George DeMet

Description of the candidate: 

George DeMet is an open source community leader and advocate who has served in a variety of volunteer leadership roles in the Drupal community over the last 15 years. As a founding member and longtime chair of the Drupal Community Working Group, he is well-versed in code of conduct enforcement and conflict resolution. Since then, he has worked to develop connections between different open source communities and establish a shared set of best practices for community management and code of conduct enforcement. George is also the founder and CEO of, a Chicago-based digital consultancy that designs and develops solutions for healthcare, higher education, technology, and public sector clients using Drupal and other open source technologies. He has spoken at SXSW, OSCON, All Things Open, FOSS Backstage, and other events about the advantages of open source software. Outside of his work in open source, George serves as a trustee for a nonprofit Montessori school and is also on the board of a small nonprofit that distributes college scholarships in the rural Wisconsin community where he grew up. 

How the candidate will contribute to the board 

George brings his perspective from many years of leadership in one of the largest independent open source projects in the world. He understands the challenges of selling open source within large companies and organizations and is well-versed in negotiating contracts that enable contribution of code under OSI-approved licenses. As someone with extensive community management experience, he has a unique understanding of how to foster and support healthy open source communities. 

Why the candidate should be elected

 George’s background in open source community management and conflict resolution makes him an ideal choice to serve on the OSI board and support the organization in its mission of building bridges among different constituencies in the open source community. He will lend his perspective as both an open source advocate and a business leader to support the organization’s strategic initiatives. As someone who understands the responsibilities and obligations of serving on the board of a nonprofit organization, George will work to support and maintain the governance and accountability of the OSI board.

Type of seat: 


Here are answers to a few questions posed by Luis Villa on Twitter for this year's board candidates:

What should OSI do about the millions of people who collaborate to build software online (often calling that collaboration open source) but have no idea what OSI is or what it does?

For me, the important thing is not that people are aware of the existence of OSI as an organization, but that they understand what open source is (and is not). That’s why OSI’s role as an educational organization is so important.

In addition to the work that OSI already does, I believe there are additional opportunities for the organization to work more closely with its affiliates to collaborate on shared resources about open source and its benefits that can then be distributed through each of those affiliate organization’s existing channels.

The OSI-sponsored graduate courses offered by Brandeis University are a good step toward building an educational curriculum around open source, but I think there are additional opportunities here as well. As a parent of two young children interested in technology, I would love to see OSI work with its affiliates and sponsors to develop educational materials (lesson plans, activities, etc.) targeted at younger students in elementary and secondary schools.

What should OSI’s relationship to the Organization for Ethical Source and Free Software Foundation (and their relevant movements) be?

I understand and appreciate the work that OES is doing to provide ways for developers to have more influence over how their software is used, and I have great respect for the motivation behind that work. At the same time, I think it’s important to understand that their goals are distinct from those of OSI, and while there may be agreement on some basic principles, the two organizations serve fundamentally different needs and constituencies. My personal view is that open source is large enough for both to co-exist.

As someone with experience serving on several nonprofit boards, I was very disturbed by the actions of the FSF board last year, which I believe failed in its duty of care. Despite some positive steps since then, the organization’s governance still appears to be designed to support a single individual with a well-documented history of inappropriate behavior. This would be a problem for any organization, but it is especially profound for one that holds copyright on so much vitally important code. In order for the open source movement to be sustainable in the long run, we need to build and support structures that are not dependent on any single individual, no matter how influential they may be.

What additive skills/perspectives do you bring to the board?

As the co-owner of a small business that designs and develops solutions using open source software, I have over twenty years of experience helping educate companies and organizations not just on why they should adopt open source, but also how. This includes successfully introducing open source into large organizations that were previously hostile to it and negotiating open source-friendly contracts.

I also bring years of open source community management experience, having served on the conflict resolution and code of conduct enforcement committee for one of the world’s largest independent open source projects. In that role, I have worked to help our community and its leadership navigate some incredibly challenging and complex situations.

Finally, I also bring the perspective of someone who has board experience with nonprofit organizations that are both larger and smaller than OSI. I have a strong understanding of both the responsibilities and obligations of board leadership and governance.

OSI is in the process of shifting from a board-driven to a staff-driven org. How do you plan to support that transition in particular, and OSI’s staff more generally?

This is a very positive move that demonstrates OSI’s increasing organizational maturity. As a board member, my responsibility will be to support the Executive Director as they work to grow the organization and its staff. One way that the board can provide that support is by helping identify additional revenue streams for the organization.

Beyond that, I believe that the board should primarily operate at a strategic level, and not be involved in operational matters except as necessary and appropriate.

You have 24 hours in the day and are talented enough to do many different things. Why do you want to give some of those hours to OSI?

I’ve been involved in open source for over two decades, doing what I can where I can to help grow projects and communities in a sustainable and healthy way. In the last couple of years, I have started to work to help different projects strengthen their relationships with each other and share best practices around community management and code of conduct enforcement.

What I have learned through that experience is that when open source projects and communities are able to share the lessons they’ve learned and collaborate with each other, they can accomplish so much more than when they work on their own. Based on my observations and conversations with current and former board members, I believe that OSI is well-positioned to be the organization that drives that collaboration to make open source as a whole stronger and more sustainable.

To promote and protect open source software and communities...

For over 20 years the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has worked to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, and build bridges between open source communities of practice. As a global non-profit, the OSI champions software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

Open source software is made by many people and distributed under an OSD-compliant license which grants all the rights to use, study, change, and share the software in modified and unmodified form. Software freedom is essential to enabling community development of open source software.