Abby’s 2016 Year in Review

It’s been a big year for me! A new role at work, a milestone birthday and my first year of marriage. Inspired by everyone else’s year-in-review posts, I’m looking back on 2016 and reflecting on where I’ve come.

Fueling the Movement

In 2016, I was able to focus on movement building and culture change both within the scientific research community and the broader Mozilla community. The work has been incredibly meaningful as we fuel the movement for the health of the Internet.

Anna, Alissa and Abby (the three A’s!) at the Open Leadership Zone at MozFest 2016. Photo by Stephⓐnie Wright

I got to invest in an outstanding group of researchers building in the open through mentorship in the first half of 2016. After my role change, the same group of open leaders helped me mentor a new cohort of Open Project Leaders from across the Mozilla community leading up to MozFest 2016.

With lots of help, I ran 2 rounds of Open Leadership Training, trained 46 community members and 11 new mentors. I’d like to see this grow 2–3x in 2017.

If you’re building in the open and you’d like to join me, apply for our next round of Open Leadership Training (it’s amazing!).

Speaking , Teaching and Writing

I spoke at 14 conferences, podcasts or lectures in 2016. I attended 8 more conferences or hackathons as a participant. While my passion is “open”, I’ve covered an interesting mix of topics related to open source, open science, working open and mentorship.

At the Working Open Workshop. Photo originally shared by Mozilla Science Lab on flickr CC-BY 2.0

I wrote 13 blog posts this year including 10 interviews I conducted with open source project leads on the Mozilla Science Blog. Some of my favourites include:

Open Source

In an attempt to practice what I preach, I try to make everything I work on open. While I’ve had less time to dive into prototyping, I still made 721 contributions on GitHub in 2016.

GitHub activity graph for acabunoc, 2016

Most of my contributions fit in three categories: curriculum, events and prototypes.

📝 Curriculum

  • Open Leadership Training Series (OLTS): Working open best practices. I migrated the curriculum we’ve been using for Open Leadership Training to GitHub. I chose Jekyll and GitHub Pages to make it easier for anyone to contribute.
  • MozFest Open Project Training: A specialized training for MozFest facilitators running an open project. A shorter, MozFest-focused version of the OLTS. I used Jekyll and GitHub Pages for remixability and GitHub Issues to keep track of students’ progress.
  • Databases and SQL: Software Carpentry’s Introduction to Databases and SQL. I continue to be a maintainer for this module.

🎉 Events

  • Working Open Workshop: Trainings and exercises to help up-and-coming projects prepare for a successful Global Sprint in June 2016. We collected the handouts on GitHub Pages and followed up with participants in the issues.
  • Mozilla Global Sprint: This two-day hackathon brings together researchers, coders, librarians and the public from around the globe to hack on open science and open data projects in their communities. We used the issues and labels to keep track of all participating projects.

🔨 Prototypes

  • Open Canvas: Concept remixed from Lean Canvas, a one-page plan for your open project. I built this prototype using GitHub Pages and Google Forms as a quick way to make and save canvases.
  • MozSprint live feed: I remixed the hackathon live feed from RefactorU to show live contributions during the Global Sprint.
  • Paper Badger: Issuing badges to credit authors for their work on academic papers. Built with Node, React and Mongo. While I launched this prototype in 2015, I made some improvements in 2016. I also worked with a few contributors and contracted Jos to work on the badgekit migration.

While I didn’t work on many of my own prototypes in 2016, the majority of my prototyping commits have been small contributions to the dozens of projects that took part in Open Leadership Training in 2016. I also conducted user interviewers and code reviews on other Mozilla prototypes including Network Pulse and Jisort.

One new way I’m interacting with the open source community in 2016 is serving on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Open Source Software (JOSS). JOSS is a developer friendly journal for research software packages.


Screenshot from GitHub’s State of the Octoverse 2016

I appeared on a list of 100 awesome women in open source put together by source{d}.

I was mentioned in GitHub’s State of the Octoverse 2016. It’s a small shoutout under “active users”, but this piece of recognition means a lot to me coming from an organization that has done so much for open source.✨


I celebrated my first wedding anniversary with this guy by eating year-old cake. We attended 2 weddings and no funerals in 2016 (this is 6 weddings and 1 funeral less than 2015). In our local community, my husband and I took on a coaching role for the Bay street small groups with Grace Toronto. I karaoke’d my way to my 30s. I was fortunate enough to go on several epic vacations with family (🌋🍕✈️ ). Between work and vacation, I travelled to 20 cities in 6 countries.

#2016bestnine Instagram photos by @abbycabs

Looking to 2017

Putting this post together has left me grateful for all the support and opportunities I had in 2016. I’ll admit that I’ve left out the struggles, disappointment and uncertainty I faced this year. I could not have accomplished this without the open source community, a stellar team at Mozilla and my family supporting me at each step.

Broader and Deeper

In 2017, I’ll continue focusing on fueling the movement for the health of the Internet. I’ll be working to better reach the broader Mozilla community which is far more diverse than my bioinformatics background. To balance that, I’d like to intentionally invest in deeper relationships, which I see as key to mentorship, movement building and being human.

“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” — Winston Churchill

Reflecting on 2016 has given me a lot to celebrate and be thankful for as we enter a new year. I can’t wait for 2017! As always, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@abbycabs). Happy holidays to you and yours 🌟