Open Source is a Relay Race: Reflections from our Outgoing Interim General Manager

I’ve been an individual member and occasional volunteer of the OSI for a long time, but signing on in August 2020 as Interim General Manager was a jump into the deep end. Much of OSI’s past work was informed by the connections and conversations held with members and stakeholders in person, so we had to chart a different path while still grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


My challenge was to look for ways to continue our work during lockdown, keep the organization moving forward through a transitional year and support the board on its journey towards a visioning body that works with a staff-driven organization. Now it’s time to hand things over to our new Executive Director, Stefano Maffulli but first I’d like to recap my time spent in navigating these waters.


Staffing at small non-profits is always a combination of strategy and luck. This spring, I was fortunate to be able to bring in the amazing Betsy Waliszewski as our Director of Sustainability. The Board also organized and conducted a thoughtful and thorough Executive Director search (with great results!). As part of OSI’s preparation to become a more staff-driven organization, we solidified the kind of workplace that OSI will be — humane, generous and respectful. I met with OSI stakeholders to talk about what we could offer open source practitioners in this new era. With the help of Program Associate Valdimir Bejdo, we hosted a new, tightly-focused, virtual event full of actionable and practical open source information, POSI


In all of these challenges, I was buoyed by OSI’s part-time staffers, an excellent, hard-working team dedicated to OSI’s growth. It was a tough year and everyone looked for ways to make things easier for each other while still serving the community. Our volunteer Board was lovely and supportive — they have deep knowledge of the open source landscape and are crafting an exciting vision for OSI’s next few years. I also want to thank Patrick Masson for all his support in handing the OSI off to me for this transitional year.


After everything that we learned about transitions, Stefano and I scheduled a whole month to make onboarding as smooth as possible. This past year was a big one for working through some of OSI’s technical debt (the other kind of legacy typical of older organizations) and I feel that I’m leaving things a bit clearer and more thoroughly documented than I found them. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish in my year here and I can confidently say that I’m leaving the organization in great hands. 


I’m leaving OSI but will still be active in the free and open source software community. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at in-person events again (eventually) and at many online events like SeaGL and the CROSS Research Symposium or on upcoming video calls where we’re collaborating to build a robust, diverse, welcoming and sustainable future for open source practitioners and advocates. 


As I step down from my year as the Interim General Manager, I’m proud to remain a friend and individual supporting member of the OSI.