Coraline Ada Ehmke

Last modified by XWikiGuest on 2020/05/28 19:28

"Giving everyone freedom means giving evil people freedom, too." (OSD FAQ)

It doesn't have to be like this.

It's time to stop bad actors from using our work in unethical ways. It's time to give open source developers around the world the tools they need to exercise their ethical responsibilities as engineers and members of human society. It's time for us to stop shirking our ethical obligations, and take responsibility for the use of our work.

Who am I?

I am an internationally recognized software engineer, speaker, podcaster, and writer with over 25 years of experience in the technology industry.

I've been an active participant in open source since the early 2000s, and before then I contributed to the software commons as a Perl hacker, releasing code to CPAN (and even publishing it in 2600: The Hacker Quarterly) in the 1990s.

I'm best known as the creator of the Contributor Covenant, the first and most popular open source code of conduct in the world. In the early days, the notion of a code of conduct for open source communities was unheard of, and very controversial. Today, it is an accepted foundation for most thriving open source communities. In fact, the Contributor Covenant has been adopted by tens of thousands of open source projects, including the Linux kernel and the entire open source portfolios of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Intel, and Salesforce. 

Participating in open source has truly been a transformative experience in my life, and I've made it my mission for many years to make the open source community as welcoming, inclusive, diverse, and ethical as possible. My goal has always been to create the same kinds of life-changing opportunities that I have had to as many people as I can, with a focus on marginalized and underrepresented people. This passion drives almost everything that I do.

For more details on my background and history, you can visit my personal site at

What are my qualifications?

Since 2015, I've served on the board of Ruby Together, a non-profit that funds work on core Ruby ecosystem projects, including and Bundler. In 2018 I created the RubyMe project, which is a paid open source mentorship program (funded by Ruby Together) serving early-career developers from underrepresented backgrounds. RubyMe helps these bright and ambitious engineers develop the skills and experience they need to start their careers, by pairing them with seasoned Rubyists to work on open source projects together.

I previously served on the board of RailsBridge, a non-profit organization that teaches marginalized and underrepresented people technology skills that will help them break into the software development field.

In 2019 I  founded the Ethical Source Working Group, a 120-member (and growing!) body of open source developers, legal professionals, philosophers and ethicists, NGO and nonprofit leaders, and other prominent members of our community, including several FSF and OSI board members and officials. 

My most recent project, the Hippocratic License, is moving the conversation around ethics in open source forward by challenging our historical interpretation of the Open Source Definition. 

What do I hope to accomplish as a board member?

For many years, I've been putting in the hard but necessary work of transforming and evolving the open source community. As a member of the Open Source Initiative Board, my main objective will be to work together with other community leaders to reconcile our core open source guiding principles with the emerging Ethical Source movement's mission of ensuring that software freedom is ALWAYS in service of human freedom.

I believe that in good-faith collaboration and partnership with my peers in the Open Source Initiative, we can move the community forward and ensure that open source lives up to its full potential as a force for good in the world.

Software freedom that is not in service of human freedom, isn't freedom at all.