Member Spotlight: Kitan Tataru

Kitan Tataru Member Spotlight

It’s been almost exactly two months since Kitan Sedai was announced as the new Mistress of Accepted and Soldiers (MoAS). That’s enough time to settle in and set some goals, so we at the TarValon Times checked in with her about the position, her time as a member of TarValon.Net, and her advice for the Junior Members (JMs) that she supports. First, though, I wanted to get to know the person behind the avatar a bit.

Originally from Southern California, Kitan Tataru now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, Brandon Gaidin. Their miniature schnauzer, Jinx, rounds out the family.

Having joined in 2004, Kitan Sedai has seen the vast majority of the Tower’s history. She regaled me with the story of how she (and the White Ajah) helped Brandon Sanderson participate in a toast at the tower’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration. She shared a raucous recounting of Fall Ball attendees being ejected during a Gaidin’s raising.

And while those stories were entertaining, our MoAS has more enlightening stories to share as well. Asked to comment on how the tower has changed during her tenure here, Mistress Tataru had a lot to say.

“When I was first raised to Aes Sedai, guesting and demotion didn’t exist,” she said. Kitan Sedai has even authored a Library article on the guesting system, since she saw it implemented from start to finish.

Of course, a discussion of integration goes hand in hand with guesting. As one of the White Ajah’s representatives to the Integration Focus Group, she was intimately familiar with the problem and proposed solutions. (For any who aren’t familiar, “Integration” was the process by which men were given permission to join Ajahs and women were allowed to become Gaidin.)

“So what we were asked was: How do we accomplish this? What will this look like? What will the process be? What structures will we need to change – or not change?” Kitan Sedai said of their discussions. Of course, the Integration Focus Group overcame those obstacles, and the membership groups exist as we know them today. Before any JM can aspire to join one of those groups, though, they must go through their time as an Accepted or Soldier – and of course, that brings us to Kitan Sedai’s new(ish) position.

“As MoAS, I’m really focused on helping the Accepted and Soldiers Aspire. When someone Aspires, it’s because they’ve found their home,” she said. It makes sense, when I think about it, but I found it encouraging that the MoAS would be focused on helping JMs find their membership group home. Of course there are administrative issues that go along with being MoAS, but for Kitan Sedai, the focus is on helping JMs find that home:

“My biggest goal as MoAS is to help every Accepted or Soldier, regardless of whether they’re having having a hard time or not, to feel that they have a place in the Tower, even if they haven’t Aspired and don’t know where or when or if they will.”

As an Accepted myself, I can tell you that this goal is backed up by Kitan’s actions. Her Office in the Hall of Initiates is filled with helpful information. Recently, Kitan created a roundtable discussion between JMs about the transition from junior membership to senior membership. The discussion has ranged three pages, and covered topics like the test for raising to SM, what happens when members aren’t sure where they belong, and guesting strategies.

Participants in the class, of course, have been very grateful for the direct outreach from Administrators to JMs on their own terms. “All the insight is greatly appreciated,” said Dar’Jen Ab Owain in one post.

“It was good to know about Aspiration in detail,” Lyndo Shiranui agreed.

It’s a lot to have taken on already just two months into her term as MoAS. Still, Kitan Sedai looks on the role with optimism and eagerness. “I know this might sound cliché, but I feel that being MoAS is an honor. I’m excited to bring my experience and knowledge with me to the role, and I hope to make a real difference in the experience of every person who’s an Accepted or Soldier during my term.”

Needless to say, based on everything I’ve seen so far, Mistress Tataru is off to a great start.

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Member Spotlight: Stasia t’Andrei

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

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Anxiously awaiting the release of a production that could change the world forever, some are not idle. Amongst these, the mysterious jedi Aes Sedai of Tar Valon prepare for the coming of their tv show Chosen One. Many leaders have arisen amongst the Aes Sedai in this lull, but none so sinister as Darth Stasia the Organized. As she coordinates the graphics development for the White Tower, the galaxy holds its breath.

Hailing from southwest Michigan, our resident Sith Lord Darth Stasia has returned to her original seat of power after going away to Sith finishing school. When she isn’t organizing her schemes, Stasia can often be found spending time with her apprentice husband and her pupper, Caramel.

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Adorable.

On the boards, Stasia has been volunteering her time as the Marketing Project Manager – a role that involves coordinating the Graphics Development Team (GDT), assisting the Director of Marketing, and plotting Galactic domination. When asked about her experience in the job, Stasia was remarkably chipper for a Sith lord:

“Working with the GDT and the rest of the Marketing team has been really great. We have some very talented people on the site, and it’s great to all work with and learn from each other.”

Although not formally trained in graphics, Stasia has been working independently to acquire those skills. “I’ve always had a passion for typography and good design,” Stasia said. “Thankfully, my skills have [been growing], and I’m able to apply those to working as part of the GDT.” Having settled into her role, this Brown Sedai does have some ideas about how to make her mark on the site: “We’re working on an overhaul to our site style guide and landing page, and I’m very excited for that!” In an attempt to veil her true Sith origins, Stasia also requested any comments or suggestions (projectmanager@tarvalon.net).

Editor’s Note: As she is not, in actuality, a Sith Lord as the author would like to pretend, Stasia very much would like to receive your comments.

Perhaps somewhat selfishly, as a Junior Member myself, I asked Darth Stasia what advice she had for JMs. In general, she encouraged us to try to get to know the Senior Membership.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out, whether in a post or a PM, to SMs! Don’t let a title fool you into thinking we’re something we’re not. At the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of people who happen to love the same book series, and you’ve always got that in common as a talking point.”

Very wise indeed, Darth Stasia. The Force is strong with this one.

… What’s that? This is a Wheel of Time fan site and maybe we should talk about those books instead of Star Wars? Fine. While I won’t recopy her entire library entry here, I will recommend that you check it out, because her wit and style is obvious from the answers she gives to various surveys. It’s also a well-deserved tribute to the time she has given and the service Stasia has done for the White Tower over the years. In the vein of marketing, Ms. t’Andrei has served as Mind of the Brown Ajah and Tower Voice. She has also worked as part of the Social Media team, Department of Technology Staff, and as a Sitter for three terms!

As for our favorite saga: Mat, Rand, and Moiraine are Stasia’s favorite heroes. Favorite villains? Darth Vader Semhirage, Asmodean, and Graendal. Sensible choices, right? And of course, as is only correct, Stasia’s favorite character overall? Verin Mathwin.

Or, you know, Darth Vader.

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