[OSGeo-Discuss] candidate manifesto - Jeff McKenna

Jeff McKenna jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com
Thu Oct 12 12:01:48 PDT 2017

Jeff McKenna

About me

Hey friends and family!  To say it is an honour to be nominated to again 
help represent the whole OSGeo community, is kind of an understatement 
for me.  I’ve been working hard within the community for so long, lately 
helping with the little things for the foundation, that when Nick and 
others reached out to me asking for me to help the organization at the 
leadership level for 2017, there was only one answer for me, yes!  :) 
Thank you to all that have reached out to me in support recently, so 
many from all over the world, your support means so much to me.
I think who I am has a lot to do with my parents, and I give them credit 
for giving me the opportunity to grow and then shine.  I am a product of 
a working-class family; my father was born and raised on a farm, and as 
I am the first-born, he taught me to get to know what hard work is.  My 
mother was the lead nurse in the Emergency hospital ward for 46 years, 
and she taught me true compassion for people, for everyone, no matter 
who they are – this ‘caring’ of people really stuck in me from my mother.
I would go on in life to become many things, which I was for many years 
so embarrassed by, but later I would become proud of them: 1) many years 
in university as a Civil Engineer (too young, from age 17, just wrong 
timing), 2) registered nurse (you have to step into someone’s shoes 
sometimes to really understand them), 3) initial attack forest fire 
fighting (making it to the elite 4-person heli-tack team in Canada was a 
proud moment, and again taught me hard work ethic and to help people and 
the environment, literally at the sound of an alarm bell and having to 
run to a helicopter within 3 minutes, to help some remote area anywhere 
in Canada, with no questions asked – got to experience remote areas of 
Northern Canada where few people get to see, and meet & become friends 
with so many good people, that are unfortunately underrepresented – this 
taught me to help stand up for those underrepresented, and help them 
shine),  4) hard manual labour directly on an automotive line making 
Honda Civics (during my summers as a student), really gave me early 
interactions with a successful Asian company, in a production line the 
size of 3 football fields long, teaching me the importance of quality 
assurance, & teamwork, and how important even the smallest of tasks is, 
for the end product, 5) professional ice hockey (playing in the United 
States, where I learned to respect the effort required to be a 
professional athlete, and that even playing a ‘game’ takes a lot of 
non-glorious tasks all year long), someone recently reminded me that I 
was a team captain at every level I played (college, university, etc.) 
and 6) finally back to my love of the world, and innovation, to find my 
calling in a new program (at the time the first ever 4 year degree 
program in North America in GIS), then called “Geographic Information 
Processing”, for my thesis I focused on “freeware” and Open Source. 
Somehow the Open Source community was an absolute natural fit me for, 
where teamwork, caring, doing the little things, hard work, and getting 
to know friends from all over the world, became my true calling.  With 
OSGeo and the community, I had found my true home.
I hope this helps people understand me, why I care, about people and 
communities from all over the world, why I literally hop on a plane with 
little notice to go help an OSGeo community grow, and share the OSGeo 

My vision

My vision has always been to help all communities, to give the quiet new 
person sitting at the back of the huge room the spotlight in OSGeo, to 
help that community grow, and then shine.  I have also tried to make 
OSGeo feel like a family, where the family stretches all over the world. 
  I have tried to make local leaders more visible, promoting their local 
events to the world stage.  Really my vision for OSGeo is, and has 
always been, to share, to laugh, to make friends, and to have fun.

What you have done within the community in the past

Much of my focus is around FOSS4G, in the past and currently.  I have 
tried to bring the event, as any size big or small, to all areas of the 
world.  Early on I created a process and a document (still used today in 
some form) to help make sure that FOSS4G moves around the world, to all 
parts, with the goal of planting a seed in the local community.  More 
recently I focus on smaller FOSS4G events, just doing the little things 
to help those communities grow, for events such as FOSS4G-Asia in 2018 
in Sri Lanka, or discussions of new events such as FOSS4G-MENA (Middle 
East and North Africa), or FOSS4G-Kuwait (initial discussions happening 
now).  At FOSS4G-Boston there was talk of another FOSS4G-Australia, in 
2018, and I am excited to throw my hat in for that too.  At the recent 
FOSS4G-Paris I happily committed to help the FOSS4G local event in 
Ireland as well, in 2018.

Speaking of FOSS4G-Paris, it was there and also at FOSS4G-Boston where I 
met face-to-face with LocationTech leaders Marc Vloemans and Thea 
Aldrich; great discussions, and I would do anything to do that again 
with them.  Maybe Marc is more known in OSGeo circles, but Thea is also 
a true leader, and I hope everyone reading gets a chance to meet Thea 
and talk with her and experience her passion for Open.  Thea: you could 
be getting a keynote invite from me, for a future FOSS4G event ;)

For a very long time now I have focused on local chapters, helping 
create a new chapter, maybe just little things like helping setup a new 
mailing list, copy/pasting a new chapter page, and giving them the tools 
and passion they need to shine.  I also, and many can attest to this I 
bet, follow and comment on most local chapter mailing lists, even if 
discussions are happening in other languages.  For 10 years now I have 
been using translating tools (Bablefish, GoogleTranslate, whatever) to 
follow discussions and comment, which helps local communities feel part 
of the whole foundation.  It’s just what I do, every single day, for OSGeo.

More recently in the past few years I have helped as a co-CRO for 
elections.  Again, just doing the little things that are needed in this 
community, and helping new members shine.  The joy and honour I see from 
new Charter members, when they learn of nominations, is so special to 
me, and really it’s why I do this – to give them that joy, and make them 
feel special and part of OSGeo, part of something special.

Even more recent I have tried to help with Google Summer of Code, and 
now the Google Code-in.  I just really think that these are the future 
leaders of our industry, and if I can do a few things to help them 
experience OSGeo, that is a good thing.  This experience has helped me 
too, as I’ve watched OSGeo leaders and do-ers Madi and Helli in action, 
up close, and I’ve actually learned a lot from both of them.

I should probably mention the MapServer project, where I try to help too 
– funny, a few weeks ago someone said to me in person at an event “I saw 
you do a release, the night before you flew in for your talk”, I said 
“yes of course, this is what I do” with a smile ha.  For the OSGeo 

What your interests are in terms of the board

During my past years on the Board I focused on helping new initiatives 
grow, often by documenting MoU’s (wiki editing, nothing glorious), 
documenting new OSGeo projects (again nothing glorious, just wiki edits 
and website edits), and in general working with these new teams and 
welcoming them into OSGeo.  I am proud to be part of important meetings 
with other community leaders in the early stages of GeoForAll, for the 
critical initial meetings for the OSGeo-UN relationship, and countless 
others.  I take those meetings very seriously, and did everything I can 
to make sure I was there in person.  I know the importance of these 
meetings and MoUs, even if they seem more for visual than for outcomes, 
at the time – the outcomes come years later, making those initial 
meetings very important.   In my next Board term, I would again like to 
focus on those relationships.

Any things that you would like to change or introduce

I would like to introduce leveraging our ~390 Charter members more often 
at the Board level.  This means: I actually want to install LimeSurvey 
(the Open survey software we use for elections) on an OSGeo server, 
create voting.osgeo.org domain, and then regularly ask the Charter 
members for input on foundation decisions.  We haven’t really leveraged 
the strength of our Charter members, other than for elections.  I feel 
that our Charter members should have more say in the decisions of our 
As I already mentioned above, we really need to focus on sharing OSGeo 
to new focus areas, such as the Middle East, and have more 
representation from areas all over including South America, Russia, etc. 
  I would like to see Board members in the next few years from those 
areas that I mentioned, playing a big part in the future of OSGeo.

What role you would wish to fulfill on the board (if any)

I would like to help with the leadership of OSGeo, in any capacity. 
Many years ago I mentioned what I called an “Executive Board” for OSGeo 
(a president, and a VP) so that the executive board can all help with 
important high-level tasks – I think it is superb that the recent OSGeo 
Board has setup this, with 2 VPs.  This will really help spread tasks 
around at the highest level. (to be honest, I only mentioned “Executive 
Board” for OSGeo because many years ago I was a VP of a local non-profit 
organization with what they called an “Executive Board”, and that’s why 
I knew it worked)    I look forward to working in the OSGeo Board with 
that structure in place, it really helps.  Thanks current OSGeo Board!

Why OSGeo?

I’m adding this question, because I think it is an important question to 
ask, whether you are new to OSGeo, a founding Charter member, new to the 
Board, or possibly entering another term at the Board level.  To me 
OSGeo is a foundation that is truly Open.  We share, our software, our 
passion, our code, our fun, our laughter, our struggles, our challenges, 
and we grow into one big strong family.  Our community is special, we 
are vibrant, we hold events that are fun, where people are approachable, 
where learning and sharing is most important, where no judging or 
criticisms exist, where people can be themselves, as themselves, and be 
part of the OSGeo community, just like that, for life.   I am proud to 
be a part of this community, and proud to dedicate time to the OSGeo 
foundation.  Thank you for reading, and, I hope to see you in person 
soon, at an OSGeo event big or small, where I can share my big laugh and 
big smile with you.

Fate: on the exact day that this voting decision is announced, I’ll be 
right where I am supposed to be: with OSGeo friends and family, 
keynoting a core FOSS4G event, FOSS4G- State of the Map-Argentina.

Please take the time to read and learn to know each 2017 Board nominee. 
Your vote as a Charter member is important and valued.

Jeff McKenna
President Emeritus, OSGeo Foundation

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