[Owasp-leaders] [OWASP-chapters] Updates on OWASP & The Board

Sherif Mansour sherif.mansour at owasp.org
Thu Aug 30 14:04:40 UTC 2018

Many thanks to Andy, Johnanna and Andy.W, for extending a helping hand,

To echo Martin's point the majority of the board are chapter leaders, we
are championing positive change for the foundation, and we also share your
perspective at the chapter level. I am delighted what we have a board that
is committed to improving the foundation to serve the community better.

As an OWASP Chapter Leader (London), we are looking to return our earnings
of AppSecEU to the foundation. It was an absolute honor hosting the event
and we are delighted that it raised 3x more profit that 2017 and was a
record breaking AppSecEU for sponsorships, we also managed to get a lot of
members via the members lounge (roughly $3k of memberships last I checked).
We are doing this in part to help the foundation, and due to our
partnership for further events as a large city we have a responsibility to
our community and the OWASP mission. We have had a couple of years with out
an ED, and there are some areas of improvement, which the foundation is
committed to working on.

One key success is that we left the foundation to deal with a lot of the
admin/logistics issues, some the local chapters had to deal with in the
past and we focused on what we want to see in an AppSecEU, and the
foundation's staff focused on how best to carry it out. This reduced the
burden of work on the Chapter but we hand a seat right at the front of the
Another success factor was that the foundation was restructuring itself,
Kelly for example focused on what she did best (sponsorships) and she
knocked it out of the park, it was a great sign to also see Matt return to
the foundation. From the Chapter's side we sent them as many contacts their
way and they did a great job at helping these sponsors.

At the board level there are various efforts we are looking to improve the

   - We have taken the community's feedback and adjusted the global events
   strategy to be "global" (there is more to the world than Europe and US). By
   having more events we also committed to having one of the global AppSec
   Events in Israel and we hope to have more around the world as time goes by,
   part of the motion also including restating the Global Events Committee to
   make sure a diverse and global perspective is taken. An event in Japan is
   not the same as in New York, and is not the same as in Berlin, and we have
   to be mindful and respectful of these differences.
   - We are working hard on making the community a more comfortable, safer
   and fairs place to do Appsec. This means a better process to process
   compliance complaints such as bullying and that they are dealt with at an
   effective manner. In July the board meeting this was presented and we are
   working on making the final touches (all are welcome to provide feedback).
   - We have agreed for UC Davis to go off with our blessing to develop a
   coursera appsec course - which helps further our educational mission.
   - On the projects level I have introduced a few to industry wide
   collaborations, i.e NIST, MITRE, and we have a few other potential
   collaborations in the back burner.

This brings us to chapters, the foundation is looking into better ways to
improve support to the chapters, and their regional events, there are some
areas to improve, and that happens with an open dialogue.

For the global events strategy what we did was analyze some of the
underlining problems, we presented them to the community (in fact we had
different calls for different time zones), we collected all the community &
foundation's feedback to form a proposed approached, and then presented it
o the board in June gave one month for review/feedback, and only then did
we vote knowing we had received feedback from all parties and time to
provide further comments.

I am sure we can do something similar for chapters which is
open, courteous and professional.

On Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 1:06 PM, Andy Willingham <andy.willingham at owasp.org>

> This isn’t a response to Andy’s comment but to the tone that this (and so
> many other email chains) have taken over the years.
> I thought this was a mailing list for leaders. It sounds more like a
> mailing list for middle schooler kids. While these are topics that need to
> be discussed they need to be discussed in a professional manner. If you
> have a problem with someone or with the board and leadership at large then
> you need to take it to them and not subject the rest of the list to your
> unhappiness. If you have an idea or suggestion for how to improve the
> community then send it to the list. If you have something productive to say
> this is the place for it.
> Andy Willingham
> www.linkedin.com/in/andyitguy
> www.owasp.org/index.php/cincinnati
> On Aug 30, 2018, 7:38 AM -0400, Andy <alewis at owasp.org>, wrote:
> Founded SnowFROC.  Couldn’t have done it without OWASP underwriting the
> up-front expenses.
> Agree with Josh that local/regional conferences are effective vehicles for
> OWASP’s education/communication mission.
> Agree with Josh that local Chapters should have ongoing incentive to host
> regional Cons or bid for AppSec cons.  There’s too damn much work &
> aggravation to do cons without ensuring that Chapters be able to use some
> of the surplus.
> Not sure what changed, but we’ve got smart people on this org who can get
> us back to financial equilibrium.
> PM me if I can be of assurance.
> Andy
> Sent from my mobile; pls excuse brevity & typos.
> Change a life: www.kiva.org/invitedby/andylew
> On Aug 29, 2018, at 8:49 PM, Josh Sokol <josh.sokol at owasp.org> wrote:
> Dear Martin, et al,
> This is a HUGE cop out and a disappointment to hear you say this.  I agree
> that is your fiduciary duty to ensure the financial viability and stability
> of the OWASP Foundation, but it is clear that you haven't done your
> diligence in researching why we are at this stage.  To be clear, it has
> NOTHING to do with what the chapters spend or how much they have in their
> chapter accounts.  The current issue stems from budgets that allocate
> profits from local and regional events to the Foundation, when the funds
> belong to the chapters.  It stems from six figure investments in project
> summits that aren't sustainable.  And it comes from bureaucratic policies
> that lead to an over-investment in staffing.
> With respect to transparency, are you kidding me?  We haven't even posted
> the latest budget to the wiki, let alone a "plan" to address the
> "problem".  The community knows nothing about what the Board intends to do
> here because you guys don't use the owasp-board mailing list for
> communications.  Greg's e-mail the other day was literally the ONLY thing
> I've seen coming remotely close to this topic.  If the Board is open for
> all ideas and suggestions, open and transparent as you say, you sure have a
> funny way of showing it.
> For the record, this is not about "financial gain for the chapters".  Our
> chapter leaders frequently spend their own money to get a chapter off the
> ground.  Many do this selflessly, with no intent of seeking reimbursement.
> You make it sound like these people are spending their chapter funds on
> booze and hookers when the reality is that EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR goes
> directly towards furthering the OWASP mission.  Shame on any one of you who
> feels like you're somehow more qualified or more deserving to decide how
> that money should be spent than the people who busted their asses to raise
> those funds.
> Please heed my word of caution.  You are making a grave mistake if you
> think that stealing money from the chapters is the way to fix OWASP's
> financial "issues".  When this topic came up several years back, I made it
> a point to let the Board know that LASCON would go private if such a
> decision was reached.  We'd still use our funds to benefit the OWASP Austin
> chapter as a sponsor, but the Foundation would receive nothing as a result
> of such a grievous overreach of power.  *I would encourage the NY/NJs,
> SnowFROCs, AppSec California's, AppSec Israel, and similar local and
> regional events to speak up now and let your leadership know how you feel
> about losing your ability to raise funds for your chapters. *
> Sincerely,
> Josh Sokol
> OWASP Board Member 2014-2017
> OWASP Chapter Leader Since 2007
> On Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 10:14 AM Martin Knobloch <
> martin.knobloch at owasp.org> wrote:
>> Dear Josh, et all,
>> OWASP is all of us and there is no room for us, the chapters and
>> projects, and they, the foundation and staff. The OWASP Foundation embraces
>> all active in the whole of OWASP.
>> The majority of the current board members are chapter and project leaders
>> as well. As board of the OWASP foundation, it is our fiduciary duty to
>> ensure the financial viability and stability of the OWASP Foundation,
>> something we cannot guarantee at the moment.
>> The board and the ED, are evaluating possibilities how to guarantee we
>> can maintain support and invest in our missions goals. Of course this
>> together with the OWASP community and in an open dialogue. Open for all
>> ideas and suggestions, open and transparent!
>> The incentive of participating in OWASP activities as chapters and
>> projects should be wider than financial gain for the chapters, but for the
>> better of OWASP and achievement of our mission.
>> Kind regards,
>> -martin
>> Martin Knobloch
>> _______________________
>> OWASP Chairman of the BOD
>> OWASP Netherlands Chapter Leader
>> Email:   martin.knobloch at owasp.org
>> Mobile: +31623226933
>> Web:    https://www.owasp.org
>> On Mon, Aug 27, 2018 at 6:46 PM, Josh Sokol <josh.sokol at owasp.org> wrote:
>>> I'm going to add a fourth item to this list:
>>> 4) By removing the incentive for running a conference, you remove the
>>> incentive to start a conference.  As I mentioned, OWASP Austin started
>>> LASCON because we were sick of being told "no" by the Foundation for the
>>> funding requests we made.  But if we put the mandate back on the Foundation
>>> to fund the chapters, then chapters no longer need to work for that money.
>>> Now there's need to throw a conference.  So the Foundation loses out on the
>>> revenue they do get and we're back to the situation where the chapters are
>>> leaching off of the Foundation resources.  We're back to where we were a
>>> decade ago.
>>> *I'm really concerned that I've only had one other Chapter Leader speak
>>> up here.*  You guys need to make your voices heard or you will LOSE the
>>> most effective source of funding you have, which also directly serves
>>> OWASP's mission of education.  The chapters hold the vast majority of
>>> OWASP's voting members and you guys need to speak up now, before the Board
>>> votes, and it is too late.
>>> Sincerely,
>>> Josh Sokol
>>> OWASP Board Member 2014-2017
>>> On Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 12:50 PM Josh Sokol <josh.sokol at owasp.org>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Greg,
>>>> Various members of the OWASP Board have been trying to take funds away
>>>> from the chapters for years now.  One of the things I am most proud of
>>>> during my tenure serving on the OWASP Board is that I was able to prevent
>>>> these funds from being touched by the Foundation.  The "financial health"
>>>> issues that the Foundation is facing is NOT caused by the chapters.  It is
>>>> caused by the Foundation passing budgets that include Chapter Funds as a
>>>> source of revenue, but don't properly allocate it back to the chapters.
>>>> This means that the Foundation routinely spends more money than it takes in
>>>> and "borrows" that money from the chapters.
>>>> I've done a ton of research into this and am happy to share with you
>>>> communications that I've had with the Board in the past.  That said, a few
>>>> things worth being said out loud for everyone else:
>>>> 1) The idea that chapters aren't spending money is a fallacy.  There
>>>> are a few chapters out there who aren't spending their money.  The last
>>>> time I analyzed this it was one or two chapters who happened to have a
>>>> large sum of money allocated to them.  If those chapters aren't using those
>>>> funds, they should absolutely donate some back.  As an example, OWASP
>>>> Austin made a $20k donation back to the Foundation a couple of years ago
>>>> when we had a surplus of funds we weren't expecting to use.  This is why I
>>>> instituted the budgeting program when I was on the Board.
>>>> 2) Changing the terms on local/regional events becomes a huge deterrent
>>>> for the chapters to want to do those events.  I'll use LASCON as an example
>>>> as I was the one who founded it back in 2010.  Our chapter was struggling
>>>> to get resources approved from the Foundation.  Even basic things like
>>>> getting pizza for our meetings.  That was back when we had like a dozen
>>>> people coming to the monthly meetings.  If we struggled then, how could we
>>>> ever possible scale?  The answer was to create LASCON.  With LASCON, our
>>>> chapter had an event that brought in enough funds for our chapter to not
>>>> only pay the bills, but also innovate.  Ever seen the OWASP Austin
>>>> video channel <https://vimeo.com/channels/owaspaustin> on Vimeo?  We
>>>> have videos going back to 2012 because as the chapter leader I had money to
>>>> be able to buy a wireless mic, mixer, and a laptop to record.  We've
>>>> evolved since then, but no other chapter has anything like that and it's
>>>> all because of LASCON.  We also frequently do free and cheap trainings to
>>>> educate our community.  We just did a two-day Powershell training with
>>>> Ben0xa and everyone loved it.  Remember when OWASP was about education and
>>>> not about making money?  That's what we do with the funds from LASCON.  In
>>>> any case, if you remove the funds from hosting a conference, then you
>>>> remove the incentive for chapters to do events like these.  We never
>>>> started LASCON to fund the Foundation, it was just an added benefit.  I'm
>>>> kinda pissed that the Foundation has decided that they should reap the
>>>> benefits of our hard work.
>>>> 3) Back in 2012, the OWASP Austin chapter hosted the AppSecUSA
>>>> conference.  We've bid for it (but lost) several time since then.  We
>>>> didn't get any money from hosting it that year and we lost out on our
>>>> LASCON revenue as well.  Wanna know why we did it?  To help the
>>>> Foundation!  Wanna know why we felt confident that we could do it?  Because
>>>> we had two prior years experience with running our own conference.  Remove
>>>> the incentive to run conferences, then chapters won't run conferences, then
>>>> the Foundation loses anyone actually qualified and experienced to run
>>>> them.  History shows that chapters with conference experience have hosted
>>>> much more successful AppSec conferences.
>>>> OWASP's goal is education.  It's in our mission statement.  Let's cut
>>>> the BS about the Foundation not being able to pay its bills.  If it can't
>>>> pay its bills, then the Foundation is overspending and overreaching.
>>>> That's a problem we should be focusing on.  Not on the amazing outreach
>>>> efforts that our chapters are doing by hosting conferences.  Greg, please
>>>> don't buy in to the line of crap that others are feeding you.
>>>> Sincerely,
>>>> Josh Sokol
>>>> OWASP Board Member 2014-2017
>>>> On Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 11:40 AM Greg Anderson <greg.anderson at owasp.org>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> OWASP Chapter Leaders,
>>>>> I hope everyone is having a great week!
>>>>> When I was running for the OWASP Board, I did a presentation on
>>>>> DefectDojo and my general thoughts on how I could help improve OWASP as a
>>>>> board member.
>>>>> I wanted to provide an update on the two big points of my platform: 1.
>>>>> Drive the org to be more agile and adapt to challenges / feedback more
>>>>> quickly 2. Create a network to help chapters grow and mature.
>>>>> Overall, I believe the Board has been acting with more agility. The
>>>>> number one concern / question from the election was centered around
>>>>> compliance, bullying, and the community guidelines. To address these
>>>>> concerns, I have drafted and proposed an official Compliance Committee (CC)
>>>>> Charter which will make CC decisions binding, and also expand the number of
>>>>> OWASP community members on the committee. The Board voted at AppSec EU to
>>>>> prepare for the election of Compliance Committee Members starting this
>>>>> December along with new board members. The final Charter has not been voted
>>>>> on as I needed to make additional changes to accommodate feedback.
>>>>> Discussion and voting around the Charter will be held at the September
>>>>> Board Meeting and is open to the public. I highly encourage you to attend!
>>>>> Regarding chapter resources, this is something I have not been able to
>>>>> address yet. This is because OWASP has a much larger issue that I wasn't
>>>>> previously aware of, OWASP's financial health. Around 2014, there was a
>>>>> decline in global conference attendance that has caused OWASP to start
>>>>> drawing from our capital reserves. At our current run rate, these reserves
>>>>> will be exhausted in 2 - 3.5 years (approximately). To address OWASP's
>>>>> financial health, the foundation has been both trimming expenses where
>>>>> possible and attempting to increase conference attendance. There have been
>>>>> some changes regarding financial health improvement that I adamantly
>>>>> oppose. The primary example being no longer providing chapter leaders and
>>>>> project leaders access to the networking event / dinner at global
>>>>> conferences free of charge.
>>>>> This is something I plan to attempt to address in our September or
>>>>> October meeting. However, financial health is key to expanding both what
>>>>> OWASP can provide to the community, and what can be achieved to make open
>>>>> source security more accessible to the world.
>>>>> If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach
>>>>> out.
>>>>> Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak at your chapter and
>>>>> for all you do for your local OWASP community.
>>>>> Kind regards,
>>>>> Greg Anderson
>>>>> Member of the Board
>>>>> DefectDojo Project Leader
>>>>> greg.anderson at owasp.org
>>>>> *Consider giving back, and supporting the open source community by
>>>>> becoming a member <https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Membership> or making
>>>>> a donation <https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Donate> today! *
>>>>> *Join us at AppSec USA 2018 <https://2018.appsecusa.org/> 8-12
>>>>> October in San Jose, CA!*
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Owasp-chapters mailing list
>>> Owasp-chapters at lists.owasp.org
>>> https://lists.owasp.org/mailman/listinfo/owasp-chapters
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Sherif Mansour
OWASP Global Board Member & OWASP London Chapter Leader
Site: https://www.owasp.org/index.php/London
Email: sherif.mansour at owasp.org
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