Molly E. Holzschlag (January 25, 1963 – September 5, 2023) was a remarkable American author, lecturer, and advocate of the Open Web. She made significant contributions to the world of web design and open standards, authoring or co-authoring 35 influential books, including the widely acclaimed “The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web,” which she co-wrote with Dave Shea. Holzschlag was affectionately known as the “Fairy Godmother of the Web.”
Campaigning for Web Standards
Molly Holzschlag was a pioneer in the world of web technology. She conceived and led the inaugural five years of Open Web Camp, a free event held in Silicon Valley from 2009 to 2013. Her mission was to promote Open Web technologies, web design, and accessibility.
One of her most notable achievements was serving as the group lead for the Web Standards Project (WaSP) from 2004 to 2006. WaSP was a coalition that advocated for modern web standards by engaging with major browser makers like Microsoft, Opera, and Netscape. Holzschlag’s advocacy was so influential that she even had face-to-face encounters with Bill Gates to address issues with Internet Explorer.
Additionally, she actively participated as an invited expert within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Her involvement extended to the CSS Working Group, where she contributed her expertise. She also chaired the CSS Accessibility Community Group and was an invited expert in the HTML and GEO working groups.
Holzschlag was not only a trailblazer but also a dedicated educator. In 2011, she joined Knowbility, where she taught classes on Open Web technologies, with a strong emphasis on inclusive design to break down accessibility barriers. Furthermore, she shared her knowledge by teaching webmaster courses at several prestigious institutions, including the University of Arizona, University of Georgia, University of Phoenix, New School University, and Pima Community College.
Molly Holzschlag’s written legacy is both extensive and influential. Her name is associated with 35 books on web design and open standards, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. One of her standout works, “The Zen of CSS Design,” co-authored with Dave Shea, continues to inspire web designers and developers worldwide. Additionally, she had a stint as a music reporter for the Tucson Weekly in the 1990s, showcasing her diverse talents.
In 2014, Holzschlag faced a personal health crisis when she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. She became an advocate for improved healthcare funding, highlighting the challenges she encountered. In 2013, she initiated a GoFundMe campaign, which raised over $70,000 to support her chemotherapy treatment.
Tragically, on September 5, 2023, Molly Holzschlag was found dead in her Tucson home, leaving a void in the world of web technology and accessibility advocacy.
Molly Holzschlag’s remarkable contributions were recognized through various prestigious awards:
- In 2016, she received the O’Reilly Web Platform Award in honor of her outstanding work.
- In 2015, she was the recipient of the Net Award for Outstanding Contribution in the field.
- Back in 1998, she was named one of the Webgrrls San Francisco chapter’s Top 25 Women on the Web, a testament to her pioneering role in the industry.
Molly E. Holzschlag’s legacy lives on through her work, advocacy, and the countless individuals she inspired to champion the Open Web and web standards. Her impact on the digital world is immeasurable, and she will always be remembered as a true luminary of the internet era.