Monday, February 11, 2019

A Steady Leader of the Python Community, Alex Gaynor, Receives Community Service Award

Going through the big names in the Python community, one would not likely miss Alex Gaynor. Alex was Director of both the Python Software Foundation as well as the Django Software Foundation, and he is currently an Infrastructure Staff member of the PSF. Overall, Alex has been a valuable member of the Python community, contributing to the structure of the PSF on an administrative level, and actively encouraging the growth of Python through his personal efforts.

For this reason, the Python Software Foundation has awarded Alex Gaynor the Q3 2018 Community Service Award:

RESOLVED, that the Python Software Foundation award the Q3 2018 Community Service Award to Alex Gaynor for his contributions to the Python Community and the Python Software Foundation. Alex previously served as a PSF Director in 2015-2016. He currently serves as an Infrastructure Staff member and contributes to legacy PyPI and the next generation warehouse and has helped legacy warehouse in security (disabling unsupported OpenID) and cutting bandwidth costs by compressing 404 images.

Alex attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. Originally from Chicago, he is currently living in Washington DC. In the past, Alex worked for the United States Digital Service on various impactful projects such as the United States Refugee Admissions Program and the Veterans Affairs disability benefits appeals process. He is now working for Mozilla on their Firefox Security Team.

Alex originally began contributing to the Python community by serving on the PyCon programming committee. “I was fortunate that right after I joined the community PyCon was in my hometown of Chicago, which made it easy to get involved.” Alex then decided to take up the responsibility of being a Director of the Python Software Foundation when the organization was going through many changes. “[W]e were adopting a Code of Conduct, starting to work on the new membership model, and significantly growing the grant funding we were offering. I think my proudest accomplishment is being a part of the team that kept all of these great initiatives on the rails (I certainly can't take credit for any of them on my own!); since my time the PSF has significantly scaled up its ability to help guide and support the global Python community.”

Aside from his contributions to the Python Software Foundation, Alex also served as a Director of the Django Software Foundation and a member of the Django core team. As mentioned in the resolution above, Alex is currently working as a PSF Infrastructure Staff member where he is working on legacy PyPI and the next generation warehouse. Alex has improved the legacy warehouse in security by disabling unsupported, the open standard and decentralized authentication protocol OpenID, as well as in cutting bandwidth costs by compressing 404 images.

Being on the PSF Infrastructure team with Alex, Director of Infrastructure Ernest W. Durbin III has enjoyed working with him and appreciates his contributions to the team:

“Alex has been one of the most steady and reliable motivators for improved security throughout our entire community. Alex stays ruthlessly up to date on current best practices and makes a consistent effort to help encourage and implement pragmatic security at all levels. While far from an exhaustive list, the Python community can thank Alex for his advocacy and knowledge on rock solid TLS for, sharing his knowledge and experience with the Python Security Response Team, and contributions to security in the Python language as well as core cryptographic libraries on PyPI.”

Glyph Lefkowitz, creator of the Twisted framework, additionally observed that Alex’s contributions across multiple projects, from PyCA's Cryptography, to Django, to CPython, to PyPy to Twisted, have been transformational for the Python ecosystem, and have, in particular, made it a much safer and more secure community for users. “When he sees a problem that needs addressing, his willingness to work across projects and layers is an ongoing source of inspiration for everyone that calls themselves a 'maintainer',” noted Glyph.

As a long-time member of the Python community, Alex says what he appreciates most about the community is its commitment to getting more people involved in Python specifically, and programming in general. He is particularly impressed by the PSF’s efforts to support the growth of Python on multiple scales. “I don't think there's any organization like the PSF that does as much work issuing grants and supporting local groups teaching getting people involved in coding and Python.”

Moving forward, Alex hopes to see more knowledge being shared regarding potential funding in the community. “From PyPI to PyCon and beyond there's a lot of costs associated with making these community resources happen, and we've learned a lot about how to raise money to make them happen. I think we could do a better job sharing these lessons learned with the broader open source ecosystem and helping to push new innovation in this space.”

Additionally, to anyone out there looking to make impactful contributions to our community, Alex’s advice is to simply jump in and contribute in whatever ways that work for you. With numerous volunteering opportunities with the PSF working groups, local meetups, regional conferences, and many more, it is easier than ever to be a part of, and help promote the Python community.

As the final note, the PSF would like to congratulate Alex Gaynor again for this prestigious award, and thank him for his continued contributions to our organization in particular, and to the general Python community as a whole.