Meet Robby, MozFest Volunteer

Mozilla Festival

By Mozilla Festival | Aug. 24, 2020 | Mozilla Festival

Robby Sayles, a MozFest volunteer coordinator, takes about 20,000 steps up and down the nine flights of stairs at Ravensbourne College each day of the festival. That’s a journey of about 30 miles for every festival he’s worked.

After last year’s MozFest, Robby Sayles has walked over 180 miles in the name of a safe and open internet for all. Though we don’t recommend MozFest as a weight loss program, Robby tends to lose a few pounds by the end of each festival.

Three volunteers at MozFest wearing blue festival shirts and name tag lanyards. MozFest Volunteers at MozFest 2016

Robby first volunteered for MozFest in 2013. He had recently become a Mozilla rep in North America and had heard stories about this “big tech expo to co-create gadgets and meet people,” explained Robby. Since he believed strongly in Mozilla’s mission and has always enjoyed helping people, Robby decided to attend the festival as a volunteer.

“I thought I’d just be handing out swag bags for a little while,” Robby remembered with a laugh. The amount of time and energy MozFest volunteers dedicate to the festival was unexpected, but he embraced it. Immediately, Robby took initiative and became a herder and a leader.

The volunteers keep the gears of the festival turning from the very start to the very end, juggling a wide range of logistics. They sit at the welcome desk and check in all participants. They serve meals to participants. They provide information on each floor of Ravensbourne College. They fix tech issues. They clean up after sessions end. They know the layout of the building and can guide people to the restrooms. They stage the festival and make sure all supplies requested by facilitators are provided: tables, computers, televisions, paper, markers, sticky notes, projectors, and more.

“MozFest is a wonderful time. It’s amazing how this one building can turn into something totally different. I have never ever seen anything like it, ever. The transformation is the most amazing and craziest thing.”

Robby

MozFest Volunteer in black sweater and plaid shirt standing next to person in foxy costume, smiling at the camera Robby Sayles at MozFest 2019 with Foxy. Photo by Connor Ballard-Pateman & Henry Kenyon

Robby started as a volunteer, not a Mozilla Foundation staff member. As a coordinator, Robby is responsible for scheduling responsibilities for the over 200 volunteers. It’s important to him that the MozFest volunteers aren’t overworked, remember to eat, and can still participate in MozFest.

He and the other two coordinators, Ziggy Maes and Tom, start working six months before the festival begins. As the festival gets closer, they regularly meet with Executive Festival Director, Sarah Allen, to learn from past MozFests and brainstorm ways to make the overall festival experience even better.

Volunteers can be anyone, from anywhere, “as long as they have the passion to help people and also have fun,” said Robby. All volunteers get in-person training, which includes learning skills on safety evacuation and medical emergencies. Interested in joining Robby? Become a festival insider to learn of MozFest volunteer opportunities as they arise.

For more volunteer stories, check out some blogs from our community:

MozFest is part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world. To learn more, visit www.mozillafestival.org.

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