It is our great pleasure to share that during the Board meeting at
Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario, we unanimously voted to appoint Katherine
Maher as Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. This is effective
as of our resolution dated Thursday, 23 June.
Katherine served as interim Executive Director for the past three months,
during which time she consistently and repeatedly demonstrated the kind of
leadership our organization needs. She is deeply committed to our
movement’s values, and brings expertise in civic technology and
international development that will be an asset to the Wikimedia Foundation
and the movement.
We came to this conclusion after an intensive discovery process led by the
ED search committee. Our decision was also informed by direct feedback from
staff and community, and our own experience working closely with Katherine.
In March, we assembled an Executive Director search committee consisting
of four Board members¹ who were chosen to represent different perspectives
and capacities.² Additionally, the Board asked the Foundation’s Chief
Advancement Officer Lisa Gruwell to represent the executive team, and
Foundation staff member Katie Horn was selected by her peers as someone who
could represent staff perspectives. The committee was charged with keeping
the process on track and on time, engaging important stakeholders, and
facilitating transparency in communications. Their first tasks were to
identify a search firm, and define the position description. You can review
the committee’s updates on Meta.
The committee recruited Viewcrest Advisors,³ to identify our leadership
needs and design a hiring process. Kathleen Yazbak of Viewcrest worked with
the committee to conduct interviews with every Foundation department, the
executive, the Board, and nearly 20 additional one-on-one interviews with
staff. Kathleen attended the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, collecting
feedback from community members and affiliates. The committee launched a
community survey in June, receiving more than 1,600 responses about the
qualities needed in the next ED; they also asked for feedback on Meta.
Taking all of this into account, the transition team developed a profile
and requirements for the next Executive Director that reflect our values
and our communities.
Throughout this process, the Board and the transition team received very
clear and often unsolicited feedback from both staff and community members
that Katherine embodies the values of our movement and the traits needed in
our next ED. This feedback was only reinforced by the latest Foundation
engagement survey results, which showed a strong shift toward renewed trust
in leadership. After taking this all into account, and considering what the
organization needs at this moment of transition, we moved to appoint
In just three months as interim ED, Katherine worked with the organization
and community to make huge strides in management, execution, and
transparency. She brought much-needed clarity to our strategic direction,
and mobilized the organization to clearly communicate that direction
through this year’s annual plan.
After her appointment, she worked with the leadership team to swiftly
identify the organization’s priorities during the transition period and
execute against them, setting ambitious but reachable targets. Under
Katherine’s leadership, the Foundation submitted its annual plan to the
Funds Dissemination Committee, leaving ample time for community feedback
Katherine is an excellent fit for our movement. She is longtime advocate
for global open communities, culture, and technology. She was the
Foundation’s Chief Communications Officer from April 2014 until she was
appointed interim ED in March. Throughout her career she has focused on
freedom of expression, access to information, and digital rights;
supporting the efforts of people around the world to deepen participation,
advance transparency, and strengthen their communities through her work
with UNICEF, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and
the World Bank. If you don’t already know Katherine, you can learn more
about her on Meta.
With this appointment, we feel strongly that the Foundation has the
leadership and clarity to move forward. We wish Katherine the very best in
this role, and the Board looks forward to continuing to work with her.
We would also like to thank the many community members and Foundation staff
who actively shared thoughtful, highly valuable feedback. Without that, we
would not have been able to come to this decision.
Please join us in congratulating Katherine!
Patricio Lorente, outgoing Board Chair
Christophe Henner, incoming Board Chair
Alice Wiegand (Committee Chair), Dariusz Jemielniak, Guy Kawasaki, Kelly
For example, community and governance experience, appointed and
community-selected seats, and US and non-US perspectives.
The committee reviewed 7 different firms and unanimously picked