In 2005 I moved from Portland, Oregon to New York City and stepped into the role of Director of Technology at the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (a local community access television). With an existing interest in Open Source I started a Drupal meetup in our office and four people attended. I’m sure they didn’t know it, but these four individuals changed the course of my life by introducing me to and helping to grow the Drupal Community. The meetups in NYC grew exponentially and we started regularly running DrupalCamp NYC that grew to over 300 recurring attendees. In 2007 I moved to Beijing, China leaving behind my NYC Drupal community and adopting a local China community and a worldwide community.
In January of 2008 I joined the board of Drupal VZW the young Belgian organization that Dries and others had started to foster the budding growth of the Drupal community. Here is a picture of me around the same time:
Now, in October of 2019, nearly 12 years later I attended my very last Drupal Association board meeting. It has been amazing to be a part of the transition of the Drupal Association and watch how it has grown to foster and support the Drupal community. I have taken so much more in learning and growth from the Drupal community than I have given to it in my 12 years of work with the Association - for that I am truly grateful.
In 12 years we have moved from an all volunteer organization to a full staffed Association, diversified our board with industry experts, and recently hired an incredible Executive Director. Our community has grown from a handful of developers to tens of thousands of active contributors and millions of users worldwide. Our conferences, camps, meetups, dev days, business events, mentoring, and more are robust, stable, and mature. Drupal competes with major closed source and proprietary software systems and is no longer that ignored “community and software for hobbyists”.
None of this happened by accident - it was an intentional strategic mission of hundreds of individuals that collaborated together over the past decade and a half. Through thick and thin, shouting matches, and battles general assembly members, board members, trusted advisers, business owners, entrepreneurs, sponsors, community members, developers, and more came together to help devise a governance and business structure to foster and support the Drupal community. On reflection I think we’ve done an amazing job considering what we were up against.
We are one of the few Open Source projects with our own 501c3 non-profit organization and supporting financial model and network to sustain our project and help us grow. In less than a decade we’ve grown to provide:
- 17 Full-time employees dedicated to supporting Drupal and collaborating with an army of volunteers around the world
- Contributions to other OSS organizations such as OSU-OSL (vs. an early donation recipient)
- Grants and Scholarships to support our community
- Global Training Days are coordinated
- Marketing and promotion initiatives such as Promote Drupal!
- We financially support our *.drupal.org infrastructure & w/ an engineering team
- Created a partnership with Gitlab
And most importantly we have an amazing platform and launching pad for the next decade of growth
My time on the association has come to an end, but this is just the beginning of the next phase of Drupal’s growth. Thank you to everyone for allowing me to be on this journey.
A few side by side pics of myself and Neil Drumm and Grace Francisco. DrupalCon San Francisco (2010) and DrupalCon Amsterdam (2019. Grace Francisco was the Drupal Association's first major corporate sponsor representing Microsoft, now she sits on the DA board representing MongoDB. Neil Drumm is, of course, the infamous drumm.
Now to thank a few specific individuals. I will forget people in this list and please, when I do, forgive me, in 12 yrs my body and mind have also aged. I’m an old man :)
Early Drupal VZW days
There were a LOT of us, but there were several that helped me along. A few names of thanks: Kieran Lal, Bert Boerland, Kristof Van Tomme, Robert Douglass, Angie Byron, Gerhard Killesreiter, Boris Mann, Greg Knaddison, Nedjo Rogers and the remaining large group of General Assembly Members.
It might not have been perfect, but it showed solidarity and a desire to build something to support the community.
Dries Buytaert: You’ve been through all of these twists and turns sitting in these meetings month after month for longer than I have. Thank you for your patience, guidance, and for listening to myself (and others) fight for what we were passionate about as we worked together to guide and steer the organization.
Adam Goodman: I don’t know how you’ve done it all these years, but thank you for sticking around and helping to strengthen the Drupal community. You helped us transition from a general assembly and given us loads of advice on how to build a strong and functional board. You helped guide me (and others) on the board, my time as Managing Director, and my time again on the board again. I have appreciated your insight and leadership.
Tiffany Farriss and Cary Gordon: In so many ways early on you helped me in the various positions I served in the organization. As Treasurer (both times), understanding DrupalCon, board structures, and more. My bookshelf also thanks you for the many book recommendations.
Megan, Neil K, Neil D, Lizz, and Annie:
As our first employees I appreciated having you help me through my own transition of moving from a board role to a leadership role. Thank you for your patience, time, talents, and expertise. We would not be where we are today without you.
Megan Sanicki: Thank you for stepping into what was really a giant experiment and working alongside me as we started building the Association with no roadmap to guide us. An extra huge amount of appreciation for sticking through our growing pains and bringing your expertise and talents to stabilize the Association.
Neil Kent: You laid a solid event foundation that we still use today and I’m appreciative of learning from your expertise.
Lizz Trudeau: Thank you for helping my frazzled self in those early days as we tried to figure this all out and sticking with the Association throughout the years.
Neil Drumm: From General Assembly to contract employee to full-time employee helping to guide the organization, the community, and dedicating your time and effort to building a great open source project.
All the early sponsors and those that believed in the Association when we were just getting started: Nancy Stango, Jeff Walpole, Vesa Palmu, Zach Rosen, Josh Koenig, Michael Meyers, and so many more.
I have left loads of names off this list - there are just so many great people in our community. Thank you all for providing me this opportunity to serve this community.
I'll see you all at DrupalCon.