Episode 80

Emma Irwin and the FOSS Fund Program


June 14th, 2021

29 mins 18 secs

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About this Episode


Emma Irwin


Eric Berry | Justin Dorfman | Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! We are so excited to have on this episode as our guest, Emma Irwin. She is a Senior Project Manager in the Open Source Program Office at Microsoft. Today, we learn what Emma does at Microsoft OSPO, how she runs the FOSS Fund Program inside Microsoft, and she tells us about an article she wrote on Mozilla last year about safety. We also dive into the recent news of Richard Stallman returning to the FSF board, and what Emma is excited about happening soon with work she’s trying to do to help with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Download this episode to find out much more!

[00:01:32] Emma fills us in on what she does at Microsoft OSPO.

[00:02:47] Richard wonders how Emma manages to make it not seem extractive to do open source and how she makes it inviting for people to come and volunteer their time to work on projects which are housed by Microsoft or Microsoft is involved in.

[00:05:05] Emma tells us how she runs the FOSS Fund Program inside of Microsoft and the three goals of the FOSS Fund. She also tells us how many people are working in it and if it’s involved with other departments or business units, or if it’s completely separate.

[00:09:26] Emma gives us her opinion of how you can best build communities that enable people to thrive in an open source environment.

[00:11:36] Emma elaborates on the safety issue she brought up and tells us about an article she wrote on Mozilla last year.

[00:13:32] We learn how many incidents Mozilla experienced a year.

[00:14:32] Justin wonders of Emma sees any projects that get more hate than others.

[00:15:56] Richard brings up the recent news of Richard Stallman returning to the Free Software Foundation after resigning in 2019, and Emma shares her thoughts about it.

[00:19:57 ] Emma tells us what she’s most excited about in the next six months with work she’s trying to do to help DEI work.

[00:21:56] Find out what Emma shares that she’s been learning recently as part of the FOSS Fund, which is a positive thing from Microsoft.

[00:24:57] Find out where you can follow Emma on the internet.


[00:01:47] “And then the place that we’re kind of at Microsoft is thinking about the culture that we’re building around open source as well, you know it’s the mechanics and the compliance piece, but it’s also the human piece.”

[00:03:27] “But I really believe that, and my experience at Mozilla where I worked before this, was like bringing people together around specific topics, allowing people to learn a thing, but also collaborate and chat, come together around shared pain points or opportunities.”

[00:07:48] “A good OSPO doesn’t live in any part of the organization, it traverses and works with organizations and teams across it.”

[00:09:41] “I think, and I teach that you really have to be mindful of who it is that you want to engage as part of your open source project.”

[00:11:53] “So that work was done kind of back in the topic are of recognizing that there is not a fluid line in open source between employee or paid staff and contributors.”

[00:12:51] “So that blog post and work was all about creating an end to end program to ensure that both staff and volunteers felt safe, but also understood their role.”

[00:14:08] “I’ll actually say that a lot of people mean well, a lot of people want, but they’re often unprepared.”

[00:14:42] “I think some of the well-organized projects, the .net project at Microsoft. The group that runs that is extremely good at running community.”

[00:17:26] “And that’s why open source is still less diverse than tech overall and Stahllman is like dinosaur in my opinion of that era.”

[00:24:08] “Yeah, and there’s a risk working group with CHAOSS, that’s what they call the RISK WG, which is basically like, how do we think about our dependencies as a problem, how do we solve this?”


  • [00:26:21] Justin’s spotlight is Fiverr.
  • [00:26:49] Eric’s spotlight is Gitpod.
  • [00:27:25] Richard’s spotlight is Gist.
  • [00:27:55] Emma’s spotlight is the Drupal Project.



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