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Nominee for 2021 Python Software Foundation Board Election

Joannah Nanjekye

  • Previous Board Service: New board member
  • Employer: IBM CAS-Atlantic
  • Other Affiliations: University of New Brunswick, CPython
  • Nominee Statement:

      Hi, I’m Joannah! I’m currently doing my PHD, researching garbage collection and Python. I’m also a Python core developer whose career in open source was kick started by participating in programs like outreachy and Rails Girls summer of code. Outside of contributing code, I'm an active leader and member of several Python community groups. I’ve mentored and organized events for PyLadies, in Kampala and other chapters around the world. I’ve also spoken at several PyCon’s including PyCon South Africa, PyCon Africa and PyCon Italia. I joined the Python community as a forced user when I did my first Python course at University in 2010. The professor of the course made it very hard, after failing several assignments, I decided to read my first book (How to think like a computer science, Python version) cover-to-cover. Python then became my default language , and I joined the community, which I have never regretted. As a community member, I have grown to be an organizer of events, a speaker at conferences and a mentor to Pyladies communities, and for 1.5 years now, as well as a Python core developer.

      I am running for the board this year to accelerate the progress of some initiatives I’ve been wanting to pursue within the Python community . I believe being a board member will help me champion these initiatives in a way I have not been able to outside the board. My promise is to serve for only 3 years, to achieve the following:

      • Research: Python has grown to be a popular programming language among scientists of all walks of life, mathematicians, physicists, biologists etc. I want to push for activities that highlight, encourage and bring together researchers in our community. With the help of the PSF, I plan to start a workshop at Pycon, for scientists in academia and students to discuss their research. The PSF and Pycon are big enough. The goal is to have the presentations published in a prestigious library for example ACM or IEEE. This could be a one-day workshop that results in at least 8 - 10 published works from our community every year. . We can grow later.

      • The Ambassador Program: I started running Pyladies events while I still lived in Uganda, Africa, and did not know about the PSF then. The first time I knew about the work of the PSF was through its ambassadors in East Africa at the time. There has been tremendous work done in the past, but I believe the program has more potential especially for places that are not as well represented in the Python community. f. I want to engage in activities that lead to better execution of the program for a better impact in those communities. I have had discussions with some board members before on this, I believe we can work together for an even better execution model, borrowing from some of my experiences as a beneficiary, on what priorities the model should look at.

      • Education: I am not a good teacher, but I love teaching! This was my motivation for joining a PHD program, and focusing on Python as one of the tools. As a board member, I want to collaborate with others on the board and the core developer team to see how we can build a community and language that educators can use to meet their teaching needs.

      Contributions to community

      OSS Projects (Non-trivial contributions)

      • CPython (I focus on subinterpreters and the CAPI)

      • MicroPython (Documented Internals of the interpreter for a 3 month period)

      • SymPy (Reorganizing its documentation for the next 5 months)


      Organizer activities

      • Pyladies Kampala (2017 - todate)

      • Organizer, Django Girls workshop, at Pycon Kenya, 2018

      • Django Girls, Kenya, at Pycon Kenya, 2018


      • PyconZA, 2016, 2017, 2018

      • Pycon Africa, Keynote, 2020

      • Invited speaker, EuRuKo, 2018

      • Python Kampala

      • Thoughtworks, Kampala

      • Python Kenya

      • Google developer groups, Kampala

  • Nomination Statements:
    • Nomination by: Marlene Mhangami

      I would like to second Joannah's nomination for the PSF board of directors. I first met Jo at PyCon South Africa a number of years ago. We had both traveled from our respective home countries to attend the conference. I later met her again at PyCon US and PyCon Italia, where I was grateful to find a familiar face in a new country. Talking to Joannah, I was struck by how much we had in common, particularly a shared love for the Python community and a desire to see African's succeed in the field. Joannah has been an incredible trailblazer, becoming the first African Python core developer and leading important research at IBM. Her role not only in technical leadership, but also as a leader in the PyLadies, and African Python communities serves to show how capable she is of this position.

      This is will be my final year on the PSF board of directors, and as the only African currently on the board, having Joannah elected would ensure the Python community has a voice in leadership representing our continent. Joannah and I have discussed the PSF ambassador program at length and hope to see this program used to increase the already growing adoption of Python in Africa. I'm excited about the insights Jo could bring to the board as an alumnus of the Outreachy and Google Summer of Code programs. Her experience in this area would help the board better support our own interns in these programs, and hopefully, give us fresh ideas on how to grow.

      I am so thankful Joannah has decided to run! I hope our community sees how much value she has already brought us, and trusts her to be part of moving the PSF forward into our shared future.

      Yours faithfully,

      Marlene Mhangami

      PSF Vice-Chair and Board Director

      Chair, PSF Diversity and Inclusion Work Group

    • Nomination by: Carol Willing

      I'm pleased to nominate Joannah Nanjekye for the PSF Board. Joannah has worked on CPython, particularly on Garbage Collection, for several years. In Sept. 2019, Joannah was promoted to CPython Core Developer. She is a thoughtful and active developer with a good work ethic. She doesn't hesitate to help out when asked, such as when I asked her to speak with the core developers of the R language to help build a stronger community.

      As a former PSF Board member and current Steering Council member, I understand the responsibilities that come as a Board member. I enthusiastically recommend Joannah. The PSF and Python would be well represented by her.