How did you get interested in community leadership?
I got wrapped in the old-fashioned way, through my neighborhood. After college, I became very active in my local community through several neighborhood projects. I helped co-found our community watch, and eventually lead my local citizen advisory group for two years. (Citizen advisory councils are liaison groups between citizens and city government–there are 19 in the City of Raleigh where I live.)
During that time, I took over as community manager for Opensource.com at Red Hat. I was able to bring what I learned from my neighborhood community leadership and blend my passion for open source to start our community building efforts that have blossomed into a thriving community. This work lead to my involvement with Code for America, where I am a brigade captain for Code for Raleigh and I help lead a group of volunteer civic hackers.
What about community leadership inspires or excites you the most?
The thing that excites me the most is that my team and I can help enable people to do great things. For Opensource.com, that might be helping to share someone’s story and supporting someone through our editorial process. In my Code for Raleigh leadership role, it might be organizing an event or meet-up. While I don’t code, I can help our group build a strong community of civic hackers through storytelling and other efforts.
How did you learn what you know now about community leadership?
Most of my learning has been hands-on. I have participated in several programs that helped to build up my leadership skills. First, I’ve benefited from excellent training opportunities at Red Hat including Crucial Conversations, DiSC profiling, and an internal course, How to lead the Red Hat Way.
Through the City of Raleigh, I participated in Raleigh Neighborhood College–an introduction to different city departments, staff, and programs. Then I participated in the Citizen Leadership Academy–a program to help build the skill sets for neighborhood leaders.
Of course, the Community Leadership Summit has been a tremendous help to meet other community leaders and organizers as well as share some of what I’ve learned over the years.
What is your current community leadership role?
My current role builds on the community management work I’ve been doing for the last several years on Opensource.com and refocuses it to build out a new community around the ideas and principles in the book, The Open Organization. This new role for me aims to find practitioners and community leaders leading in an open fashion and build a community and share their stories on Opensource.com. Beyond that, I’d like to empower people to create change in their organization to be more open.
What do you do in that role?
Currently, my team and I are publishing 2-3 articles a week on topics related to The Open Organization and the themes in the book. We are looking to role out an ambassador program, conduct an online book club, and write the “next chapter” in the book. Outside of those major tenets, social media plays a large role in our community building efforts.
Which elements of community leadership are you most interested in?
I am interested in organizational elements, social media, and event strategies and best practices. And if anyone has built community around the concepts of the book, that would be a home run.
What books, websites, and resources do you recommend for others to learn more about building communities?
- The Engaged Leader by Charlene Li
- Coding Freedom by E. Gabriella Coleman
- The Open Organization by Jim Whitehurst
- The Art of Community by Jono Bacon
Shameless plug - I wrote a book about our open government and open data community building effort here in Raleigh, NC: The Foundation for an Open Source City by Jason Hibbets
What recommendations would you give for new community leaders?
- Listen better.
- Don’t just attend CLS, immerse yourself in the event. Meet new people and gather new ideas.
- Share your knowledge back with the CLS community during the event and on the forum.
Which areas are you most interested in learning more about?
I’m always looking to learn new things, rekindle connections, and meet new community leaders.