To our Haven Family:
It’s been a tough 67 days.
67 days that we wish we could have spent engaging with all of you, our dear Haven Family.
67 days we that we wish we could have spent wholly devoted to planning our 5th annual convention.
67 days we wish we could have spent crafting new Haven events for you in the real world.
Since HavenCon’s founder and former executive director, Shane Brown, voluntarily resigned his position 67 days ago, we have been working to uphold the mission we were founded to fulfill: building a haven for LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized geeks in both the virtual and real worlds.
*Yes, I left, but I did so under major mental duress. I believe that my actual words to you all after the confrontation with Susie was “I do not have the mental fortitude to do this”. I suppose you all have the transcripts, I do not, but I do recall that.
And it was the truth. After Susie stated that basically everyone at HavenCon disliked me, that I had to change, that I had to do this that and the other or she would leave and that would look bad. I had no fight left in me. When I had fought to keep things going and dealt with more than enough just to get to where we were. To sacrifice everything I had to create this show and keep it going for even 4 years…No, I wasn’t going to fight in that moment and no, I was not in my right mind.
After this all occurred I felt lost, abandoned, I had the wind punched from my guts and everyone stood around as I slowly collapsed. There were platitudes (the “golly gee I’ll be sad if you go”), but that is all they felt to be. Nobody reached out to me personally to talk to me, it was all left to the foundation chat room. And after seeing conversations from the other side, I can see that was the intent for some time. To goad me into a reaction that you all knew you could and take over knowing that I wouldn’t have a fight.
Also, maybe petty? I founded HavenCon and those tenets were carried over into the foundation as I formed it. This just seems like an example of erasure. Like, I didn’t start this whole thing before I even knew most/all of you.
Our committed team of volunteers – who do not have the luxury of working on HavenCon full-time due to career, family, and educational obligations – have devoted hundreds of hours to clean up past-due taxes and previously-ignored contractual commitments while simultaneously charting a new and sustainable path forward.*
*I would like to know what the previously ignored contractual commitments were besides maybe the music license (which is it’s own thing and needed discussion) and Kindful, that I’m actually surprised wasn’t auto-billed. I have actually been waiting for that to hit since it was attached to my personal bank account. I would also like to know the exact $$ owed on the taxes. We all knew taxes were owed, and multiple times Michael Sawyer had stated he could and would help with financial items. But those things never came to be, thus, the need to bring in (under my recommendation) outside help in the form of A. Soliciting Advise from Susie’s brother who is an accountant and B. Hiring Nicholas as the Board Treasurer as he had experience and worked for both the IRS and state of Texas. He was also the first to bring to me the concern of the tax issue. Sadly, I delayed in replacing Michael with Nicholas. But, as I understand it, extensions and other exceptions were available to us to get us to a good standing.
Additionally, there was the matter of needing the proper documentation to file for tax exemption with the state of Texas. One piece of information being the Determination Letter from the IRS, whom I called and sat on hold with for awhile and updated everything so we could get that letter sent. It is now publicly available.
You all love to elude at the problems *I* created, but not the solutions I began to implement. You seem to want to paint yourselves as the Heroes of HavenCon, but fail to acknowledge that you were all a part of those problems either through inaction or otherwise during the multiple years of your involvement.
Coincidentally, one of the things we have been working on is rebranding, out of respect to Shane’s request at the very end of June that we stop using the name HavenCon and deliver “all associated assets” to him. He gave us 72 hours to comply to his request that we do so.*
*I stated I would give you 72 hours to give me a response, the response could have been “ok we’re doing this but there is a lot to do” as I also stated in my original email https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DhsstEyV4AADopb.jpg:large
I stated that I was attempting to start a dialog regarding this and I acknowledged that there would be work involved. I was met with what felt like a brush off. The response came across as “we’re going to talk to our lawyer first and see if we have to comply” rather than “we agree and will work with you to make this happen”.
Also, if you were intent on turning these things over and stop using the name and images (that is the core of the dispute here), why did you move forward with creating new accounts with the same name thus creating more tension and conflict to my IP infringement claim. Your actions here are speaking much louder than the words.
There is also a lack of “paper trail” here. I do not see any forwarded email to anyone other than those within the foundation, and none of those is a registered legal representative. So as of your response, unless it was dictated verbally or printed and sent, there was no outside party involved on your side.
We asked for additional time to do our due diligence to determine what assets we could legally transfer to him. *See above
His response was brief but severe. In a matter of hours, he had seized control of our Google Suite accounts (and has subsequently deleted all associated accounts, meaning we have lost 4+ years of emails, documents, and other vital records that we are legally required to maintain as a 501(c)3 organization).
*Yes I “seized control” of a domain that I own. No I did not delete anything, I suspended the accounts while I awaited your response so I could provide you with Foundation specific items per appropriate data retention policies. Which you would know if you had taken the opportunity to open a dialog.
The foundation is less than a year old and therefore documents, emails, etc prior to that time do not apply.
And while we’re on the topic of emails, why did the current executive director feel the need to lie to me about who was managing my email account before I regained control?
If he’s willing/able to lie about something as trivial as this, it raises concerns.
With control of our email accounts, he was able to commandeer of some of our social media accounts, and many of you are currently witnessing the outcome of his actions.
*Accounts I created prior to the foundations inception. I’m simply working to ensure that your narrative isn’t the only perspective people see after seeing some of the things you wanted to “expose”.
The core issue at hand is that the HavenCon name and assets aren’t ours to give. Legally, these assets don’t belong to individuals: when HavenCon was incorporated as an official nonprofit organization, all these assets became the property of the organization itself.
*The non-profit is the It’s Your Haven Foundation, the event is titled HavenCon. There is no DBA, there is no legal entity of HavenCon, it exists solely as a name of an event that the foundation (eventually and recently) hosts. However, as I have stated, I have filed the TM in my name and in the interim have documented prove that I am the creator of HavenCon, the name, images, other “assets”. This is the core of this dispute.
We had hoped that our main challenges this summer would be setting up diversified funding streams and developing new programs and events. Instead, we are forced to spend our time defending HavenCon from its founder while also trying to repay thousands of dollars in back taxes and upholding contractual obligations to many businesses, some that we were aware of, and some that we weren’t till we started receiving past due notices.
*How’s that idea document of mine working out? I’m glad to see you all incorporated many of those ideas into what you are currently working on. Petty, sure, but again, you guys don’t get to play Hero when riding off the work of someone else.
We didn’t want to air all this publicly. We’ve been quiet lately because we wanted to be able to share good news and solid answers rather than confusions and frustrations. Since that’s no longer possible, we ask for your patience as we get back on solid ground. We are all fully committed to you, our Haven community, and we are committed to doing business in ways that will keep us thriving and supporting each other years to come. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen overnight – but we will do a better job of sharing what goes on to keep your Haven running.
*I can appreciate this sentiment, it really wasn’t the ideal situation for me either. But after being made to feel like I no longer belonged, after being forced to contemplate my self-worth and after really listening to those who this show was created for, I chose to stand up and fight for what I created. The lies, backstabbing, bitchy “Strategy” documents and 1000 other nasty little things that just..add..up… I decided that this name means more than all of that. And this name, HavenCon was created out of wanting to give to the community when I had nothing else to give.
Many *NOT ALL* of you have shown that you don’t know what it means to give without expectation of something in return. Whether it’s hanging out and going on vacation with your favorite game developers or trying to rid yourself of some self imposed guilt, or any other number of selfish reasons. It’s not why I created this show.
I explained to you all at our last staff meeting before HC4 as to why I did not want to continue with HavenCon. I told you that, while I appreciate individuals, I do not trust the collective whole to continue what was created. And (again not all of you) those people are the ones now in charge.
I won’t feel guilty for the decision I made while under the influence of deep depression. But I also won’t let that dictate what happens now. And I certainly have learned that everything I see and here from certain members of the current leadership team I have to look at deeper as there is always hidden meaning with a self serving agenda in the background.
Thank you for your support, and have a warm and wonderful week.
The Staff and Board of Directors of HavenCon