Last month we took EvolveDrupal—a unique summit that fosters digital transformation and open source collaboration—to Atlanta for its first appearance in the United States.  

Couldn’t attend? Well, no need to feel left out! You can get the inside scoop right here. I’ve shared stories about 12 summit stars that’ll have you smiling, chuckling, or taking notes.

Attendees will find this a worthwhile read, too. Because unless you harnessed an AI bot to put you in three rooms at once, we’re betting there’s plenty you missed!

Ready to meet our stars? First, a quick refresher for those who need it.

Wait, What’s EvolveDrupal Again?

Ok, let’s rewind. About a year ago our digital agency started EvolveDrupal in our hometown of Montreal. After years of remote meet-ups, it was a way to finally reunite the tech and design communities in person. 

People were overjoyed to socialize in the same room as their peers again! Because let’s face it: sharing a beer on Zoom just isn’t the same. There’s none of those silly stories and spontaneous oversharing that really bring people together. 

After that first summit, we built on EvolveDrupal’s success with events in Toronto and Ottawa, before heading across the border to Atlanta. (Psst... a little birdy told me we're coming back to the U.S. in September for EvolveDrupal NYC.)

Meet the Stars of EvolveDrupal Atlanta

Now that you’re up to speed, here are all the juicy details you’re waiting for. Meet the standout stars who made EvolveDrupal Atlanta absolutely stellar. 

1. Our Event-Planning Extraordinaire, Maya Schaeffer

Maya wears multiple hats at Evolving Web. On top of taking care of us as our Employee Experience & Operations Manager, she’s the de facto Chief Event Organizer for EvolveDrupal. Maya learned on-the-job to orchestrate big corporate gatherings and she tirelessly ensures their success. You can find her at EvolveDrupal looking like she’s in her element.

Unforeseen challenges and setbacks are an inevitable part of events—like the time a well-known office supplies company printed all of our participants’ name tags upside down! But Maya has learned to roll with the punches and adapt quickly.

Maya’s can-do attitude means she sometimes tries to do everything herself, but she’s learned to delegate more over the past year. Her charming smile means that few people can say “no” to her requests. 


Maya wearing a boxing glove
No one is a match for Maya's organizing skills!

2. Our Boss Baby: Sofia 

Just 15 months old, Sofia has been to more Drupal conferences than most seasoned developers. She has accompanied her parents (our co-founders Alex and Suzanne) to DrupalCon Pittsburgh, DrupalConLille, GovCon, High Ed Web, and all four of our previous EvolveDrupal summits.  

With this trajectory, in 20 years she’ll have the elusive combination that so many employers seek: a freshly minted college degree and two decades of Drupal experience. 

Expect to see Sofia in Forbes 5 Under 5 very soon.


Sofia is smiling with her Dad and Maya and a toy eagle
Sofia loves showing her Drupal pride, accompanied by Alex (her dad), Maya, and Sammy the Eagle.

3. Artificial Intelligence  

I’d like to thank ChatGPT for writing this blog post. Joking! I’m a real person, I swear. Yet everywhere we look it seems that AI is popping up as a way to generate content, code, images, and so much more. So it was really helpful to get some perspective from the experts.

Nikhil Deshpande, Chief Digital & AI Officer at the Georgia Technology Authority, sat down for a Q&A session with our co-founder, Suzanne Dergacheva. Their discussion hit on a crucial dilemma: how to accelerate innovation through open source while retaining integrity and managing risk.

Some key takeaways from their talk include:

  • AI has progressed beyond analytical tasks to creative endeavors like writing poetry.
  • Its role in the workplace is expanding: over half of the U.S. workforce now uses AI tools to enhance productivity.
  • AI is also shaping public services and government operations. In Minnesota, AI translation has improved accessibility for non-English speakers.
  • In this age of AI, ethical considerations and good content governance are more important than ever. 
  • The integration of AI technologies into existing systems will foster a new era of innovation—one where these tools not only enhance existing processes, but optimize creativity and problem solving.

We also heard from Misha Sulpovar, Head of AI at Cherre & Wired Cognition. In This Is not a Drill: Seeing the Real Opportunities Among the AI Hype, Misha debunked some common myths about AI. No, robots are not going to take over. No, the robots didn’t tell us to say that. In the face of concerns that machines will take our jobs, Misha argues that AI is actually enhancing—instead of replacing—human capabilities. It’s time to embrace the robots. They’re your new work besties. 

4. A11y (a.k.a. Accessibility)

Championing open source goes hand-in-hand with advocating for accessibility. At Evolving Web we’re committed to making the web a better place for all. So we were thrilled to host not one, but two accessibility sessions at EvolveDrupal Atlanta!

Mary Blabaum, Senior UX Manager at Acquia, gave a great overview of accessibility in her session 5 Ways to Grow Your Inclusive Design Approach

  • Understand your user needs
  • Activate by including inclusive strategy into your day to day
  • Set standards such as adhering to WCAG
  • Create with intent by baking inclusion into your design process
  • Measure what matters using transparent accessibility conformance reports


Mary from Acquia presenting on accessibility
Mary Blabaum from Acquia offered strategies to make accessibility the default in every design.


Penny Kronz, VP of Client Services at DubBot, gave us the rundown on the new success criteria in WCAG guidelines 2.2  with her session WCAG 2.2: What Changed? What Do I Need to Know? so that we can meet the latest accessibility requirements. Some notable changes include new criteria for increased touch target size, consistent focus appearance, and easy dismissal of pop-ups. While WCAG 2.2 retains the same structure as previous versions, it offers more specific guidance for building inclusive digital experiences.

5. OOUX  

So much more than a pleasing acronym, object-oriented UX (OOUX) is a proven method for making user experiences more human-centric. Sophia Prater taught us how to shift our UX process to turn complex processes into intuitive user flows in How to Fix UX Fails with Object-Oriented UX. The room was packed, with every seat taken and more participants standing at the back to catch the talk! 

One great takeaway from the talk was "ORCA". No relation to the whale. ORCA is an acronym that highlights great questions to ask when designing a single screen: 

  • O: What are the objects in the users' mental model?
  • R: What are the objects' relationships to each other?
  • C: What calls-to-action do objects offer users?
  • A: What are the attributes that make up the objects?

6. Our Creative Director, Morgan, and His Infallible Attention to Detail

Morgan decided to take a steamer to our backdrops. There wasn’t a single wrinkle to be seen when he was done with them. Not that he’s a Monica or anything (from the TV show Friends for those who—gasp!—don't get the reference.) 

Morgan also delivered From Chaos to Clarity: The Benefits and Challenges of Design Systems with Bryenne. They dived into the complexities and challenges our team has encountered over the years, offering up some invaluable best practices for creating a sustainable design system.

Finally, Morgan captivated a creative audience at our EvolveUX Unconference, an interactive session with real-time feedback from the audience. Morgan showcased the Planned Parenthood Direct website and took participants behind the scenes of the project. 


Morgan steam-ironing our backdrops
Creases? Not on Morgan's watch.

7. Sammy the Eagle

You read that right—the official mascot of Drupal GovCon swooped in to steal the show at EvolveDrupal Atlanta. I guess it’s easy when you have wings. Naturally, we set aside a free ticket and cleared his visit with the civil aviation authorities. 


An eagle-shaped teddy
The Eagle has landed. Sammy the Eagle, that is.

8. Steve Persch’s Twister Board

Steve Persch is a seasoned Drupalist and the Director of Developer Experience at Pantheon. He’s also a theater grad! Which explains why he brings a dramatic flair to even the most technical of presentations.  

In his talk The Fourth Decade of Web Deployments, Steve literally bent over backwards to illustrate how complex web pages have become. It certainly woke people up to see Steve pretzeling on a Twister board first thing in the morning. We’ve never seen a more visually stimulating illustration of a technical concept. Proof that majoring in theatre is useful, no matter what the haters say. 


A women stands while a man sits on a Twister board .
Always stretch before attending EvolveDrupal.

9. The EPIC Page Builder Battle 

The boxing gloves came out when five speakers went head-to-head, each of them representing a different page building tool. And if you thought Drupal would have a leg up at an event with Drupal in the name, think again! It was no match for the ease with which our designer Yue Lu could build a site in Webflow.

Nevertheless, the key takeaway from our Page Builder Battle was that no single tool is perfect for everyone or every project. Choosing the right tool depends heavily on your unique needs.

We also learned that while Drupal’s content creation experience has room for improvement, the Drupal community is aware of this fact and actively working on it.


Page builder battle session
We duked it out to see which page builder tool is the ultimate champion.

10. Josh, Our Magic Weatherman

Our Atlanta-based team member, Josh, seems to have a mysterious ability to control the weather. Who knows how he did it, but Josh ordered some darn good weather for the event. 

Booking the rooftop patio three months in advance was always going to be a gamble. So we were biting our fingernails as rain poured down the day before… but the summit rolled around with nothing but the bluest of skies! Honourable mention to Josh because we're sure he had something to do with it. Definitely a wizard.


Josh and Adrienne smiling at the roof top after-party
Team members Adrienne and Josh enjoying suspiciously good weather at the Zivtech rooftop after-party. 

11. The Drake Quote in our Brand Colours

As we left the elevator for the rooftop after-party, what did we see but a big quote from Drake on the wall! Way to make a canuck feel at home. And way to make us feel special, because it was in our brand green.  


A quote saying "We started from the bottom now we're here" – Drake
We're definitely not team Kendrick.

12. The Airbnb Deer

This is becoming a weird trend for us. It all started with the Airbnb we stayed in for DrupalCamp Florida. Our team walked in to find a huge taxidermy deer on the wall. After initially feeling creeped out, they named him Luke and accepted him as part of the gang.

Would you believe it, when we turned up at our Airbnb for DrupalCamp New Jersey—oh dear, another deer! This one was named Frosty because he seemed a little aloof.

And then in Atlanta, what did we find but yet another deer! Perhaps we should just listen to the signs from the universe and get one for our office.

A taxidermied deer on the wall
What should our Atlanta deer be called? Send name suggestions on a postcard.

Join the EvolveDrupal Adventure

Tickets are now on sale for EvolveDrupal Montreal on June 14. We're also heading back to the United States for EvolveDrupal NYC on September 20. 

Want to stay in the loop? Sign up for EvolveDrupal updates. You'll be among the first to hear about ticket sales, early bird discounts, and competitions for free stuff!

Here's what to read next: 9 Ways to Make the Most of EvolveDrupal