Cristina Schmidt Ibáñez

Special Projects Coordinator @ Rethink Priorities
1227 karmaJoined May 2020Working (6-15 years)


Special Projects Coordinator at Rethink Priorities. I also mentor people working in nonprofit operations (as time allows).

My academic background: M.Sc. International Logistics and Management

I truly enjoy:

  • Improving organisation and coordination within teams
  • Figuring out how to structure things: information, organisations, etc.
  • Mentoring

Please reach out if you think I can help you.


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Topic contributions

We often seemed to be considering projects that didn’t really need “incubating”, as opposed to convincing an existing team or org to work on them (e.g. a new research agenda), and this felt like a feature of the AI x-risk space.

This in particular resonated with me and largely reflects how I updated my views on AI x/gc-risk incubation.

My (also low resilience take) is that the AI safety ecosystem can probably more effectively get a project or idea off the ground where there's already pooled infrastructure and other resources (e.g. larger existing think tanks). And that leveraging the incubation experience & skills you mentioned above (and bringing them in a coordinated way to) to these existing infrastructures could more effectively accelerate new projects, rather than having to pool many different resources (networks, talent, funds, expertise, reputation, track-record, etc.) together by oneself (with a smaller team).

I said this elsewhere but I'll repeat myself: I think it's fantastic that you took the time to write this up (and erred on the side of posting) and in doing this adding transparency to the LT/x-risk entrepreneurship community which seems at times impenetrable.

* Apologies that I'm not able to engage more in depth with the arguments presented here at the moment. So only sharing some quick thoughts for now.

This is hard because the benefits of sponsorship are legible and predictable, and the costs are nebulous and erratic. But that makes it all the more important to deliberately investigate them.

I agree somewhat with the first sentence. Some benefits from fiscal sponsorship are much more predictable than others. Impact being one of the less predictable ones.

I agree strongly with the second sentence. I think it is part of any fiscal sponsor (and sponsees) due diligence to do that. Fiscal sponsorship relationships should be reassessed continually and with care. I think this white paper describes this very well.

My guess is that this will show that having multiple large orgs share a legal structure is not worth it, but using sponsorship for short term projects or a launching pad will continue to make sense.

This seems roughly right. However this depends a lot on:

  • The risk profile of the projects
  • How the legal structure itself is set up, for instance if the fiscal sponsorship relationship is set up as a Model L relationship, most of the liabilities actually remain with the sponsee.
  • Among other factors

I think something that I'm missing in this post is more mention that fiscal sponsorship is widely practiced (especially in the US). However, as Emma Geering puts it - way better than I could -

"As a practical construct that addresses market failures and motivates social change, fiscal sponsorship needs formal recognition in the law. New state corporate codes and Internal Revenue Code provisions cementing fiscal sponsorship in the doctrines supporting nonprofit law are necessary to continuous growth in the nonprofit sector." (The Legal Value of Fiscal Sponsorship: A Proposal of New Law)

(I work within the Special Projects team at RP, but all views are my own)

Try to include people knowledgeable about different donating areas.

As a participant I can say this was extremely helpful. It allowed us as a group to get up to speed in different areas quickly and to make sure we are informed about any relevant and current events (in those areas).

and games like the Trolley Problem card game are highly recommended.

+++1 ;)

One thing to add here (also highly recommended): Have a fantastic host such as Max!

Hey! (full disclosure: I work within the Special Projects team at Rethink Priorities which also provides fiscal sponsorship services).

A couple of quick notes from me:

  • There are different models of fiscal sponsorship. I can recommend this overview from AntiEntropy and this to learn more about that. Different sponsors offer different models (depending on their infrastructure and risk appetite) although A and C are the most utilized and established.
  • Another thing that your question seems to imply is that these options - depending on how you define them -  are mutually exclusive (which they are not) e.g. you can get fiscal sponsorship for tax-exemption and basic financial compliance but also "external" ops support. There are also ways to meaningfully combine incubation with fiscal sponsorship (which unfortunately I won't be able to lay out here today).
  • Some funders require a project to have tax-exempt status (either via their own 501(c)3 or because they are fiscally sponsored by another 501(c)3). In those cases you'll need fiscal sponsorship (beyond ops support) to receive a grant.

Some pushback on this:

I think this is a limited model for understanding meetings. (Citing from the handbook of meeting science) there are different cognitive processes taking place during meetings (usually several in one meeting):

  • Problem identification and construction
  • Information exchange/information sharing
  • Idea generation and brainstorming
  • Idea evaluation and selection
  • Implementation planning

When I conduct meetings as a project manager (or participate in team meetings) I rarely have a clear "decision brief meeting" or a "planning and course of action development". All of these may take place in one meeting depending on the scope of the decision(s) to be made. If a decision is consequential enough I can understand the need for fragmenting these processes into different meetings.

Additionally, other processes take place that are worth highlighting:

  • Trust and psychological safety
  • Support for innovation
  • Conflict

I think the main takeaway from your post would be for readers to highlight the purposes that the meetings they plan serve and approach meeting planning with more intention.

Interesting! This actually reminded me of a flower farmer I interviewed 4 years ago as part of my masters thesis and the reason why I was interviewing him was that he had no (third party) "social certification" for his flower production but brought up giving sunscreen to his employees which no other farmer that I interviewed (including the ones with social certification mentioned) did. Unfortunately I wasn't able to prioritize the issue as part of the other things I was assessing, but it did leave me thinking (a lot!).

(As a decently busy person) I've found that it's not so much how concise the material is I'm consuming rather than the medium through which I consume that predicts whether I will finish/engage with it or not.

For me I'm more of an audio-visual type and have ditched most (70%) written material for audio (e.g. podcasts, audiobooks) because the time I can use to learn (unless it's my professional development time that my employer offers me) directly competes with other things that I need/want to do during the week: exercise, clean the house, go for a walk, etc. I've found that after finally embracing that fact I've been learning much more than I used to.

In terms of actively learning (rather than passively consuming) I've found that chatting with others about the material I consume, whether it's a casual meeting with colleagues or having or other avenues for discussion is a great way to learn that doesn't require much additional time for me.

Hey Liv,

Here are a couple of things I can think about (though I would say preparing for an EAG is very similar to preparing for an EAGx) - maybe I'll see you there? :)

The bigger the kind of impact someone is planning, the more important it is that they have a good character.

Loved this line. And I second Rockwell's opinion: It's one of my favorite presentations I've seen at an EAG.

Hey! Cristina here. I work as a Special Projects Coordinator (which is an ops role) at Rethink Priorities providing ops services to internal and external new projects. I'm not only not required to be on call all the time (unless I'm providing events support on the ground in which case I'm asked to take time off afterwards to balance that off), it's in fact discouraged at RP, my team (Special Projects) and more specifically with my manager.

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