2023 Dolphin Awards and Fellowship Winners

Apereo Dolphin Fellows for 2023

Fellows are selected for their exceptional service and contributions to the Apereo community. Recipients' roles vary and include software development, project management, community engagement, and other areas supporting projects and people across the Foundation.

Katrin Ihler

Katrin Ihler, ELAN e.V.

The Apereo Board wishes to recognize Katrin Ihler’s long commitment to Opencast in support of both software development and maintenance tasks. Of particular note is her organization and leadership of Opencast Review Fridays. The Board also recognized Katrin’s work promoting Opencast at different conferences and overall advocacy for open source software. Katrin is a software engineer at ELAN e.V

Opencast Logo
Laura Moran

Laura Fernandez-Moran (a.k.a. Laura McCord), Unicon

The Apereo Board wishes to recognize Laura Fernandez-Moran’s decade-plus of commitment and contributions to Apereo’s uPortal project, including her time in leadership roles on the project and also with the Foundation. Most recently, Laura led the effort to resurrect uPortal Dev Days (held in Las Vegas in 2023), giving the community their first taste of in-person interaction since the pandemic. She serves on the uPortal Steering Committee and the Apereo Incubation group. Her software development and project management skills serve both the uPortal and Incubation communities well and together drive Apereo's mission and success. Laura is a strategic project manager and software developer at Unicon. This is Laura’s second time being recognized as an Apereo Fellow.

Benito Gonzalez

Benito Gonzalez, Unicon

The Apereo Board wishes to recognize Benito Gonzalez’s many roles and contributions as a developer, committer, implementor, and, most of all, community leader of Apereo’s uPortal project. Benito’s nominator called him “the beating heart of uPortal” as he serves many integral roles in the community. In addition to Benito’s support of uPortal, the Board was impressed and grateful for his continued development, vision, and leadership with Apereo's Incubation Working Group as a mentor and organizer. Benito’s commitment to open source and Apereo projects and communities spans over a decade. Thank you for being at the heart of our community!

Benito is a Software Architect at Unicon. Prior to joining Unicon, Benito was part of the IT leadership team at UC Merced. Benito was also recognized as an Apereo Fellow in 2017.

Christina Schwibert

Christina Schwiebert, Northwest State Community College

The Apereo Board wishes to recognize Christina Schwiebert’s critical role in supporting the Sakai community, specifically, her work reviewing and triaging the many tickets submitted--from bug reports to feature requests--through the Sakai JIRA service. The board was particularly impressed with the scope of her work with Sakai to ensure its continued development and quality. Christina is involved in several communities of interest, including the Sakai QA group, the Sakai Project Management Committee, and the Teaching and Learning community. 

Christina is the Instructional Design and Distance Learning Coordinator at Northwest State Community College.


Apereo Dolphin Awardees for 2023


The Apereo Board awarded two outstanding individuals in Innovation, Advocacy, and Networking, "The IAN" in 2023. The IAN recognizes creative and visionary community members who promote and propel open source initiatives to meet higher education's diverse and evolving needs. 

Ron Mitchell

Ron Mitchell, Mitchell Media

Ron Mitchell has been awarded the IAN for his huge contributions to the United Kingdom’s Higher Education community and his ongoing contributions to Apereo’s Xerte Project. 

Ron has over 30 years of experience working in education and has been the owner of Mitchell Media since 2008. He is a major contributor to the Xerte project and has championed the use of Xerte via the Future Teacher project.

From the Nominators:

“Ron has played a key role in the development and delivery of the 'FutureTeacher' series of webinars, which regularly attract over a hundred participants to the monthly, free sessions. These online seminars have a rolling programme of varied applications of instructional technology, demonstrating innovative uses of both established and emerging tools and technologies and demonstrating exemplar online pedagogy in their delivery.” 

“Xerte plays a prominent role in the delivery of the 'FutureTeacher' materials and is used to showcase cutting-edge applications of the tools to modern pedagogy, with significant impacts on practice across the many participating institutions.”

Ron was recognized as an Apereo Fellow in 2017.

David Horwitz

David Horwitz, Sakai Project

David Horwitz has been awarded the IAN for his outstanding contributions to the Sakai project and the open source in education community at large. His incredible efforts toward the advancement of openness and open source in education through his commitment to Sakai and Apereo are indeed worthy of celebration - of particular note his nearly 3000 code commits (number one of all time), serving as the Sakai Release Manager, and founding member of the Sakai Project Management Committee (PMC).

From the nominators:

“David’s technical and leadership contributions span a seventeen-year period. His longstanding commitment to the Apereo mission is impressive enough on its own, but his contributions over the last decade have been accomplished under challenging personal conditions…his work ethic is impressive, and his resiliency is inspiring.”

While technical contributions are valuable for all open source projects, the IAN award specifically celebrates the often overlooked but critically important role innovators, advocates, and networkers play in driving development, fostering awareness and adoption, and expanding open source communities.

David was recognized as a Sakai Fellow in 2008 and again 2010.

Teaching and Learning

This Dolphin Award recognizes innovation in teaching and learning using open source software, promoting excellent pedagogy, sharing new practices in education, and encouraging more faculty involvement in software evolution.

Yasin Ozarslan

Yasin Özarslan, Yasar University

Professor Yasin Özarslan, Yasar University’s Director of Centre for Open and Distance Learning, is the 2023 winner of the Dolphin Award for Teaching and Learning.

Yasin was nominated for the exceptional offerings available at Yasar University’s distance learning program, not only enabling students to continue their education during and since the Covid 19 pandemic but expanding on their open source-driven offerings. Of particular note was their approach, “A Journey of Learning Experience,” leveraging the Sakai framework and Apereo community to improve operational and management efficiency in the transformation of Yaşar University's distance and online educational programs--an accomplishment commended by Turkey's University Assessments and Research Laboratory. 

Yasar University and Yasin have committed to innovation and digital transformation through open source and have found resounding success.

Enterprise Solution Innovation

This award recognizes academic institutions, project teams, or individuals supported by corporate entities in the development, deployment, and/or implementation of open source software in support of higher education.

Adrian Fish

Adrian Fish, Longsight

Adrian Fish has been awarded the Enterprise award for his outstanding work to push innovations in Apereo’s Sakai project and his drive to propel Sakai’s next generation of development. 

Adrian Fish is a Senior Software Engineer at Apereo Commercial Affiliate, Longsight was nominated for “doing amazing work modernizing Sakai, creating a new Grading Service, and implementing several fixes and enhancements to multiple tools like Roster, Profile, and others. Adrian's efforts help Sakai stay relevant, modern, and effective for higher-ed.” Of particular note was Adrian’s approach--engaging the community for insights and feedback, participating in Apereo Teaching and Learning meetings to discover and understand issues firsthand, and coordinating with Commercial Affiliates and Sakai community institutions to ensure smooth progress and align expectations.

Adrian’s nominator pointed out that their university benefits greatly from the fixes and features that Adrian releases to the Sakai community.

Adrian is a long-time Sakai contributor and was named a 2017 Fellow.