other year. We anticipate this conference will be led by community leaders.

NOLOSE is currently in negotiations with the organizers of the Big Fat Flea to work out an ongoing partnership that will allow the Flea to broaden their original mission of solely supporting NOLOSE while hopefully ensuring some of the funds raised from the annual Big Fat Flea will continue to support NOLOSE programming.

During the work retreat, the board welcomed three new board members: Crystal Newman, Sally Smith, and Lissette Cheng. They were joined by Board President Shana McDavis-Conway, Board Secretary Cicely Smith (no relation to Sally) and Sarah Doherty. Outgoing President Elaine Lee made a presentation about board finances during the retreat but otherwise did not participate in the work retreat since she had resigned the prior month. The board nominated and elected Sally Smith as Treasurer and Lissette Cheng as Co-President. Shana McDavis Conway will be Co-President and Cicely Smith will remain as Secretary. In addition, after the retreat the board welcomed another new member, Dolores Tejada, for a total of seven board members.

On Sunday, those attending the retreat in person took a break to visit “Cupcakes and Muffintops,” a great clothing flea

Photo of Sarah Doherty, white midsize fat cis dyke with brown hair in ponytail, teal glasses, bluejean shorts, red shirt reading "I'm fat let's party," donut backpack strap visible, with a trashbag of pants at her feet, biting into a cupcake next to the door of Cupcakes and Muffintops next to the sign that reads "Cupcakes and Muffintops Enter Here" with a drawing of a cupcake. It's sunny and Sarah looks happy.

Sarah D. at the entrance to Cupcakes and Muffintops. Photo by Red Karpman

market for the fat community. There, we met with cofounder Sondra Solovay to learn more about the history behind “Cupcakes and Muffintops,” and how the organizers structure it and the volunteers make it happen. Our new board members got to see a well established fat community event happen and the whole board gained a greater appreciation for the ins and outs of running it.


The Board would like to offer a great big thank you to Amy Benson and the organization she works for – Compass Point – for the donation of office space for the retreat! This $872 in-kind donation was greatly appreciated! Amy Benson went above and beyond with her assistance in helping us access the space and working the many details to prepare the space. Everything was impeccable!

Tiny pipecleaner sculptures of fat people made by Sarah at the retreat. A brown mermaid with wild long hair, a blue round-bellied figure, a small orange figure, a red heart-shaped fat person with flippy pipecleaner hair, a yellow and a white fatty, a purple fatty with a purple skirt, all on the gray conference table. Photo by Sarah Doherty.

CompassPoint provided pipecleaners to fidget with to aid with concentration–Lissette made bracelets and Sarah made tiny fatties. Thanks, CompassPoint!

And Amy’s facilitation made it possible for the board to identify and articulate our priorities and plan for the future. We are incredibly grateful for all that Amy and Compass Point did to make Nolose operate more effectively!

We’re also sharing thanks from the whole board to Shana and Elaine, who helped with food purchases, food pick up, and set up, and to Sarah for making it possible for Cicely (who has limited mobility and was unable to travel cross country to attend in person) to participate remotely via video conference for the two-day meeting. A big win for accessibility!

The board welcomes community members who are interested in joining the NOLOSE board of directors to do the continuing important work of spreading fat liberation and fat activism everywhere! Join us and bring your fatbulous talents and brilliance! We will also be creating new volunteer positions in the coming weeks to allow community members to contribute their talents to NOLOSE in other ways. Stay tuned!

The Nolose board at the end of the retreat, standing in front of CompassPoint's racial justice display, which has plants and posters and images of racial justice activists. Left to right are Sally, a superfat white femme, Crystal, a superfat Black femme, Sarah, a midsize white dyke, holding a laptop showing the head of Cicely, a multiracial Black nonbinary person, Shana, a midsize Black femme, and Lissette, a midsize Latinx dyke. Photo by Amy Benson.

The Nolose board in front of CompassPoint’s racial justice display at the end of the retreat