Hi Amanda and Maggie,
On the whole I am a great fan of this kind of office hour and believe it
does a lot to improve communication between the WMF and community members.
However.... this is not a problem of communication. The people speaking
up in this thread are largely not the people who are inherently sceptical
of the WMF (indeed, two of them are former chairs of the WMF Board of
Trustees!). Nor are they people who don't understand the situation or the
context. They are mainly people who are quite aware of the context, often
know some of the people involved personally, and are already placing a
charitable interpretation on the statements that have already been made.
And *still* reach the conclusion that the situation is unsustainable and
the only way out of it is to reverse the decision that's been made.
On Sat, Jun 26, 2021 at 12:33 AM Maggie Dennis <mdennis(a)wikimedia.org>
Following up on Amanda because she mentioned that we were going to hold
an open meeting to discuss this. I just announced the details in a separate
email thread titled "Tuesday Foundation office hour." They are also
available on Meta, here
This office hour will be on *June 29 at 15:00 UTC* — see
for your local time. If you
can't come, there are ways to submit questions in advance (or
simultaneously, if you don't want to join Zoom).
It's taken quite a bit of time to pull together the technical details
today, and the team will be sharing information in other fora over the next
few days, but we wanted to follow up on this thread ASAP.
I hope to see you there.
On Thu, Jun 24, 2021 at 12:51 AM <aketon(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
> Hello, All,
> I’m Amanda Keton, the General Counsel of the Foundation, and I’d like
> to clarify some of the questions and comments that have been raised over
> the engagement of María as a Foundation consultant. I want to assure you
> that we carefully followed our policies, compensated this in line with
> similar consultants, and legitimately assessed her as the best person for
> the role.
> The need. Maria’s engagement comes at a time of transition for both
> the Board and the Foundation executive staff. This is also a time where the
> Community Resilience & Sustainability (CR&S) unit is setting up mechanisms
> to ensure that the Foundation provides seamless service to our growing
> community in its areas of responsibility. As many of you know, that team
> has taken on Movement Strategy due to the transition along with maintaining
> their support of Board elections, the Universal Code of Conduct, and
> leading our cross-departmental approach to supporting a Thriving Movement.
> As a unit, CR&S undertook a needs assessment of the workload ahead.
> This needs assessment revealed gaps in implementation of the Foundation’s
> Movement Strategy and in supporting staff with the ongoing Board selection
> process, upcoming onboarding, and supporting a smooth transition. The team
> currently supporting the Board expansion is quite stretched, monitoring
> multiple channels in many languages. Having another person who can step in
> immediately is tremendously helpful to these efforts. Based on this, CR&S
> considered the necessary skills and expertise for assistance in executing
> this work. While seeking this expertise, numerous factors were considered.
> Some of these factors included experience with the Board, volunteers and
> management. We also considered the qualifications with respect to the
> criteria and role at hand. The unique blend of circumstances at play and
> the importance of moving forward strongly at this time led us to carefully
> assess our needs and explore creative solutions.
> The role. In developing the scope of work for this role, we determined
> that María was a very strong candidate to support this critical work. With
> the transition at the executive level, and at the Board level, Maria brings
> long-term familiarity with the strategy process and strategy conversations
> that is crucial for the Foundation and the movement. Furthermore, she has
> been a big believer and a promoter of the Movement Strategy. We believe she
> can help ensure continuity in that work and can also support Maggie and
> others in the Foundation working to help expand the Board in service of
> bringing additional expertise, representation and capacity.
> Managing a potential conflict of interest. Maria first considered
> stepping down months ago, but she wanted to help navigate the transition at
> the helm of the Board. I followed our Conflict of Interest policy and
> brought this staff idea to the Transition Committee, the Human Resources
> Committee, and ultimately discussed this idea in principle in the last
> executive session of the Board of Trustees -- without Maria. The Board does
> not generally discuss individual contracts, but I wanted to make sure that
> the Board knew about it to respect the spirit of the conflict of interest
> policy even if that would be shortly mitigated by her stepping down from
> her trusteeship for unrelated reasons. I appreciate the concerns that were
> raised about Affiliates receiving different advice. I'm not aware of this,
> and because I want to respond timely, I can't check with all the relevant
> staff. However, I have not found reference to this in internal or Meta
> documentation and would appreciate more information on where this policy
> can be found so we can review it when we next update our policies, and
> ensure we consistently uphold our policies throughout the movement. I agree
> we want to be consistent, and I appreciate that this was pointed out.
> Fair compensation. I understand that a lot of questions have been
> raised pertaining to Maria’s remuneration. As many of you already know, we
> do not discuss remuneration of staff or consultants in public forums,
> although we do disclose appropriately as we are required to as a US
> nonprofit on our Form 990. It can be difficult to balance transparency and
> privacy, and we find it best to adhere to a general approach that balances
> our values of transparency and privacy as well as possible. However, all
> consultant compensation is reviewed according to our standard rates and
> market comparables. María’s compensation was set by the same process, and
> this is in line with how others are paid for similar work in similar
> I hope this clarifies any questions and doubts that you may have.
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Vice President, Community Resilience & Sustainability
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
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