Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

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Lynne Pope and Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, "an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology". Today I’ll talk about a woman I admire, and some of the things she’s done.

There are a few women I can think of that work in or with IT, but at the forefront is Lynne Pope, also known on the web as Elpie.

Lynne has been working in IT for a while now. She is an advocate for Open Source software. She has been involved with many Open Source projects, including Mambo. She is currently the President of the Mambo Foundation Inc. She also was quite involved with B2 Evolution, and has been active in the WordPress community.

Lynne wears many hats, she is a jack of all trades. Her knowledge goes from HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP to server management, governance and legal issues.

All these things by themselves would be enough to point to Elpie as a role model for women in IT.

But what really grabs my attention is her passion for people. There is a Māori saying that Lynne is fond of:

He aha te mea nui? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata. (What is the most important thing? It is people. It is people. It is people)

She cares for people and always seeks to build bridges and connections between people. And her use of IT to help people is commendable.

Lynne was one of the main people behind Disaster Search, a website that helped reunite family members and friends during and after Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005. The website was put together and active using Mambo within hours of Katrina hitting Louisiana. Tens of thousands of people were reunited through the website. Elpie worked day and night and exchanged emails with complete strangers to help them, weeks on end. The emotional toll on her was great, yet she saw the need and kept working with Katrina refugees. Because of the highly sensitive and confidential nature of the information required of people, the site had to be hosted on a dedicated server, which Lynne kept paying out of pocket as no financial assistance nor donations came in to help with Disaster Search. People kept visiting the site and sending enquiries for more than two years after Katrina. As a result Lynne had to mortgage her house to sustain the site.

This dedication to people and use of IT to assist people is why I chose to talk about Lynne Pope for Ada Lovelace Day.

Thank you Lynne, for all your work and dedication to people, to Open Source, and to IT in general.