Rather obviously I am Danielle White. I have been a system administrator since 1996, doing so in both university (public and private) and corporate environments. My administration positions included both OS level work and application tier. More recently my position is operations automation work, primarily with Python and Ansible, for management of hosted customers.
Through those positions I worked with a wide variety of other system administrators, ranging ones very new to the field through ones who, as my friend and fellow system administrator Dallas Wisehaupt once put it of our then senior system administrator colleague, “you can tell he was used to running machines with 8k words of RAM.”
Due to these experiences I have come to a greater understanding of the expanse of our field, ways in which it changes, and the varied backgrounds of the field’s practitioners. I have gained appreciation for areas where LOPSA has a potential for growth and to strengthen what we already do well.
From my experience with groups such as the RDU chapter of Girl Develop It I have become aware of an area of focus that is missed: a set of people who define themselves as developers but who are doing system administration work as a part of their job. The people participating in those groups are not part of ones, such as the local LUG, where LOPSA is far better known and, thus, they do not hear of us. An aspect related to this is conferences; LISA is critical and LOPSA-EAST has been important but many aren’t there. Instead they are at All Things Open, the various regional Dev Ops Days conferences, PyCon, and so forth. This focus serves to both strengthen our field and boost membership.
I was very happy to see LOPSA’s mentoring program when it was introduced and still strongly support it. I will work for an expansion to do more to train our members to be better mentors. I recognize that the need for many of these resources is beyond the scope of the mentorship program as such. This was the reason I developed a “mentoring the mentors” presentation that had been slated for an unfortunately canceled LOPSA-EAST conference. Many of us who approach mentoring do so without solid support. If we were fortunate we had good mentors and can build on their work, and if not we are left to find our own way.
I came to see this as a needed focus due to my own experience becoming the mentor in a situation of much position turnover followed by several years of considerable team growth, going from a team of six with half overseas to a team of nearly 50. My most difficult lessons were ones of soft skills and ares we typically consider more of a managerial nature. We must begin to better share these lessons with others so we can be the improvement.
Finally, all of this comes with recognition that there are important gendered aspects that we need to understand. In my area there is an obvious gendered divide that affects the effective reach of LOPSA, i.e. women who are doing systems administration work as part of their jobs are not going to the loal LUG where people know LOPSA. While recognizing that this is going to be a long road I am certain that we can make solid progress on this.
I can most easily be found on the IRC channels on FreeNode as ClothoMoirai. As a director I will welcome communication. Through my activism in recent years as a member of the LGBT community in North Carolina I came to value such communication, even with people with whom I may disagree.