Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

Passing the baton: Succession planning for FOSS leadership

VM Brasseur (@vmbrasseur)
11:50am12:30pm Thursday, May 11, 2017
Location: Meeting Room 10 A/B
Level: Non-technical
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 5 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Leaders of FOSS projects, foundations, and organizations

What you'll learn

  • Understand the very real trouble we may have if we don't start succession planning for free and open source leadership
  • Explore an actionable plan for how to move forward


While sharing of and collaborating on software has been around as long as there’s been code, the open source concept and movement only came into being in the late 1990s. There are many in our community who remember a time before open source, many of whom have helped shape the philosophy, laws, governance, and policies that are the foundation of the free and open source movement we enjoy today.

But what happens when these people decide to retire? Who will carry the baton and lead the movement?

Thankfully these people are still with us, helping to craft and lead FOSS, but there are very few younger individuals among their ranks. As we look at the next horizon for FOSS, we must consider who will take us there. VM Brasseur explains why we must take the time to do succession planning for free and open source leadership while we still have these founders in our midst.

Topics include:

  • Succession planning: What it is and why we need it
  • What new leaders must know and learn
  • Steps we can take to develop the FOSS leaders of the future
Photo of VM Brasseur

VM Brasseur


VM (aka Vicky) Brasseur spent most of her time in the tech industry leading software development departments and teams and providing technical management and leadership consulting for small and medium businesses. Now she leverages nearly 30 years of free and open source software experience and a strong business background to advise companies about free and open source software, technology, community, business, and the intersections between them. Vicky is the proud winner of the Perl White Camel Award (2014) and the O’Reilly Open Source Award (2016) and is the author of Forge Your Future with Open Source, the first book to detail how to contribute to free and open source software projects. (Think of it as the missing manual on open source contributions and community participation.) She’s the vice president of the Open Source Initiative, a moderator and author for, and a frequent and popular speaker at free and open source conferences and events. She frequently blogs about free and open source software, business, and technical management.