Pantheon Community

WebOps Wednesday AMA: Fatima Sarah Khalid

Hi, I’m Fatima Sarah Khalid, I’m a Developer Programs Engineer (DPE) on the Developer Relations team at Pantheon. DPE is an engineering role with a focus on Developer Relations, standing at the intersection of Pantheon and the developers who use it, bridging the gap between the people on both sides. I work on code to build developer tools, give talks, write documentation, and engage with the communities we work with.

I’ve been a part of the Drupal community for just over three years - since DrupalCon New Orleans and made an impact on both code and community. I’m an advisor on the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion working group (DD&I), a core contribution mentor, and three time scholarship recipient. I’ve also been interviewed by Acquia for their Women in Drupal series, been on the Drupal Easy podcast with a first time sprinters guide, am a track chair for the DrupalCon Minneapolis Development & Coding team, and gave the keynote at Midcamp 2019.

This past year, I was a Code for Canada fellow working with the Canadian federal government (Transport Canada) on building a digital tool to help drone pilots fly safely and within legal regulations. I also recently joined the Bad Idea Factory - a collective of chaotic creatives using technology to make people thinking face emoji.

I’m deeply committed to making technology spaces more inclusive and passionate about civic technology and open source. I’m also the WCT 2018 Rising Star of Canada :star2:

In my spare time, I’m an escape room aficionado, love video games, tennis, and axe-throwing. My beloved father passed away earlier this year and it’s been a really difficult few months dealing with grief and loss. My father loved me very much and I know he’d want me to be happy :slight_smile: and so I just moved to the Bay Area a few weeks ago and I’m hopeful for new adventures.

Ask me about civic tech, community building, escape room strategies - or ask me anything!

(Photo of my father and I at my KG graduation :two_hearts:)


Hi @fatima.khalid! Thanks for sharing your story. Who would you put on your escape room Dream Team? Do you see parallels in what makes for a successful web team and what makes a successful escape room team?


Hmm, that’s a really interesting question.

For my escape room Dream Team, the qualifying factor would be friends or coworkers that are easy to get along with - so that we don’t get into an arguments in the room. When I look back to my most successful rooms, here’s some personas that come to mind:

  • The Boss - aka the person who calls the shots, generally someone with past escape room experience and a good rapport with other members of the team. This person can assign tasks and keep track of what’s happening in the room at an overall level.
  • The Storyteller - someone who excels at telling stories and can see the patterns woven into the room by the game creators when/if the team gets stuck or something doesn’t make sense. If this person is also The Boss, the team might be able to set a record by escaping quickly.
  • The Tactician - someone good with numbers, remembering pieces of data, and looking at things in a different perspective. This person can keep track of the things that have been unlocked and work with the Storyteller to identify patterns.
  • The Rogue - willing to take chances and attempt to find unusual ways of unlocking things or edge cases. I once played this role on a team of people I had just met and managed to find a set of bricks in the wall that pushed in to reveal a secret room.
  • The Ranger - the do-er, it’s essential in all escape rooms teams to have at least one person who’s most interested in the puzzle solving, the lock twirling, and moving things around. This person follows the overall team direction, but takes part in what they enjoy most - the puzzle mechanics.

Yes, I definitely see parallels between successful web teams and successful escape room teams! A successful web team is one that is cross-functional - consisting of developers, designers, content strategists, and stakeholders. In government, I’ve seen these called “digital teams” - where the collaboration across discipline along with automated tools and web platforms like Pantheon and Drupal allow teams to work together to build great web experiences for their users.


I want escape room badges for each of these roles! :smiley:


Hi, Fatima! So excited to have you on the team. :star2:

I’d love to hear more about the Bad Idea Factory – I looked at the website and it sounds awesome. What drew you to get involved & what do you do with BIF?

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Hi, Tara! I’m excited to be on the team, too! :raised_hands:

Around a year ago, one of my mentors in the civic tech space, the incredible Matt Stempeck invited me to join Bad Idea Factory. He described it as a collective of individuals - some folks in tech, some folks tangential to tech or government, artists, and writers that came together to work on projects that would make people think. To join, you have to submit a really bad idea (or an actual, really good idea) and present it to the board. To try and impress the team, I submitted my entire application with an emoji cipher - check it out, it’s pretty funny. :joy:

We have some really interesting projects from political satire to poking fun at things like 40 over 40 lists, but most recently I’ve been helping with the Emoji Compass - the compass will answer any question you pose it based on the fantasy multiverse of His Dark Materials. Another project we worked on promoting recently is our ios virus (which is actually not a virus and just a wrapper to make iOS applications).

Aside from these projects, we also do a lot of freelance (aka “real”) work and have partnerships/work with places like the MIT Media Lab and the Internet Archive. We have a slack in which we keep in touch, share our work and lives, and support each other’s careers/projects/ideas. It’s a really cool group of varying perspectives from across the world and I’m not sure I’d meet these people otherwise.

Anyone is welcome to join! You can submit an idea for a project or apply to join the hive mind :smile:


Insert Which escape room role are you? quizzes to receive badges :laughing:

I’ve done escape rooms with just one other person before and we were able to break records together even though we were totally new to escape rooms. I think people can embody more than one role, but it really depends on if they know each other well and understand the ways in which the other works and how to support it best.

The more I think about this, the more I realize it’s just like web teams :laughing:


Hi Fatima! :wave:

I am so sorry to hear about your dad— I don’t doubt for a minute that he isn’t looking down on you proud! You are truly a sweet soul! :heart: I am super interested in learning how you got into axe-throwing! I watched in on ESPN the other day and honestly had no idea it was a televised sport. I think I would be slightly afraid of throwing that bad boy the wrong way :see_no_evil: Since you just moved to SF are you planning on joining a league there or are you already part of one?

Also I know you are super into the D&I space. You & @sparklingrobots are two super influential people to have in the space! We are definitely lucky to have you both here at Pantheon! :slightly_smiling_face: As someone who is spends a lot of time thinking through ways we can increase engagement in our forum & of course highlight how important D&I is at Pantheon–I would be interested in picking your brain sometime! Maybe even throw some axes in the mix (see what I did there!).

Anyways, so excited to have you on the team & even more excited to learn from you and all your experiences!

P.S. I am a little emoji happy, so please forgive me!

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Hi McKenna,

Thank you so much :heart::heart::heart:

My first time axe-throwing was in London, ON when a really close friend of mine came to visit. I was so terrified after the introduction that I decided he should take both of our turns and I would just watch :see_no_evil:! A friend of mine was working at BATL London and she insisted that I should at least try to throw once.

And so I did - and the thrill was amazing! I really love the powerful feeling of being able to hold, throw, and land an axe onto the target. The team at BATL London encouraged me to join the league because I was a natural :sunglasses: and when I moved to Ottawa last year, I participated in their league as well.

I’m definitely not an ESPN pro and have been at the bottom of the local leagues I’ve joined, but I’ve found the sport to be much less intimidating in person! The folks at the Ottawa location looked pretty intimidating - especially when they started unpacking their personal axes - but they were so kind, excited to see a newcomer, and even let me borrow their axes (because they were better than the public use ones).

I’ve not really heard about accidents - generally these locations are equipped in ways to prevent them - each lane is separated and you’re not allowed to approach the target unless your opponent has already thrown (and landed) their axe (else you could be disqualified).

There’s a place in the south bay and I was hoping to join! I bet there’s tons of experts in this area :laughing: I’d love to throw axes together sometime!

I have this really silly photo from my first day throwing axes - you can tell I was really enjoying myself:

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You say you’re not a pro, but it sure looks like it from that photo :upside_down_face:

And yes to an axe throwing collab session very soon! We will make it happen when I come out to SF. In the meantime, definitely go join that club! They will love you & you will definitely fit in–like you said you’re a natural!

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Hehehe :upside_down_face: YAS an axe-throwing collab session, I will hold you to that!

And thank you so much! :raised_hands: I’ve actually been debating whether I want to join the axe throwing league or try something new (since it’s the bay area) like sword fighting :laughing:

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All I have to say is…

Best friends

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New profile picture?!

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EMOJI CIPHER! EMOJI COMPASS! That is so awesome.

:smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :peacock: :gem: :ballet_shoes: :fireworks:

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Hi Fatima! I’ve got two for you:

  • What new or upcoming internet /website making trend are you most optimistic about?
  • Any that you are super pessimistic about or wish would go away?