[Foundation-l] Board-announcement: Board Restructuring

Michael Snow wikipedia at verizon.net
Sun Apr 27 04:51:20 UTC 2008

Nathan wrote:
> I'll be curious to see how the various chapters determine amongst
> themselves, without guidance for the board, how to select the two board
> members allocated to them. Will they use the existing inter-chapter
> structure, the Chapters Committee, to coordinate discussion? I'm also
> curious as to the rationale for this change -- have the two chapter seats
> been created because it was felt that the non-English project participants
> have been under-represented in past elections? Do their members vote at
> lower rate of participation than the English project members? I'm assuming
> that all the folks who might participate in local chapters continue to have
> a vote for the community seats, so will the net effect be that their
> individual votes are the equivalent of some multiple of a vote from a
> community member without a representative chapter?
The chapters, or at least those that are able to attend, have a 
previously scheduled meeting coming up in May. Hopefully they'll be able 
to get a start there on figuring out the process to pick the two board 
members they will select. Delphine as the Chapters Coordinator, along 
with Jan-Bart on behalf of the board, will be there to help as well.

As for the rationale, I would say that it's primarily a sense that the 
connection with the chapters needed to be stronger. The chapters are 
valuable partners for the global Wikimedia Foundation, but haven't been 
integrated into its governance as well as they could be. Sometimes this 
created the impression that the chapters are dependent organizations 
which can do things with the foundation's permission, without a way for 
them to have independent input. Giving chapters an explicit role in 
selecting board members recognizes them as stakeholders who rightfully 
should contribute to governing the foundation.

That also ties in with my comments on the Volunteer Council proposal. 
Rather than create a new foundation-level structure and figure out what 
it might be good for, I think it was important to work better with the 
pieces that are already in place. By that I don't wish to discourage 
development of a council as a community-level structure.

I don't think the issue of representation played a big factor in the 
restructuring, at least in the sense you're asking about. The elections 
have resulted in board members like Florence and Frieda; if anything the 
last election had people concerned that the rate of voter participation 
from the English projects was too low, until a "get-out-the-vote" drive 
materialized and presented its own issues. We are of course an 
international organization and I'm sure board selections will continue 
to reflect that somehow. The chapters can consider this along with other 
issues - the point is for the chapters to choose whom they believe to be 
the best available people, rather than falling into a trap of "we have 
to pick somebody from Portugal this year because we picked somebody from 
Japan last time."

--Michael Snow

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