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Hi all,

Il 27/11/21 12:20, Marina Latini ha scritto:
1. Do you commit yourself to have enough time and the necessary technological tools in order to participate to the regularly scheduled board calls?

Yes, I commit to be available. In the last board term, I attended all the meetings, except for the very few cases when I was at a customer's site for a scheduled network maintenance (I work as a network administrator, and sometimes we have to plan disruptive interventions). As such, my commitment will stay the same. I will participate in the calls, and I have all the tools available to join the meetings, too. If I miss a meeting, there are always the minutes to read, and fellow board colleagues to ask.

2. Do you commit yourself to follow up and work on (at least) the main items and actions you will volunteer to oversee or that will be assigned to you by the board?

Yes, that's absolutely my intention. During the last board term, I was overseeing infrastructure, documentation and events. Unfortunately, there - for obvious reasons - were not so many events, but for infrastructure and documentation I joined the meetings when possible. I am glad that with the help of the infrastructure team, we could make two virtual LibreOffice Conference possible, and hope for more in-person meetings again in the near future!

3. What is your willingness to delegate decisions, especially in lack of time?

In the current Board term I had the opportunity to appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by every of the members of our Team. I am more than sure they have all the knowledge and skills, additionally to a strong community spirit and FLOSS philosophy understanding, to carry on even on decision making. I have full trust in them.

In case of delegation of decisions inside the Board, there are more than one procedure that call for it (Areas of Oversee for example means that you trust your fellow Directors in areas where they are experts; representation statements also offer a delegation over decision making to Deputies); I used delegation in the current term, and as such I plan obviously to do the same in the next term.

4. What are your views on the foundation's budget? How should the money be spent, besides our fixed costs?

Our Statute mandates to provide free software for anyone, so it would be best to support those tasks that are seldom sponsored from third parties but that make high value for everyone (e.g. accessibility, just to mention one between other important topics).

Also, community activities like local language projects, marketing and events (in the hope we can start again soon in a much more intensive way) are usually effective in getting in touch with more users and potential members.

Additionally I think it is important for the future of our Foundation to learn to tap in the European funds for social activities, as other foundations in Europe are much more skilled than us to do; this could unlock even more capabilities to better achieve the Foundation's goal.

TDF's budget and resources should be used to enable our community to do fantastic things, to share knowledge and to get new community members on board. Money is important and helps TDF to exist, but the people and the time and skills they bring in is our most valuable asset.

5. Should we work towards broadening our pool of contributors, both technical and non-technical?

That's absolutely a must, in my perspective. Every contribution matters to have a bright future for the Project, in the first place, and then the Foundation.

What concerns me most is the constant shrinking of the number of corporate citizens and companies in the ecosystem that accompanied the first 10 years of the Foundation, but also the shrinking of the volunteer community in several areas; we tried to underline some actions in the current Board mandate, but unfortunately these activities have mid- to long-term planning and results, and need a lot of coordination over a longer time span.

Another very important thing to think of is diversity and inclusion. While we are advantaged as contributions come from every corner of the world, I think more can be done on this aspect, and we can, and indeed must, improve this as a community as well as a Foundation. This is a complex topic and has to encompass also different cultures and perspectives; it is difficult, but margins to better ourselves are there.

6. What actions do you suggest to increase the engagement and participation of volunteers from local communities around the world in project's activities?

I came to TDF from one of these "local communities", LibreItalia, so I fully understand how much these efforts are needed to attract active contributors and potential new members. Many of our local communities showed that the task is less daunting while sharing venues with other important FLOSS projects (we did it with OpenSuSE with LibOCon 2020, but look at what the Albanian, the Japanese or the Indonesian communities are all doing, just to mention some).

Usually, hackathons and events in coding and non-coding areas, that also explain the FLOSS philosophy and why it is important to contribute back to open source projects, are key, and we should do many more of these, both in virtual and in person.

Also, creating some shared and ready-to-use workflows, with inputs from different communities, around how to present and advocate LibreOffice, the Document Liberation Project, ODF and in general FLOSS might be a step to assure a common starting point and a less steep curve to organize such events.

7. Should the Foundation -as an entity distinct from the LibreOffice project or the Document Liberation project- engage into growing its influence and promoting and defending Free Software and Digital Freedom? It is, after all, an integral part of its mission per its very Statutes. If yes, do you have ideas on what should be done about this?

Yes, we definitely should.

I don't have so much PR contacts with institutions and Public Administrations, but, looking back at what I did in the current Board term, I surely and firmly approved any decision that asked for supporting FLOSS and Digital freedom in the public sector.

Joint actions by different stakeholders in FLOSS advocacy can also work (e.g. Public Money, Public Code).

8. What's your idea to let TDF membership become more appealing? Currently, the only difference from being Community member and TDF member is the possibility to vote and be voted for TDF's governance, and it's fine, but can you imagine anything to encourage more Community members to become also part of TDF?

The key argument to me is that TDF members should shape and drive what the Foundation is going to do, so the Board of Directors should just become the legal responsible entity for such decisions, taken by the community, and assure the administration part of TDF is running fine.

We need to get better in listening to our community. Some ideas for this are:

1 - find a way to use platforms our members use to communicate their voices, as mailing lists are not the preferred channel for everyone; 2 - explain much better to our members the discussions at and and why certain proposals are made by the Board of Directors, as explaining it afterwards is definitely ineffective;
3 - try to find out what the most shared view of the community at the
end of the discussion is.

I want to commit myself to involve our members much more to the governance of the Foundation; we have to work, for sure, on the publicity of Board's decision-making process and evolve it in a membership decision-making process. We should do much more in the open, in public meetings, much less in private meetings. More transparency,
less secrecy.

Daniel Armando Rodriguez tried to do it in the current Board by setting up an instance of Decidim, an effort that unfortunately didn't come to a result yet (mostly because of other equally important, but more urgent, tasks). I think that idea is worthwhile, so it should be in the best interest of the Foundation to fully back that plan and get to a working status in the next term.

9. How do you view your (potential) role as a member of the board of directors, given that this position does not give you any specific functional role inside the LibreOffice or Document Liberation projects?

My role should be ideally mainly as a proxy to the community of the members, representing their ideas and perspectives to the Board and, if possible, making them a reality coping with the many challenges that running a Foundation exposes. The difficult task is always to balance different positions coming from all the members.

I want to hear your ideas and thoughts, and promise to always have "an open ear", and listen to your feedback but also criticism. I do really just want to represent the community at my best.

10. What is the biggest problem of the foundation in your opinion? What is its biggest opportunity?

The Foundation will have a bright future ahead if the projects it provides a home for are alive and well, and if the people behind those are happy and feel at home - namely, all the people behind LibreOffice and the Document Liberation Project. To this, I would add all supporters of ODF, which is a fundamental part for the digital sovereignty and privacy of data.

The LibreOffice project in particular will have a bright future if we will find the way to make it compelling for all users, potential users, contributors and potential contributors. As such, we have to deal with requirements from the general public, which has shifted significantly from 10 years ago, when things started:

* LibreOffice is now regarded as a commodity by some and the fact that it is for free is definitely a winning point if used wisely. Up to now, however, it seems this often contributed to the depletion of resources inside the project - or rather, a missed opportunity to get some sort of return from it, mining its sustainability. We have to work more on our users' awareness on how the project sustains itself and its ecosystem;

* On the topic of sustainability, LibreOffice lost a lot of companies from the ecosystem through the years, although for different reasons. The ideal approach is to understand how we as a community can work to solve these issues together, and then implement further ideas and suggestions that can help grow interest in LibreOffice and into the community behind;

* Technology has changed, and as of now we have new challenges around
mobile and web/cloud. We were late already during the last board term, we are even more late now. Efforts in this respect has been provided, I
think TDF should just provide its support to these efforts.

The Document Liberation Project faces mostly the same challenges as
LibreOffice, as it is definitely bound tightly with it.

For ODF, the challenges lie in a much stronger opponent; I think only
active advocating and possibly lobbying in political environments can be
a good solution. Making decision-makers understand why FLOSS is
important for data privacy and how ODF will assist to that perspective
is key.

All these threats can be turned into opportunities, if we all together keep the focus on our mission and care for sustainability, working together.

11. If they will occur, how do you think to handle conflicts within the board

The current Board was definitely different from what has happened in the past, like many of you have also expressed to us, so it was natural that some friction could rise up. I always tried my best not to jump to conclusions but rather understand where arguments stem from, striving to always keep a balanced point of view, hearing all the voices and opinions.

This is not always possible as we are all naturally bound to bias, to a different scale of values and to different goals (or perceived goals, at least).

I have to say my fellow Directors strove to avoid conflict altogether where possible, mostly by recusing themselves on the obvious cases, but devil is in the detail and it wasn't always so simple to discern if there was a conflict or not for the rest of the time.

Fortunately, a new Conflict of Interest policy, which shows more explicitly where to check for overlapping loyalties, has been approved in a second iteration, with more work on it ongoing. I plan to use the indications contained in the document to check if a conflict exists, to provide fair and respectful interactions, discussions and decisions in the Board.

Emiliano Vavassori

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