New Executive Director for the Haskell Foundation

It is my great pleasure to announce the next Executive Director of the Haskell Foundation: David Thrane Christiansen. David is a long-time Haskeller who comes with a demonstrated passion for functional programming, having done intensive work with Idris, Racket, and Haskell, among other formative experiences. In particular, David was a key part of the Idris community when it morphed from a smallish language project to one more widely used. David holds a PhD in Computer Science from the IT University of Copenhagen (the city where he currently lives), has co-authored a book on dependent types (The Little Typer), and has worked for Galois and Deon Digital.

Lest anyone get worried about one PhD excited about dependent types (me) involved in hiring another PhD excited about dependent types (David): over the course of many conversations about the HF, David has impressed upon me the importance of reaching out beyond current Haskell communities, seeking new voices and approaches. Haskell is a language that anyone can master – but we have work to do to have its perception match that reality. I know David is committed to that course of action, and of focusing on the practical aspects of Haskell use that affect the Haskell community broadly.

David begins his employment with the HF on Monday, May 2.

About the process: The HF formed a Transition Committee (our charter is public) comprising José Pedro Magalhães (chair), Ed Kmett, and myself. We put together a call for applications and processed these applications as they came in. Applicants that passed an initial screening interview were given four additional interviews. The Transition Committee then made a recommendation to the Board based on the written feedback from these interviews, and the Board voted unanimously and enthusiastically to accept the
recommendation to hire David.

I hope you join me in being excited about this next chapter for the Haskell Foundation!

49 Likes

Thank you for the intro, Richard!

I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve the Haskell community as the new ED of the Haskell Foundation. First and foremost, I’m here for you - please don’t hesitate to get in touch at david@haskell.foundation if you have something that you’d like to talk about. This foundation is for all of us.

2021 was a year in which the HF crawled from the primordial soup. Sufficient support was secured from our sponsors so that we don’t need to worry about keeping the lights on, which frees mental energy to plan strategic actions. We’ve had success stories, such as getting text updated to use UTF-8 internally. Andrew and Emily deserve a big round of Internet applause for getting us this far! Thank you, Andrew and Emily!

In 2022, I hope that our evolution continues in the direction of helping our community achieve even more. I will do my best to find those places where a bit of applied coordination, a bit of extra communication, and perhaps even some money can help unstick us from local optima. Please let me know if you notice any. In particular, I’ll be focusing my thoughts and attention on how we can help people who don’t share my background be successful with Haskell, and how we can make it more likely for Haskellers to have the opportunity to use it at work. I’ll be keeping an eye on other programming language communities to see what we can learn.

Finally, I’d like to give a big thank you to the board for their trust in me, and I will do whatever I can to help us succeed.

/David

40 Likes

I’m very excited that David has stepped up to become the next Executive Director of the Haskell Foundation. He brings passion, energy, expertise, and a collaborative demeanor to the job that works for our community. I am looking forward to seeing where he takes the Foundation, how he helps the community, and how things continue to get better.

Please give him your support, your time, and your energy. I will be working with him to ease the transition, and additionally have let him and the HF Board know that I will continue to be available to help where I can.

I feel confident that the HF is in good hands and will continue to be a force that helps grow the use and usability of the Haskell language.

– Andrew

18 Likes

let’s fucking goooooooooo

22 Likes

Congrats to both David and the Haskell Foundation. I think David is an amazing choice here, with intense experience in growing and evolving a language community in Idris, and also a ton of time spent on improving developer experience, including new and innovative ideas in how to make emacs modes much more helpful and suggestive.

As Richard says, David has chops in serious type theory, but has passion for interactive development and growing language communities and uptake.

7 Likes

Congratulations to the Haskell Foundation and all of us! Great to see David at the helm.

4 Likes

Woo! David Christiansen is an excellent choice and I’m thrilled we’ve gotten him.

Richard’s post emphasizes @david-christiansen’s Idris experience in particular, given his very relevant work getting that community up and running, but I am perhaps most excited about his Racket experience.

A key challenge with Haskell today is that as a more mature language, library ecosystem, and community, next steps are not always obvious and there are many distinct areas of further exploration or polish that could be explored or have been explored in the past. What this means is there are tensions between pluralism and cohesion over what Haskell is about and who is Haskell for.

Racket has, on a technical level, navigated the balancing act between those two virtues better than any other technical project I am aware of, smashing through many intractable-seeming trade-offs. It’s a community I have long wanted us to learn more from, but having no actual Racket experience (just positive observations from the outside) us learning from them was an idle dream I was completely unqualified to help bring about.

David is surely the clear world leader on a “involvement in Haskell community * involvement in Haskell community” scoreboard, and whether or not he agrees with my assessments, by being involved in both communities he can bring an N >= 2 (N >= 3 with Idris too) comparative expertise in open source community stewardship. I can’t emphasize enough how valuable that is, and so I eagerly await the work he will do with us as HF director.

9 Likes

Welcome David! You and I have known each other for quite a long time, and I could not be more delighted to have you as our ED.

Andrew, I am super-grateful to you for being the ED that got the Haskell Foundation launched. It’s not an easy job to invent a whole organisation from scratch, in a community full of enthusiasts, all with slightly different ideas for what the HF might be. Your thoughtful and gracious leadership has made those debates civil and productive. Thank you so much.

Onward and upward!

12 Likes

Congratulations, David, and thanks to everyone on the board who has lead this search.

4 Likes

Woah! David is great and someone i can get excited about being in this role!

3 Likes

Happy to have you as the new ED! :tada:

I was wondering if you might also start doing “Office hours” on Twitch or the like? I enjoyed popping in when @myShoggoth did those and would love it if that “tradition” could keep going. :grin:

3 Likes

Welcome and congrats David and the HF! I’m thrilled to have you as our ED. One of the most fond memories of my PhD was driving up to Portland State University to take your course on dependent types, with my then friend (now partner :slight_smile:). It was a great course and I was sad our paths diverged and am happy that they have converged!

I hope the position suites you well and look forward to seeing your impact on the community!

3 Likes

What a wonderful fit! Congratulations David, HF, and all of us who will benefit!

3 Likes

Racket is great, and I’ll do what I can to carry lessons forward that I’ve learned. That said, every community is different, and programming languages co-evolve with communities of practitioners and their values. We can’t copy-paste solutions, even though we should seek inspiration and help elsewhere. I’ll do what I can to bring up relevant ideas from the Racket world when they seem applicable here.

5 Likes

I think that I’ve only used Twitch once ever, which was a social activity for an online ICFP. But I’ll follow up with @myShoggoth about what he did with it, and see what I think makes sense. Thanks for the nudge!

3 Likes

"Lest anyone get worried about one PhD excited about dependent types (me) involved in hiring another PhD excited about dependent types (David): over the course of many conversations about the HF, David has impressed upon me the importance of reaching out beyond current Haskell communities, seeking new voices and approaches. "

What does this mean? Note that I’m a fledgling programmer for whom Haskell was the language that “clicked”, and that I vehemently support efforts to focus on non-traditional markets for Haskvangelism.

“Idris, Agda have full support for dependent types, whereas using ADTs (abstract, not algebraic), you can hack some form of dependent types into Haskell”.

I’m not asking about dependent types; I’m someone who is interested in whether the Haskell community can expand into non-traditional quarters. Is it possible that Director Christiansen of the same perspective?

I think that the Haskell community has developed or popularized many useful things that have had a lot of positive impact on software development more generally. Here I’m thinking of things like property-based testing, explicitly monadic APIs, efficient persistent datatypes, parser combinators, type-first designs, and lenses, all of which I’ve encountered in a variety of contexts now. But a larger community with a greater variety of backgrounds can help us apply our tools to new problems and see our existing problems from new perspectives, and having more colleagues will also help good ideas leak more quickly to adjacent communities of practice. We also shouldn’t trick ourselves into thinking that we have all the answers - a wider variety of new colleagues means more opportunities to learn and grow based on input from other communities.

So yes - I’d like to see what we can do to grow and develop our community, without giving up the essential values that attracted us here in the first place. I have no illusions that I will be able to do this kind of thing on my own in the new position, but I will look for where the Haskell Foundation’s resources can be usefully and efficiently deployed to help us grow and develop, also amongst people who may not have seen themselves as “the kind of person who uses Haskell”.

I’d love to hear your ideas!

4 Likes

16 posts were split to a new topic: Haskell evangelism