Biography — Karsten Wade

Karsten Wade is a Partner, Founder, and Chief Community Architect for OCA. As a Partner Consult, Karsten’s role is building and maintaining trusted relationships with clients. During the first decade of his nearly thirty year career, Karsten straddled roles in IT management and professional services consulting. Through a shift into software engineering as a technical writer and then developer advocate, he discovered his talent and passion for being a catalyst of practice in Open Source communities. Karsten’s CV is below.

As one of the founding team of Red Hat’s Community Architects in 2009, Karsten held that role through several iterations until it became the Open Source Program Office (OSPO.) Across those fourteen years, he had direct and vicarious experiences with starting new large-scale projects, entering and expanding existing projects, and slowing and shuttering projects. Karsten did internal and external consulting on Open Source best practices in support of a range of needs such as integrating acquired teams of Open Source practitioners, working to Open acquired closed-source products, and transitioning teams from boxed product to web service for how it affects product development and delivery.

Karsten Wade in dark blue and orange striped glasses, wearing a houndstooth sport jacket and blue-toned patterned collared shirt.

Your favorite community manager’s favorite community manager

I’ve been asked if I’m the Kevin Bacon of Open Source software, but I don’t think so, no. From what I’ve been told, I’m your favorite community manager’s favorite community manager.

— Karsten

Karsten’s roles as a community manager and architect are sourced from caring deeply about connecting with other people. In that role, he has relied upon talents as a writer and documenter to capture and distill what he gleans from working with people as whole persons. His core method is to be in service to how the community gets things done (the practices) in a way that is meaningful and useful to them (the principles.)

When asked why he has been a mentor for so many community managers and architects, Karsten says, “My focus on people, principles, and practices is why I’m an expert-among-expert practitioners, and here’s why:”

He continues, “People as individuals and groups are so obviously my focus, like, when you walk into the room or I sit with you all. I’ve made emotional connections across so many Open Source projects, because I care and I listen. And I also talk, sometimes a lot!”

“I’m naturally pretty empathetic by nature, and I’ve tried to cultivate that throughout my life,” Karsten says. “And just as I love to figure out people, I’m obsessed with figuring out anything that is hard to explain, then working out the right words to share that understanding with others.”

“So the act of listening to people and distilling out the best practices of Open Source was a natural fit for my talents and temperament. The other aspect of that temperament is a personal tuning toward what is truly fair and equitable in the world, and that underlies why the principles of Open practices are important in my work.”


Principal Community Architect (Red Hat)

AUTUMN 2009 – MAY 2023

Focus on people, principles, & practices. Co-creator of “Community Architect” role, and creator/maintainer, writer, and editor for the Open Source Way. In-progress candidate for Senior Principal.

Project roles include: Operate First & OpenInfra Labs for MOC Alliance; CentOS Project Board & Red Hat Liaison; oVirt project Opening; Open Source Way writer & project lead; and some solid failures too.

Volunteer roles include: IEEE SA OPEN (OSCAG Chair), SETI Institute Open Sourcing; Open Works definition; CROSS & OSPO at UCSC;; Inclusive Naming Initiative; and many others.

CentOS Engineering/Community Infrastructure Manager (Red Hat)

JULY 2013 – JANUARY 2018

Manager for CentOS team to integrate them into Red Hat post acquihire, growing the team to add broad community infrastructure on self-hosted bare metal for various Open Source project.

This was a combined-role of community architect and team manager, as a part fourteen continuous years as a community architect.

Senior Developer Advocate (Red Hat)

SUMMER 2006 – APRIL 2009

Created and ran core products to help corporate developers understand and use Open Source, and to provide general-interest Open Source development news and opinions

Senior Technical Writer (Red Hat)

SUMMER 2003 – SUMMER 2006

Core productions were writing the RHEL 4 SELinux Guide and Fedora SELinux FAQ. Core projects were Fedora Docs Lead and Fedora Project Board member.

Professional Services Consultant & Project Writer (Red Hat, VA Linux Systems)

OCTOBER 2000 – SUMMER 2003

Writer for professional services consulting team, projects included creating Open Source development training for clients such as Agilent Research. The consulting team was laid off from VA Linux & later hired en masse to Red Hat in Oct 2001.

IS Manager (On Radio/Avevo/Electric Village)


IS Manager for a distributed company providing radio stations a platform for content & streaming.

Communications Director (Luster, Inc.)


IT & web leader for a construction management company. Directed & performed corporate, remote, & job site IT in San Francisco & nationally. This included professional services & proposals for client sites such as BART & SF City Schools.

Web Designer & Principal (XYT Design)


Co-owner and designer for a boutique web design firm.

Speaking engagements include: CentOS Dojos, Community Leadership Summit, Community One, DevConf.US, FUDCON, KubeCon NA, Linux Collab Summit, LinuxFest NorthWest, OpenInfra Summit, Open Source Bridge, Open Source Summit NA & EU, Open World Forum, OSCON, Red Hat Summit, & SCaLE.

Speaking & publications

Speaking engagements include: CentOS Dojos, Community Leadership Summit, Community One, DevConf.US, FUDCON, KubeCon NA, Linux Collab Summit, LinuxFest NorthWest, OpenInfra Summit, Open Source Bridge, Open Source Summit NA & EU, Open World Forum, OSCON, Red Hat Summit, & SCaLE.

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