Tough Times, Tough Decisions

Legion of Tech has been going through some rough times. We’ve had high turnover in board membership, volunteer participation is down, and fundraising is more difficult than ever given the economic recession.

However, the most severe hardship we’ve faced is the substantial embezzlement by a former board member. The financial harm to our organization has been nearly fatal. We incurred several thousand dollars in legal fees during the process of responding to the embezzlement. Also, because a large portion of the embezzlement occurred through improper use of a credit card, Legion of Tech assumed and is still paying off a significant amount of debt. All of these things have depleted our financial reserves in a very detrimental way. The monthly payments required to keep our debt in good standing means that our basic operating overhead is very high compared to what it once was.

Historically, Legion of Tech’s only source of income has been corporate and (to a lesser extent) individual contributions for specific programs (like BarCamp and Ignite).

Another source of income for the next several years was to have been from monthly repayments of the embezzled funds. Unfortunately, Todd has defaulted on his agreement with us. We do not know when or even if he will resume payments (more on how we are dealing with this this below).

It’s true that we could continue to raise funds for programs as we have in the past, and try to over-fundraise in order to cover our administrative overhead (including debt incurred as a result of fraud). However, we feel that to do so would be disingenuous at best, and unethical at worst. We don’t want a single penny of the community’s money unwittingly going towards debt incurred via embezzlement or to legal fees.

What this means is that Legion of Tech will cease its programs for the foreseeable future.

We aren’t dissolving (we can’t because we still have the debt to repay). A few board members, including myself, are committed to remaining on the board to attend to administrative duties and to oversee repayment of as much of the embezzled money as is possible.

And don’t worry, BarCamp and Ignite Portland aren’t going away. Legion of Tech doesn’t own them, and we know that there are other capable organizations in Portland that will continue the BarCamp and Ignite traditions. In fact, planning for Ignite Portland 10 is kicking off this week as a non-LoT event. Attend Wednesday’s planning meeting or join the mailing list to get involved.

Regarding recovery of the embezzled funds: there are a number of legal routes available to us now that Todd has defaulted on his agreement. We will pursue them to the best of our ability. All of these options require more cash that Legion of Tech has available, so if you are interested in helping out with a contribution to put towards legal action, let us know. We know many of you want to see the embezzled funds repaid as much as we do. At least a few board members will be contributing their own funds, but that will only get us so far.

As always, please drop us a line if you have any questions.

Announcing the 2011 Board of Directors

Legion of Tech held board elections at our regular meeting last week. We are pleased to announce that the following people have been elected to serve on the 2011-2012 board: Amy Farrell, Chris McCraw, Anne Buckley, Reid Beels and Michael Dexter. Christie Koehler and Jason Mauer are continuing their 2-year terms.

New Members

Chris McCraw is a unix geek and coder with tons of volunteer and community organizing experience, including at several BarCamps. Most recently he helped organize Portland BarCamp 4 and did a fantastic job.

Anne Buckley is an Operations Manager at Yahoo Small Business. She has an extensive background in customer relations and also has experience with nonprofit management. Anne did an awesome job coordinating volunteers for the most recent IgnitePortland.

Reid Beels is an Interaction Designer and Software Engineer at Paydici. He’s volunteered for numerous Legion of Tech events, is co-organizer of WhereCamp and co-chair of Open Source Bridge.

Michael Dexter is Program Director at Linux Fund and has considerable nonprofit experience. Among many other activities, Michael organizes the Portland Linux/Unix User Group (PLUG) Advanced Topics meetings.

Re-Elected Member

Amy Farrell is a Software Engineer for Conducive Technology (FlightStats) here in Portland. She is a Legion of Tech board alumna, its current treasurer and an experienced BarCamp planner. Amy is active in local user groups, including PDXFunc and Code ‘n’ Splode.

Continuing Members

Christie Koehler is a Senior Software Engineer at ShopIgniter. She also co-chairs the Open Source Bridge conference, and leads Code ‘n’ Splode, a user group for women in technology.

Jason Mauer is owner and chief architect at Mighty Code, a software development shop based here in Portland. Jason is active in the Portland alt.net user group and spent several years on the SAO’s Developer’s Forum Steering Committee.

Please join us in welcoming the 2011 Legion of Tech Board!

Announcing a Resolution to Last Year’s Embezzlement

It is with a bittersweet note that we announce we have come to a resolution regarding last year’s fraud issue. One of our former directors fraudulently converted Legion of Tech funds of approximately $29,000. As many of you know, it has taken us a bit over a year for the legal system to resolve this issue. We apologize for remaining largely silent during these months; this was done at the advice of our attorney.

Moving forward, Legion of Tech is committed to ensure that such financial impropriety is not committed again. We have now instituted a number of checks and balances to assure our finances are managed appropriately.

We have reached a restitution agreement with the individual and he has agreed to a plan to pay back the funds that he has taken, with interest, along with attorney’s fees and costs incurred in the matter. Our agreement with this individual gives us recourse should he default on his repayment and is designed to be nondischargeable in bankruptcy.

Additionally, he has offered the following apology:

I apologize to Legion of Tech, and especially to the community it serves, for misappropriating funds intended for use by the organization. I regret abusing the trust of those individuals and organizations who supported the mission of Legion of Tech.
— Todd

Finally, we want to thank our community, including our volunteers and sponsors, for supporting us through these difficult times. We look forward to your continued trust and respect and also to continue to bring you fantastic tech events.

Sincerely,
the Legion of Tech Board

BarCampPortland 4 Is Coming May 22!

[UPDATE:BarCampPortland 4 is being rescheduled.]

The fourth annual BarCampPortland will be May 22, at the University of Portland campus. We are trying something new this year — we will be sharing the venue with Portland Code Camp, another great tech event that many of the developers among us enjoy. Both events are (and always have been) free.

Want to get involved?

  • Volunteer: If you’d like to get involved with planning and preparations, please contact Amy Farrell (amykfarrell on gmail).
  • Sponsor BarCamp: These events can’t be successful without our sponsors. Contact Dawn Foster (geekygirldawn on gmail) if you’re interested in sponsoring BarCamp.
  • Follow us on Twitter: @BarCampPortland
  • Tell your friends!

The next combined BarCamp/Code Camp planning meeting will be Monday, February 22, at 6:30 pm. If you’d like to be involved, please get in touch!

Who Are We? A survey to find out

Just in time for BarCamp, the Legion of Tech is doing a survey to find out more about Portland’s technology community. We’d like to know about your demographics and activities, for event planning and as a resource for the rest of the community. Please go to http://moourl.com/lotsurvey and fill it out, then spread the word to your friends and coworkers.

We are an Oregon Non Profit

We are official. We are now an Oregon Non Profit organization.

Note: We are still not (and may never become) a tax-exempt organization, and we still have some paperwork to file.

We also had our first board meeting last week where we approved our bylaws, board of directors, and officers.

Board Members:

  • Chair: Dawn Foster (contact: dawn at dawnfoster dot com)
  • Secretary: Raven Zachary (contact: raven at rinzai dot com)
  • Treasurer: Todd Kenefsky (contact: kenefsky at gmail dot com)
  • Josh Bancroft
  • Paul Biggs
  • Selena Deckelmann
  • Adam Duvander
  • Audrey Eschright
  • Justin Kistner

You can read our bylaws on our about page.

Some Background on Legion of Tech

Legion of Tech is currently in the early stages of forming as a non-profit organization. We have submitted the paperwork to incorporate as a non-profit in Oregon, but have not yet received confirmation that our application will be accepted.

After organizing BarCamp Portland and Ignite Portland, we realized that it was very difficult to manage sponsorships and other logistics of these events without having a legal entity. For example, at Ignite Portland, Raven signed a waiver making him personally responsible if anything happened to the facility (we had insurance, but this could have been really ugly if anything bad happened.) We are forming Legion of Tech to allow us to better manage these Portland community events.

This organization has two primary functions: first, we organize key community events like BarCampPortland and Ignite Portland; second, we provide resources and help to organizers of other community technology events. Specifically, the purpose of this organization is to

  • Grow and nurture the local Portland technology community through educational, not-for-profit, community-run events.
  • Make it easier for community members to organize technology events.
  • Provide resources and assistance for technology community events.

Next Steps for the organization:

  • We will be having the first board meeting this week to ratify the bylaws and board members for Legion of Tech (we will post the minutes, board member names, and bylawys here on the blog)
  • After ratification of the board and the bylaws and acceptance of our application to incorporate as an Oregon non-profit, we will begin filing the 501(c) (3) paperwork to see if we can qualify as a tax-exempt organization.

We will continue to post more information and additional pages here as we work through the details.  We are also working on a logo, which will drive the look and feel for the site, so please excuse the newbie theme look while we get organized.