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Ada Lovelace Day: Karen Sandler

by John Sullivan Contributions Published on Oct 07, 2011 04:46 PM
Today, October 7th, is Ada Lovelace Day.

Ada Lovelace Day is a day for sharing stories about women in science and technology who have influenced us. To me, these stories are an important way to simultaneously highlight both the underrepresentation of women in these fields and -- based on the achievements of women who are in these fields -- the potential we could realize if barriers to participation can be named and removed.

I'm sure I won't be the only one writing about her today, but I'd like to take this chance to thank Karen Sandler for all of the ways she has helped the free software cause, and the Free Software Foundation in particular.

My contact with her started with her employment in 2005 as a lawyer at the Software Freedom Law Center. Since then, she has advised us on innumerable issues, including being a key part of progressing the transition to GPLv3 within the GNU Project. She's always shown not only professionalism, skill, and commitment as a lawyer, but also a deep understanding of free software.

In fact, you might say she has a deeper understanding of free software than anyone, if you consider her groundbreaking work examining free software in implantable medical devices. You can't get much deeper than your own heart! If you haven't read her work on this, please do, starting with her paper "Software Defects in Cardiac Medical Devices are a Life-or-Death Issue".

I've also enjoyed her role in hosting the Free as in Freedom oggcast, an informative show she co-hosts with FSF board member Bradley Kuhn. The show stands out for its emphasis on free software ideals, and ability to communicate nuances of sometimes complicated legal and ethical questions.

Given all of this, I was very happy to hear in June that Karen would be the new executive director at the GNOME Foundation. I'm looking forward to working with her, and I know she will be a great leader and organizer for the GNOME community.

Thank you, Karen!

P.S. Don't forget to nominate your women honorees for the Free Software Awards!

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