With Gratitude to our Legacy Core Team Members

Join us in celebrating the legacy and impact of the Core Team members who transitioned out of The Carpentries

In the ever-changing landscape of the non-profit sector, we often find ourselves faced with unexpected challenges, like the recently announced layoffs at The Carpentries. These moments are never easy to deal with, and striking the perfect balance between pausing to reflect on what has been lost and moving forward soon enough to maintain stability and build on what remains is a struggle that persists for months afterwards. All the colleagues who have transitioned from our organisation were very valuable members of the Core Team, and their contributions over the years to the long-term sustainability of our mission have left an indelible mark on our programs and operations.

As we endeavor to turn adversity into opportunity, we offer tribute to our legacy Core Team members and gratitude for their impact on our mission and community. Each of their contributions will continue to shape our path forward, and below, we celebrate their legacy.

Dr. Alycia Crall

Headshot of Alycia Crall

Alycia joined the Core Team in July 2021 as the Director of Community to lead the Community Development Team. During her time at The Carpentries, Alycia championed our community and led numerous initiatives for which she has been highly praised and thanked by the community. Through programming such as CarpentryCon @ Home in 2022, a conference centering accessibility and access, Alycia created and supported creative ways to expand opportunities for our volunteer community to contribute to our activities. She has reenvisioned the role of the Community Development Team, expanding the Carpentries Gratitudes series, launching efforts including The Carpentries 25th Anniversary Celebration Series, and the Community Development Program, and raising visibility of localisation at The Carpentries. Alycia has created a solid foundation for structured community engagement that can be leveraged for the continuing sustainability of our subcommunities and global Carpentries community.

Alycia understands the importance of seeding and nurturing relationships between like-minded organisations, and the value of thorough preparation before leading community calls and other events. This focus on preparation, combined with humility, empathy, and a desire to spotlight the achievements of others, enable her to make the difficult task of facilitating events seem easy. We encourage anyone searching for an example of how to run online community events in a professional manner to check out the recording of the Carpentries 25th Anniversary Celebration Launch Event from last year.

Alycia’s work at The Carpentries has given us a comprehensive community development strategic plan and new community sessions, which will be even more invaluable now that we have reduced Core Team capacity and will need all the support we can get from our extended community wherever possible. The lasting impression she leaves on the Core Team is a greater appreciation of the importance of intentionality and consistency in our approach to our projects, and a renewed determination to centre the needs of the community in everything we do.

Check out the blog posts authored by Alycia.

Brynn Elliott

Headshot of Brynn Elliott

Brynn joined the Core Team in April 2022 as a member of the Community Development Team and the Workshop Administration Team. Through her role as Accessibility Manager, Brynn taught us so much about improving our processes to make them accessible for all, as well as how, in our day-to-day communications, we should be aware of our linguistic ableism and challenge ourselves to overcome it. Brynn led the Core Team and community to improve accessibility standards by adding and improving alt text to our lessons and leading numerous skill ups for the community on accessibility.

She also made enhancements to the Toolkit of Ideas, a resource that was designed to empower Carpentries Instructors, Helpers, and workshop hosts with the knowledge and tools to foster inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible learning environments. Further, she developed and left the organisation with an accessibility statement and an accommodation request form, among the most concrete expressions of our commitment to building a community that values all individuals and their unique identities. Because of Brynn, we are a team with a deeper understanding of accessibility. We will continue her work guided by insights, the policy, and systems she put in place for providing accommodations at workshops and other Carpentries events and all communications we develop for internal and external use.

Check out the blog posts authored by Brynn.

Eli Chadwick

Headshot of Eli Chadwick

Eli started with The Carpentries community as an Instructor in 2021 and joined the Core Team in January 2023 as a member of the Technology Team. During his tenure as Information Technology Developer, Eli led the AMY v4.2 release, which focused on changes to Instructor Training checkout. The update also included accessibility tests and an update to our color palette to meet WCAG 2.1 AA contrast requirements. Eli took a large role in improving the AMY interface based on user feedback and led the efforts to improve accessibility of AMY. Eli found and fixed countless bugs in our infrastructure, and wrote documentation that helps our team manage Carpentries events seamlessly.

Eli frequently brought his experience as an expert in developing accessible software and as a Carpentries Instructor to bear in discussions of other topics, and his contributions stretched well beyond the specific development projects for which he was directly responsible. In the time that Eli was on the Core Team, he made a profound impact in creating more accessible systems for our community. His ability to listen closely to questions, consider all the available information, and formulate a concise and insightful response made him a valuable thought partner and a great asset to the team. And, he makes an excellent chai from scratch!

Dr. Karen Word

Headshot of Karen Word

Karen originally joined the Core Team part-time as the Deputy Director of Instructor Training in September 2017 and was promoted to Director of Instructor Training in January 2020. Through this role and as the Instructor Training Team Lead, Karen has been a huge advocate for the Instructor Training program and Trainer Community. She provided the strategic direction and leadership that led to a 60% increase in Trainer recruitment. Karen led the updates to the Instructor Training Curriculum in December 2018, which included adding new episodes highlighting classroom management and Instructor checkout, including information on Library Carpentry’s history and characteristics, and a comprehensive reorganisation of the second half of the training.

Karen was part of a task force that addressed the move to remote Carpentries workshops at the start of the pandemic, collaborated on assessment efforts to improve the overall health and performance of The Carpentries continuously, established Trainers Leadership to champion the interests and needs of the Trainer community, and led the implementation of changes to Instructor checkout to make the process less stressful and more accessible to all. Karen led a second significant curriculum update in 2021, incorporating extensive community feedback to improve usability and maintenance of the curriculum, implement preliminary improvements proposed through collaboration with an external Equity Council, and to prioritise goals for future updates. She also updated and issued the first official release of The Carpentries Trainer Training curriculum. Without Karen’s efforts, we would not have the strong Trainer community and leadership that we do today.

Behind the scenes, Karen’s work as a Team Lead contributed to improvements in cross-team collaboration, decision-making, project management, documentation, and infrastructure development. Drawing on her past and connections with some of The Carpentries many vibrant local and regional communities, Karen is a strong advocate for the importance and power of community organisation at the institutional, local and regional scale. As well as a healthy Trainer community and an Instructor Training programme at a fundamentally different scale from that which she originally took responsibility for, Karen leaves the Core Team with a greater appreciation of the importance of considering multiple perspectives on a process or decision, and of the utility and necessity of finding the right balance between correctness and clarity.

Check out the blog posts authored by Karen.

Dr. Kelly Barnes

Headshot of Kelly Barnes

Kelly joined the Core Team in May 2020 as a part of the Instructor Training and Community Development teams. Kelly started as the Deputy Director of Instructor Training and was promoted to Director of Assessment in November 2022, where she developed a plan to use assessment to improve our programming, create measurable outcomes from our strategic plan, and streamline our assessment efforts. Kelly has been a source of support to the Instructor Trainer community, working both behind the scenes and forward facing, serving as a Trainer-of-Trainers, conducting and releasing the first Instructor Training report in 2021, led a comprehensive overhaul of communications for the Instructor Training Team and led the collaborative development of recommendations for updates to the Instructor Training Checkout process.

Kelly developed a comprehensive assessment strategy including a Theory of Change, which envelopes process improvement and alignment of The Carpentries mission, vision, and values to the outcomes we want to achieve. She also partnered with the Director of Community to design the annual community survey to understand the experiences of our community. We can more easily align our activities with their outcomes thanks to Kelly’s vision for The Carpentries’ assessment. Our Core Values emphasise the importance of openness, inclusivity, diversity, and community, all of which are difficult and dangerous to reduce down to simple, quantifiable metrics as it can be tempting to do when discussing how to assess the success of a program. Kelly believes that relationships are essential to everything that we do – both in our work and our personal lives – and she consistently brought that principle to bear during her time in the Core Team, ensuring that we never lost sight of the human beings and interactions underpinning everything the community achieves. This, alongside her willingness and determination to take on new challenges and responsibilities, ensures that Kelly leaves an indelible impression on the remaining Core Team members.

Check out the blog posts authored by Kelly.

Talisha Sutton-Kennedy

Headshot of Talisha Sutton-Kennedy

Talisha joined the Core Team in November 2018 as the Administrative Support Specialist. From the beginning, Talisha played a large role behind the scenes, taking on administration for Self-Organised Workshops, supporting membership communications, as well as doing all day-to-day business and financial administration. She also worked extensively with our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives, to ensure legal and regulatory compliance. After demonstrating significant versatility and adaptability, Talisha was promoted to Operations Manager in 2021. As our Operations Manager, Talisha took on a larger role in business development and financial administration, developing numerous policies and workflows to support procurement, contracting, budgeting, accounting, financial forecasting, and financial reporting. Talisha has done a phenomenal job managing grant budgets, as well as developing and delivering our Annual Financial Reports. She brought joy to the team while training us in non-profit finance. It is because of this amazing work and with the support of Talisha that we were able to identify our financial challenges and take action to improve the sustainability of the organisation.

Talisha was an active member of the Business, Instructor Training, Membership, and Workshop Administration Teams and was promoted to Deputy Director of Business and Business Team Lead in January 2023. As part of this transition, she initiated an onboarding for new member organisations, led quarterly meetings of the Member Council, and served as the primary point of contact for our Member Council representatives. In addition, Talisha often took on additional initiatives like leading the Values Alignment Task Force in 2021, leading the project planning working group to improve our internal project management workflows, and leading the ongoing development of the new Carpentries website.

Furthermore, Talisha inspired a culture of collaboration and team building through games and fun activities. Members of the Core Team regularly sought her out to support them with improving their workflows as she always knew the latest features and tricks for using our collaboration platforms. She also supported any team member in need of a thought partner or general support. If there is anything Talisha cannot do, we are not aware of it. Her positivity, passion, and unwavering commitment to excellence have set a standard that will be challenging to match. We are thankful to Talisha for being an invaluable part of our team. Your presence will be greatly missed, but your influence will continue to shape our collective success.

Check out the blog posts authored by Talisha.

Dr. Zhian Kamvar

Headshot of Zhian Kamvar

Zhian joined the Core Team in March 2020 as the Lesson Infrastructure Technology Developer. Zhian has had a role on both the Curriculum and Technology teams. Zhian completed a total redesign of The Carpentries lesson websites, which has made our lesson infrastructure more intuitive, accessible, and easier to teach. Through his work, a huge milestone was reached in May 2023 when all 43 of The Carpentries official lessons were transitioned to the new lesson infrastructure, The Carpentries Workbench – an achievement the community celebrated in another blog past last year. He also coordinated many other initiatives that made our processes more user-friendly and improved accessibility organisation-wide. In 2020, Zhian led an effort to make software installation easier by offering cloud instances as a backup for learners who are having difficulties and was a collaborator in the creation of Glosario, an open-source multilingual glossary of data science terms.

Zhian has made huge advances in the accessibility of our lesson infrastructure and created something that can support the community’s development and maintenance of lessons for years to come. The Core Team will miss Zhian’s diligence, the strong moral compass that guides his decision-making, his outstanding ability to give names to things, and his sense of humour – Zhian’s departure will cause a precipitous drop in the average number of puns made during our meetings.

Check out the blog posts authored by Zhian.

Thank You

It is hard to believe that this is the end of our journey as the Core Team with these astounding individuals, and we will miss them so much. We have appreciated the countless emails, the Slack messages, the jokes, and the many shared moments of work and joy. We also appreciate the encouragement and support from community members as we navigate this unprecedented transition at The Carpentries. These seven Core Team members have profoundly impacted The Carpentries, and although each leaves a legacy of their own, their absence will still be greatly felt.

Thank you, Alycia, Brynn, Eli, Karen, Kelly, Talisha, and Zhian for every ounce of love and care you have put into your work and in supporting the organisation and the community. For those of you planning to remain active members of our community, now or later after a temporary break, we are excited for continued engagement with you. And for those of you permanently exiting from the community, this is one more thank you for your years of service. To all of you, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and remember that you that you will always belong at The Carpentries. Much love and respect.

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