A Peek Under the Covers

It’s been two months since I was appointed to the GNOME Foundation Board of Directors to replace Behdad . (And those are some pretty big shoes to fill!)

With Foundation Board elections quickly approaching , we discussed at the last Board meeting this past Thursday sharing some of our experiences on the Board. We would like to encourage anyone with an interest in running for the Board to do so and I thought I’d share some of my experiences over the last 2 months and I believe other Board members will be sharing theirs as well.

Being the newest member of the Board, I have to say the experience has been eye opening and humbling. I do not consider myself a developer or progammer and I enjoy the other aspects of being involved with free software projects, including project management. I thought this would help prepare me for being on the Board, especially as the Board does not set technical direction for GNOME, but I am constantly amazed at the number of things the Board is involved in.

These things range from little things such as registering or transferring a domain to following up with a booth organizer on how a conference went to big things like GNOME’s finances, GUADEC planning or the hiring and payroll of GNOME’s employees and everything in-between.

There is a lot of work around GNOME’s finances. German, as Treasurer, has a huge task in helping managing and tracking GNOME’s income and expenses. Stormy and Rosanna also spend a significant amount of time in dealing with the administrative side of this in managing the bank accounts, wire transfers and more.

A lot of what we do is interacting with the various project teams. Things like getting an update from the Release Team on how the next release is coming or the challenges ahead or asking the Marketing team to help with fundraising ideas. And there is the follow-up – being a free software project powered by developers there can be a lot of follow-up in both just getting a response or update as well as progress on any given project or task. I don’t know how we’d do it without Brian’s (as Secretary) attention to detail in keeping the meeting minutes. (You are reading the meeting minutes after Brian sends them to the Foundation list every two weeks, aren’t you?)

There is also a focus on events. From planning GUADEC (did you know we’re aleady working on the Desktop Summit for 2011 to be co-hosted with KDE?) to hackfests we are constantly working on planning future events and following-up to see how past events went and what their accomplishments were.

We also work with external partners. Examples include companies or organizations who want to work together, journalists, government organizations or our Advisory Board partners. We meet with the Advisory Board monthly and have a two-way discussion on how we can work together better. This past Tuesday’s meeting Stormy and German gave an update on GNOME’s finances as we are half way through our fiscal year.

Doing a very, very rough estimate, I would say we average about 50 emails a week (just doing a quick count over the past few weeks). Some of it is conversation between Board members to make a decision, some of it just votes on a decision (+1, 0 or -1) and some it is discussions with projects or partners. Everyone on the Board has a voice and we have a good discussion and dialog as we build consensus. If you think about it, it’s only 5-10 emails per day – not as many as you think!

If you are good at communication, have knowlege about GNOME, are comfortable in taking on action items and following through, have some time you can donate each week, and most importantly, want to see the GNOME Foundation grow and succeed, you should consider running for the Board.

This blog post isn’t supposed to scare you off – if you’re choosing to run you should be aware of the administrative tasks and time involved but the work is deeply rewarding. Being a part of the Board has given me a broader vision to all the great things GNOME does around the world and I am thankful for the opportunity.

With that said, the elections process kicked off a week ago . I’ll be the first to put my hand up this election cycle and announce my candidacy. I’ve sent in my email to the Foundation-Announce and Elections lists and it should be moderated and appear soon. I would be honored and humbled to serve the GNOME community on the Board for the next year.

You should run too. Help make GNOME better. Yes, you.

Paul Cutler
Father. Husband. Vinyl Music Lover. Football fan. Python student. He / him.