Name: Anne Stefanyk
Drupal.org ID: Annabellla
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA and Victoria, BC, Canada
Job Title: CEO and Founder of Kanopi Studios
Creativity, collaboration and inclusivity are all pillars of a successful open source community. As one of the largest open source communities, Drupal users are a passionate group of people and businesses from a number of diverse backgrounds and roles, coming together to build something great. In order to grow and sustain a successful open source ecosystem, we need to encourage leaders who are committed to diversity and inclusion and continue to recognize the incredible contributions from those paving the way. Our Women of Drupal series seeks to highlight the achievements and perspectives of women who have made a difference in the Drupal and technology space.
This month, we’re excited to highlight Anne Stefanyk, CEO and Founder of Kanopi Studios, an open source website strategy, design, development and support agency. In her work at Kanopi, Anne has built a team committed to equality and contributing back to the Drupal project. Learn more about how Anne and her team are supporting both their clients and the larger Drupal community by celebrating successes, pursuing innovation and promoting a culture of shared values.
How did you get your start in tech?
After a couple years working at a marketing agency that specialised in real estate, I made the move to the tech world as a content manager in 2006. That was my introduction to Drupal, and I was hooked! Fast forward to 2013 when I took a huge leap and started my own web design company, Kanopi Studios, on a mission to build value-driven websites using open source technology.
How did you first discover Drupal?
I came across Drupal back in 2006, as an end-user and then ended up getting a job with an agency that built sites in Drupal.
My first experience was going to DrupalCamp Victoria in 2006, where I met this amazing group of quirky people who totally drew me in. This included Chris Shattuk from BuildAModule, and Shiraz Dindar who’s now one of my long-time employees based in Victoria. After witnessing the incredible sense of community that I experienced at that first camp, I knew there was something to this whole Drupal thing. There was something special about it.
Then, in 2009, I had the opportunity to go to the PNW Drupal Summit in Seattle, and that feeling just continued to snowball. I found myself in a room of brilliant people who were also a ton of fun. And, while I didn’t have any coding experience, I felt totally accepted by them. I fell in love with the community for their inclusivity and for their uniqueness. From there, a desire grew to start to learn the technology.
What Drupal function, project or contribution are you working on and/or most proud of?
One of the contributions that I’m personally most proud of is our Community Contribution program at Kanopi Studios. We’ve created a sustainable model that facilitates multiple different initiatives in our business.
We have a dedicated Community Ambassador, AmyJune Hineline. When she started, we split her time between 50% billable client work, while the other 50% of her time was focused on community. We ended up moving her to a totally 100% community role, as we saw the amazing impact she had. She helps organize events, is on the Drupal Core mentoring team, leads first time contributor workshops at regional and local DrupalCamps and helps mentor attendees in general contribution spaces. There’s also a positive business impact for us at Kanopi; her role fuels brand evangelism, staff recruitment, staff retention, and also impresses clients who will then rank us higher in RFPs for our commitment to the open source community.
We also have a community contribution program at Kanopi, of which I’m very proud. Our employees use Slack to report what they’ve done with a numeric value. For example “I worked two hours on the weekend on this” or “I spent an hour on this”, and anyone can get involved. A lot of people that are community people put the time in regardless, and we wanted to enable everyone to get recognition if they want to give their time. When our employees log community hours, they can use those credits towards professional development and time for travel/conferences they want to attend.
What are some challenges you've faced, technically or career-wise?
As the business grew, a challenge for me was ensuring the needs of the company were balanced with the needs of my employees. That always felt like a huge responsibility to me, and it was much easier when we were a team of 10, to being a team of 50+ people spread across North America. The thing is, it’s actually what has made us successful. By making sure I’ve maintained an employee-first approach, we’ve been able to give our clients that type of service as well and continue growing year after year.
What inspires you? What keeps you passionate about your work?
I’m inspired by the people I get to work with every day and creating a value-driven work environment. By hiring people who share our values, we’re able to work at becoming better (together), and better for our clients and the entire Drupal community.
We have seven values that guide our work at Kanopi, and we use hashtags to recognize each other on our Slack channels throughout the workday! Seeing our employees live these values in the work we do inspires me every day.
- We value human connection. We are #BetterTogether.
- We value being #Nimble and helpful.
- We value #Clarity.
- We value that when something is complex, we #OwnIt.
- We value contributing #Trust daily.
- We value supporting our #Community.
- We value expressing #Gratitude.
What are some other aspects of the Drupal community that you're involved in?
Outside of our own internal community programs, I also speak at Drupal conferences and Camps as much as possible, to continue giving back to the community. And, to show our commitment to diversity and inclusion, Kanopi is a founding sponsor of Discover Drupal, which is a program designed to expand diverse talent in the Drupal community. Our Director of Marketing, Allison Manley, uses her community time towards that project, acting as Project Manager.
How do you think we can help empower women in tech and work toward better gender inclusion?
Lead by example.
Kanopi is a female-led and female-owned company, and that’s something I take great pride in. Our leadership team is primarily women, and that’s not something I sought out to enforce necessarily, it’s because they’re the best people for the job. But by placing women in these highly visible roles, we’ve been able to attract incredibly talented women in tech/the Drupal community who saw our level of equality as a differentiator.
What does the future of Drupal look like in your opinion? More adoption, new features, any major changes?
I love that Drupal has always reinvented itself to be better, and I’m really grateful we’re at a point where we’re committing to backwards compatibility. Backwards compatibility means that we can really create growth instead of having to rebuild every version, and I think that will greatly help with Drupal adoption.
I’m also really excited to see how Drupal has pushed the needle in terms of accessibility and multilingual in core, and there’s only more to come. I think that’s something that no other CMS can boast, that our whole editing experience is accessible and embraced compliancy.
I think the future of Drupal is a bright one. It’ll include updates to UX for content editors, easy onboarding process and new pathways for training and education.