Press "Enter" to skip to content

Ada Lovelace Day – Donna Benjamin

Ada Lovelace Day has come around again, and although Donna Benjamin was profiled in brief for last year’s post, this year I’d like to dedicate several more virtual column-inches to covering her achievements and notability as an inspirational woman of technology.

Service as a mentor, guide and trusted friend in producing open source events

For many years, Donna was instrumental in making the Software Freedom Day celebrations in Melbourne happen. Countless hours of unpaid time were devoted to organising, herding, negotiating, liaising, encouraging and motivating the diverse group of open source enthusiasts around Melbourne and Victoria to come together. This culminated in 2010 in Melbourne’s Software Freedom Day event being recognised as one of the best in the world. While a strong leader in her own right, Donna went one step further. Through actively mentoring others, she has nurtured nascent talent in the community, ensuring that similar events in the future are more sustainable, and draw from an emerging field of willing and capable minds.

This is no more apparent than in her role as ‘ghost’ to the current organising team (Disclaimer: of which I’m a member). Her insight, knowledge, reflections and practical demeanour, built from the success that was 2008 have put the team on a very strong footing indeed to be able to deliver January’s event. Her passion, energy and dedication are also echoed in Drupal Downunder coming to Melbourne in 2012.

Donna is also a respected speaker and conference presenter, spreading her passion for open source, open knowledge, open education and open culture.

Digitise the Dawn

Donna’s trumpeting achievement in the last year or so however lies in her successful spearheading of the Digitise the Dawn campaign. In a matter of weeks, Donna’s efforts had raised over $AUD8000 – enough to have the archives of Louisa Lawson’s ‘The Dawn’ newspaper digitised in Trove and made available for researchers – a significant step for women everywhere.


It is Donna’s drive, passion, enthusiasm, willingness to give of herself and ability to genuinely nurture others that make me respect and admire her so much. Thank you, Donna.