Drupal Association blog: #DrupalThanks from me to you

Drupal CMS

On February 16th I officially resigned my position as chair and member of the Drupal Association board of directors. The Drupal project and Drupal community are very dear to me and I have been so honored to serve on the board these last 4+ years and as the chair over the last 16 months. I want to share a little bit about why I’m stepping down, share why I am still really excited about Drupal’s future and share some of my own #DrupalThanks. In conjunction with this post, you will see posts from Baddý Sonja Breidert and Dries Buytaert with more details on what is coming up next. 

Like everyone else, the pandemic has been a huge challenge for me. I’ve been lucky to be busy with consulting and project work throughout, but have struggled to maintain any kind of work-life balance for almost two years. While spending time with my family at the end of last year, many of whom I had not seen in more than two years, I reflected a bit on how I spend my time and resolved to scale back. Over the last few months I’ve started to look at how much paid work I take on and how I spend my volunteer time–which includes my board work for Drupal–to ensure time for my family and make sure I am able to give my best in everything I’m doing. 

I originally planned to be in the chair role for two years to October 2022 and had great ambition for the Drupal Association and what we could do to support the near- and long-term success of the Drupal project and health of the Drupal community. As I was discussing the possibility of stepping down early, we received news that our dynamite Executive Director Heather Rocker had been approached with an amazing opportunity and would be leaving the DA (completely unrelated to me leaving). In discussion with the executive committee, we agreed the smartest approach would be to move forward with getting a new chair in place sooner rather than later. The new executive committee of Baddy, Tiffany, Owen, and Dries are now in a strong position to manage the transition, support our acting ED Angie Sabin, and lead the search for a new Executive Director. 

While I’m sad to step away from my term earlier than planned, I am excited about Drupal’s future and confident in the DA’s ability to help drive it for three reasons: (1) The Drupal Association has weathered the pandemic* which was almost unimaginable in March 2020 (#DrupalThanks to so many of you and the brilliant, hard-working DA staff), (2) we have a solid strategy for the DA to support the project, and (3) we have a talented and dedicated board and staff in place to keep that work going. Our strategy is to drive Drupal innovation with three pillars: contribution enablement, advocacy for Drupal, and ensuring diverse revenue streams. The beginnings of that multi-year strategy emerged in March 2020 and I’m extremely proud that we’ve managed to refine it and the staff has made so much progress while also dealing with the existential threat of the pandemic since then. Initiatives like Gitlab to make contribution easier, the launch of Try Drupal to grow and develop the talent pipeline for Drupal agencies and end-user organizations, and the recognition of top agencies with Drupal Certified Partners are just a few of the dozens of initiatives delivering on the strategy. 

In addition to driving the strategy, my other goals had been to ensure our board was engaged–putting to work diverse opinion and experience from both agencies and end-user organizations, as well as expertise outwith Drupal–and that we were accessible at touchpoints throughout the year, not just at DrupalCon. While both of those goals were more challenging while we’ve been unable to meet in person, I’m thrilled we’ve been able to make some progress with board and staff Q&A sessions at DrupalCon Global, DrupalJam, DrupalCon Europe, DrupalCon North America, and most recently DrupalCamp Florida (if you put on a Drupal event, think about adding a DA Q&A session to your program!). I had so much fun at the ones I attended and am so happy to know more of them will be in person starting with DrupalCon Portland. I know this will continue to be a priority for the board going forward.

Finally, all that is left to say are my thank yous. A huge #DrupalThanks to Heather Rocker, Angie Sabin, Tim Lehnen and Ashlee Noland. It’s been fantastic to partner with you as a board member and chair and I’m incredibly humbled by the determination and dedication you’ve all brought to the most challenging circumstances. I will continue to be cheering the Drupal Association staff on from the sidelines. A small but mighty team, indeed.

It’s been an absolute privilege working with my fellow board members over the last four plus years. I thank you for your time, thoughtfulness, and willingness to discuss and debate the hard things. I’ve learned so much working with you all and hope in turn my contributions have enriched your experience as well. Special shout outs to the executive committee who I have been so lucky to work with: Baddy, your warmth, enthusiasm and perseverance is a force of nature; I am in awe. Ryan, you have an amazing ability to build bridges and untangle thorny subjects. Last but not least Dries, your leadership, thoughtfulness and grace under pressure are such an inspiration. Thank you for the opportunity to serve. I know the incoming executive committee led by Baddy and including the super brains and institutional knowledge Tiffany and Owen bring will supercharge the work of the board.   

Drupal is too special for me to say goodbye forever, so I will just end with thank you and farewell until the next time our paths cross.

— Audra Martin Merrick (audra)

* I say “weathered the pandemic” as if it’s over, though I know for many that it is not and we will all be feeling the effects for years to come.