Interview with Matcher and Conservancy Board member Allison Randal

by Karen Sandler on January 11, 2021

portrait of Allison Randal

Portrait of Allison Randal. Photo © Piers Cawley, licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

A generous group of individuals has banded together to increase the amount of our match donation. This post is part of a series of interviews where these extraordinary folks tell us about why they care about software freedom and why they support Conservancy.

Allison Randal has had a variety of roles in software freedom, including development, project leadership, strategy, and advocacy. She collaborates in the Debian project, and is currently taking a mid-career break to get a PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Q: How did you first get interested in software freedom?

A: I was working as a linguist in eastern Africa in the 90s, and using free software tools (especially Perl) for language data analysis. From there, I kind of fell backwards into taking a job as a Perl developer, teaching Perl at a local Linux user group, and then joining the Perl project first as a developer and programming language designer, and later as a board member and president of the foundation.

Q: Can you talk a little about why copyleft and copyleft enforcement matters?

A: Copyleft is an important tool in protecting and defending software freedom, and without enforcement that tool would weaken and dull over time.

Q: Do you have a favorite Conservancy member project?

A: It's impossible to pick just one favorite project. The one I use most frequently is git, unsurprisingly. :) I suspect a lot of people who use git every day don't even realize it is a Conservancy member project. Another is coreboot, since my development work in recent years has drifted more and more into open firmware and open hardware. Another is Outreachy, because its approach to diversity and inclusion has helped so many people find their start in software freedom.

Q: You have served on the boards of many important free software related organizations and have somewhat recently joined Conservancy's board. Why did you join Conservancy's board?

A: I've been a supporter of Conservancy for many years, and was always interested to do more. My past experiences as a board member have made that a role where my unique skills and volunteer time can serve Conservancy's mission and member projects.

Q: Why do you think people should contribute to Conservancy?

A:Doing a little good for the world is a great antidote for 2020, and contributing to Conservancy is one great little good you can do quickly and easily.

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