SALT LAKE CITY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention™ (https://fanxsaltlake.com/), as part of its ongoing efforts to make fandom events more accessible to and enjoyable for all members of the community, has taken further steps to prevent and address harassment with the formal launch of the Community Council on Harassment and Safety, which is housed and administered through the League of Utah Volunteers (LUV). FanX is also pleased to announce the 10 founding members of the Council, who are further described below.
The Council will immediately begin its work to: review issues of education and policy leading up to the FanX 2018 conference, September 6-8; ensure the recently updated Universal Zero Tolerance Harassment Policy is as strong and effective as possible; and establish guidelines and processes for investigating and responding to reports of harassment or bullying at FanX events. It will also support FanX’s recently announced partnership with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, which will serve as the front line of support for any harassment issues during the September 6-8 event via a 24/7 hotline.
The mission of the Community Council is to prevent and address any issues of bullying, abuse, assault, and harassment of any kind at all current and future FanX events and advise on any community complaints about the organizations that manage, produce, and participate with FanX. The Council also intends to provide assistance to many other participating events throughout the community.
The Council will accomplish this mission through policy and education with a focus on prevention and deterrence of any harassment before it starts. It will oversee the investigation of any incidents reported and will recommend appropriate penalties when policy violations occur. Upon request, the Council may also serve in an advisory role on the suitability of prospective guests or panelists whose behavior or statements relative to harassment, inclusiveness, or other potentially divisive issues may lead to concerns as to whether they should be invited or allowed to attend.
“As fandom and other community events become larger and more complex, education and policy become more important, and questions of how to respond to issues concerning inappropriate behavior, including harassment, bullying, and other policy violations, become more challenging to address,” said FanX Co-Founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg. “Through the Council, we are engaging a set of diverse, smart, and specialized people to give an independent, experienced, and expert perspective on individual situations as well as on the policy decisions we make.”
The Council’s founding members include:
1. Rev. Marian Edmonds Allen is Executive Director at Parity, a national LGBTQ faith-affirming nonprofit is a co-founder of the LGBTQ Youth Continuum of Care, and has previously served as executive director to the OUTreach Resource Centers and the Utah Pride Center. She has been recognized for her decades of work with and for LGBTQ youth, including as a Petra Fellow and the 2014 Q Salt Lake Person of the Year.
2. Valerie Cameron-Walker is a strong community voice as the Morning Radio Show Host for B98.7, as well as an event management expert and an activist for the geek community, volunteers, and sexual harassment victims. She has raised money for several years for Over the Edge Salt Lake by rappelling 13 stories over the Maverick Building in Salt Lake in support of the YWCA and Salt Lake Department of Justice to support victims of domestic violence.
3. Jay Whittaker is popular comedian, actor, Air Force veteran, and FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention™ moderator and panelist. As host of the Incredibly Vocal Minority podcast and a regular panelist on numerous others, he is a consistent voice and advocate for diversity and unwaveringly dedicated to keeping the geek community safe.
4. Kerry Jackson has worked in radio for over 30 years, including as a host of X96’s popular “Radio From Hell” and the “Geek Show Podcast.” He is also a cancer survivor and a long established and well respected “geek” in the community.
5. LaShel Shaw is an attorney at Parr Brown Gee & Loveless in Salt Lake City specializing in entertainment and media law. She graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame University, where she worked on issues of cyberbullying and is an officer of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion and member of its Organizational Inclusion Committee.
6. Erika Lynn Sabrowski is a well-known personality in the local convention community and head of all volunteers for the League of Utah Volunteers, a role she has also fulfilled for FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention™ for several years prior to the formation of LUV. She is also a cancer survivor who is known for applying her entire heart to every program or project she enters.
7. Debra Daniels is the Director of the Women’s Resource Center at the University of Utah, Assistant VP Women’s Enrollment Initiatives, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with areas of expertise that include sexual assault, domestic violence, diversity, and social justice issues. In addition to her experience with the University and over 25 years of experience in the field of social work, she is the recipient of the Linda K. Amos Award for Distinguished Service to Women of the University of Utah, the YWCA Outstanding Achievement Award, and the Susa Young Gates Award from the Utah Women’s Political Caucus for contributions to women and human rights.
8. Rachel Burt, a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), has more than 15 years of experience in Human Resources with particular experience in sexual discrimination and harassment issues as well as sensitivity in business and employment relations. In addition to her other efforts related to these issues, she has recently been involved in conducting and leading sensitivity training sessions for FanX.
9. Debra Jenson is a professor of journalism and communications at Utah State University, a member of the board of Ordain Women, and a founder of WeExist.LGBT, an organization that works to make schools more welcoming for LGBT+ students and their families and to end the practice of conversion therapy within the U.S. She has worked professionally with Special Olympics Utah and other organizations to advocate for people with disabilities, has given a TEDx talk entitled “The Comic Universe Belongs to Everyone,” and is a regular FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention™ panelist on issues of diversity.
10. Kiki Furia has been called “your nerdy BFF” and passionately pursues and promotes positivity in the nerd/geek community. When she is not cosplaying, she is gaming, podcasting with the SLC Sitdown podcast, and a frequent panelist for conventions and other podcasts. As a consultant for quality programming in afterschool programs, she holds multiple degrees with emphases in youth and community services and in creating social change for arts and cultural non-profit organizations.
As previously noted, FanX will also be providing training for all FanX 2018 volunteers with the help of UCASA (Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault), the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and other harassment and sensitivity experts.
FanX 2018 is quickly becoming one of the most anticipated conventions of the year with celebrity attendees including Ben Affleck, Ian McDiarmid, Rainn Wilson, Dick Van Dyke, David Tennant, Evangeline Lilly, Karl Urban, Lucy Lawless, Renee O’Connor, Tim Curry, Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, Chuck Norris, Brent Spiner, Jennifer Morrison, Tricia Helfer, Jason David Frank, Kevin Sorbo, Paige O’Hara and Robby Benson, Paul Reubens, Gaten Matarazzo, Amy Jo Johnson, Steven Ogg, Barry Bostwick, John Wesley Shipp, Vic Mignogna, and Mark Sheppard. In addition to these special guests, FanX 2018 will also feature more than 400 hours of panels, photo ops, autographs, vendors, artists, best-selling authors, and more, with many additional guest and show announcements anticipated between now and September.