Election for the next Stan Governing Body

Note: this is not a post from me personally, but rather a message I am posting on behalf of the current (provisional) Stan Governing Body.

Dear Stan community,

The provisional Stan Governing Body was mandated to elect a definite governance by 23 Oct 2019. While we are strongly in favor of an expanded electorate and more inclusive governance, we were not able to reach consensus on either that we felt would have served the community by this date. It is our fault that we were not able to do this during our time as SGB, and at this point we think it more appropriate for the next SGB to make any changes in a non-rushed way. We believe that the best path forwards is to elect a new governing body using the currently defined electorate which can then address issues of expanding the electorate and, more generally, involving more of the Stan community in improvement and promotion of Stan. We are eager to assist the new governing body to achieve this goal.

More formally we propose:

  • The new Stan Governing Body will consist of five members to be elected to serve for one year. This new governance will be elected using approval voting by the current electorate, comprising members of the Stan Development Team.
  • Candidates for the new SGB do not need to be developers and may nominate themselves on a Discourse thread that will be set up on 21 Oct for this purpose. We encourage all nominees to briefly summarize their experiences with Stan and their goals for the Stan Governing Body to assist the electorate in informing their votes. If you know someone who you think should run for the SGB then we encourage you to contact that person and suggest that they nominate themselves.
  • The new governance must comply with NumFOCUS restrictions and cannot have a majority of people from the same employer. If a governance violating this restriction is voted in then the employee with the lowest votes will be removed and the votes retabulated until a valid governance is reached.
  • The period of nominations will start on 21 Oct, with the opening of the nomination Discourse thread, and end on 4 Nov, with the closing of the thread at midnight GMT.
  • Once the nomination period ends, the voting starts. Voting will be online and will close on 11 Nov at midnight GMT.

A description of the responsibilities of the SGB can be found in the SGB section at https://mc-stan.org/about/.

We apologize for delaying the vote another few weeks, but given the significant commitment in time and effort involved we want to give potential candidates sufficient time to decide whether they want to run. Thanks for your understanding.


The Stan Governing Body

Julie Bertrand
Michael Betancourt
Jonah Gabry
Andrew Gelman
Daniel Lee
Sean Talts
Lizzie Wolkovich



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MASSIVE thanks to the inaugural SGB! I have no doubts that they worked incredibly hard as they met the challenges of being the first structure of governance for Stan. It can’t have been easy but I am super grateful for all they have done and the groundwork they have laid for the next SGB


Super sorry if I just somehow missed it, but what’s the term of an appointment? (just so people can know what the commitment is).


Glad you spotted that Dan, you didn’t miss it. I just edited it so it’s there now. It’s a one year term.


The things the SGB is responsible for are like Stancons, managing some sorta funds, code of conduct stuff, and are there other things? I vaguely remember seeing a list somewhere but it might be good to put at least a few things here.


Good point, thanks @bbbales2. There’s a description in the SGB section at https://mc-stan.org/about/. I’ve updated my initial post with a link (it’s long so I didn’t copy and paste the content here).

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For what its worth, in my opinion as ex exec dir, the SGB is going to have to be a ‘working board’ that meets weekly. If the SGB is going to realistically allocate current funds (approximately $400k), fund raise, handle code of conduct complaints and manage current hires one can expect a weekly meeting and 5 or more hours a week of time.


Thanks Breck. You might be right but I’m hopeful it can be less than that because the next SGB can learn from the experience of the provisional SGB and improve the way items are delegated to other members of the community via groups or new positions formed to handle specific tasks. I also think there are good candidates who (understandably) won’t be able to offer five hours a week but would still be very productive.


Nominations are now open! Please see:

I second Breck that the board benefits from people with time to contribute to Stan, but I also hope it won’t keep anyone from nominating themselves (or encouraging someone else to self-nominate). Everyone on the current SGB agrees we want the next board to learn from us but also do what works for the new group of individuals. This could be 5/hours a week or it could be that the board meets in person to hash out some of the harder stuff, like governance structure, formalizing code of conduct and surrounding policies etc…


Thanks Lizzie, I agree!

And just to be clear to anyone reading this who might want to nominate themselves, there is no official hourly time commitment, just the commitment to the one year term.

Yeah, I think if the board can hash out some of the harder stuff like this at the beginning then it will hopefully result in a much lower time commitment after that, especially if the board can effectively leverage the Stan community and not put too much on the individual SGB members. Of course this will be up to the new board to decide!

I think it’s been a really interesting experience so far and I’d like to encourage lots of folks and especially users of Stan to nominate themselves - this is a great way to get pretty involved and requires no prior experience or credentials. I’d recommend setting aside an hour a week for the meetings most weeks and bringing a collaborative attitude, but those aren’t official requirements either, haha.


I just want to echo what @jonah, @lizzieinvancouver, and @seantalts have said. With good organization and structure amongst the governing body the time burden can reasonable and distributed to allow one to contribute when hours are available during the one’s week; I think that we’re all happy to offer advice based on our experience to help establish the new governing body establish a structure that works for them.

The main power of the governing body is to make decisions, and often the burden falls on the governing body to also propose exactly upon what is decided and exactly what the options are. Much of that work, however, can be delegated to the community, which not only reduces the burden on the governing body but also fosters engagement with the community.

There are many critical decisions to be made by the next governing body, including a project-wide code of conduct, electorate structure, governance structure, and technical working group structure. If you are at all interested in fostering the project through those transitions then I encourage you to consider nominating yourself, especially if you consider yourself an outsider within the community. There are more people using Stan to great effect but consider themselves outsiders than there are vocal insiders, and your experience will be critical to the development of the project.


Does the current SGB have a transition plan in mind? I think it would be nice to have either

  1. One member of the old board on the new (or preferably just running and letting people decide)

  2. Have the current SGB form into an advisory committee that the new SGB can utilize

I dont want to volun-tell anyone to do stuff but I think Jonah would be good at (1). Does anyone have thoughts?


I think we’d all make ourselves available to the new board without needing to be on it or part of an official committee :)

What thread should we use to ask questions of the candidates? I’d like to know how they’re going to solve stalled PRs, assuming that is the body we’re supposed to appeal to.

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It feels like ^ would be something more for the technical working group

re stalled PRs - the technical working group doesn’t exist.

either the next SGB will have to figure out how to create a good decision-making framework for good software development or the devs will have to sort it out amongst themselves.