Presented by

  • Dawn Foster

    Dawn Foster

    Dr. Dawn Foster works as the Director of Data Science for the CHAOSS project where she is also a board member and maintainer. She is co-chair of CNCF TAG Contributor Strategy and an OpenUK board member. She has 20+ years of experience at companies like VMware and Intel with expertise in community building, strategy, open source, governance, metrics, and more. She has spoken at over 100 industry events and has a PhD, MBA, and BS in computer science. In her spare time she enjoys reading science fiction, running, and traveling.


Maintaining an open source project is hard work that often extends out over several years, and maintainer burnout is common within open source projects. It can be hard for already overworked maintainers to balance the day to day work required to keep the project running while investing in activities to increase future sustainability. The good news is that we have best practices, resources, and templates available to make it easier for maintainers and projects to build a contributor strategy that leads to a strong and growing community for an open source project over the long term. This talk will help you apply those resources in your project. This talk will have several major sections. 1) Discussion about the major factors that impact contributor growth. 2) Developing and executing on a long-term contributor growth strategy, including governance, new contributor onboarding, and mentoring. 3) Using contributor ladders to promote contributors into leadership positions as more maintainers to share the workload can reduce maintainer burnout over time. 4) Metrics for measuring project sustainability. The audience will walk away with a better understanding of how to grow their contributor base and build a community around their open source project.