A Tribute to Dave Thewlis

Father Time managing his calendar?

In November 2004, Esther Dyson posted this photo to Flickr, with a caption of “Father Time managing his calendar?” adding, “Well, sort of. This is Dave Thewlis, executive director of CalConnect, the Calendaring & Scheduling Consortium. Coordinating schedules, public and private, is still a big challenge. The consortium, which will be launching  2 weeks from now, December 14th, hopes to help.”

Calconnect was incorporated earlier in 2004 and  now, just shy of 18 years after Calconnect Round Table II, the first CalConnect member meeting, we pay tribute to Dave, on the occasion of his recent retirement, for his  very special contributions as a founder and Executive Director of the Calendaring & Scheduling Consortium.

In the 1960’s, after a stint in the US Air Force, Dave settled in Berkeley California,  where he was a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism, the inspiration for referring to CalConnect member meetings as “Round Tables”. During his career in IT management at Kaiser Permanente Health Care, Dave served as Chief Standards Officer for SHARE, (originally) the IBM Users Group founded in the mid 1950’s.

Through SHARE Dave met Pamela Taylor, and Pat Egen, then co-chair of IETF CALSCH, a working group developing interoperable standards, who saw the need for a calendaring and scheduling consortium. In 2003, Pat recruited Dave to help start the Consortium, and to serve as Executive Director. Pam, Pat, and Dave were the founding board members, and each were awarded the CalConnect Distinguished Service Award. Their experiences at SHARE and IETF  greatly influenced the structure and practices of CalConnect.

Dave Thewlis’ organizational and administrative contributions to Calconnect over these last 18 years, is truly immeasurable.

Fostering collaboration among top-tier contributors can be challenging, but the Calconnect value proposition of creating mutual advantage for erstwhile competitors through development of open, interoperable C&S standards in an atmosphere of collegial cooperation is inculcated throughout the organization. CalConnect is a true meritocracy; anyone, irrespective of membership category or company affiliation, can become a CalConnect thought leader, technical leader, or organizational leader, based on depth of their participation, and the quality of contributions.

Dave’s management persona allowed him to understand the technologists without competing with them, to achieve consensus through patience and encouragement  to converge on consensus expeditiously, to value the contributions of all members, to provide the foremost forum to discuss and debate C&S standards and futures, and to produce standards which provide value to not only vendors but also to the end-users of  their products. Dave set the tone of civility and cooperation for the consortium, working  tirelessly for the membership, valuing the contributions of all the members, and fostering an atmosphere encouraging new and prospective members to feel welcome, and to actively engage in consortium activities.

CalConnect’s success and longevity are attributable to not only the high quality of CalConnect’s leadership and membership, but also to:

  • CalConnect’s unique approach to developing open,  interoperable standards – discuss, develop “reference” implementations, and test for practicality, practicability, and interoperability  in lockstep with each other, results in maximally deployable and useful standards.
  • CalConnect’s adaptability – technology changes, membership changes, how business is conducted changes, and the grand (and not so grand) challenges change. Over the last 17 years Calconnect has changed its governance, its policies, how it its technical committees conduct business, the agenda and schedule for member meetings (Round Tables), its alliances with other organizations, and  updated some of  its founding assumptions. In  January 2019, after more than a decade funneling its standards work through the  IETF,  another standards body, CalConnect was listed as an official international standards body by the WTO. CalConnect has added “collaboration” to its extant portfolio of calendaring and scheduling.
  • Calconnect’s engagements in liaison relationships, including The Open Group, OASIS, NIST, M3AAWG, IETF, several ISO technical committees, and the Danish government’s ekalendar.DK project. Calconnect created a Director of External Relationships Board position.

Dave served not only as Executive Director, but also the institutional memory, the heart and soul of CalConnect. Of the 32 attendees at Roundtable II in 2005, only Dave and Mike Douglass are still participants, making it very fitting that Mike succeeds Dave as CalConnect’s 2nd  Executive Director. Calconnect will continue to flourish,  building on the strong foundation Dave put in place.

Ester Dyson’s photo of Dave was captioned “Father Time managing his calendar?”, but it is likely that any mention of the name “Dave Thewlis” will conjure up this  iconic look for CalConnect Round Table attendees:

Community Comments

If you'd like to include a comment for Dave on this page, please email mike.douglass@calconnect.org.

  • Dave Thewlis, together with the late Pat Egen, were the driving force for the establishment of CalConnect, and he has been the bedrock of the organization since. When I first joined CalConnect as a small software vendor, Dave was extremely welcoming, and his enthusiasm and encouraging support helped inspire me to become more involved, and later evangelize the benefits of CalConnect as I moved on with my career.

    My own deep involvement in CalConnect would not have been possible without Dave's support - his management of logistics for meetings, and on-going technology discussions was key to our success with important Calendaring standards, that are now used on 100's millions of devices around the world. His detailed note taking of our calls was key to keeping us all on track and moving forward. He was able to contribute his own experiences to help us shape the work we were doing, by providing insightful comments.

    The in-person, 3-times a year, CalConnect conferences were always a highlight of my professional life, with a chance to meet everyone and have more intense sessions of testing and standards design. Dave was always there managing the meeting and providing the support everyone needed to accomplish our goals. The whole Calendaring community owes Dave a great debt of gratitude for all his hard work and contributions over the years, and I personally offer my sincere thanks for the many enjoyable times we had.

    --- Cyrus Daboo
  • Dave Thewlis has been an inspiration and role model ever since I met him at the first Calconnect meeting I attended, in San Francisco. His ability to juggle multiple tasks, planning and organizing expertise, deep knowledge in a wide area of topics, calm and composed way of explaining are all exemplary. His dedication to bring together the calendaring community and get standards in place, to foster better interoperability and co-operation has had wide reaching effect.

    On a personal level, I am grateful to Dave for all the camaraderie and the trust he placed in me to rise to the challenge of performing roles that were new and I was not sure of.

    It was an absolute pleasure working with Dave and I am grateful for that opportunity and his continued friendship.

    --- Ciny Joy
  • Standards take a lot of work and a lot of the most thankless work goes into just bringing people together and getting some momentum.  Dave did that patiently and effectively for years, and really made calendar standards work happen and then help those standards take root.  Thank you for your strong and lasting impact.

    -- Lisa Dusseault