[Owasp-leaders] In Samantha's words: "Why I resigned my role at OWASP"

Arturo 'Buanzo' Busleiman buanzo at buanzo.com.ar
Mon Jun 16 13:04:27 UTC 2014

I am listening to the others involved if they can/want to tell their story.

Yes. I got in just to say this.

Something happened on the way to owasp-heaven. Those I met and befriended
6, 7 years ago can probably say the same.
On Jun 16, 2014 9:56 AM, "Dinis Cruz" <dinis.cruz at owasp.org> wrote:

> Well, I think the affected parties should now present their side of the
> story.
> Also Samantha as dropped the main legal action, and offered a way out to
> deal with the others.
> What would be nice is if we could have good visibility into what really
> happened (and lets not use legal action as an excuse to have more 'behind
> the scenes' threads or conversations (which is one of the root causes of
> the current situation)).
> As yes, that story is written from Samantha's point of view, which of
> course is biased on her favour (which is why it is important to have
> multiple views of the issues raised)
> Dinis
> On 16 June 2014 13:47, Eoin Keary <eoin.keary at owasp.org> wrote:
>> Hi Dinis,
>> This is a bit unfair as its only one side of the issue and is also
>> disputed...
>> I believe there is legal action being pursued by both sides which your
>> email below may cause bias and affect the outcome.
>> Eoin Keary
>> Owasp Global Board
>> +353 87 977 2988
>> On 16 Jun 2014, at 13:08, Dinis Cruz <dinis.cruz at owasp.org> wrote:
>> In her own words (I made no changes to the text), please find below
>> Samantha's version of why she left OWASP.
>> I'm posting this email on her behalf because she doesn't have access to
>> her OWASP email anymore.
>> My view is that we should use the current environment to change OWASP
>> (for the better), since the current system has lots of good intentions, but
>> tends to push great and honest OWASP leaders to behave in damaging ways
>> (i.e its the system that is broken, not the people (as well described in
>> the The USA is Lesterland <http://lesterland.lessig.org> concept)). For
>> me, the key problem is the 'Myth of the OWASP leader', which I've written
>> about at On the unrealistic expectations on OWASP board members, and the
>> 'myth of the OWASP Board member'
>> <http://blog.diniscruz.com/2014/04/on-unrealistic-expectations-on-owasp.html> ,
>> and creates situations like the ones described below
>> Samantha is being very brave and courageous: by sharing her feeling like
>> this, by offering an olive branch and by making requests that ultimately
>> will help OWASP (an entity and group that she clearly still loves). I'm
>> very proud of her.
>> Please read the email carefully, and if you can, please help in wrapping
>> this up, in an positive way for all parties involved.
>> Dinis Cruz
>> (just an OWASP leader that cares about OWASP)
>> ------------------BEGIN OF SAMANTHA'S POST-----------------------------
>> *Title: Why I resigned my role at OWASP*
>> Hello Leaders,
>> Quite a few of you have reached out to me and have asked me why I made
>> the decision to leave OWASP. I have received over 150 e-mails expressing
>> shock, distress, and concern over my resignation. Many of you thought I was
>> moving on to another job, and others were concerned that I resigned under
>> duress. I really didn’t want to have to give a full explanation surrounding
>> the details of my departure, but a very good friend convinced me to tell my
>> story. He let me know that my departure was so sudden, that I owed it to
>> the community (many of you my close friends) to tell the truth from my
>> perspective. So here it is:
>> I did resign under duress. I resigned without having anything to fall
>> back on. I am at risk of losing my home because of it, and I have gone
>> through some very difficult financial hardships as a result. I knew this
>> would happen going into it, but I just could not take the abusive behavior
>> I was enduring anymore from several members of the board of directors. I
>> felt backed into a corner so I did what any person would do under this
>> amount of stress. I sought help. The individuals that helped me encouraged
>> me to press charges against these people, so I did. I pressed charges
>> against Jim Manico, Josh Sokol, and Eoin Keary with the Federal Equal
>> Employment Opportunity Commission law enforcement agency of the United
>> States. They took my case, and they began moving forward with the
>> investigation. Below is the timeline of events I shared with them. I have
>> left out some of the more embarrassing details as my point is not to shame
>> anyone, but to tell the truth from my perspective.
>> ##########################
>> *Background:*
>> October 2013: I discovered, due to the nature of my job which is managing
>> projects, that a member of the Board of Directors, Eoin, was mis-managing
>> project funds. I brought this to his attention one year prior to the first
>> incident, thinking it was simply an oversight. He did not take action for a
>> year, and when pushed to produce the funds, I let him know that they did
>> not exist as I mentioned to him one year prior. He then proceeded to blame
>> me for the mis-management of funds on public forums.
>> November 2013: At a very high profile, public conference (AppSec USA
>> 2013) which I was one of the planners for, Jim Manico used sexually
>> aggressive and offensive, gender specific language against me in front of
>> my co-workers, other board members, and volunteers. I believe it was a
>> direct result of the conflict that arose with his business partner, Eoin,
>> one month prior. It is not the first time Jim has used this type of
>> language against a female staff member in public.
>> March 2014: Jim Manico began the public accusations surrounding my work
>> performance. He submitted statements on public lists that go out to 42,000
>> sponsors, partners, and volunteers. He claimed that I was not doing my job,
>> despite the Executive Director letting him know that his statements were
>> false as I have excellent performance reviews. He continued these public
>> accusations, made without evidence, for the next 3 months.
>> April 2014: Jim Manico continued to make public accusations surrounding
>> my work performance despite having been made aware that his statements were
>> inaccurate by my direct supervisor and the Executive Director of the
>> company. Another Board Member, Josh Sokol, then began to echo his
>> accusations of my performance on public lists.
>> April 07, 2014: I received a call from a very prominent project sponsor,
>> letting me know that Jim Manico directly called him to discuss my
>> performance as this sponsor and I were working together on a large project.
>> Keep in mind, Jim is not my supervisor. He is a volunteer and does not have
>> authority to manage foundation staff. The sponsor called me as he thought
>> Jim’s call was very unprofessional, and we subsequently lost the
>> opportunity because of it. The sponsor and I had been working on this
>> opportunity for 6 months.
>> April 30th, 2014: I submitted a formal complaint about Jim’s behavior to
>> the Executive Director and the Chairman of the Board of Directors. It was
>> accepted and acknowledged.
>> May 20th, 2014: The public accusations of poor work performance
>> continued. Josh Sokol asked me to accept a demotion, because Jim Manico
>> claimed I was not qualified for my position. This was done  without any
>> evidence or any authority as I did not work for the board of directors. I
>> worked for the OWASP community and the Executive Director.
>> May 23rd, 2014: I declined the demotion offer. Eoin Keary encouraged me
>> to leave OWASP if I didn’t like it. The Executive Director resigned her
>> post.
>> May 27th, 2014: The Executive Director informed me that the Board of
>> Directors intended to dismiss me from my post as they let her know they
>> were taking executive control of the organization since she resigned. I
>> resigned my post the same day as it was made clear to me by my boss that I
>> would be fired very shortly, anyway. No reason was given to me as to why I
>> would be fired other than I defended myself against false accusations about
>> my performance made by Jim, Josh, and Eoin. I offered a two month
>> transition period as I have many projects, grants, events, and staff I
>> supervise, to transition after my departure.
>> May 28th, 2014: The members of the board asked the Executive Director to
>> send me termination agreements where they asked me to waive my rights to
>> sue them for damages, and waive my rights to my complaint submitted on
>> April 30th, 2014. They also wanted me to remain silent about the details
>> listed above. They offered me money in exchange for the waiver of my
>> rights. I declined the money and pressed charges. The ED also let me know
>> that the board decided that 2 weeks would be sufficient time to transition
>> my projects to other staff members.
>> ##########################
>> This is why I resigned, from my perspective. Just as one board member
>> encouraged a volunteer to share her frustrations, I feel I have the same
>> right to share mine. I want to stress, that I DO NOT want to dwell on the
>> details of what happened. I want us to take this as a learning opportunity
>> to move forward in the best interests of the OWASP community.
>> After I resigned, I shared all of this with a handful of friends. One of
>> them spent quite a bit of time helping me through all of this. After
>> discussing everything that occurred, and talking through the ramifications
>> of all of this, he encouraged me to think about what would happen to OWASP
>> and all of the people involved in all of the different programs I helped
>> create here. So, as a favor to him, I reflected on this for some time
>> before taking any further action. I then spoke to my attorney, and after
>> some time and hours of discussion, I decided to drop the civil lawsuit I
>> was pursuing. I am also willing to drop the charges against Jim, Josh, and
>> Eoin, but I need the acceptance of the following from the OWASP Board of
>> Directors before I do:
>> 1. I want a sincere, public apology from the OWASP Board for your gross
>> misconduct against me, your inappropriate, condescending, and outright
>> un-justifiably aggressive behavior towards the OWASP staff, and for wasting
>> the OWASP community’s time instead of doing what you were elected to do
>> which is to set a strategic direction for this company.
>> 2. I want an open, RESPECTFUL, discussion about what happened here
>> between the OWASP board members, the OWASP community, and the OWASP staff.
>> OWASP lost two staff members in the span of a week. That is a HUGE red flag
>> to any organization with such a small operations team.
>> 3. I also want all parties involved to take the time to check their
>> attitudes, and leave any superiority complex, in the rubbish bin. We are a
>> huge community, and we are all at different stages in our careers. I know
>> this is a taboo subject, but I wanted to make one thing very clear. Your
>> title and  paycheck can change at a moments notice. What matters is how you
>> treat one another, because as my father has taught me, you never know when
>> you are going to need to knock on MY door to ask ME for money, a favor, or
>> a job. Be RESPECTFUL to one another. You are ALL the same no matter what
>> profession you choose, how much you make, or where you are from.
>> If I get an agreement to the items above from all members of the OWASP
>> board especially Jim, Josh and Eoin, then I promise to drop the charges I
>> filed against you. The ball is in your court, gentlemen. I am offering you
>> an olive branch. I suggest you take it.
>> I want OWASP to get to a point where we can have open honest discussions
>> with one another that are respectful, professional, and devoid of malice
>> and vindictiveness. That is the only way this community is going to grow
>> and change for the better, I feel.
>> In regard to my situation, rest assured, Dennis and I are ok. It will
>> take time to recuperate what we have lost, but we are quite a resilient
>> partnership that works very well together. Thankfully, lady luck was on my
>> side and I was snatched up by a fantastic non-profit foundation shortly
>> after my resignation. I am now the Director of Development for this
>> organization, and I couldn’t be happier. I guess my work speaks for itself.
>> ;-)
>> In closing, OWASP Board, I will wait for your agreement to the items
>> listed above, Jim, Josh, and Eoin, especially. If we are all willing to
>> discuss this openly, then I will do as promised. I will provide you with my
>> federal agent’s details if you want confirmation.
>> For the rest of the OWASP community… I love you, I wish you the best, and
>> please help one another in times of need. You are all a family. Treat each
>> other as such. My door (wherever that may be) will always be open to you no
>> matter what, even you, Jim, Josh, and Eoin. If you ever need us, Dennis and
>> I are just an e-mail away. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
>> So long for now OWASP, and thanks for all the fish.
>> With love,
>> Samantha
>> ------------------END OF SAMANTHA'S POST-----------------------------
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