Until January 15, the next $94,950 of support we receive will be matched!
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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.

Tags: supporter

Talking with More People about Free Software: Interview with Leslie Hawthorn

by Conservancy's Staff on January 13, 2020

We asked Leslie Hawthorn, one of the excellent humans who are supporting our annual fundraiser, why she’s putting up matching funds. We’ve already raised almost $94,000 and have just about $19,000 left to raise in the next few days in order to meet this year’s ambitious match challenge. Donations help us support and protect free software alternatives and grow a bold software freedom movement where everyone is welcome.

Photo portrait of Leslie

Leslie Hawthorn

Leslie’s official bio only scratches at the surface of all the reasons she’s had an impressive impact on free software. An internationally known developer relations strategist and community management expert, Leslie Hawthorn has spent the past decade creating, cultivating, and enabling open source communities. She’s best known for creating Google Code-In, the world’s first initiative to involve pre-university students in open source software development, launching Google’s #2 developer blog, and receiving an O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2010. Her career has provided her with the opportunity to develop, hone, and share open source business expertise spanning enterprise to NGOs, including senior roles at Red Hat, Google, the Open Source Initiative, and Elastic.


Q. How does software freedom fit in with the other causes you support?

A. I am a big believer in citizen sovereignty over their own data and personal privacy. Without software freedom, we would not have access to audit how code works and to verify how our data may be captured by various entities.

Q. What kinds of activities do you think will help us get more new people interested in free software?

A. I think we’re in an excellent place to get more folks excited about free software right now! After the various data abuses that have come to light through The Cambridge Analytica scandal, etc., I think that many more people are thinking deeply about their relationship with technology. Imagine if we could let everyone who has never thought about programming know that there are people who do program or work with software projects, who care deeply about their privacy and rights as individuals, and who are there to help them understand the interplay between technology and their everyday experience. One of my dearest friends is a teacher for middle school students who are recent immigrants to the United States; she recently gave me a ring to ask me about all this free software stuff I work on because it now made much more sense to her why these topics are important and what impact they have on her life—she doesn’t even use her computer daily. Exciting times!

Q. Do you talk to family and friends about free software? If so, where do you usually start?

A. Obviously, yes I do. I usually talk a little bit about what I do for work and how it relates to the experience of folks who use technology—that’s everyone!—and do not work in the tech industry. For example, I have asked my loved ones to contact me using Signal so we can have truly private conversations. Most people don’t want to hear a lot more, and that’s OK. If folks do want to learn more about free software, I talk to them about what interests them.

Q. What motivated you to step up as a matcher for Conservancy this year?

A. I deeply value the work done by Conservancy for free software projects, and their fine advocacy work for software freedom. As a big personal fan of the North Bay Python, Outreachy, and Teaching Open Source communities, I am grateful to Conservancy for their support of these initiatives. I am a proud matcher this year to help the Conservancy to assist these communities, and the other 40+ free software projects and communities who call Conservancy their fiscal agent home.


Participate in the match and have your donation doubled through the generosity of folks like Leslie today!

Tags: conservancy, supporter

Thank you to all our donors and Supporters - we did it!

by Karen Sandler on January 17, 2018

On behalf of Conservancy's staff and all of our member projects, I am excited to thank all of the people who contributed to this year's match challenge. Thanks to your generosity, we exceeded the amounts offered by Private Internet Access and an anonymous donor set for this year's annual fundraising drive.

What inspires me the most about this success is that we could not have done it without a high level of engagement from our volunteers. You not only donated your money to help sustain Conservancy, but you also took time to become a promotion machine for us. You blogged about it, you tweeted and tooted about it, you wrote about it on chat forums and you put up banners on websites. One volunteer even forwent payment on a small consulting gig and asked instead that the amount be donated to us.

Two years ago, we decided to become an individual supported charity to ensure independence from large corporate donors.Your support demonstrates that we can succeed and be vibrantly independent. We are humbled by your commitment to our mission and your trust in us and our work. We will use the money as best as we can to advance software freedom. We're so excited for the work we can all do together in 2018!

Tags: conservancy, supporter

Judy Gichoya, Doctor & Developer of LibreHealth, Asks You to Support Conservancy

by Bradley M. Kuhn on December 31, 2017

About a year ago, we announced the joining of a newly formed project, LibreHealth, as a Conservancy member project. This year, I had the opportunity to meet, at various conferences, Judy Gichoya, who is a medical doctor specializing in Radiology from Kenya, and is also a software developer on the LibreHealth project.

Judy represents so much about why we at Conservancy continue to fight for software freedom: we foster technology that everyone can examine, improve, and share, and allow people from different backgrounds — including geographically, professionally and culturally — to come together to make that technology better.

Invariably, every time I go to a doctor's office here in the USA, the staff complains (or makes an excuse) for the proprietary software they use to handle my medical data. My colleague, Karen Sandler, has researched and spoken extensively about the health dangers of proprietary software on medical devices. LibreHealth is one of many projects which seeks to solve some of these problems by creating more medical-related software that gives doctors and patients the software freedom they deserve.

Judy recorded this video to ask you to become a Supporter of Conservancy. On this last day of 2017, we all ask you to donate generously to help our work continue!

Tags: conservancy, supporter, LibreHealth

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