[Foundation-l] Announcement: New Chief Program Officer: Jennifer Riggs

Michael Snow wikipedia at verizon.net
Wed Apr 15 03:56:43 UTC 2009

Sue Gardner wrote:
> I am delighted to announce that this week, Jennifer Riggs begins work
> as the Wikimedia Foundation's first-ever Chief Program Officer.
I am really happy to endorse the decision to hire Jennifer as Chief 
Program Officer for the Wikimedia Foundation. Sue asked me to sit on the 
hiring board for the position, along with fellow board member Kat Walsh, 
because of the impact this role can have on our future development. It 
was a good opportunity for the board to participate, even though hiring 
staff is Sue's area of responsibility, and I think Jennifer is an 
excellent choice for CPO.

To add to what Sue said in her note - this was a long process and a 
difficult decision. Each of the candidates we met with had impressive 
accomplishments and appealing ideas for what to do with the role. We had 
both the luxury and the challenge of developing that role from scratch, 
because this is a new position for the Wikimedia Foundation. That 
enabled us to do some really good thinking about the skills and 
experience the organization needs the most at this point in its 
development. And ultimately, Kat, Sue, Erik and I agreed: what the 
organization really needs now is experience supporting volunteers.

That's because at heart, Wikimedia is a volunteer-centric organization. 
Volunteers like you and me are the people who create the value in our 
projects, by collaborating to create free informational resources for 
everyone around the world. As volunteers, we have done an amazing job of 
self-organizing, but historically this has happened largely on its own 
without much active, sustained support from the Wikimedia Foundation. 
The foundation has been in "keeping the lights on" mode, focused on 
paying the bills, acting as a host, and doing a little bit of software 

I would like to change that. I want to see Wikimedia create programs 
that recruit new volunteers, as well as support, motivate, and retain 
current volunteers. This is the important work being done by people like 
Frank Schulenburg, Head of Public Outreach. And it's why we need to add 
someone like Jennifer to the team.

As an example of what I mean - in February, Sue and the team kicked off 
the Chapters Funding Request Process 
(http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_chapters/WMF_grants), which 
allows chapters to request funding for mission-related activities. 
Chapters are invited to ask for money to commission MediaWiki 
development work, to print up outreach brochures or posters, or to 
support content liberation activities. (These are just examples, it 
could be basically any activity that supports our shared mission, or 
lays the groundwork to better fulfill it in the future.) In future 
months, Sue intends to expand that project to invite funding requests 
from individual volunteers as well as the chapters.

That's important work, and I want to see more of it, as I'm sure we all 
do. Right now it happens sometimes, but only haphazardly. It needs to be 
better organized and supported, and Jennifer will help us do that.

So please join me, along with the board and staff of the Wikimedia 
Foundation, in welcoming Jennifer to Wikimedia. With her help, the 
Wikimedia Foundation will be better able to support all of us in the 
mission we share.

--Michael Snow

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