Dawn Foster 2 January 2008
Community Manager, Event Organizer, Blogger, Podcaster, Vegan, and Technology Enthusiast
Dawn M. Foster is currently the Director of Developer Relations at Jive Software, a collaboration software company in Portland, OR. She has more than 12 years of experience in technology and software with expertise in open source software, web 2.0, social media, blogging, and community building.
Dawn is the author of Fast Wonder: An Open Culture Blog and is currently working on a book for O’Reilly Media about the Art of Community. She organizes a monthly Portland BarCamp Meetup event for local technology employees, is an organizer for the Portland BarCamp event, and helps organize Ignite Portland. She is a co-founder and Chair of Legion of Tech.
Previously, Dawn worked at Compiere, Intel, and a Midwestern manufacturing company in positions ranging from Unix system administrator to market researcher to open source strategist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Kent State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Ashland University.
What are you up to?
As Director of Developer Relations at Jive, I spend most of my time on activities related to our developer communities: Jivespace and Ignite Realtime. I manage the communities, blog about developer topics, record video podcasts, and more.
In my free time (these are outside of work hobbies), I focus on activities that help support and grow the local Portland technology community. As one of the founders and chair of Legion of Tech (an Oregon non profit organization formed to help grow and nurture the local Portland technology community through educational, not-for-profit, community-run events), I have been spending quite a bit of time getting the organization off the ground and filing mass quantities of paperwork. I am helping to organize a number of community events and will be leading the charge to organize the second BarCamp Portland in May of 2008. I also recently launched the Fast Wonder Community Podcast with topics focused on building, managing and growing online communities.
What are you into?
My interests are varied and constantly change over the years. Lately, I have been reading a lot of science fiction: Cory Doctorow, Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan, etc. I am passionate about community building, social networking, and online interactions via Twitter, Facebook, and others. I love open source software and the community that builds around it. I enjoy cooking vegan food (OK, I mostly enjoy eating it): vegan pizza with a homemade cornmeal crust, Thai curry stir fry, and more. I get almost all of my news from podcasts, and I try to listen every chance I get: while grocery shopping, working out, doing household chores, and getting ready for work in the morning. I make most of my own jewelry. I am fascinated by anthropology / archaeology and what we can learn about ancient civilizations simply by studying the trash and remains left behind.
What do you like most about Portland?
It is really difficult to decide what I love most about Portland, because I love so much about this city. I love that every neighborhood has its own personality and unique characteristics. I love living in a city where I can walk everywhere. We have Powells, vegan restaurants, funky neighborhood shops, and great public transportation. I love that we have a vibrant, interesting, and active technology community with so many fun events to attend – how many other cities have monthly werewolf games?
What does a community manager really do?
Online community managers do so many things and every day is completely different. Some of the more common activities tend to fall into one of these areas: ongoing facilitation, content creation, evangelism, and community evolution. What does this mean? I hang out in the community and make sure questions are being answered. I blog and record podcasts to make sure that we always have new content in addition to the discussions. I talk about the community and promote it using a variety of online and offline techniques. As the community evolves, I also need to continue to make improvements to keep the community fresh and relevant. Basically, a community manager is a jack of all trades who does everything possible (no matter what it is) to make the community successful.
What were you like as child?
My mother described me as independent and obstinate (it runs in the family), and I was known to frequently say: “I can do it myself!” I grew up on a small organic farm (mostly for our personal consumption) where I have milked goats, gathered eggs, and participated in other farm activities that probably explain my decision to go vegan. We even had a goat named “Sausage”, but that is another story. I was a climber (I apparently climbed out of my crib before I could walk), and I enjoyed climbing very tall trees where I would get as high as I possibly could. I was a complete tomboy, happiest when I was in the woods catching snakes, frogs, toads, salamanders, and anything else that couldn’t outrun me.