A week ago I stepped up and nominated myself for the Drupal Association (DA) At-large Board position. This wasn't a decision I made lightly, and I'm very excited to see so many other people have nominated themselves as well. There are 24 people up for the vote, which bodes well for a strong community. I think a lot of people in the Drupal community don't actually understand the board and this election process. It's an easy thing to ignore if you just want to move your patches forward, keep working on planning your local event, or focusing on all of the other community and personal tasks that consume us. I want to take a moment to explain both why I think it is important, and how it works.
The Drupal Association (then, technically Drupal VZW in Belgium) was created in 2006. It's been through a lot of changes over the years to bring it to the organization it is today. I was a Permanent Member of the DA in the early days and, I'll be honest, we were a bunch of well-intentioned people with very little idea of what we were doing. Running the DA is a big job, given that its mission is to support the huge Drupal community, which has only grown exponentially over the years. The DA today has a volunteer Board of Directors which focuses on strategy and oversight of the DA's work. The DA also has paid staff, who work with community volunteers, to actually implement the solutions for the community's needs. The two most prominent needs that most people are familiar with are maintaining the Drupal.org family of sites, and managing our DrupalCons. The DA is also the organization that let's the community accept money, and then put it where it's needed. This manifests itself in such projects as the Drupal Community Cultivation Grants and the Drupal 8 Accelerate program. As you can see they are doing vital work that keeps our community moving forward, giving people the time, energy, and money to focus on the things they love and want to do.
Board of Directors
The Drupal Association is a non-profit organization. The Board of Directors (Wikipedia definition) is a group of appointed and elected members who oversee the work that the DA is doing. This quote sums up the main tasks of a board:
"The board of directors is the governing body of a nonprofit organization. The responsibilities of the board include discussing and voting on the highest priority issues, setting organizational policies, and hiring and evaluating key staff. Board members are not required to know everything about nonprofit management, but they are expected to act prudently and in the best interests of the organization. They approve operating budgets, establish long-term plans, and carry out fundraising activities."
- Foundation Center
You can get a sense of what this means in a little more detail by looking at the list of Board Committees that they have. These are the main areas of oversight for the board, and consist of board members, DA staff, and community volunteers. Basically, the board needs to make sure the money is being managed properly, and to tackle the hard questions about running a non-profit and supporting a huge, diverse community.
The DA Board is comprised of 10 seats that are appointed directly by the board itself, and 2 at-large seats, which are open to anyone in the Drupal community, and are elected by the community. The board appoints most of the positions to ensure that they have a good breadth of experience and knowledge that is specific to the tasks of the board. The 2 at-large positions are to make sure that the larger community has a direct voice in who is part of making these decisions for them. That brings us to the current election.
At-large Board Elections
Over the last two weeks people from around the community have been nominating themselves. (That's a requirement. You can't nominate other people.) These are people who are volunteering for a two-year term to take on the tasks of the board. Every single one of them is stepping up to a huge task. Nominations closed yesterday, so we now have our final list of 24 people from 14 countries. (Which is fricking awesome!)
Over the next two weeks everyone—meaning you—should get familiar with the nominees so you can form an opinion about how you want to vote. We have three 2-hour "Meet the Candidates" sessions coming up next week, on Tuesday/Wednesday (Tuesday 17:00 CET - find your time), Wednesday/Thursday (Thursday 2:00 CET - find your time), and Thursday/Friday (Thursday 21:30 CET - find your time). At these on-line sessions each person will have 5 minutes to introduce themselves and why they are running. You'll be able to ask us questions directly and get realtime answers. I'll be attending the Tuesday and Thursday sessions. (I love the community dearly, but I also love to be asleep at 2am.) You can also feel free to leave questions in the comments for an individual's candidate page. We'll be monitoring these pages over the next few weeks to answer questions that come in.
The voting begins on March 9th and goes through March 20th. There are some basic restrictions on who can vote: "Voting is open to all individuals who have a Drupal.org account by the time nominations open and who have logged in at least once in the past year." Nominations opened on February 9th, so you need a Drupal.org account opened prior to that. I'll talk more about the voting process in another blog post as we get closer to election time. It's pretty smart stuff.
Vote for Me!
I have to say that saying "vote for me" and writing up my nomination is a little uncomfortable. It feels too much like boasting and trying to say I'm better than everyone else. I really respect the other candidates, and I can't really say "I'm better than them." All I can honestly say is that I'm different from them, as they are each different from me. We all bring passion and a desire to serve the community in different ways. That said, I do feel like my experience matches well with the needs for a board member, and I'd be super stoked to be able to work on some tough issues at the board level. Either way, I'm not going to stop my community work, whether I'm on the board or not. My biggest hope from this election is to see the community participate. Take 30 minutes of your community time to learn what is happening, and take the time to vote. Engage in your, and our community's, future. That is the greatest reward I can ask for.