Meet the Candidates Session 1 - My Answers

Submitted by matthew on Thu, 2012-09-20 18:03

This is cross posted from Donna Benjamin's request for the candidates to post responses from the questions fielded during the phone call.

I bring 17 years from the technology world, 13 years in Opensource, 6 years of highly active participation in the Drupal community, 8 years of nonprofit management in a US based Technology focused nonprofit, two VP board positions in nonprofits including policy development, and two university qualifications - one a Masters - focused on organizational management for nonprofits.

I'm passionate about Drupal and adore the Drupal Community.

You can read more about my candidacy as I continue to write about it here: At Large Election 2012 - The Drupal Association.

1) stevepurkiss: If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the Drupal Association, what would it be and why?

I think it is critical to not cycle onto the Drupal Association board with a strong personal agenda. The point should be about serving the Drupal community as a whole and not seek to disrupt the DA because of an axe to grind. It is a natural progression, when working with experience board members, to direct the overall mission of a nonprofit in a 10,000 foot view. So, my first job would be to observe and absorb. I do think that the Drupal Association needs to continue to focus on outreach with a goal of strengthening membership in underserved populations. This includes untapped markets with potential and culturally diverse populations who can add their uniqueness to our own. The magic wand is hard work continuing to push forward the DA's mission and expand.

2) Senpai: QUESTION: How much money should the DA spend each year on furthering Drupal? Followup Q: How much of that money should come from the users of Drupal vs sponsorships or advertising?

This question is a bit like asking "How long is a piece of string". The amount that the DA should spend ought to be budget driven, so we really should be looking at percentages rather than how much. Some of the other candidates expressed that "The DA should spend it all!". This is naive at best and reckless at worst. All non-profits should have 3-4 months worth of operating budget at hand to weather bad times or needed expenditures such as new servers. This is just simple math. The exception to this rule is if the nonprofit has a desire to build an endowment for scholarships, grants programs, etc. In this case, the goal is to build up enough of a reserve, for this fund, to pay out scholarships/grants/program cash largely through interest. Outside of remaining fiscally viable and being a responsible 501(c)3, every last available dollar should go towards supporting the Drupal community.

How much of the money should come from different sources? Well, the fact is - the more diverse the funding pool, the more likely the DA will not end up having money problems in the future. We should be looking beyond users/sponsorships/advertising to diversify our income streams. This may extend to applying for grant funds ourselves to having some kind service model. When I was with the Western States Arts Federation, I was central in defining new revenue streams through designing software as a service models and service based systems like:

  • CultureGrants Online
  • WritersRegister

These are just a few. My point here is that I have extensive experience in the nonprofit world designing and implementing diversification of revenues to provide organizational stability.

3) KatteKrab: QUESTION: How would you help make the Drupal Association reach out to parts of the world that aren't yet active in our community? Be more International?

The Drupal Association IS international. The biggest challenge here revolves around participation. How do we engage other communities? Well - first of all, we need to understand what the needs of those communities are. Is it as simple as providing money to help a local community run a camp? Do they need organizational advice on best practices for setting up regular meet ups? Do they need help figuring out how to generate an audience to attend events. Each local set of constituents will have different challenges that need to be met to efficiently grow. We need to have an overall goal of continued "Internationalization" with eyes towards tactics that make sense in each different cultural context.

4) dstol: What is your biggest annoyance with Drupal.Org currently? [the website]

My personal pet peeve is that d.o is separate from g.d.o so you can't search across both at the same time. However, I don't think that personal annoyances should fall into the pervue of the association board. The D.A. could have an overall goal of "Improving the User Experience on the Website to increase engagement and drive usage of Drupal", but then the strategy and tactics and execution of that goal should fall to the association staff.

5) steveoliver: Q: What role do you see for the DA in developing and/or certifying formalized Drupal training/testing?

The association should not be the owner/arbiter for certifications. I think the DA is doing a good job providing opportunities for community trainers to offer services at Camps and Cons. As a member of the local organizers of Drupalcon Denver, I was struck by the thoughtfulness of the DA in choosing excellent training opportunities that were well balanced to the needs of new members of our community.

As for testing, that is part of development of the software itself. That should be a community activity. I do think that the DA could/should fund usability studies and provide the results, but without trying to direct how those results impact the software itself.

6) beeradb_: QUESTION: What community leadership have you show that you think positions you well to be a community representative on the board?

I covered a good chunk of that in a blog post. This can be covered in a few numbers to begin with:

I have:

  • 17 years in the technology space
  • 13 years in the open source space
  • 8 years of nonprofit management including grant making and board management
  • 6 years in the Drupal community
  • 2 University programs in non-profit management
  • 2 VP positions on other Boards, including a Charter School in the Adams 50 School District in Colorado
  • 1 Committee position as a policy maker/drafter for the Charter School
  • 1 Drupalcon as Volunteer Wrangler and Customer Service Manager
  • Helping in numerous Drupalcamp in Denver

I am a community leader through camps and Drupalcon. I have tremendous experience in the nonprofit space - particularly in the United States. I have board experience in similar sized organizations. I have policy experience. When folks are thinking about where to cast their ballots, I urge them to not approach the election as a popularity contest but look at the qualifications of the candidates and ask - who would do the best job..

I'm the complete package for the DA.

7) j_matthew_s: My question is related to Governance VS Operations at the DA. Where are the lines between what the Board should do vs Staff? For example - who should be directing mission vs strategic planning vs program management?
This was my own question and I didn't answer it during the session. There were a variety of answers, but I think this chart lines up my expectations of proper governance vs operations activities.

8) joebachana: What is the greatest threat to the Drupal project today and what should the DA's role be in ameliorating/resolving that threat?
I wrote a little bit about HR attrition a few days ago. I believe that the community, as a whole, is getting older. We need to be bringing in larger numbers of young people into the community in order to refresh our ranks. This extends to helping more experienced developers move up the ranks into core developer roles. One of our challenges has been core dev burnout. So, in short, our biggest threat today is ensuring we have an adequate population of appropriately talented people.

9) starl3n: Q: how do candidates define the Drupal 'community'? And, developers Vs users...
This is a super easy question to answer. The "community" are all people who interact with the Drupal project even at the most simple of levels. This would include Developers, Themers, Project Managers, and End Users, Companies who use Drupal. All members of the community are users, but there is a subset of the community that are developers.
10) beeradb_: QUESTION: If you weren't running, which of the other candidates do you think would be great for the board?
I honestly punted on this question and said, "I want a pony" in relation to Morten's blog post. The truth is, that the field we have to choose from is incredibly talented all around. Some individuals have more experience than others in the nonprofit sphere and others have some board experience as well. I won't be discounting popularity of candidates, but that will not be my number one priority in making my decision. In the end, I honestly have not decided who I might vote for - I need to hear what everybody has to say about the position first.

I would be honoured to represent the Community as an At Large Board Member if the Community would like to place that trust in me. My love and respect of our "Team" transcends just a job and extends to some of my deepest friendships. If you want to talk to me about my candidacy - please find me on IRC j_matthew_s or in Skype jmatthewsaunders or you could even call me 00+1 (720) 254-1546.

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