Volunteering and community involvement
In 2017 I was elected as one of the directors of the Association for Software Testing (AST) board. This is now my second year as a board member and this year I am also VP of Marketing. Though there are some tasks that are focused around the board my main involvement for AST has been focused on CAST which is our yearly conference.
Just before I was elected as a board member I had been asked to be the program chair for CAST 2018. As the program chair for CAST you are the one deciding the theme and putting the conference program together. I decided to take help from three persons to review the papers. The review was done blind meaning the name of the speakers were not visible in the first round of reviews. For the final selection the names were revealed as a further input for which papers/speakers made it. Having a blind review with different reviewers was great to get rid of my initial biases.
The theme I chose is something close to my heart. For a longer time I have felt and experienced that there are a lot of misconceptions around testing. The misconceptions around testing are widely spread both within the testing community but even more commonly outside of testing. A lot of time testing conferences ends up in some sort of preaching for the choir. That is why I chose the theme Bridging between Communities hoping to attract people outside of the usual testing community. As an example I was looking for paired sessions between a developer and a tester. I was also hoping to attract other people from outside of the testing community.
I didn’t reach exactly what I was hoping for but the conference was still a success. We did bridge between communities, mostly between different testing communities but also tapped into UX and dev. People seemed content and happy with the tutorials, the program and the location.
Seriously – a conference just by the sea with the possibility to watch a rocket launch from the beach in the middle of the night, wonderful competent and interesting people to chat to and network with and of course a great program. What could possibly go wrong?
In fact something did go wrong. Not with the conference but Jerry Weinberg who have deeply influenced many people in the testing community passed away during CAST 2018. I met Jerry at my very first CAST in 2009 where I attended one of his experiential workshops. After that I also had the opportunity to attend PSL with Jerry, Esther Derby and Johanna Rothman in 2013.
However being at CAST where his spirit and wisdom is passed on to others through workshops and talks like the one Louise Perold ran the same day we found out about Jerry was very emotional. Somehow I am still thankful it happened when I was at CAST, surrounded by so many people who all cherished and admired him. To be able to honor his memory together was a sad but also heart-warming experience.
Like being the program chair for CAST 2018 wasn’t enough I volunteered as Conference Chair for CAST 2019. The focus is quite different. The Conference Chair is responsible for tutorials and keynotes. This year’s Program Chair is Justin Rohrman the former President of The AST Board so he is in full charge for putting the conference track together. The work is in progress and it is about time that I roll up my sleeves and put some more focus on the conference which will be returning to beaches and rockets in the sunny Florida in August this year. Bringing a conference together is pretty much work and the team that bringing it together is quite small. August is so much closer than you think.
I am a mentor for this wonderful initiative Speaking Easy which focuses on new voices from the testing community and particularly on women and people of color. Unfortunately this year I have had very little time mentoring but I will focus on my current mentee to help her apply for a conference in 2019.
My takeaways from this episode:
Though I do this as a volunteer like the rest of the people involved in AST I have a constant feeling of not having enough time to do all the things I would like to do for AST and its members. I noticed that being involved in organizing the conference takes a lot more time than I expected and it takes time away from other commitments as a board member.
On the positive side I have had the opportunity to get to travel a bit as a board member. But it is always about finding the right balance between work that gives you food on the table, volunteering and time with the family. To help that balance I brought the family along on one trip when the board gathered in Florida (at my own expense of course). It was nice having them along and then being able to spend some vacation together after the board meeting.
For 2019 I need to find an even better balance.
Stay tuned for next post.