Hi, I’m benny. How can I help?

Hi! I’m benny.

I like music, baking, crochet, books, and Pitbulls. I’ve just started getting back into gardening, and love to watch American football (always rooting for my poor Detroit Lions). I’ve lived in Michigan (the high-five of the US) most of my life, but snow and I have a love-hate relationship. Five years ago I finally admitted to myself that I truly hate blueberries. 

More importantly, though, I’m joining Chef as Community Manager after spending 15 years in the web hosting industry. While being this deep in an open source community is new for me, I am no stranger to the importance of open source in our world. The entire hosting industry is built on the back of open source software, and I’m incredibly excited to be able to learn more about Chef’s community.

Community is one of those nebulous, feelings-based words that often means different things to different people. For me, the community of a software company encompasses anyone that uses, writes, supports, or interacts with its software in any way.  A Community Manager’s job is to help the community be the best it can be.

At my core, I am a helper. I like to connect and to teach, and to encourage people on their paths. I have spent most of my life doing those things, both in a personal and professional capacity, and I’m excited to join the brand new Developer Relations team here at Chef.

Introducing Chef’s DevRel Team

Chef has spent much of its life being able to rely on just a couple of people to represent the company and to be the glue for the massive collection of people involved in Chef. Those situations, however, will always lead to burn out and compassion fatigue. That’s especially true when trying to wrangle and support a community the size of Chef’s. In the coming year, Chef is putting more resources behind growing and supporting its community. In part, you will see evidence of that change with the addition of the Developer Relations team.

The Developer Relations (or “DevRel”) team is a new addition to Chef and brings together a team of folks to improve the experience for our community members. Our primary point of focus this year is improving all of the entry-points for the Chef community. That includes things like our training platform, Learn Chef Rally, our events (both Meetups and DevOps Days, as well as other industry events), and our digital outreach (things like Slack and Discourse). 

Getting our feet wet

The first thing we get to show has been a collaboration across all of Chef – from marketing to engineering: a re-building of chef.io/community. That page has been neglected and didn’t direct newcomers to the most appropriate content or help them to get started. Especially with all of the changes we’ve made in the last year, it negatively impacted the influx of new people to the Chef community. 

As of today, you’ll see that page now redirects to dev.chef.io. This page helps DevOps pros, operators, developers, and engineers know where to start connecting with the community, and what to focus on first.

The rest of our 2020 goals, as you might imagine, are pretty massive. We’ve got a few initial goalposts, though, and you’ll start to see things change a bit related to them. Here’s a glimpse of the few things we’re working on now:

  • Re-platforming learn.chef.io 
    • Move to a new backend system that allows us to update content more easily
    • Serve our existing learners with a platform that helps us deliver new content more quickly
  • Build a fantastic ChefConf
    • Make ChefConf (both Seattle and London) the best place for our community to gather
    • Bring in the best speakers and topics (the 2020 CFP will open soon!)
    • Help attendees build lasting connections across industries with great networking events
  • Identify ways to make sure the community is supported
    • Help make sure questions are getting answered wherever possible
    • Find a better way to answer questions in a way that sticks around for a while 
    • Finding a way to streamline requests for training from the community to the Developer Advocates that build the content
  • Create a communication plan
    • Be intentional about how and when we communicate about everything we’re working on
    • Make sure updates and alerts are going out in the ways our community wants to consume them

How can I help?

I am excited to dig my teeth in and learn more about each and every one of you, and how I can help build a better, safer space for everyone that touches Chef. Take a look at dev.chef.io, and then come chat with us in Slack, ask questions in Discourse, and keep an eye out for more from us in 2020. 

If you haven’t already, you should also be making plans to come to Seattle in June for ChefConf 2020. If you’re looking for a way to convince your bosses it’s worth paying to get you here, you should definitely start thinking about submitting a talk. The call for submissions to speak will open up soon (maybe as soon as Friday!), and we love to have our community members share how they’re using Chef so that we can all learn from each other and grow together. 

See you soon!

benny Vasquez
benny Vasquez

benny has been building communities for nearly her entire life. Her passion for technology is rooted in customer success, but she's done everything from managing a specialty toy store to technical support. She lives in a tiny house in Michigan, and there's a 90% chance she's got at least four 1/2 done craft projects on the table next to her.