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Women’s nonprofit Ada Initiative cancels tech series amid internal chaos

The move comes days after high-level departures in the organization.


Aja Romano


Posted on Jul 1, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 10:57 am CDT

If you were one of the many women looking forward to attending future rounds of AdaCamp, the popular empowering “unconference” series for women in tech, you’re out of luck: The Ada Iniatiative, a nonprofit networking and support initiative for women in tech, has canceled all future offerings of AdaCamp due to a flurry of staff departures and lack of financial sustainability.

Interim director and Ada Initiative cofounder Valerie Aurora announced on Sunday that the organization had decided to cease running AdaCamps and instead make its toolkit for organizing the meetings open source for anyone who may want to run a kind of AdaClone in the future.

It will reportedly also be shutting down its mailing list and IRC channels.

The announcement comes shortly after the departure of its brand-new executive director Crystal Huff after only two months, and days after the departures of two high-level volunteers. Aurora stated the departures had left the organization “without the capacity to run any more AdaCamps in 2015.” At press time, Huff had not returned a request for comment, and Aurora stated in an email that the organization does not “discuss personnel issues with the press.” 

AdaCamp was the most visible project of the Ada Initiative, a series of “unconference” workshops for women working in open-source areas that was largely seen as a vital, empowering space for marginalized women in tech:

But Aurora noted that while the camps were wildly successful, they have “always cost more to run than we could raise in sponsorships, and that shows no signs of changing.” In releasing the toolkit, the organization’s hope seems to be that others will pick up where they left off. Already, members of the Ada community are planning ahead:

But the sudden cancellation of the camps on the heels of so many prominent departures also has plenty of people worried:

But it seems that most people are staying positive and eager to look forward.

The toolkit for the workshop planning doesn’t appear to be publicly available yet, but some resources are available on GitHub. Hopefully, AdaCamp’s demise will spark similar movements all over the country and even the world.

Illustration via AdaCamp

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*First Published: Jul 1, 2015, 8:24 pm CDT