Interview with Tara King of Pantheon: Spreading the open source CMS love

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Agiledrop is highlighting active Drupal community members through a series of interviews. Now you get a chance to learn more about the people behind Drupal projects.

Meet Tara King, Developer Outreach Manager at Pantheon. Her work focuses mostly on working with the community and helping to make it more diverse and inclusive. Check out our interview to learn more about the power of the Drupal community and what initiatives are taking place to improve its health even further.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself. How do you participate in the Drupal community and what do you do professionally?

I’ve always loved the Drupal community, but I really found my home in Drupal Diversity & Inclusion (DDI). It’s an all-volunteer community group dedicated to making the Drupal community a safer and more welcoming place for under-represented Drupalists. I’m currently serving as the leader of DDI.

I’m also passionate about the Core Mentoring team--DrupalCon contribution days are exhilarating, and the mentoring team makes that environment productive and fun for newcomers. And I assist the CWG with membership by recruiting subject matter experts and people with an interest in community health.

Professionally, I’m the Developer Outreach Manager at Pantheon. I’m responsible for supporting our developer community (including on our forums & our community Slack). I serve as a bridge between our internal teams and our customer base, with a particular focus on diversity, inclusion, equity & accessibility. I also attend Drupal and WordPress events to connect with our community, share best practices, and generally spread the open source CMS love. 

2. When did you first come across Drupal? What convinced you to stay, the software or the community, and why?

I discovered the Drupal community by attending local Drupal Meetups when I was in Minneapolis, MN. I was gifted a Drupal 6 site as the home for my dance company...but the site needed a lot of maintenance. As I learned how to use it, I got really curious about how the whole thing worked. I remember the first time I figured out how to make a view! Powerful stuff.

Over time, I kept attending events, started going to DrupalCon and eventually became a self-taught (or, as I prefer, community-taught) backend developer. I worked at a variety of agencies as well as in-house at Universal Music Group before coming to Pantheon. 

But I’d say that the community really sealed the deal. I went to DrupalCon Portland and fell in love with the whole experience: the people, the work they were doing, and the way they all worked together. 

3. What impact has Drupal made on you? Is there a particular moment you remember?

Drupal has changed my life! I used to have a job without a lot of prospects for growth and no sense of community or purpose. Leaving that industry and entering the Drupal community opened really exciting doors for me, provided me with challenging work, and (to be totally forthright) has really increased my financial stability. That last part is a big driver in why I want to open up Drupal to as many under-represented folks as I can. It’s been a privilege to enter this community and it’s something I’d like to extend to others.

4. How do you explain what Drupal is to other, non-Drupal people?

Short answer: It’s a tool for making websites!

But most of the people who spend any time with me get curious about why I have so many Drupal t-shirts and talk so much about this weird Drupal thing, so I usually get to go into it a little more. I like to explain, if I have the chance, about what it means to work on an open-source project, and the amazing power of Drupal to easily build a robust website. 

5. How did you see Drupal evolving over the years? What do you think the future will bring?

Since I started with Drupal 6, there have obviously been major changes both from a software and from a community perspective. I’m really excited about integrated composer support in the 8.8 release--Drupal 8 is so easy to use and I think integrated composer will make it even better.

I hope the future brings a substantially more diverse Drupal community. Our software powers websites used by people around the world: I want to see the developer community reflect all the people who are already end users of the Drupal software. 

6. What are some of the contributions to open source code or to the community that you are most proud of?

I’m really proud of my role in starting the Drupal Diversity Contrib Team. Contribution and community involvement have been such a big part of my success in Drupal, so I wanted to find a way to help marginalized people learn to contribute to Drupal. 

The group is currently revamping the Gender Field module under the leadership of Alex McCabe, and we have contribution tables at DrupalCon North America & DrupalCon EU every year.

7. Is there an initiative or a project in Drupal space that you would like to promote or highlight?

DDI has been working hard to provide speaker training for all underrepresented Drupalists. The training was created by Jill Binder from the WordPress community where it had a lot of success, so we’ve brought it to Drupal to improve the diversity of people speaking at our events. 

We just offered it as a virtual half-day training at MidCamp--obviously it’s been a bit challenging to find out where else we can offer it right now. If you’d like to bring the workshop to your community virtually, let us know! 

I’m also excited about the CWG expanding into more proactive community health work. With all the disruption currently happening, it’s a great time to get involved in our global Drupal community and give back.

8. Is there anything else that excites you beyond Drupal? Either a  new technology or a personal endeavor. 

I’m really excited to be launching the second year of a table-top gaming convention I co-founded: MañanaCon! We may be rescheduling the con to later in the year, but I’m still excited for it. We wanted to contribute to our local community while having some fun, and it’s been a great adventure so far.

We invite you to come play table-top games of all kinds (board games, collectible card games, role playing games, and more!) for a weekend in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico! 

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