Thank You to Everyone Who Made Agile2021 Such a Success

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As we wrap up Agile2021, our first foray into running a large-scale global virtual conference–during an ongoing global pandemic–I’d like to take a moment to appreciate all of the people who contributed to making this event so successful. It really does take a village to pull together an event of this scale, and it took considerable effort required to figure things out every step of the way. We couldn’t rely on “how it’s worked in the past” as designing and delivering a virtual event is much different than creating a physical conference. 


Building a Program

We started planning Agile2021 in the early fall of 2021 with the Program Team: Brandon Carlson, Conference Chair, and Program Chairs Dana Pylayeva, Kevin Stevens, and Jen Kriger. They, in turn, assembled a great team of Track Chairs to coordinate the four themes:

  • Technical – Cat Swetel and Doc Norton
  • People – Bernie Maloney and Joanna Vahlsing
  • Process – Itopa Sulé and Cheryl Hammond
  • Experience Reports – Rebecca Wirfs-Brock and David Kane

This group redesigned the submissions approach to take into account some of the uncertainties we were dealing with and assembled an amazing team of reviewers who read and gave feedback on the hundreds of submissions received. I’d also like to acknowledge all the people who took the time to submit a proposal because participating in that process takes time and effort too. We cast a broader net this year in order to have talks and workshops from all over the world, and navigating an unfamiliar submission process for the first time requires energy and persistence.

The Experience Report shepherds played a special role in helping the authors of the reports shape their stories and prepare them for presentation: Candase Hokanson, Cherifa Mansoura, Courtney Shar, David Bujard, David Dikel, Johanna Rothman, Jutta Eckstein, Kevin Cowart, Lise Hvatum, Michael Keeling, Nate Ashford, Robert Sefir, Stan Ponder, Susan Burk, Deepak Srinivasan, Kathy Bine, Margaret Fogel, and Alex Kanaan, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, and David Kane.

Agile Alliance board members and initiative directors also contributed to creating elements of the conference program. Craig Smith, Apeksha Patel, Paul Hammond, Henrik Esser, Jutta Eckstein, Shane Hastie, Deepti Jain, Ricardo Abella and Paul Boos all represented Agile Alliance on the Agile2021 stage. Special thanks to staff member Sharon Cooper for assembling the Initiatives interviews and spaces in the Marketplace.

Making It All Happen

The role volunteers played in making an online conference run smoothly was very different from past events but as vital as ever. Our squad of dedicated ‘Purple Shirts’ came together as a group to help support the speakers and improve the attendee experience.

Thanks to the Volunteer Coordinators Sarah Klarich, Pamela Corbin-Jones, and Spring Milbourn, and our global group of volunteers:

Cheri Hansen, Larry Bock, Paul Moore, Christina Hartikainen, Justin Walsh, Ken Robinson, Meenakshi Srivastava, Fernand Brannekamper, Jennifer Zhu, Margaret McKever, Marilou Canon, Meyer Tanuan, Ricardo Abella, Gertruda Verikaitė, Annelie Coetzee, David Bujard, Kyle Baker, Antoinette Coetzee, John Hill, Jay Rowland, Laura Fisher, Stephanie Merkel, Sharon Sanhai, Jennelle Stearns, Patty Garza, Rebecca Kauffman.

I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the great work our event partners Elastic Communications & Events did in making this all happen. They’ve been helping us to put on our Agile conference since Agile2008 and are a vital part of making this conference a success year after year. Thanks to Yvonne Dewar, Jessica Small, and Tarah McMaster for going above and beyond, and for eternal perseverance and patience in helping figure out the seemingly endless pile of decisions as circumstances evolved. Along with our AV partners at CCR Solutions, they helped to create a great virtual environment for learning and connecting.

Chris Li did amazing work hosting the Agile Exchange in two of the three global timeblocks.  I can’t thank him enough for stepping in and pulling it all together.

Last, but not least, the Agile Alliance team helped in countless ways: Ray, Joe, Anna, David, Rebecca, Juan, Deepti, and Sharon.


About the Author

Ellen Grove is the Interim Managing Director of Agile Alliance. Based in Ottawa, Canada, Ellen has been working in software development for over 20 years, moving from software testing to user-centered design to managing development teams to Agile coaching and training. Ellen is an Agile Coach, trainer and facilitator who works with organizations of all sizes - from startups to multinationals - to help them find more effective ways of working based on Lean and Agile principles and practices. After many years of organizing and presenting at Agile events at home and around the world, Ellen was elected to the Agile Alliance board of directors in 2017, and became the chair of the board in February 2020 before stepping into her current role.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

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