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Announcing the shutdown of the Ada Initiative

It is with mixed feelings that we announce that the Ada Initiative will be shutting down in approximately mid-October. We are proud of what we accomplished with the support of many thousands of volunteers, sponsors, and donors, and we expect all of our programs to continue on in some form without the Ada Initiative. Thank you for your incredible work and support!

What we accomplished

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

AdaCamp Portland attendees in 2014
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

When the Ada Initiative was founded in 2011, the environment for women in open technology and culture was extremely hostile. Conference anti-harassment policies were rare outside of certain areas in fandom, and viewed as extremist attempts to muzzle free speech. Pornography in slides was a regular feature at many conferences in these areas, as were physical and sexual assault. Most open tech/culture communities didn’t have an understanding of basic feminist concepts like consent, tone policing, and intersectional oppression.

Anti-harassment policy and code of conduct work

With the support of hundreds of volunteers, the Ada Initiative led the drive to make strong, specific, and enforced anti-harassment policies a standard and expected part of any moderately well-run conference. Today, thousands of conferences have these policies, including many in the area of free and open source software, fandom, Wikimedia projects, computer technology, library technology, science writing, entomology, and many other areas we never expected to influence. This work is now completely community-driven; people everywhere are developing and improving codes of conducts for online communities.

AdaCamp unconferences

We ran our first AdaCamp unconference in 2012 in Melbourne, and ran six more AdaCamps in the following years, in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Portland, Berlin, Bangalore, and Montreal. Over 500 women had an experience many of them described as “life-changing.” AdaCamp awakened their feminist identity, helped them improve their careers, and connected them with a community of support. Many women realized for the first time that what they were going through was not unique to themselves, that their negative experiences were the result of systemic sexism, and that they could make changes in their lives with the help of women they met through AdaCamp. We created the AdaCamp Toolkit so that other people could run events more like AdaCamp. Among many other things, it includes step-by-step guides on how to provide food that matches attendees’ food restrictions, create access lanes to increase accessibility, and provide childcare, all available under the Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike license.

Impostor Syndrome Training

Beginning at AdaCamp San Francisco in 2013, we taught a class for women in open tech/culture communities at every AdaCamp on overcoming Impostor Syndrome. Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you are a fraud and will be found out as unqualified, often for the work you are already performing. Many women in open tech/culture experience Impostor Syndrome, and are excited to learn how to counteract it. We will be teaching the Impostor Syndrome workshop as a standalone class in August in Oakland and Sydney. Before we shut down, we will release the materials to run the class under the Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike license.

The Ally Skills Workshop

The Ada Initiative created the Ally Skills Workshop in 2011, which teaches men how to use their societal advantages to do more of the emotional labor of pushing back against sexism and exclusionary behavior in their communities and workplaces. Research shows that when women speak up against sexism in the workplace, they often suffer retaliation, but when men speak up against sexism, they seldom suffer retaliation for it and sometimes even get rewarded. Cultural change happens more quickly when men, who are often in positions of greater power, are also actively working for change, especially in fields where women make up a small percentage of people involved. Women can then use the time and emotional energy they were spending on trying to make their community less sexist to work on their primary projects or main job duties.

In the past four years, the Ally Skills Workshop has been taught to over 2,000 people, and we formally trained over 40 people to teach the workshop. Already, at least five people are actively teaching the Ally Skills Workshops in several different open tech/culture communities and we hope more people will teach the workshop in the future. All the workshop materials, including the slides, presentation notes, workshop handouts, facilitator training guide, and video of a workshop, are available under the Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike license.

Why we decided to shut down the Ada Initiative

In late 2014, after nearly four years of leading the Ada Initiative, co-founder Valerie Aurora wanted to step down as Executive Director and focus solely on running training programs. Our Deputy Executive Director and co-founder Mary Gardiner did not want to succeed Valerie as the Executive Director, and thus the board, in November 2014, launched a search for a new ED. After a long and thorough search which attracted more than 130 applicants, the board hired a new ED. Unfortunately, that hire didn’t work out.

That brought us to a decision point. It would have been unreasonable to expect Valerie and Mary to continue with the Ada Initiative forever. We considered running a second ED search, but it had become clear to the board that the success of the Ada Initiative was very much a product of its two founders, and was a direct result of their experiences, skills, strengths and passions. We felt the likelihood of finding a new ED who could effectively fit into Valerie’s shoes was low. We also considered several other options for continuing the organization, including changing its programs, or becoming volunteer-only.

After much deliberation, the board decided to do an orderly shutdown of the Ada Initiative, in which the organization would open source all of our remaining knowledge and expertise in freely reusable and modifiable form. We don’t feel like non-profits need to exist forever. The Ada Initiative did a lot of great work, and we are happy about it.

What’s next

Ada Lovelace portrait

Ada Lovelace portrait by Colin Adams, CC Zero/publicdomain

The Ada Initiative will shut down in approximately mid-October after using our remaining funds to complete our current obligations and do the tasks necessary to shut down the organization properly. We have several Ally Skills Workshops booked or in the process of being booked during our remaining months of operation. (We will not be booking additional Ally Skills Workshops through the Ada Initiative, but we will refer clients to other people who are teaching the Ally Skills Workshop.) We will teach Impostor Syndrome training classes in Sydney and Oakland in August, and release the materials under the Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike license. We will do the work to keep the Ada Initiative’s web content online and available after the Ada Initiative shuts down. We will complete the many legally required tasks to shut down a U.S. non-profit properly. If we have any funds left after completing these tasks, we will donate them to an aligned non-profit.

We will cancel all recurring donations and stop accepting new donations as of today, and issue receipts for 2015 donations in September. Please do not pressure our donors or sponsors to contribute to the Ada Initiative. Pressuring them to give additional money is unethical and ungrateful to the many people and organizations who made the Ada Initiative’s work possible over the last four and a half years. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who supported us, and we ask you to treat them with the respect and consideration they deserve.

Continuing the work of the Ada Initiative

Everything that the Ada Initiative created with the help and support of our volunteers and donors is continuing on in some freely available, reusable, and modifiable form. The conference anti-harassment and community code of conduct work is fully in the hands of the community, with dozens of forks of various anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct in active use and development. The AdaCamp Toolkit makes all of the AdaCamp innovations available to anyone who wants to start a conference or improve an existing conference. Over 40 people are trained to lead the Ally Skills Workshop, materials for which are all available for free use and modification. The Impostor Syndrome training materials will soon be released under the Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike license for anyone to use or modify for free.

Future plans and next steps for Valerie and Mary

Valerie still loves teaching the Ally Skills Workshop, and plans to start a for-profit training business teaching it and any other trainings she may develop. Mary will be looking for a new position based in Sydney, Australia, working in a leadership role with the right organization. Mary, Valerie, the board of directors, and the advisory board will be sad to no longer be working together directly, but value the relationships we built during our time together. We will always be immensely proud of the success of the Ada Initiative and proud of the work we did together.

Mary and Valerie would welcome positive comments on the work of Ada Initiative and stories about how their work benefited you and your community. Please do not send advice or expressions of sadness for the end of the Ada Initiative.

Thank yous

Photograph of Mary and Valerie

Ada Initiative founders Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora

We want to thank everyone who made the Ada Initiative’s work possible. We could not possibly have accomplished what we did over the last four and a half years without incredible support from thousands of people. We thank:

  • Our current and former staff
  • Our many consultants
  • Our current and former board members
  • Our current and former advisors
  • Our fundraising volunteers
  • Our AdaCamp volunteers
  • Our anonymous $100,000 donor
  • Our Seed 100 donors
  • Our many individual donors
  • Our corporate sponsors
  • Everyone who advocated for anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct
  • Everyone who advocated for or attended Ally Skills Workshops
  • Everyone who attended AdaCamp
  • Everyone who helped our mission to support women in open technology and culture

Overall, the change in the environment for women in open technology and culture from 2011 to 2015 has been enormous. We’re proud of the crucial part that the Ada Initiative’s programs played in making this happen. Thousands of people – donors, supporters, workshop participants, AdaCampers – came together to improve the culture of open technology and culture communities, showing widespread support for continued change.

Continue to support women in open technology and culture

You can still take action to support women in open technology and culture! Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Sign up for or spread the word about the upcoming Impostor Syndrome workshops in Oakland or Sydney
  • Sign up for or spread the word about Ally Skills Workshops, eg at LinuxCon Chicago
  • Advocate for a code of conduct in your community
  • Advocate for an anti-harassment policy at your conference
  • Use the AdaCamp Toolkit to start new events or make existing events better
  • Support women and other oppressed people entering your community by impostor syndrome-proofing it: documenting your norms, providing mentoring for newcomers, and encouraging a supportive style of collaboration.
  • Suggest women or members of underrepresented groups to be speakers and panelists at events you attend
  • Support Outreachy with mentorship, sponsorship, or donation
  • Support Black Girls Code and similar organizations by donating or volunteering
  • Join or donate to feminist hackerspaces
  • Ask your employer to support the Recurse Center
  • Ask your employer to sponsor a feminist event for women in an open technology and culture field
  • Ask your employer to review their hiring process and their HR practices to support employees who are women or members of other underrepresented groups
  • Ask your employer to run unconscious bias training
  • Ask your employer to only sponsor events with anti-harassment policies
  • Ask events you attend to adopt inclusive practices such as access lanes, childcare and travel grants
  • Push the Overton Window by advocating for “extreme” positions supporting women in open technology and culture (remember: once, conference anti-harassment policies were extreme)
  • Start your own brand — start your own company or activist group making change for women in open technology and culture

Thank you everyone again for your hard work in support of women in open technology and culture. Together we can make a difference!

Supporting women in Linux: Ally Skills Workshops, consulting, and more

Last year, an anonymous Linux kernel developer gave the Ada Initiative $100,000 to support women in the Linux community – an operating system used by the majority of the servers on the Internet, all Android phones, and many network appliances. We pledged to teach four Ally Skills Workshops at Linux conferences and give 100 hours of free consulting to Linux-related organizations. This is an update on our progress!

Ally Skills Workshops

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their community or workplace, with an emphasis on techniques that work well in open technology and culture. We have taught two of the four workshops for Linux conferences: one at SCALE (SoCal Linux Expo) in Los Angeles and one at LinuxCon NA in Seattle. The final two workshops will be the first week of October, at Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus and at LinuxCon EU in Dublin. All are free to attendees of the host conferences – sign up now if you’d like to attend!

The workshop at SCALE had about 20 enthusiastic attendees. In our post-workshop survey, 100% of respondents agreed that after the workshop, they knew what actions to take in order to welcome women – as well as actions to avoid – and that they would recommend the workshop to others. One attendee, Matt Krai, told us, “I liked learning exactly how to respond to certain scenarios and hearing other peoples’ responses and ideas. I liked the ways that all participants were encouraged to participate.

The workshop at LinuxCon had about 15 attendees. In our post-workshop survey, 100% of respondents agreed that after the workshop, they were confident about speaking up to support women and could respond to unwelcoming actions to women in their communities. The attendees had some very positive things to say about their experiences.

Timothy Weber said, “I liked that there was a focus on practical, “sustainable” responses to inappropriate actions, that I’ll feel capable of employing. I also liked that just talking about these scenarios revealed how uncomfortable I personally am with conflict. And, it was good to discuss emotions with people at a tech conference – that’s rare and welcome.

Daniel Watkins said, “The opportunity to discuss how to act as an ally openly and honestly was incredibly valuable. The perspective from the women at the workshop was super-super-super-helpful, making me think differently about things from the very first scenario we covered. Val was amazing; an incredible facilitator and fount of wisdom and experience.[Editor’s note – we’re blushing!]

If all that sounded good, remember that you can sign up for the Ally Skills Workshops at Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus and at LinuxCon EU in Dublin. We also have capacity to teach two more Ally Skills Workshops at other locations before the Ada Initiative shuts down in October – contact us if you’d like to learn more!

Consulting

Linux-related organizations have contacted us for consulting, including advice on updating and enforcing their conference code of conduct and how to run various kinds of scholarship programs to increase diversity. We have plenty of hours left, so consider this your invitation to ask us for advice on increasing diversity in your Linux-related community!

Talks

Several people in discussion around a table

Allies workshop discussion

While at these events, we are taking the opportunity to speak about supporting women in Linux. Valerie Aurora also participated in the Women in Linux lunch at LinuxCon NA, giving an on-stage interview with Linux Foundation CMO Amanda McPherson about what people of all genders can do to support women in Linux. At Ohio LinuxFest, Valerie will be giving one of the conference keynotes, also in the form of an on-stage interview with audience questions.

Next steps

If you’d like to be part of supporting women in Linux, please sign up for the final two Ally Skills Workshops, at Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus and at LinuxCon EU in Dublin. If you hurry, you can schedule an Ally Skills Workshop at your organization before the end of October (Ally Skills Workshops will be available again in January from other sources). Sponsoring an Outreachy intern is also an effective way to increase overall diversity in Linux and free and open source software in general.

Thank you again to our anonymous $100,000 donor – and all of our donors, of any size – for making this work to support women in Linux possible! We look forward to Ohio LinuxFest and LinuxCon EU!

Free Ally Skills Workshop for attendees of LinuxCon EU in Dublin on Oct. 5

Would you like to be part of changing the culture of Linux to be more welcoming to women, newcomers, and marginalized people? You can help by attending the Ally Skills Workshop at LinuxCon EU in Dublin on October 5th from 10:15am to 1:15pm. The workshop is free to LinuxCon attendees thanks to an anonymous donation of $100,000 to the Ada Initiative from a Linux kernel developer.

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men how to support women in their workplaces and communities, by effectively speaking up when they see sexism, creating discussions that allow more voices to be heard, and learning how to prevent sexism and unwelcoming behavior in the first place. The changes that reduce sexism also make communities more welcoming, productive, and creative.

You can attend the workshop by applying on the form on the event page. Register for LinuxCon EU 2015 here.

The workshop is made possible by the generosity of an anonymous Linux kernel developer who donated $100,000 to the Ada Initiative last year in order to support women in Linux and greater diversity in open source software overall. This is the final workshop of the four workshops we will be teaching at Linux-related conferences in 2015 at no charge to the organizers.

Here are a few things people have said after attending other Ally Skills Workshops:

“We’ve run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many ‘a­ha’ moments. People who understood bias exists in a very logical way, were able to see, through the conversation with peers about the very relevant scenarios, and connect emotionally with the impact bias has on the colleagues they respect and interact with daily.” – Anonymous participant

“I’ve already witnessed a couple of incidents where coworkers who attended the workshop corrected themselves after saying something that could be misconstrued.” – Anonymous participant

“Change is uncomfortable. This workshop helped me be comfortable about being uncomfortable. Once that is addressed it opens a path for improvement, personally and for our industry.” – Kris Amundson

You can be part of change in the Linux kernel development community! Sign up for the Ally Skills Workshop at LinuxCon EU today!

Free Ally Skills Workshop for attendees of Ohio LinuxFest on Oct. 2

Would you like to be part of changing the culture of Linux to be more welcoming to women, newcomers, and marginalized people? You can help by attending the Ally Skills Workshop at Ohio LinuxFest on October 2nd from 1:30pm to 4:00pm. The workshop is free to Ohio LinuxFest attendees thanks to an anonymous donation of $100,000 to the Ada Initiative from a Linux kernel developer. In addition to leading the workshop, Valerie Aurora will also be one of the keynote speakers at Ohio LinuxFest, on October 3rd.

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men how to support women in their workplaces and communities, by effectively speaking up when they see sexism, creating discussions that allow more voices to be heard, and learning how to prevent sexism and unwelcoming behavior in the first place. The changes that reduce sexism also make communities more welcoming, productive, and creative.

You can attend the workshop by applying on the form on the event page. Register for Ohio LinuxFest here. The least expensive registration level is free if you register in advance, and $10 if you register on-site.

The workshop is made possible by the generosity of an anonymous Linux kernel developer who donated $100,000 to the Ada Initiative last year in order to support women in Linux and greater diversity in open source software overall. This is the third of four workshops we will be teaching at Linux-related conferences in 2015 at no charge to the organizers.

Here are a few things people have said after attending other Ally Skills Workshops:

“We’ve run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many ‘a­ha’ moments. People who understood bias exists in a very logical way, were able to see, through the conversation with peers about the very relevant scenarios, and connect emotionally with the impact bias has on the colleagues they respect and interact with daily.” – Anonymous participant

“I’ve already witnessed a couple of incidents where coworkers who attended the workshop corrected themselves after saying something that could be misconstrued.” – Anonymous participant

“Change is uncomfortable. This workshop helped me be comfortable about being uncomfortable. Once that is addressed it opens a path for improvement, personally and for our industry.” – Kris Amundson

You can be part of change in the Linux kernel development community! Sign up for the Ally Skills Workshop at Ohio LinuxFest today!

Free Ally Skills Workshop at ACM ICFP in Vancouver on August 30

If you are attending the ACM ICFP conference on programming languages in Vancouver, you can apply to attend a free Ally Skills Workshop at ICFP on August 30 from 1:30pm – 4:30pm!

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplaces and communities. Participants learn techniques that work at the office, in classrooms, at conferences, and online. The skills we teach are relevant everywhere, including skills particularly relevant to open technology and culture communities. At the end of the tutorial, participants will feel more confident in speaking up to support women, be more aware of the challenges facing women in their workplaces and communities, and have closer relationships with the other participants.

This tutorial will be tailored to the ICFP community and intended to be useful for those working in academia, in industry, and as open-source volunteers. You can learn more about the workshop here, and apply to attend here.

This workshop is free to attendees of ICFP thanks to the generosity of the conference organizers. This workshop could not have happened without the volunteer work and advocacy of Tim Chevalier, a long-time leader in the functional programming community and supporter of the Ada Initiative. Thank you all for your support and hope to see you at the workshop!

Remembering Nóirín Plunkett

Photograph of Nóirín Plunkett

Nóirín Plunkett
by Tom Coates CC BY-NC

Valerie and Mary are devastated to learn today that our long-time friend and collaborator Nóirín Plunkett has died.

Nóirín will be remembered as a leading open source contributor; brilliant and compassionate and welcoming and funny. They were a long time leader in the Apache Software Foundation community, and a gifted speaker and documentation writer. Nóirín was key to the creation of the Ada Initiative in more ways than one. Since then they made invaluable contributions to the Ada Initiative as an advisor since February 2011, and a project manager in 2014. We are more grateful than we can say.

Nóirín was also one of the strongest and bravest people we will ever have the privilege of knowing.

Our thoughts are with everyone who loved Nóirín, everyone who worked with them, everyone who went to their talks or learned from their writing, everyone who met them at a conference, everyone for whom they made the open source and technical communities a better place.

The Ada Initiative has suspended donations for the time being. Some people close to Nóirín have suggested donating to:

Rape Abuse Incest National Network (see this note on variation of trans-inclusiveness of organizations they refer people to)

Center of Excellence for Transgender Health (please follow the additional instructions underneath the “Donate” button)

Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

Add a little bit of AdaCamp to your event: announcing the AdaCamp toolkit!

A group of AdaCamp Bangalore attendees

AdaCamp Bangalore attendees in 2014

Today we’re releasing the AdaCamp Toolkit, a series of howto guides to many of the things that were special about AdaCamp, and that we’d love to see spread to other events. And the entire Toolkit is freely usable and modifiable under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike licence so that you can improve on it too!

We’re still sad that we won’t be hosting any more AdaCamp events but we’re hoping we can help you fill the gap by adding a little bit — or a lot — of AdaCamp to your event, and to see lots of new events that are everything that AdaCamp tried to be! One of the goals of AdaCamp was to be a conference that spread its best ideas far and wide. We want to see the greatest hits of AdaCamp at as many events as possible.

Here’s some AdaCamp Toolkit ideas for your next event:

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

AdaCamp Portland attendees in 2014
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Many more guides are included in the AdaCamp Toolkit, from sample website content to a guide to managing challenging topics at a feminist unconference. What special sauce can you mix from the AdaCamp Toolkit for your event?

The AdaCamp Toolkit was edited and primarily written by Deputy Executive Director Mary Gardiner, with assistance from other AdaCamp staff and consultants, including Alex Bayley, Suki McCoy, and Valerie Aurora. We’d also like to thank many members of the advisory board for their help with reviewing the Toolkit over the last two weeks. Especial thanks to Mel Chua, lead author of the guide to support for d/Deaf people. Thanks also to Selena Deckelmann, Alicia Gibb, Amelia Greenhall, Leigh Honeywell, Andrea Horbinski, Sarah Sharp, Sara Smollett, and Andromeda Yelton for reviews and feedback as we worked to make this public.

Free Ally Skills Workshop for attendees of LinuxCon Seattle August 17

Would you like to be part of changing the culture of Linux to be more welcoming to women, newcomers, and marginalized people? You can help by attending the Ally Skills Workshop at LinuxCon NA in Seattle on August 17 from 2:20pm to 5:20pm. The workshop is free to LinuxCon attendees thanks to an anonymous donation of $100,000 to the Ada Initiative from a Linux kernel developer.

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men how to support women in their workplaces and communities, by effectively speaking up when they see sexism, creating discussions that allow more voices to be heard, and learning how to prevent sexism and unwelcoming behavior in the first place. The changes that reduce sexism also make communities more welcoming, productive, and creative.

You can attend the workshop by applying on the form on the event page. Register for LinuxCon NA 2015 here.

The workshop is made possible by the generosity of an anonymous Linux kernel developer who donated $100,000 to the Ada Initiative last year in order to support women in Linux and greater diversity in open source software overall. This is the second of four workshops we will be teaching at Linux-related conferences in 2015 at no charge to the organizers.

Here are a few things people have said after attending other Ally Skills Workshops:

“We’ve run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many ‘a­ha’ moments. People who understood bias exists in a very logical way, were able to see, through the conversation with peers about the very relevant scenarios, and connect emotionally with the impact bias has on the colleagues they respect and interact with daily.” – Anonymous participant

“I’ve already witnessed a couple of incidents where coworkers who attended the workshop corrected themselves after saying something that could be misconstrued.” – Anonymous participant

“Change is uncomfortable. This workshop helped me be comfortable about being uncomfortable. Once that is addressed it opens a path for improvement, personally and for our industry.” – Kris Amundson

You can be part of change in the Linux kernel development community! Sign up for the Ally Skills Workshop at today!

Fight impostor syndrome: take the Ada Initiative’s impostor syndrome training in August in Oakland or Sydney!

Women can now take the Fighting Impostor Syndrome class without going to AdaCamp! In August, the Ada Initiative will teach two classes on fighting Impostor Syndrome, one in Oakland, California, USA, and one in Sydney, Australia. Half the tickets are free of charge, thanks to our generous donors in 2014.

Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t actually qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud. It is prevalent among women in open tech/culture, many of whom have been socialised to value other’s opinion of their work above their own, and to do things “by the book.” Impostor syndrome is a common reaction to doing publicly visible and publicly criticised work like that done in open technology and culture.

Our first Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop will be held at Impact Hub Oakland, Oakland, California, USA on Tuesday August 11 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. 100 tickets are available, including 50 free tickets: get your ticket to the Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop in Oakland at Eventbrite.

Our second Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop will be held at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, Sydney, Australia on Wednesday August 19 from 2pm to 3:30pm. 30 tickets are available, including 15 free tickets: get your ticket to the Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop in Sydney at Eventbrite.

In line with our mission of supporting women in open technology and culture, both our Oakland and Sydney workshops are open to anyone who identifies as a woman in a way that is significant to them.

We’d love to share this program far and wide, and so, after these workshops, the Ada Initiative will publish our Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop materials under Creative Commons BY-SA for you to teach in your own communities. Thank you again for your support!

Open sourcing our Executive Director job description

A lot of people really liked the job description the Ada Initiative wrote for our recent Executive Director search and have asked to see a copy. We release this job description under the Creative Commons Zero license. You may reuse or modify it without crediting the Ada Initiative (though we always appreciate a shout-out!).

THIS JOB IS NO LONGER OPEN. Please do not apply. Thank you!

Executive Director

The Ada Initiative is looking for an Executive Director (ED). The Ada Initiative works to increase the participation and status of women in open technology and culture through an explicitly intersectional feminist approach. We are a growing and financially healthy nonprofit with 3 staff members. The three most important responsibilities of the ED will be leading the organization, fundraising, and managing people. The current ED, Valerie Aurora, is excited to immediately transition to a clearly defined role as the Director of Training Programs, reporting to the new ED.

This is a fulfilling, exciting, and challenging job. Successful candidates will need to be not only organized, financially savvy, and responsible, but also flexible, creative, inspirational, supportive, and comfortable with uncertainty. The ability to handle conflict well is particularly important, as conflict is an inevitable part of successful activism. In addition, our new ED will need to lead the organization by example in self-care and burn-out prevention.

This is a salaried position with benefits (including health insurance and a sustainable vacation policy), preferably working at least 2 days a week at our office in San Francisco, CA, USA. Taking into account what EDs of similar organizations are paid, the competitive market for the skills required for this job, and the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, this position will pay from $120,000 to $160,000/year depending on experience. We believe that paying people market rates for their work, regardless of their gender or race, is a feminist act.

Job description

As Executive Director, you will lead the organization: setting priorities, deciding which programs to run and where, and periodically re-examining our scope and mission. You will also represent the Ada Initiative to the outside world: speaking to journalists, writing or approving blog posts and press releases, and communicating with donors and sponsors. You will need to travel and speak in public at least 3-4 times a year. Editorial writing, leading events, and teaching are not a required part of the job, but you will have the opportunity to do each of these things as your other responsibilities permit.

You will lead the Ada Initiative’s program activities: deciding where and when to hold AdaCamp conferences, overseeing our training programs, designing and approving new programs and events, working with partners, and setting priorities between programs. An important part of your job is persuading and influencing people to change their behavior by advocating for policies, creating coalitions, convincing organizations and people to use our training, giving advice on how to respond to reports of sexism, and similar activities.

The Executive Director is responsible for the financial health of the organization. You will lead the yearly fundraiser and raise corporate sponsorship for AdaCamp and other events. In collaboration with the Director of Operations and the board of directors, you will create yearly budgets and make high-level decisions about how to spend the organization’s money to best serve our mission: whether to hire staff, fund events, develop new programs, etc.

You will also manage the staff and consultants for the Ada Initiative. We currently have 3 staff members: Mary Gardiner (Deputy Executive Director, based in Sydney, Australia), Suki McCoy (Director of Operations, based in San Francisco, CA, USA), and Valerie Aurora (currently Executive Director, stepping down to Director of Training, based in San Francisco, CA, USA). We have about a dozen consultants, most of whom work remotely. You will work with the board of directors and the advisory board, which have 7 and ~25 members respectively, and continue to recruit new directors and advisors. You will probably need to grow the Ada Initiative staff to 5-6 people in 2015, and more in following years if necessary.

While this job is fulfilling and supportive in many ways, it also has some serious downsides. As the visible leader of a feminist activism organization, many people will feel entitled to your time and energy without compensation and you will need to tell them no frequently so that we can fulfill our mission. We will provide you with experienced support in handling harassment and threats, as you will almost certainly be the target of these. Sometimes partners, sponsors, donors, or community members will pressure the Ada Initiative to do things contrary to its mission and you will need to stand up to them. Listening to and responding to reports of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and criminal harassment are a frequent part of the job.

Preventing activist burn-out requires fostering a supportive and emotionally caring working environment. This is important to the Ada Initiative, and you will be expected to lead by example. You should be comfortable with actively offering (and taking!) stress leave when someone needs to care for themselves or their family or is the target of harassment; encouraging people to work only the hours they are being paid for; paying attention to and celebrating achievements; matching employees with responsibilities that are rewarding and fulfilling; and commiserating or problem-solving as each is needed.

We are open to candidates of a variety of backgrounds and experience levels, from highly experienced career executives to people with limited formal management experience but a great deal of experience with open tech/culture communities and/or feminist activism. We are uncompromising in our mission and values, and happy to train a high-potential but less experienced candidate who has the personal skills and vision to become a great ED (including hiring executive coaches or other professional support). The current ED, Valerie Aurora, is looking forward to immediately stepping down to a clearly defined position reporting to the new ED as Director of Training Programs, in charge of the Ally Skills Workshop and Impostor Syndrome Training programs. The new ED can call on Valerie’s support and expertise as much or as little as they desire.

About the Ada Initiative

The Ada Initiative is a feminist non-profit dedicated to increasing the participation and status of women in free and open technology and culture, including free and open source software, open data, open education, fan culture, and similar areas. We take an explicitly intersectional feminist approach and are a trans-inclusive organization. We were founded 4 years ago and have 3 salaried staff members, as well as about a dozen contractors. Our major programs include fighting conference and online harassment with example policies and support for implementing them, the AdaCamp unconference for women in open tech/culture, and training programs such as the Ally Skills Workshop, which teaches men simple everyday ways to support women, and Impostor Syndrome Training, which teaches women how to overcome the feeling that they are a fraud.

In terms of funding, staff, and program work, we have been growing at a rate of about 150% a year since our founding. We are financially stable, and have a healthy and active board of directors and advisory board. We have three primary sources of revenue: a yearly online fundraiser, corporate sponsorship of our AdaCamp unconferences, and training workshop fees. The majority of our income comes from small donations from individuals, which keeps us independent of any particular large sponsor.

We are serious about changing the world, but take every opportunity we can to be funny and humorous while we do it. Keeping our employees happy and fulfilled is a priority since it is part of our strategy to prevent activist burn-out, so we explicitly discuss each week how motivated or burned out we are feeling (and how to fix it). We grant stress leave liberally, we encourage flexible hours and part-time work, and we provide a childcare benefit for employees who are traveling (as well as other childcare benefits for U.S. employees). We believe that paying people market rates for their work, regardless of their gender or race, is a feminist act.

Responsibilities

Leadership:

  • Lead and inspire people to work towards our mission
  • Set direction and strategy for the organization as a whole
  • Build and maintain relationships with similar organizations
  • Work with journalists and the press to educate and raise awareness
  • Periodically examine and refine our mission and scope
  • Prevent “mission creep,” especially attempted co-option towards other goals
  • Grow our programs to meet demand, which will probably require hiring 2-5 additional staff within the next 1-2 years
  • Manage the composition of and the communications with the Board of Directors and Advisory Board, including recruiting new members
  • Attend a limited number of conferences per year (probably 3-6)

Management:

  • Manage 3 staff and about a dozen consultants (and more as we grow)
  • Oversee all program work (conferences, training, anti-harassment consulting, etc.)
  • Encourage self-care, healthy work environment, and other burn-out prevention for all staff
  • Make high-level budget decisions
  • Negotiate contracts with sponsors, clients, and consultants
  • Review existing programs and change or end them as necessary
  • Create new programs as appropriate

Fundraising:

  • Take overall responsibility for meeting Ada Initiative’s financial goals
  • Lead yearly individual online fundraising drive (2014 total: $215,000)
  • Raise corporate sponsorship for AdaCamp unconferences

Requirements

We encourage you to apply even if you don’t, in your opinion, meet 100% of these criteria. You may fulfill the requirements in unexpected or unusual ways that you may not realize. However, you must be eligible to work in the U.S. (we can’t sponsor visas at this time).

Leadership:

  • 2+ years participation in a community or field with highly participatory social and cultural dynamics: peer-to-peer organization, international participation, lots of online communication, shares work freely. This can include, but is not limited to: fan culture, Wikipedia and related projects, open data, open government, open geo, open hardware, hacker/maker spaces, and free and open source software.
  • History of effective advocacy for a cause (social, technical, artistic, etc.)
  • Strong interest in persuading people to change their behavior
  • Willingness to ask people and organizations for assistance (money, discounts, services, etc.)
  • Demonstrated understanding of principles of intersectional feminism, including trans-inclusiveness
  • Readiness to seek out and evaluate opinions from community and peers, without sacrificing mission or core values
  • High levels of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and self-examination skills
  • Desire to work with members of the press: give interviews, quotes, etc.
  • Willingness to admit when you and/or the organization are wrong and apologize sincerely (and publicly, if necessary)

Management:

  • Experience in interviewing, negotiating compensation, and leading a team (formally or informally, such as in volunteer community organization or conference organization)
  • Experience developing plans, setting targets and goals, and tracking performance against them
  • Experience developing budgets, monitoring spending, and containing costs in any context (work, home, volunteer activity, etc.)
  • Willingness to address performance issues and work with people to improve them
  • Comfortable with “bugging” people to get their status, finding out what is blocking them, and helping them get over roadblocks
  • Experience working with people remotely, especially in different time zones
  • Experience working across multiple cultures, researching differences and making adjustments as necessary
  • Ability to evaluate and make compromises necessary to living within a capitalist and patriarchal society
  • Experience fostering an environment of emotional support and encouragement
  • Good self-care habits that promote and support emotional resilience
  • Ability to set and enforce personal boundaries (e.g., saying “no” to requests from colleagues, family, friends, and strangers)
  • Comfortable with the use of laughter and appropriate humor with co-workers as a coping tactic for stressful situations and to prevent burn-out (e.g., sending funny cat pictures to each other)

Fundraising:

  • History of successful online fundraising at any scale (Indiegogo, Kickstarter, etc.), including asking people directly for money, setting goals, developing fundraising messages, and designing social media campaigns to support the goals
  • Willingness to say no to sponsors and donors (corporate, individual, government, etc.)
  • Ability to represent the organization well in written communication (with or without assistance)

Technical:

  • Experienced user of at least one form of social media (Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc.)
  • Excellent email management skills: uses filters, labels, flags, stars, or some other system to respond to important emails in a timely manner
  • Basic spreadsheet skills: can sort on columns, use simple formulas, and format cells (or learn this quickly)
  • Comfortable with at least one form of online chat (Gchat, IRC, FB Messenger, etc.)
  • “Power user” level of familiarity and comfort with technology: you may not know all the software we use, and you definitely don’t have to write code, but you feel confident you can learn a new piece of software using the documentation, Google, and a few questions to a friend or co-worker

Bonus qualifications

Experience in the following areas will be looked on favorably, but is not required. We are happy to work with you to learn skills in areas you would like to develop.

  • Practical experience with the effects of living with multiple intersecting oppressions, such as gender (including genderqueer or trans folks), disability, race, class, etc.
  • Managing people under California employment law
  • Working with or serving on non-profit boards
  • Growing an early-stage organization
  • Advanced social media skills
  • Long-form blogging about technical, social, or personal topics
  • Leading remote teams
  • Public or inspirational speaking
  • Writing in a variety of styles, especially a warm, funny, informal style
  • Editing or proofreading
  • Writing editorials
  • Teaching, particularly interactively in a classroom or group setting
  • Programming, writing scripts, advanced spreadsheet skills, or similar skills

Details

Hours: This is a salaried, full-time position (40 hours/week).

Salary range: $120,000 to $160,000 per year, depending on experience. This salary range takes into account what EDs of similar organizations are paid, the competitive market for the skills required for this job, and the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. We believe that paying people market rates for their work, regardless of their gender or race, is a feminist act.

Work rights: You must be eligible to work in the U.S. We are unable to sponsor visas at this time, sorry!

Location: You must be regularly available to work in person at our San Francisco offices, located 0.5 miles from the 24th St. and 16th St. BART stations, but we are open to flexible arrangements.  If you have accessibility needs that we can’t meet with our current offices, we will rent new office space that does meet them. We expect that you will need to work at least 2 days/week from the office in order to collaborate in-person with other Ada Initiative employees. The remainder of the time can be worked at home, in the office, or while traveling, as you prefer. Currently, the ED travels and/or speaks at events about 1-2 times a month. With a separate Director of Training Programs, required travel will probably drop to about 3-4 times a year.

Relocation: If you need to move for this job, we will pay reasonable relocation expenses, as negotiated.

Leave: We provide paid personal leave (20 days/year), company holidays (10 days/year), and sick leave (10 days/year). We also grant stress leave as necessary.

Family Leave: We aren’t required to give leave under the Family Medical Leave Act or California Family Rights Act, but we would like to provide similar leave for similar reasons because we think it is the right thing to do. We need to formalize this policy and the new ED would have strong influence on that decision-making process. Our current policies offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

Dependent Care Assistance Program: We have a Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP), which allows employees with children under age 13 to pay up to $5,000 in childcare expenses pre-tax.

Healthcare insurance: We pay 50% of the premium for high quality healthcare insurance for employees. Family members can also be covered but the employee pays the full cost of their premiums under our current policy. We hope to improve this coverage as our funding increases.

Our health insurance plan complies with California regulations on transgender health coverage (see http://translaw.wpengine.com/archives/4273 for details). The plan covers hormone replacement therapy, gender dysphoria psychotherapy, and medical monitoring related to hormone replacement therapy. Unfortunately, none of the plans that health insurance carriers will offer to an organization of our size will cover gender reassignment surgery without a lengthy approval process. We will support anyone who goes through this process, and we support trans health care law reform that would eliminate this barrier.

Other benefits: At this time, we don’t yet offer a retirement savings plan or additional insurance. We expect our employee benefits to grow as the organization grows.

Application

To apply, please contact [EMAIL ADDRESS] with a short introduction and your résumé (any format, linked or attached). A representative from the ED search committee, composed of members of our Board of Directors and Advisory Board, will reply within 2 weeks.

REMINDER: This job posting is for reference purposes only and is no longer open.