I am really happy to announce two important new Wikimedia Foundation
hires. Zack Exley will be Wikimedia's new Chief Community Officer,
and Barry Newstead will be our Chief Global Development Officer. Both
will start just before Wikimania, and will join us in Gdansk.
There will be a press release going out tomorrow, but the news isn't
confidential: please feel free to tell whoever you like.
Zack Exley will be our new Chief Community Officer. Zack joins
Wikimedia from the Chicago-based firm Thoughtworks where he oversaw
strategy and technology projects for organizations like Obama For
America, Rock the Vote, and Global Zero.
Zack has a long history of mobilizing people and facilitating them
reaching their goals. During the nineties, he worked as a labour
organizer and software developer. In 2002, he joined MoveOn.org
director of organizing, where he ran mobilization and fundraising
campaigns – and in the same period, helped the Howard Dean campaign
with its online fundraising. Zack left MoveOn.org
to become online
communications and organizing director for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards U.S.
presidential campaign, where he ran the team that raised $125 million
online for Kerry, and also oversaw online-to-offline organizing
efforts responsible for mobilizing hundreds of thousands of field
volunteers. In 2005, he led internet strategy and online fundraising
for the UK Labour Party's 2005 election campaign, and since 2005 he
has acted as a senior strategist and advisor helping many
mission-driven organizations advance their fundraising and
mobilization goals, including the American Civil Liberties Union,
Amnesty International, the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP), the International Rescue Committee and
Zack grew up in Connecticut and has also lived in Kenya, China and the
United Kingdom. He has an BA in Economics from the University of
As Chief Community Officer, Zack will be responsible for developing
the Wikimedia Foundation's relationships with key constituencies
including readers, editors and donors. This will include our work
aimed at recruiting new editors (including the public policy project)
and supporting community health, as well as fundraising. The people
who will report to Zack are Philippe, Cary, Frank, Rand, Rebecca and
Sara, plus their direct reports.
Zack currently lives in Kansas City: he'll be relocating to the Bay
Area in July.
Barry Newstead will be our Chief Global Development Officer. Some of
you know Barry from Buenos Aires or Berlin, where he attended
Wikimania and the chapters meeting, respectively. He comes to us from
the strategy consultancy firm The Bridgespan Group, where he has spent
the past year leading the Bridgespan team supporting Wikimedia with
its strategic planning process. For the past six years, Barry has led
Bridgespan's work in education innovation and social technology, which
mainly consisted of working with CEOs on strategy development,
organizational development and leadership issues. Prior to joining
Bridgespan, he spent eight years at The Boston Consulting Group, where
he worked with global clients in the financial services, media and
energy sectors on global strategy, organizational restructuring,
change management and post-merger integration.
Barry was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and raised in Toronto,
Canada. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Western
Ontario, and a master's degree in public policy from the John F.
Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
In this new role with us, Barry will be our Chief Global Development
Officer (CGDO), the position formerly known as the Chief (Global)
Programs Officer. As CGDO, Barry will be responsible for our
activities focused specifically on increasing readership and
supporting editor self-organization in the Global South, for our
messaging to the general public and the media, and for our activities
aimed at supporting and developing chapters. The people who will
report to him are Jay and his direct report Moka, plus Kul, plus a
number of new hires dedicated to supporting new activities that have
come out of the strategic plan. You'll hear more about that in coming
months, once Barry has joined us.
We are really lucky that Barry got engaged in our work, and is willing
to now join us. His extensive background in organizational
development particularly will be useful to us, as we all collectively
further evolve our thinking about how to structure Wikimedia as an
international movement. He'll also be terrific with the global
development work due to his extensive international background. And,
his background as a consultant has trained him to be a great listener
and facilitator, which is important in our work.
I want to take a minute to offer my thanks to everyone who helped with
the process of bringing in both Zack and Barry, which has been ongoing
for many months. Dozens of people –including board members, advisory
board members, editors, friends and supporters-- helped us source
candidates for these roles. Our board members spoke at length with
the recruiting firm m|Oppenheim, gave me good feedback on potential
candidates, and helped with the interviewing. Several staff
participating in the interviewing as well, including Erik, Veronique,
Daniel, Rebecca, Rand, Sara and Jay.
And of course, a big thanks to m|Oppenheim. In recruiting for these
roles, m|Oppenheim spoke with hundreds of people over a period of
about six months, to develop a midlist of 65 candidates, of whom eight
reached a “final interview” stage. m|Oppenheim did really great work
and I'm very pleased with this outcome.
This completes the C-level hiring, with the exception of the Chief
Human Resources Officer, which we're in the middle of recruiting for.
That's is currently underway with m|Oppenheim, with support from our
friends at Omidyar Network. I expect we'll be able to announce the
new CHRO within six weeks or so.
Before closing – I wanted to talk a little about how these roles have
evolved through the hiring process. Originally, as you may remember,
we had set out to hire a Chief Program Officer and a Chief Development
Officer – however, during the hiring process, those roles morphed into
a Chief Global Development Officer and a Chief Community Officer.
It's not unusual for that kind of thing to happen: it's normal for
thinking to evolve, and it's normal for roles to be customized a
little to suit people's particular skills and experiences. But I did
want to call out one particular aspect of my thinking that might be
interesting for people here on this list.
Setting out to hire a Chief Development Officer is a “normal” thing
for a non-profit organization to do: in most non-profits, fundraising
is structured as a distinct department, separate from the rest of the
work of the organization. As we went through the hiring process
though, it became increasingly obvious to me that that conventional
structure doesn't really suit us. Most non-profits provide special
access and privileges to donors, and pay them special attention,
because they are the fuel that powers the organization. Donors are of
course our fuel too, and we're deeply grateful for their help. But
--unusually in the world of non-profits-- we have an additional group
of supporters without whom the work couldn't be done --- which is you:
the volunteers who build and maintain the projects. And our readers
are another special group, in part because we hope to persuade them to
join us as editors and donors.
Given the importance of all three groups to our work, I believe it
doesn't make sense for us to treat donors as distinct: rather, we
should invite them into our larger community, and treat them as a part
of that greater whole. This means, among other things, speaking with
donors in the same tone and style, and with the same substance and the
same type of information, as we speak with readers and editors.
During the hiring process, Zack pointed out to me that the CDO job as
then-structured didn't support that vision. He argued that by siloing
off donors into a separate department, we were making it more
difficult to achieve the level of authenticity I wanted. That was an
important observation, and I took it seriously. I believe that
restructuring the CDO job to create a department that includes all our
key relationships is an unusual thing to do, and it's arguably a bit
risky. But I think it's the right structure for us, given who we are,
and the unique nature of our work.
I'd be happy to talk further about Zack and Barry, and I'm sure they
–and other staff-- would be too. This is an important moment for
Wikimedia: please join me in welcoming them officially to our world.
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