When Ruby Central was founded in 2001 it was a small operation focused solely on organizing RubyConf, now the world's largest and longest-running gathering of Rubyists, which launched the same year. Twenty-two years later, Ruby Central is in an era of expansion! New board member roles were recently announced and as we move toward some exciting new goals and plans this year, we thought it would be a good time to share a look at the role of the Ruby Central board, how it’s changed and where we’re headed.

A look back

The growth of Ruby Central has been steady and intentional. The board is made up entirely of volunteers, who are passionate Ruby community members. Over the last two decades team members have stepped in and out to support Ruby Central’s mission, and support one another (and prevent burnout!). As Ruby Central grows and changes its mission has been able to grow and change with it.

2001 - 2011: Founders David Alan Black and Chad Fowler, both organizers of the inaugural RubyConf in 2001 in Tampa, and Rich Kilmer, make the decision to establish Ruby Central as a nonprofit organization. They serve as its only board members until 2011.

2012: Ruby Central takes over show running of RailsConf. Previous to this, the conference was co-produced with O’Reilly Media.

Ruby Central brings on first staff member, Abby Phoenix who joins as its sole employee, to run both RubyConf and RailsConf. Prior to this, the board members ran all aspects of the conferences.

Ben Scofield who had been helping organize RailsConf, joins as a board member along with Evan Phoenix, who had been helping run rubygems.org, as Chad Fowler and Rich Kilmer step down from their board roles, and David Black steps back into an advisory role.

Ruby Central board grows to three members: Ben and Evan realize they need a third active board member and reach out to Marty Haught, who had been hosting a Rocky Mountain RubyConf event, and he agrees to join.

2014: Ben steps down from board and Sarah Mei joins to replace him.

2019: The Board decides to expand to six members, with an eye toward a more sustainable team and a greater capacity and potential for growth for Ruby Central as the organization seeks to do more for the Ruby community.

Barrett Clark, Allison McMillan, Fable Tales, and Max Tiu join Marty and Evan to round out the board. Sarah steps down.

2020: Ruby Central merges with Ruby Together, bringing support of the vital Ruby infrastructure development under its umbrella.

Former Ruby Together board members Adarsh Pandit, Valerie Woolard and Jonan Scheffler, join. Barrett steps down.

2020 - 2022:

Max steps down. Chelsea Kaufman joins in October of 2022.

Ruby Central reimagines its role in the community. The pandemic makes it clear that conferences aren’t the only way to serve the Ruby community. The board sets new goals: On top of the conferences, what more can we do to support the growth of the community — not just in the US but all over the world — and the programming language?

How the current board runs

Here’s what your 2023 Ruby Central board have to say about how they run things:

The board of directors for Ruby Central are representatives from the community and are here to help make sure everything runs smoothly. We meet once a month and we all take turns working as co-chairs of the conferences.
Here are some of the other key things we do:
We decide what the organization is all about: We set the mission and goals, and make sure everything the organization does lines up with those. We make sure the mission aligns with what the community needs.
We hire and keep an eye on the boss: We hire and evaluate the executive director, who runs things day-to-day.
We keep the organization's finances in good shape: We make sure there's enough money, set the budget, and make sure everyone is following the rules.
We follow the law and do what's right: we make sure the organization is doing things legally and ethically.
We bring in the cash: We find ways to raise money, like getting donations, applying for grants, and partnering with other groups.
We keep the board strong: We make sure it's made up of the right people, train them, and set rules for how it should run.
Basically, we are a group of people who make sure Ruby Central is doing what it's supposed to do, and doing it in a responsible way.

“The organization is here for the community,” said board president Chelsea Kaufman on a panel at RubyConf 2022. The board emphasized how important it is to them to receive feedback and collaborate with Rubyists as Ruby Central grows. “Tell us your thoughts. Your voices really matter to us,” she added.

This is a very exciting time for us at Ruby Central. If you have questions or ideas for the Ruby Central board as we expand in new directions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at contact@rubycentral.org.