As you know, today is my last day as the Executive Director of Wikimedia Deutschland.
What an incredible journey it has been. When I started in 2012, I couldn’t have even dreamed of all the things I would experience, what I would do, whom I would meet, where I would go, and what I would learn. And then it all turned out to be even more intense, more magical, and more fulfilling than I had thought or could have imagined in my boldest dreams.
In 2012, when Pavel Richter brought me into the organisation to build up the Wikidata team and to bootstrap the project together with Denny Vrandečić, I already had a slight notion that something huge that was about to emerge; “Wikidata, the next big thing” still echoes in my ears today. The vision of this free and open knowledge base excited and inspired me from day one. It was an honour for me to establish the initial Wikidata team and later to build the software development department at Wikimedia Deutschland. I could really follow my passion to bring people together, empowering them, promoting their strengths and challenging them to be innovative, to try new things off the beaten track.
Then in 2016, a whole new phase began when I was appointed as Executive Director. Over these four and a half years, Wikimedia Deutschland has grown considerably: our staff has doubled to 150 and we now have over 85,000 members. Together with a large and successful community, we work as a strong and respected partner together with educational and cultural institutions, politics, media and digital civil society to liberate knowledge. Alongside these audience groups in Germany, the Wikimedia Movement - you! - has always been one of the most exciting and relevant stakeholders. I am therefore particularly pleased that we and our members unanimously decided in 2017 to support the 2030 Strategic Direction and its implementation, that we were able to play a strong role in the development of the recommendations, and that we are now continuing to pursue the implementation with all our might.
I have had the great privilege of getting to know and learning from many of you personally. The vast array of experience that Wikimedians bring to the Movement, the rich ideas, and the people at the heart of it all are truly extraordinary. In each Wikimedian I’ve met, I’ve felt the passion for the overarching theme of our common vision. The spark in your eyes when you start speaking about your favourite topics, be it the encyclopedia, technology, governance, photos, food, commas, fondue, karaoke – it’s impressive and a memory that I am glad will remain with me forever. What each of you bring to this Movement is inspiring and truly special - and that’s what makes this movement more than the sum of its parts.
It never gets boring in the wikiverse. There is always something new coming along, be it in movement strategy, in our programs, or in how we work together and grow our reach. At times, it can take awhile to get things done. But that is often because we want to make sure everyone has a say and has the opportunity to shape how we do things. It is a testament to the respect Wikimedians have for each other and each other’s perspectives. Wikimedians are very thoughtful: we take care of each other and treat each other's needs and opinions as one of the highest goods.
Wikimedia is one of the strongest and last-standing proponents of the free and open internet, one that continues to work toward making digital society better for the sake of humanity.
Don’t give up this fight, don’t lose hope, be bold, unite – the world needs you!
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