New challenge

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Working as the GNOME Foundation Executive Director has been one of the highlights of my career. It has been a pleasure to work with many wonderful people, and we have made fantastic progress over the past
three years. GNOME is such an important, vibrant project, and I feel lucky to have been able to play a part in it.

I think I have made some important contributions to the project while I have been Executive Director. I’ve helped to recruit two new advisory board members, and we recently received a one time donation of considerable size (the donor did not want to be identified). Financially the Foundation is in good shape, and we have run the last three years in the black. We’ve held some successful funding campaigns, particularly around privacy and accessibility. We have a mind-blowingly fantastic Board of Directors, and the Engagement team is doing amazing work. The GNOME.Asia team is strong, and we’ve got an influx of people, more so than I’ve seen in some time.

I hope that I have helped us to get in touch with our values during my time as ED, and I think that GNOME is more aware of its guiding mission than ever before. The ongoing success of the Outreach Program for Women and positive relations with other organizations fighting for software freedom have all helped us to tell a powerful story about who we are and why we matter.

With all these achievements, I think it’s time for me to hand the reins over to someone new, who can bring their own personal strengths to the role. It is time for a new challenge for me also, so today I am announcing my new position as the Software Freedom Conservancy Executive Director. As many of you know, I have been volunteering with Conservancy for some time, since I helped found it when I was a lawyer at SFLC. I also can’t wait to work closer with Bradley, who has done a bang up job in the role of ED thus far (he’ll be taking on the title of Distinguished Technologist while remaining President and on the board). It is an important organization where I think I can make a difference, and GNOME is in good hands.

Don’t worry though: I’m not leaving GNOME. I will be announcing my candidacy for the board when the call comes out (this is a real exception for me as I’ve generally declined serving on boards). I will stay on as pro bono counsel, and of course I’ll continue volunteering in other ways. The Conservancy has also agreed to partner with GNOME, so that I can help to run the Outreach Program for Women with Marina.

I’m excited for the future. GNOME is already in great hands and I look forward to what the next Foundation Executive can bring to the table. If you know of someone who would be fantastic in this position please let the GNOME board know! I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the past three years, and can’t wait to see where we go next.

Conferences conferences conferences

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I’ve been really behind on blogging but with good excuse! I’ve been running from one conference to another, talking about GNOME and free software and having as many meetings as I can to forward our causes. It’s been really intense – I’ve basically given six talks in six days.

First up was South by Southwest (and the most out of date report). As I mentioned here before, I was especially excited for this one in part because I was looking forward to the technically savvy crowd that may not be as familiar with free and open source software and also because my session was featured on the sxsw blog. This was a new experiment for the GNOME Foundation, and we were figuring things out. Happily Sri came to help and we were able to team up. We mostly hit the streets talking to people, which is surprisingly effective at sxsw since so many of the attendees are people we’d want to partner with in some way. We made some great contacts and have already been following up.

My talk was pretty well received, and there were a couple of articles that came out of it too. One here and one in Le Monde”, for example. I was interviewed a few other times too, especially after the session with Snowden remotely dialing in. I was encouraged to hear him talk about how important UI is to free software which also gave me a good opportunity to talk about GNOME. I also got a few good leads on fundraising and partnership for Outreach Program for Women.

Next year I’d love for us to partner with other free and open source software orgs and sponsors and have a Free and Open Pavilion in the expo floor. I think sxsw is an excellent audience for us to try to reach, if we can figure out a way for our presence to have the maximum impact.

More recently, in the last week I was at the FSF’s LibrePlanet and the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit. Both are great conferences. I always love LibrePlanet as it’s one of the few conferences that is entirely ideologically motivated, and I find it really restorative on a personal level. I had the honor of keynoting the conference again, entitled “We can’t all be cyborg lawyers: How messaging may be our most important obstacle,” where I talked about my experienced advocating for software freedom, marketing exercises done by GNOME and the FSF and how we can approach this going forward. I also led a session with Marina on diversity, and one with Deb on messaging.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about LibrePlanet was that the GNOME Foundation won the Free Software Award for the Outreach Program for Women:

We're so excited to accept the award!

Marina and I right after Richard Stallman presented us with our award!

You can read the whole press release on the FSF’s site.

I also taught a course on legal ethics on the day after the conference, which also happily earned me some continuing legal education credits to boot. Later in the afternoon Marina and I got coffee with a few other advisors of the Ada Initiative which was really fun.

I then flew to California for the Collab Summit, where I spoke on the Outreach Program and then again on issues about representation in Free Software. I’ll try to make an independent blog about some of my thoughts soon. This conference, while being almost opposite to LibrePlanet, was also really productive, and I was able to have a lot of great meetings. Now I’m off to finally have a bit of a weekend, there’s more news coming soon so stay tuned.

Getting ready for SXSW!

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I’m excited to leave for Austin in the morning. I have a few goals for the trip:

  • Give my talk about medical devices and free software. If you’re coming to sxsw, please come to my session, which is on 5pm on Friday! And if you’re not, tell other people about it. I was so happy that the conference featured my session and ran a little interview with me.
  • Get some new people thinking about ethical technology and free software. Sri and I are organizing a GNOME and free software meet up on Saturday, more details to come!
  • Spread the word about the Outreach Program for Women. The application period has begun so it’s the perfect time.

Got any other suggestions for things I shouldn’t miss? Please say hi if you’re at the conference. And thanks to everyone who voted for my session!