Chi Hack Night President Transition
Published on Mar 3, 2023 by Derek Eder , Sean Watland
From left to right, Derek Eder - Chi Hack Night President Emeritus, Sean Watland - New Chi Hack Night President
TL;DR: After 11 years, Derek Eder is stepping down as President and leader of Chi Hack Night and will be succeeded by Sean Watland. Derek will remain on the Board of Directors and continue to be an active member of the Chi Hack Night community.
Derek Eder, Chi Hack Night President Emeritus
If you read our 2022 Year in Review, much of the work Chi Hack Night has done over the past year was about establishing clear processes, spreading out volunteer responsibilities, and improving how our organization gets work done. In fact, this was something we’ve been working on ever since we decided to incorporate Chi Hack Night as a nonprofit in 2018.
There’s a reason for that: Chi Hack Night has long since grown to be bigger than just one person – it belongs to our community. That’s why, when we wrote our nonprofit bylaws, we established term limits for the President.
The time for those term limits have come. I am termed out as President and will be stepping down and handing the reins over to another board member and the rest of the board. I will remain on the Board of Directors and will continue to play an active role in hack night going forward.
While this is a big change, it is also a moment of growth, and one that I believe Chi Hack Night, its Board, and its membership are ready for.
I’m very proud to have co-founded and steered this group for the past 11 years. As someone who has made a lot of things over the years, websites, companies, co-working spaces, Chi Hack Night is one of the more unexpectedly successful, impactful, and joyful things I’ve had a hand in.
It has been, and will continue to be, a wonderful place to make friends, collaborate with smart people, and learn about this amazing city we live in called Chicago.
I plan to be a part of it for years to come, not as its leader, but a member of the community. Thank you to everyone for riding along with me.
And with that, I’d like to hand it over to Chi Hack Night’s next President, Sean Watland.
Sean Watland, Chi Hack Night President
Hello! I know I’ve had the chance to meet many of you, but for a few of you, I might be a fairly new face so I’d love to share a little bit about myself and my time at Chi Hack Night. I’ve been on the Board with Chi Hack Night since Feb 2022, and I’ve been attending since 2018. During my time at Chi Hack Night, I led our organizational goal setting process, co-hosted over a dozen times, led the Data Viz Learning Group and collaborated on Decarb My State. Outside of Hack Night, I work with lots of data as a business intelligence analyst at dscout - a research platform based in Chicago.
I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to help shape Chi Hack Night’s future by serving as the next President. As I think about Chi Hack Night’s future, the first things that come to mind were things I experienced during my first few hack nights.
Back in 2018 at my very first Hack Night, I came looking for a community where I could learn more about tech, Chicago issues, and how those two hopefully intertwined. I remember being taken aback by how welcoming the community was, how freely folks shared their expertise and how many opportunities there were to help.
I am happy that Chi Hack Night still embodies all of these qualities today. I believe that it is these characteristics that make the Chi Hack Night community a special place. While I am proud of the work that past and current Boards have done for Chi Hack Night, I think it’s also appropriate to take stock of how we can grow and move forward as a community.
As Chi Hack Night’s next President, I am committed to work with our Board of Directors as we continue upholding Chi Hack Night’s values. In addition to working closely with our Board, I will be personally committed towards the following goals:
Continuing to Run an Excellent Weekly Civic Tech Event → While this one may seem obvious, it is certainly worth restating as Chi Hack Night does not exist without the weekly event.
Improve the Hybrid Experience → To me, this is an accessibility issue. I want to focus on the experience of our community members who are participating online. Creating a plan around “what does a successful hybrid hack night look like?” will be a key goal for me.
Cultivate Intentional Spaces for Learning → It is no secret that many of our attendees are folks looking to change careers or learning tech skills from real people - in fact, I was one of those attendees back in 2018. I think, in general, Chi Hack Night does a good job at onboarding people into our breakout groups. While we’ve had many different working groups pop up from Chi Hack Night, it has been quite some time since we’ve had some learning groups thrive at Hack Night. Exploring ways to cultivate these intentional spaces for learning is a personal goal of mine during my tenure as President.
I’m incredibly grateful to be able to serve as Chi Hack Night’s next President. Chi Hack Night is a special place - made up of a wonderful community and led by a committed Board of Directors. I’m eager to see where Chi Hack Night goes in the future and I’m excited to step into this role.
About the authors
Chi Hack Night President Emeritus
Chi Hack Night President