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The Higher Ed Community Sets Sail on Their Inaugural Open Source Sprint!

By August 11, 2017

Hedanists Unite The first ever Higher Ed Open Source Software Community Sprint took place July 27th and 28th at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was truly an AMAZING 2 days! With over 90 participants across 10 Universities, 3 K-12s and 8 Partners, the community used the power of the Sprint to help build an even stronger set of solutions as well as advocate for new solutions that can be delivered through community open source contributions in Github.

You can read more about the importance of Open Source in Higher Education via the blog “Welcome to the Higher Ed Open Source Software Community!”

Let’s start with the amazing location!

Harvard University – Harvard Law School

I couldn’t imagine a more perfect location for our first Sprint than Harvard University.

I arrived to Cambridge a day prior to the Sprint, along with Chloe Morel ( Field Marketing & Events Associate), to ensure Sprint preparations were in place and to get a general layout for the event. This was my first time to Boston, let alone Harvard University, and the weather was just perfect. The city of Cambridge was beautiful. The areas surrounding Harvard were abundantly overflowing with signs of equality, diversity, and inclusion. I felt right at home and felt our community of customers and partners would too.

As Chloe and I walked through Harvard Yard that first day we both felt this amazing sense of history, beauty, and inspiration.

Harvard Yard

So many faces, both young and old, either walking along quietly, or laughing whole heartedly in groups, met us as we strolled north through Harvard Yard. We noticed students lounging on benches, leaning against trees or sitting in chairs that were formed into small and large circles to support community discussion and dialog. I wanted so very much to go sit with them, introduce myself, and ask to hear their stories as well as to share mine. Community was at the heart of all things in the Yard that evening and this put huge smiles on both our faces.

But I knew I had stories to tell – the stories of my own community. And I had 2 days to do it!

Harvard Law The location of our Sprint took place at Harvard Law School inside of Wasserstein Hall – just a quick walk north through Harvard Yard and just past the Harvard University Science Center. This location was beautiful both inside and out.

Besides the amazing architecture and beautifully decorated interior, the walls inside of Wasserstein Hall were filled with pictures representative of 180 Harvard Law School Faculty. These pictures are a testament to the chronological changes in Faculty diversity since Harvard’s inception. How awesome is that?!

Outdoor Terrace - Harvard We also had access to a beautiful outdoor terrace easily accessible across the hall from where the Sprint took place (where we would eventually have our post-sprint Happy Hour hosted by OwnBackup).

Milstein East B - Harvard In the hall leading to our room (2nd Floor – Room 2036 Milstein East B) we were greeted by inspirational messages written on the walls by names that include Martin Luther King, Hillel, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Nelson Mandela.

These inspiring messages reminded us both of the importance of what it means to not only to progress forward but to also be mindful in that progress and allow for differences in perspective, experiences, and personal stories. This was, indeed, the perfect place to bring our community together for our first ever Sprint.

After dropping our Sprint materials off at Wasserstein Hall, Chloe and I headed over on foot for an amazing Venezuelan lunch with Corey Snow and Anne Duperault at the Orinoco Kitchen in Harvard Square before finishing the last of our pre-Sprint preparations. It was an amazing 1st day in Boston!

Chloe, Corey, Anne

The Sprint! (aka: The “Unconference”)

Jace & Corey Before I go any further I want to thank our host, Harvard HEDA-nist, Corey Snow, who did a tremendous job facilitating the Sprint and leading our community. This was Corey’s first time taking on the role of MC/Cruise Captain and he wore that title with style! (Corey’s the one with the hat. I’m the one excited to be taking a selfie with Corey – and his hat!)

Corey embodied authenticity throughout the entire Sprint (as he always does!) and made everyone in our community feel welcome, at home, and part of our Ohana. The laughs, shared experiences, story telling, and the spirit of Community permeated the entire Sprint.

Great job Corey! And thank you Harvard for allowing us to have him to ourselves for 2 days!


You know those events where a room full of people listen to a few people talk on stage? This is *not* that type of event. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.


It’s a participatory event, in that those attending are participating, and fully present, so that the community receives all of the potential goodness that each participant brings.

Sprint 2

From left to right: Jason Jensen (Smith College), Zak Landrum (Westmont College), Nancy Everest (Westmont College), Geshri Gunasekera (, Sarah Luo (Harvard University Information Technology), Keld Bangsberg (, Jason Belland (, Anthony McMahon (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Eric McCune (Cloud for Good), Alisa Cliff (Sierra-Cedar), Suzanne Veiga (, and Timothy Ay (roundCorner Inc.) focusing on Advancement.

There are no panels. There are no keynotes. There are no PowerPoint presentations.

Sharon and Peter

From left to right: Sharon Klardie (Workato) and Peter Bernardi (FormAssembly) hashing out integrations!

Attendees aren’t going to learn something from a quiet corner of the room. Instead, the community makes time for sharing and goal setting and then breaks up into small groups and gets to work. #Unconference

Nina Gomez-Fernandini and Erin Smith

From left to right: Nina Gomez-Fernandini (University of Miami) and *Erin Smith (Northeastern University) discussing the Uber ERD.

There was plenty of fun, laughs, connections, and inspiring stories too!

Erin Smith, Vanessa Wright, Cheryl Porro

From left to right: Erin Smith (Northeastern University), Vanessa Wright (Northeastern University), and Cheryl Porro ( enjoying a photo op!

Nancy Everest, Cheryl Cerny, Anthony McMahon, Jason Jensen, Zak Landrum

From left to right: Nancy Everest (Westmont College), Cheryl Cerny (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Anthony McMahon (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Jason Jensen (Smith College), and Zak Landrum (Westmont College) relaxing outside on the terrace.

Alisa Cliff, Nina Gomez-Fernandini, Florence Parodi, Kara McIntyre

From left to right: Alisa Cliff (Sierra-Cedar), Nina Gomez-Fernandini (University of Miami), Florence Parodi (University of Miami), and Kara McIntyre (Sierra-Cedar) getting some group selfie love!

Besides the fun Ice Breaker exercise on Day 1 that asked Sprinters to state their name, their University and/or Company, and one daring thing they’ve done recently we also shared a Beach Ball Challenge on Day 2 where each Sprinter had to answer one question listed on the beach ball.

This exercise was hilarious as the questions ranged from: “Would you rather be trapped in a cave with a bear, a dragon, or a swarm of bats?” to “If you were granted one magical item what would that magical item be?”

Jace, Joni Bryan, Marc Baizman

From left to right: Me (Jace Bryan, , Joni Bryan (Now IT Matters), Jhonaikel Soto (Student), and Marc Baizman ( up to no good with the Beach Ball Challenge!

We also had a chance to hear an inspiring lunchtime session from Jhonaikel Soto, an 8th grader from a Boston Public School in Roxbury who built an app on Salesforce to collect feedback about school performance from students.

Jhonaikel Soto

I’ve included a Periscope video of Jhonaikel Soto (mentioned above) taken by Vala Afshar (Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce) that has had over 30k views since the Sprint!

We are so proud of Jhonaikel for wanting to share these 2 days with our community! His passion, innovative spirit, and ideas surrounding a Trailhead for Teens was extremely contagious with our Community and we wish him nothing but the best as he goes on to do great things!

And let’s definitely not forget #OhanasaurusRex (the almost-official Higher Ed mascot) who makes his rounds at Higher Ed Events. Why? Because our community is so inclusive that even a T-Rex is welcome!

Nick Skriloff and Florence Parodi

From left to right: Nick Skriloff (University of Virginia Darden School Foundation) and Florence Parodi (University of Miami) getting a selfie with* OhanasaurusRex (aka: Jace Bryan, Those T-Rex’s sure say the darnedest things!*

Jace & Corey

From left to right: OhanasaurusRex (aka: Jace Bryan, and Corey Snow (Harvard University Information Technology) embraced in a hug. Why? Because hugging a T-Rex should be on everyone’s bucket list!

Nina Gomez-Fernandini, Chloe Morel, Amir Tejani, Amy Pannu, Tracy Kronzak, Jace Bryna, Steve Backman, Florence Parodi, Josue Estrada

From left to right: Nina Gomez-Fernandini (University of Miami), Chloe Morel (, Amir Tejani (Lehigh University), Amy Pannu (, Tracy Kronzak (, OhanasaurusRex (aka: Jace Bryan,, Steve Backman (Year Up, Inc.), Florence Parodi (University of Miami), and Josue Estrada ( enjoying an Ohana moment.

Hey! The NPSP Community has a Penguin! Don’t Judge! 🙂


Usually for an “unconference” no topics are predetermined ahead of time. However, as this was the first Sprint experience for the Higher Ed community (unlike the NPSP community), we felt it valuable to plant some “seed-ideas” to get folks talking. Who knew they would actually take root!?!

Topic Themes (i.e. seed-ideas) for the Sprint were identified by the Higher Ed community as part of a GetFeedback survey sent out by back in early March. The Topic Themes that received the most support for inclusion in the Sprint include:

  • Best Practices – lead conversion, merging contacts, flows vs. process builder, etc…
  • HEDA Tools – let’s identify the “things” we all need to make life simpler
  • Mock University Project – building out HEDA based on areas of interest
Kara McIntyre, Chloe Morel, Florence Parodi, Karene-Sean Hines, Amir Tejani

From left to right: Kara McIntyre (Sierra-Cedar), Chloe Morel (, Florence Parodi (University of Miami), Karene-Sean Hines (Boston Public Schools), and Amir Tejani (Lehigh University)

The Survey also included a section to identify a Topic Focus (i.e. think “seed” again here) for each Topic Theme. These Focuses were based on community conversations taking place in the Power of Us Hub as well as through Idea submission created by the community in the Power of Us Hub surrounding HEDA.

Julio Hernandez, Gavin Britto, Pranav Nagrecha, Buyan Thyagarajan, Christopher Littlefield, Megan Roche, Guy Gaskin

From left to right: Julio Hernandez (University of Massachusetts Lowell), Gavin Britto (Georgetown University), Pranav Nagrecha (University of Massachusetts Lowell), Buyan Thyagarajan (Eigen X), Christopher Littlefield (University of New England- OWL), Megan Roche (Eigen X), and Guy Gaskin (University of Minnesota)

The Topic Focuses that received the most support for inclusion in the Sprint include:

Best Practices

  • NPSP vs. HEDA

HEDA Tools

  • Accommodating a community-submitted dataset
  • How to go about adding an Advancement component that would work with HEDA core?
  • Banner Integration
  • Data Migration
  • Data Integration/li>
  • How to go about adding a Contact Merge component that would work with HEDA core?


  • How to manage and automate recruitment records with the Student Recruitment Success Pack

Our fearless Topic Leaders (those responsible for leading the discussions surrounding the Topic Theme and Focus) include the following members of our Higher Ed Community:


  • Anne Duperault (Huron Consulting Group)
  • Justin Barss ( (Now IT Matters) – Salesforce MVP!

Accommodating a community-submitted dataset

How to go about adding an Advancement component that would work with HEDA core?

Banner Integration

  • Jim Kimmell (Harvard University Division of Continuing Education)

Data Migration

Data Integration

How to go about adding a Contact Merge component that would work with HEDA core?

How to manage and automate recruitment records with the Student Recruitment Success Pack


Each Sprint Team worked tirelessly during these 2 days brainstorming, coming up with ideas, reworking those ideas, and creating documentation outlines (i.e. “goodness” – as Corey would say!) in order to deliver to for review and consideration.

Steve Backman, Tracy Kronzak, Anne Duperault, Justin Barss

From left to right: Steve Backman (Year Up, Inc.), Tracy Kronzak (, Anne Duperault (Huron Consulting Group), and Justin Barss (Now IT Matters)

Power of us hub group

Power of Us Hub groups were created post-Sprint so that community collaboration that took place at the Sprint would continue to gain momentum through delivery. Once the Sprint Team deliverables are finalized by each individual Team they will go through a review and consideration process by

So how does all this “goodness” get processed by

We are always eager to hear ideas from the community. Every day we engage in conversation in the Power of Us Hub and invite customers to submit suggestions that can be voted on by their peers. All of this input helps us prioritize the HEDA roadmap so we can deliver meaningful new features that will benefit everyone.

The sprint is another input mechanism that helps guide our path forward — and we couldn’t be more pleased with the quality and quantity of ideas that our customers generated and shared with us. Post-Sprint Community Contributions (i.e. Ideas) are captured and tracked inside of and then reviewed for consideration by the HEDA Product Manager and the Higher Ed Industry Solutions Director via escalation by the Higher Ed Open Source Community Manager.

Ideas coming from the sprint generally fall into three categories:

    1. Ideas for product improvements that should be considered for the HEDA roadmap. These are features that are aligned with the scope and priorities identified in the HEDA SRS and serve to strengthen HEDA as a foundational building block for any higher ed use case.

    2. Ideas that touch areas where additional documentation, not code, will help satisfy customer requirements. This could mean adding a trailhead module, publishing a white paper, or editing some existing docs to make them easier to understand.

    3. Ideas that are outside of the scope of HEDA but still great ideas. These ideas are promoted back to the Sprint Community and we encourage customers to contribute open source code through GitHub as a separate open source complement to HEDA, giving more options to schools who want to add to the core HEDA package. This way the HEDA package is preserved and a customer who wants something extra for a specific use case can download community created code to support their work.

Sprint 3

Be sure to join the HEDA Release Announcements group in the Power of Us Hub to stay updated on HEDA releases!

Pre-Sprint Happy Hour Hosted by FormAssembly at Beat Brasserie!

Many thanks to FormAssembly for hosting the Pre-Sprint Happy Hour at Beat Brasserie in Harvard Square on Wednesday, July 26th!

This was an awesome opportunity for those arriving early to mix and mingle.

Beat Brasserie

The FormAssembly Pre-Sprint Happy Hour crew then headed over to Red Bones in Somerville for some BBQ! Who knew Boston had BBQ?!

Redbones BBQ

Redbones BBQ 2

The Partner Reception at the Cambridge Queens Head!

The fun didn’t stop at the Sprint on Day 1! Oh no! It continued that evening with the Partner Reception at the Cambridge Queens Head.

Many thanks to all of our Partners who sponsored this amazing event the evening of Thursday, July 27th! Here are some pictures to show you just how awesome it was.


Cambridge Queens Head


Cambridge Queens Head - Fun and Games

From top to bottom: Liane Yee (, Amir Tejani (Lehigh University), Eric McCune (Cloud for Good), and Cameron McCoy (Lehigh University) playing a great game of shuffle board!

Pool at Cambridge Queens Head

From left to right: Jace Bryan ( enjoying photobombs with Julio Hernandez (University of Massachusetts Lowell) and Mikhail Nitko (University of Massachusetts – Boston) while playing an epic game of pool!


Corey Snow and Pat McQueen

From left to right: Corey Snow (Harvard University Information Technology) and Pat McQueen ( – Great selfie you two!

Jace Bryan, Steve Backman, Penny Savage, Eric McCune, Liane Yee

From left to right: Jace Bryan ( enjoying photobombs with Steve Backman (Year Up, Inc.), Penny Savage, Eric McCune (Cloud for Good), and Liane Yee (

Jace Bryan, Cheryl Cerny, Anne Duperault, Mark Sirois, Jessica Papachriston,, Brian Degon, Anthony McMahan

From left to right: Jace Bryan ( enjoying photobombs with Cheryl Cerny (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Anne Duperault (Huron Consulting Group), Mark Sirois (Salesforce), Jessica Papachriston (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Brian Degon (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), and Anthony McMahon (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

Selina Suarez, Jace Bryan, Karene-Sean Hines

From left to right: Selina Suarez (, Jace Bryan (, and Karene-Sean Hines (Boston Public Schools) enjoying our time together!

Jace Bryan, Nathalie Mainland, Jason Belland, Lee Perlis

From left to right: Jace Bryan ( enjoying photobombs with Nathalie Mainland (, Jason Belland (, and Lee Perlis (

The Higher Ed Open Source Software Community Post-Sprint Happy Hour sponsored by OwnBackup!

The fun didn’t stop at the Sprint on Day 2 either! It continued outside on the Wasserstein Hall Terrace with the OwnBackup sponsored Happy Hour.

Many thanks to OwnBackup for sponsoring this relaxing post-Sprint Happy Hour on Friday, July 28th! Here are some pictures as many of us were parting ways and saying our goodbyes.

Corey Snow, Florence Parodi, Kyle Schmid

From left to right: Corey Snow (Harvard University Information Technology), Florence Parodi (University of Miami), and Kyle Schmid (Huron Consulting Group)

Jace Bryan, Carlos Ramirez Martinez-Eiroa, Suzanne Veiga, Nick Skriloff, Selina Saurez

From left to right: Jace Bryan ( enjoying photobombs with Carlos Ramirez Martinez-Eiroa (, Suzanne Veiga (, and Nick Skriloff (University of Virginia Darden School Foundation). That’s Selina Suarez ( in the back waving!

Stephanie Sisson, Penny Savage, Chan Li, Justin Barss

From back to front: Stephanie Sisson (EDACS), Penny Savage, Chan Li (University of Minnesota), and Justin Barss (Now IT Matters)

Jace Bryan, Carlos Ramirez Martinez-Eiroa, Liane Yee, Paul Malenke

From back to front: Jace Bryan (, Carlos Ramirez Martinez-Eiroa (, Liane Yee (, and Paul Malenke (

Jace Bryan and Tracy Kronzak

From left to right: Jace Bryan ( enjoying photobombs with Tracy Kronzak (

To Conclude

I can confidently say that the Inaugural Open Source Community Sprint was a HUGE success. I say this because I saw more smiles, heard more laughs, saw genuine connections being made than I have anywhere else in just 2 days time. As there is always room for improvement I know our community will continue to help shape future Sprints so they just keep getting better and better and better.

I am so very grateful to our community for coming together for these 2 days, spending their time, energy, and passion to fuel this experience. I am excited that this new “unconference” Sprint format was so well received.

As Corey would say “SPRINT ON!”

As I would say “Mahalo!”

Sprint 2017