On being a HOT Board Member

After 4 years, today my last day as a Board Member of Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. We have annual board elections announced at our Annual General Meeting in a few short hours. During my time on HOT’s Board, I served as a Member-at-Large, Secretary and President. Serving on the HOT board has been challenging and rewarding as the NGO has grown in leaps and bounds. It has been an honour to be part of that journey with fellow board members, members, staff, community allies, donors, and supporters. (Thank you.)

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) applies the principles of open source and open data sharing for humanitarian response and economic development.

Being a Board Member for a small NGO can be a serious commitment. HOT’s Board is transitioning from operations to a strategic board. It is something that every open source community does over time. To support this change, the board, staff and membership have learned much about organizational development, governance and fundraising. This has taken substantial leadership from two Executive Directors (Kate Chapman and Tyler Radford), staff, and many fellow Board Members. Some of the ‘back office support’ that the HOT board provided previously are now staff and community roles. (One example of organizational development, is the Board Primer that I curated.)

Honestly, serving HOT changed my life and I am thankful for all the experiences. And, I am thankful for all the amazing people with whom I met or collaborated.

HOT Activation Sprint

What being on the Board taught me

We all have our goals – personal and career.

Being on the HOT Board taught me to be a better leader. There are so many proud moments as I reflect – watching and supporting leaders, learning about all the amazing projects and advocacy work, and sharing the HOT story in many public forums, like this Datashift article. I helped build and support a growing NGO. HOT truly inspires me, as do the staff, partners and extended community. The skills I learned have helped my career – organizational development, strategic planning, meeting management, co-writing grants, interviewing staff, hiring an Executive Director, communications planning, and planning a strategic board meeting.

Other skills that I learned and/or honed: negotiation skills, coordination, dealing with conflict, managing people, and mentorship. Everyone’s Board Member path is different. If you are considering running for a board and/or joining a Board, I am available to talk.

I remain an active member of HOT, including co-leading our Governance Working Group.

(Photo credit: Jakarta HOT Activation Workshop, ccby by Mhairi O’Hara)

Thank you and keep on inspiring,


Co-creating and Celebrating Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Maps connect us and tell stories. On Thursday, September 22, 2016, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team will convene for our 2nd annual HOT Summit in Brussels on the eve of the State of the Map conference. Both events celebrate OpenStreetMap and the community.

HOT Summit Logo

Top 5 Reasons to be at the HOT Summit

1. Leaders will share their map stories from around the globe

Check out the amazing programme of speakers from Indonesia, Canada, US, Tanzania and more.
HOT activation traininng in Jakarta

(Photo by Mhairi O’hara at the HOT Activation Workshop, Jakarta 2015)

2. Meet and build HOT and OSM together

The map is bigger than one individual. It is a community, a network of networks.

Bill Gates on OSM in Nepal Response May 5, 2015

3. Provide input into HOT’s future strategic planning

We are 6 year’s young and so much to do. Give us advice, take a task, share your experience, express your opinion. We will have many conversations and coffee conversations about the future of HOT. Help us co-create this strategy.

Road by BraveBros. from the Noun Project noun_106568_cc

(Image credit- Road by BraveBros. from the Noun Project)

4. Learn new skills from peers

The talent in this community to teach each other is amazing. Having an in person space to learn, ask questions, grab a side table to map makes the HOT Summit a space for everyone. Just ask. I am sure that we will find someone who can answer your questions or even learn a thing or two from you!

Mapping Nepal (photo by Gopinath Parayil))

(Photo for the Nepal Earthquake response by Gopinath Parayil)

5. Have fun mapping for change with your new friends

A few of the HOT community attended the World Humanitarian Summit. Many of us had not met before in person. Times of laughter and solidarity make all the difference.
HOT at WHS 2016

(photo for WHS 2016 using Heather’s phone)

Why join us?

How can we get to the next million participants creating the largest open map? How can improve everyone’s experience from novice to advanced? What are some of the project highlights from around the world?

Achieving our mission to help humanitarians and economic development with OpenStreetMap means widening the circle. Sure, we will talk fine details about mapping, but there is space for everyone to explore and contribute. Even if you are not a ‘mapper’, but are curious about open source and open mapping, then join us. We aim to improve the map and grow the global community. Over the past months, our team has been demonstrating how HOT can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and help humanitarians with Missing Maps. This action packed day has tickets available for 66.24Euro. (Register today!)


Batman, Foodies, Fashion + CrisisMaps at Next Day Better

Building a common good unites us. This Thursday I’m participating in Next Day Better in Toronto. This is such a special event combining fun, food, art and technology to inspire people to make the Next Day Better. I’ll share the story of Crisismappers highlighting the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team response in the Philippines.

How will I make the Next Day Better?

I help people get more involved in their world. One example is supporting an open community-driven digital humanitarian response.

“We are a culture platform that builds and activates diaspora communities to create a better future. We believe that diasporas like the Philippines global community are hubs and inspirations for social innovation, incredible design, and world changing ideas. We bring these doers and change makers together to share their stories and make the next day better.”


Tickets are only $20.00 with amazing talks and food! Please join us.

Help Share about Next Day Better

Facebook updates:

We’re partnering with social innovation group @NextDayBetter to celebrate their launch in Toronto on June 19. It will be a night of inspired talks from changemakers – the #Philippines is ready for open-source mapping! If you’re in Toronto, RSVP here.

Amazing things are happening June 19 – board member/idea hacker Heather Leson will be @NextDayBetter’s launch in Toronto as they bring big-idea thinkers, amazing work doers and changemakers together. Get your tickets here.


We’re partnering w/ @NextDayBetter for their launch in #Toronto 6/19! Learn more: http://www.bit.ly/NextDayBetterTOR

The #Philippines is ready. Join us @NextDayBetter Toronto launch | 6/19 7pm | RSVP http://www.bit.ly/NextDayBetterTOR

About NextDayBetter

NextDayBetter is a platform that spreads ideas and actions that make the next day better. Ideas and actions are Philippines-flavored and rooted in design, entrepreneurship and innovation.

We invite innovators entrepreneurs, designers, do gooders — both Filipino and Non-Filipino—to share their stories about creating a better future.

Visit www.nextdaybetter.com for more information.

I found out about the Next Day Better group after engaging with folks around Hacking PH: focused on rebuilding a resilient Philippines. They really inspired me with their approach to building community locally and globally.

How will you make the Next Day Better?


On the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Board

For almost a year, I’ve had the honour to be a member of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Board. HOT is one of the most important Digital Humanitarian /Crisismapper communities. As a community advocate and organizer, I joined to support and be in service of these efforts. A Board member serves the strategic interest of the organization and her members. Today I ask the HOT membership to consider renewing my Board Membership so that I can continue to collaborate and help HOT grow.

For my fellow candidates: HOT is a young organization. Being a HOT Board Member often required more than 10 hours a week. If you are nominated to join the board, you should be prepared to contribute this level of time. I’m writing this to help outline what I think the HOT Board needs to do in the next term.

Boy and the world image

When I joined the Board, I began researching Board best practices and reviewed many other organization’s Board composition, bylaws and strategic plans. I also asked colleagues from other organizations what makes a successful board. I determined that I could contribute work on fundraising, communications, strategy and outreach. These are items that I felt were missing from HOT’s strategy.

My first board term involved more organizational development issues, which delayed my original goals. HOT is a Working Board. But, there are some differences between what a Board does and what items are for Operations. This continues to be a growth opportunity for HOT. A Board ideally should not be involved in the day-to-day operations operations of the organization. Some examples include: staffing decisions, receipt management for projects, and HOT activations. I think it is important to also distinguish the Board, Operations and what it means to be a valuable contributor/member of the community. Every organization needs these components, but each is often its own entity.

By definition, a Board Member key role is to support the strategic growth and ongoing success of an organization. The following types of skills would be needed among the composite board. Every individual on the Board brings different skills, so consider this a sketch:

  • Networks (Fundraising, Humanitarian)
  • Technical Expertise
  • Legal Knowledge
  • Financial Acumen
  • Business and Organizational Development Strategy
  • Fundraising and Communications Strategy

The HOT Board should focus on the the above noted tasks to contribute to the success of the whole project.

Some Resources:

For friends of HOT, I am collecting resources on Boards and how to help shape with examples. Please do share any resources on Board leadership or Board Best Practices. This is a journey and I am learning as fast as I can. (Thank you in advance.)

On this topic, I want to thank Aspiration Tech gifting mentorship on the Board journey.

  • Chronicle of Philanthropy
  • Plone: (an example of a “Working” Board)

    “This is a working board. Be ready to regularly take on and complete responsibilities for board business.

    The board writes no code and makes no development decisions. It is much more concerned with marketing, budgets, fund-raising, community process and intellectual property considerations.”

  • Open Stack (Board example)
    “The Board of Directors provides strategic and financial oversight of Foundation resources and staff.”

(Photo by me: San Francisco, February 2014)


HOT membership and Board proposal

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is in election mode. I hope to become a member pending approval and am proposing to join the board. More on that in a bit.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

What is HOT and Why is it so important to the Digital Humanitarian Ecosystem

HOT grew with the need to recognize emergency and crisis mapping. Over the past almost 3 years, I’ve watched the team grow, I’ve worked on projects that benefited from HOT contributions and I’ve been continuously amazing by their talent and strengths.

More about HOT

Become HOT

The process: You need to be nominated to be a HOT team member. (This window is closed now)
Current Membership

You can still join the mailing list and contribute.

Their HOT Tasking tool is one of the best micro-tasking tools I’ve seen in digital volunteering. You can get started here.

HOT Board

In the coming week, HOT members will be voting for a new Board.

I am proposing to join the HOT Board pending acceptance as a HOT member.

Here are some of the things I can offer

1. Fundraising, Outreach and Storytelling skills.
2. Advocacy: While I may not be an active OSM contributor, but I am a big advocate of HOT and OSM in most of the work and volunteering I do.
3. Mapping organizations like Ushahidi need OSM to have the free imagery just as much as OSM wants it. I would essentially be an end-user in your corner.

In my job at Ushahidi, we changed our base map to OSM this year. When I talk with deployers, especially those working in crisis or conflict areas, they advise that they can’t use OSM as a base layer because the map is empty. One most recent example was planning for the .ke Elections in 2013. I want to join the HOT team and be an active more formal supporter to fill this gap. There has got to be ways to get imagery and to match the HOT team to these citizen science mappers. The map should not be a deterrent but a benefit in their journey to share stories of what they see and what they hear.

Thank you

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