[Foundation-l] [Announcement] update in board of trustees membership

Delirium delirium at hackish.org
Mon Dec 17 05:22:39 UTC 2007

Thomas Dalton wrote:
>> I feel there are two paths for the future. Either we keep a board mostly
>> made of community members (elected or appointed), who may not be
>> top-notch professionals, who can do mistakes, such as forgetting to do a
>> background check, such as not being able to do an audit in 1 week, such
>> as not signing the killer-deal with Google, but who can breath and pee
>> wikimedia projects, dedicate their full energy to a project they love,
>> without trying to put their own interest in front. A decentralized
>> organization where chapters will have more room, authority and leadership.
>> Or we get a board mostly made of big shots, famous, rich, or very
>> skilled (all things potentially beneficial), but who just *do not get
>> it*. A centralized organization, very powerful, but also very top-down.
>> My heart leans toward the first position of course. But at the same
>> time, I am aware we are now playing in the big room and current board
>> members may not be of sufficient strength to resist the huge wave.
> Am I missing something here? Why can't we have a board made up of half
> experts on business, etc. and half experts of Wikimedia projects?
> (Hopefully with substantial overlap.) That said, I'd prefer a majority
> to be from the community. As long as they are willing to take advice
> from the pros, we should get (almost) all the benefits of a
> professional board with the decision making still in the hands of
> people that share our values.

I'm also somewhat confused on this, and it seems out of keeping with 
standard practice. For example, most private universities (in the US, 
anyway) have a Board of Trustees that is ultimately responsible for 
direction setting (and in theory can order or veto nearly anything), but 
in practice they don't actually run the university. Instead, various 
executive staff subordinate to the board do that. When specific 
expertise is needed, such as someone who can administer a large campus, 
or someone who can manage the financials, they're hired, e.g. as 
President or as Treasurer. But they aren't part of the board, which is 
ideally made up of people selected for their commitment to and 
understanding of the overall mission, not for their specific technical 

The Foundation does seem to be going vaguely in that direction already, 
for example with position of Executive Director, who has significant 
executive authority but is not a member of the board. Is there a reason 
that path isn't a reasonable one to continue on?


More information about the foundation-l mailing list