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

Sherif Koussa sherif.koussa at owasp.org
Mon Jun 16 13:08:12 UTC 2014

Same here.

On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:04 AM, Arturo 'Buanzo' Busleiman <
buanzo at buanzo.com.ar> wrote:

> 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-----------------------------
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> OWASP-Leaders mailing list
>>> OWASP-Leaders at lists.owasp.org
>>> https://lists.owasp.org/mailman/listinfo/owasp-leaders
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