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Monthly Archives: March 2022

The election season is upon us for The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers and there are three Board of Directors seats that come open in this cycle.  The five person Board consists of individuals serving two-year terms.  Two seats are generally up for election during odd-numbered years, and the other three seats are up for election during even-numbered years.  In practice, however, this has tended to result in a maximum of two folk ever joining or leaving the Board in any election because of the fact that I have stood as an incumbent candidate successfully for my own seat for… quite some time.

And that time is coming to its conclusion.

The US division of TOOOL officially formed in late 2006, after Barry Wels (the founder and then-President of the original Netherland-based TOOOL) felt confidence in the individuals whom he saw giving talks and running lockpicking events here in North America for several years.  I joined the Board of Directors of TOOOL in February of 2008.  I have seen the org develop, grow, and succeed in ways that many would have never imagined in those early days.

Having served for over fourteen years at this point — massively longer than the average Boardmember’s tenure — I recognize that it would be appropriate to hand the reins to others, given how capable and mature the whole community has become.  To say nothing of the fact that I now run several successful businesses which require more and more of my attention every day, hah.  But, in truth, even if I were semi-retired from the security community… it would likely still be recognizable as appropriate for me to push back from the table and allow unique voices and fresh faces to bring new life and diverse perspectives to TOOOL.  I have often worried that my staying put for so many years set the possibly unhealthy precedent that this kind of extra-long tenure is something we expect out of everybody, which might result in hesitancy for new faces and new candidates down the road.  Think of the other charities and public organizations in your life (I think of internet regulatory bodies, advocacy/lobbying groups in the firearms community, philanthropic/artistic funding groups/etc) and ask yourself: are the healthiest ones likely to have new faces and new voices or are they the orgs where the entire Board consists of cis straight geriatric white folk who have held their seats for decades?

I have privately announced to the membership that I will not be seeking re-election in this cycle and I’m similarly stating this now to all of you here.  It’s also my supreme joy to express how filled with confidence I am as we see a field of outstanding candidates, whom I’d like to introduce to you now.

These are the individuals who are standing for election in this year’s Boardmember cycle…


Nite Owl – The only incumbent Boardmember to be running for their seat this term, Nite Owl joined the TOOOL Board in 2020, although it certainly feels as though he has held that post for much longer, so central to our operations and leadership structure, is he.  Of course, this is because Nite Owl has been serving in other leadership roles for many years prior… overseeing affairs in his native New York City where TOOOL maintains not only a chapter but also a key presence at notable conferences.  No stranger to media appearances and public speaking, Nite Owl brings his real-world experience as a professional, trading locksmith as well as his hacker community roots and humor with him to the microphone or camera whenever communicating about locksport and TOOOL to the wider world.

I hold the firm belief that Nite Owl’s near-religious dedication to the orderliness of our regular meetings and his guidance in keeping TOOOL’s adherence to our annual planning calendar is the glue that has held our org together through these recent trying times and that his presence on the Board will be essential to TOOOL’s successful re-emergence post-pandemic as things start to open up.  We are so very fortunate to have him on the Board of Directors.


Amélie Koran – While no stranger to the private sector, Amélie (@webjedi on the Internet) has worked in public service for ages now, and that is a refreshing contrast to the rest of our Board who — other than Jack when he held a seat — tend to mostly have salary jobs at private firms or be business owners ourselves.  Amélie has worked in cybersecurity in leadership roles up to and including serving as the CTO and Deputy CIO for the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.  She has also worked with the Department of the Interior and the US Treasury and played a key role in the development of the US Digital Service (USDS) program.

So, yes, in short… one of the main benefits that Amélie would bring to an organisation such as TOOOL is gravitas.  But her life has not been one of detachment from people on the ground or folk who are outsiders, hackers, and students.  Amélie is a mainstay at numerous cons and events every year including ShmooCon, DEF CON, and multiple BSides conferences, where she has leadership duties.

TOOOL has succeeded and sustained itself for ages by harnessing the enthusiasm and talent of the hackers and lockpickers who come to meetings and staff our Villages, but to truly grow and evolve into a nonprofit befitting our prestige and lineage, I believe that our Board should consist of a mix of both “I’ve lived nothing but locks and pins and picks my whole life” type people as well as “I appreciate and enjoy lockpicking but also have broad connections at higher levels of the landscape” type people.

Amélie’s dedication and connection to the lockpicking community and the hacker world will keep us focused on serving that community while her education and experience make her well suited to offering guidance that steers TOOOL into new waters, as well, ensuring that as our org grows that we can meet new challenges and remain capable of serving increasing membership and new events as the world continues to open up.

Also, her service with us would encourage our leadership team as well as our members as a whole to broaden and diversify their minds and skill sets by learning how to properly type a letter “e” with an accent character on both laptop as well as mobile keyboards. 😉

Links to bios and other bona fides here…


James Plastine – James has been an active participant with TOOOL from its very earliest days forward here in America.  While taking a brief hiatus from the hacker world to focus on career and life developments for a time, James has since re-emerged and become an active participant in the slack and eager to be more hands-on at our events when feasible in future, as well.

James is level-headed, mature, and would have the dedication both to bring energy about Lockport to his activities but also more importantly to bring sensibility and dedication to the more mundane tasks that are so important to our organisation such as drafting reports, ensuring that we are compliant on filing paperwork, and the like.

He is based in Delaware and has significant work and peer group connections to Northern Virginia, and would be in a position to visit the new Sterling, VA office from time to time, as needed.


Chris Fedson – An active member from our Des Moines chapter, Chris brings energy and dedication not just to local meetings (when we still held those… and which we look forward to resuming again soon, hopefully) but also to his career in Infosec.  I hope that we get to see more of Chris at DEFCON and other larger events in the community now that it appears feasible to resume such affairs in 2022.


Kataze – While we’ve never had a wild animal on the Board of Directors, Kataze the Skunk (@kataze on the internet) has submitted their candidacy and we’re all happy to see that.  Kataze has been active with TOOOL for some time now, and not merely as a member.  Much of our virtual content scheduling and speaker wrangling has fallen upon him — especially during the COVID pandemic — and it’s quite certain that TOOOL’s presence at conferences during these past rocky years would have been almost non-existent without his efforts.

A dedicated volunteer and helpful creator, Kataze is active not only with TOOOL but also his local hacker/maker space in the Bay Area.  Young, exuberant energy would be a fine addition to our Board of Directors.


I wish all of the candidates the best in this upcoming election cycle and would also like to take a moment to offer my thanks to Lonnie Bates (a.k.a. @JimyLongs) who is the other current Boardmember that is not standing for re-election this year.  He and all of the previous TOOOL members who have held leadership positions are what brought this little nonprofit to where it is today and I am honored to have worked with and served side-by-side with each and every one of them.

TOOOL will soon be publishing official ballots via your registered email and there will also be official messaging from TOOOL with candidate bios and brief videos wherein they speak about themselves and their vision for our future.  The election is managed using an instant-runoff “transferable vote” system with the voting window open Monday March 14 – Monday April 4.  Best regards to all and don’t forget to vote if you’re an active TOOOL member!