ISWFACE is a non-profit organization, based in Los Angeles, California, founded and staffed by current, ex and transitioning sex workers. Our purpose is not political, although each of us possess strong political opinions and have been active in the national or international sex worker rights movement in some way.
We are affiliated with the Network of Sex Work Projects and various regional, national and international sex work positive organizations around the world. These will be our sources of art and writing contributions and such organizations will be the recipients of funds from our organization.
We intend to interact with other organizations (AIDS groups, women's groups, gay, lesbian and transgender organizations, art, culture and educational organizations, etc.) who target similar issues and groups. To avoid duplication of efforts and repletion of valuable resources and for the purpose of achieving a common goal, we may form co-sponsorships of events or programs on a case by case basis.
What about the Board of Directors?
Many long time activists in the international sex workers rights movement may wonder why all of the members of the Board of Directors of ISWFACE are from the US, the majority of whom live in California. As a non-profit organization which receives special benefits and consideration from the Internal Revenue Service, the United States department of taxation, we must meet certain conditions or we cannot solicit money with the offer of a tax deduction to the donor. Thus far, without the ability to offer such a benefit to a potential contributor, it has been impossible for the politically involved sex worker rights organizations in the US to raise money from outside sources with which to operate our organizations. If we are to build a financially self-sufficient international foundation, we must offer a tax incentive to those who can make our goals possible.
According to the US and California tax laws, where ISWFACE is incorporated, the voting members of the board of directors are all required to live within the United States, and the majority must reside in the state of California.
Further, the law only permits 49% of the Board Members to also work for the Foundation. The majority must be people who can vote on the budget and other financial matters of the corporation without receiving any monetary compensation and are not permitted to be potential recipients of the Foundation's funding or scholarship programs.
For this reason, it has been especially difficult to assemble a Board of Directors which meets the legal requirements and also includes known members of the sex worker activist community. For example, a well known sex worker performance artist and videographer was one of the first choices for Board of Directors until it was determined by our legal representative that this individual would not be allowed to apply for any funding for her projects.
No doubt there will be concern among many non-US activists about the accountability of an organization whose Board Members are all located in the United States. To resolve this problem we have structured the Foundation in a manner which will give each region its own representatives who will function as quasi- board members. The Field Directors will have as much influence on the Foundation's decision making process as permitted by our US tax laws.
In the beginning it will be necessary for the Board of Directors, along with input from our International Liaison Officer, to decide the Foundation's immediate goals and the steps necessary to implement our long term objectives. Once all of the international Field Directors are selected and we have established an effective means of communication with them, we can determine the effectiveness of this system.
Some of the Board Members' names will be familiar to many of you while others are virtually unknown within our international activist movement. Be assured that all of the Board Members meet the criteria that would be expected of anyone associated with our movement. Following are the condensed biographies of our Board of Directors.Norma Jean Almodovar (Los Angeles), President and Founder, Board Member, author of 'Cop to Call Girl,' worked as a prostitute after leaving the Los Angeles Police Department where she was employed for ten years. When not in prison, she has served as the (unpaid) Executive Director of COYOTE LA/Southern California since 1983. She attended most of the international and national conferences on prostitution, and in 1995, she was a delegate to the United Nations Women's Conference in Beijing.
She co-organized, co-sponsored and co-chaired the 1997 International Conference on Prostitution with the Center for Sex Research at California State University, Northridge.
Cheryl Overs (London), International Liaison Officer, is one of the founders of the Australian and the Victorian Prostitutes Collectives and the Australian federation of sex worker organizations, The Scarlet Alliance. She is currently the coordinator of the Network of Sex Work Projects, an advocacy and information sharing network. She is the author of several articles on sex work and has recently coedited 'Making Sex Work Safe: A Practical Guide for Field workers, Programme Managers and Policy Makers' (September 1997). She was the international co-organizer of ICOP 1997.
Hester Nash (Los Angeles), Board of Directors, member of COYOTE Los Angeles, is a retired sex worker and now owner and operator of an adult web site, RetroRaunch.
Dolores French- Atlanta Founder of HIRE (Hooking Is Real Employment)
As activists, the members of the Board of Directors have too often observed the effects on sex worker organizations when non-sex worker supporters and allies are allowed to exert their influence in the decision making process of those organizations. For this reason, our Foundation will not offer voting priviledges to any non-sex worker members, regardless of how sympathetic, or knowledgeable about sex work the person is.
Advice and ideas from non-sex worker advisors and associates will be carefully and thoughtfully evaluated, then submitted to the voting members of the board who will make all the final decisions relating to any action taken with such advice and ideas.
While we are grateful to have non-sex worker academics, researchers, law enforcement agents and other allies on our advisory boards, we feel it is in the best interests of the FoundationÕs goals and the sex workers it represents, not to repeat mistakes of the past.
Our policy in no way is intended to disparage the opinions or views of any allies or supporters, and should not be construed as disrespect or lack of appreciation.
There may be concerns by some activists in developing countries that because the Foundation is presently based in the United States, projects in their regions will not receive adequate attention.
It is our goal to make the Foundation a truly international organization in which current, ex and transitioning sex workers from EVERY country, will have equal access to the financial, educational and cultural resources that the Foundation can provide. We have made a committment to prioritize proposed projects, scholarship and sponsorship applications in those regions and countries which do not have access to alternative funding resources.
If any member has a complaint to make about the Foundation, please, don't talk about us - talk to us. Collect or reversed charges calls to the Foundation from outside the United States from current sex workers will be accepted (please note time differences!!!). It is YOUR organization! If you don't like something, change it!
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