New Leadership for ChicagoRuby

After 10 years as lead organizer of ChicagoRuby, I have decided to step down. My colleague here at 8th Light, Nicole Carpenter, will be taking over leadership duties effective September 7, 2017. Please join me in congratulating Nicole!

I assumed leadership of the Chicago Area Ruby on Rails Meetup Group in 2007. We had 78 members and a mouthful of a name. We immediately shortened the name to ChicagoRuby. Growing the membership took time. Today, ChicagoRuby has over 4,200 members.

We started as a small band in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. A separate Ruby group, Chirb, met in downtown Chicago. Several local Ruby enthusiasts attended meetings hosted by both groups; everything was friendly. We merged the two groups under the ChicagoRuby banner in 2009.

Ruby was just over a decade old when ChicagoRuby began, but Rails was relatively new. When one member asked “Why isn’t there a Rails conference in Chicago?” we stepped up and launched the WindyCityRails conference. The event attracts speakers and attendees planet-wide. Hosting WindyCityRails, now in its 10th year, enables all of us to learn about Ruby, Rails, and related tech from an even wider audience.

Meeting the needs of 4,200 members requires a team of organizers. Through our team of 16 organizers, ChicagoRuby has continued to maintain and grow our Meetups, organized and hosted several successful conferences, collaborated with tech enthusiasts in the Caribbean, and joined forces with colleagues in the Python and Java communities to launch the Chicago Polyglot Mingle.

All of this seemed farfetched 10 years ago. We were a small group of enthusiasts, and Ruby on Rails was a framework that had yet to be embraced by mainstream businesses.

These days, Ruby on Rails is mainstream. Basecamp, the first Ruby on Rails application, is revered as a successfully bootstrapped business. Ruby has become a preferred language at coding bootcamps and other training programs because it is accessible to young programmers, but also because it is a language that businesses rely on.

Serving as lead organizer for ChicagoRuby has been exciting these last 10 years. To my fellow members of ChicagoRuby: Thank you for the opportunity to serve. You and I will see each other around the community from time to time. And perhaps we will embark on an adventure together!

Speaking of growth: If you want to boost your skills with Ruby, Rails, or related tech, consider WindyCityRails. The presentations are always outstanding and the networking is powerful. Use the discount code 8THLIGHT when you register for the 2017 conference, and you’ll get $50 off. See you at WindyCityRails!

Ray Hightower, Director of Sales

Ray Hightower founded and ran a technology company for twenty-one years before selling the company to 8th Light in 2016. He is a perpetual student, currently exploring parallelism, quantum computing, and IoT.

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