[Wikimedia-l] Announcement *please read*

Jan-Bart de Vreede jdevreede at wikimedia.org
Wed Mar 27 22:08:18 UTC 2013

Dear members of the community.
As they say… all good things must come to an end…
It’s hard for me and the rest of the Board to imagine the Wikimedia Foundation without Sue at the helm, but we’re confident, as is she, that we can make this transition positive for everyone. Sue is going to continue to work in what we broadly think of as “our space”, and we know she’s going to continue to be our friend and supporter. So, this isn’t goodbye.
I understand and respect Sue’s reasoning here, and know she’s going to continue to do important work. Although I’m tempted to write a big note of praise and love, I want to respect her request that we not move into thanking mode just yet.  She’s right, we have lots of work to do, and she’s not going anywhere right away. There will be lots of time for thanking later.
But I do wish to make the general statement that her contribution to the movement through the position of Executive director (and very active editor) has been and will continue to be incredible. As a board member I will forever be grateful that she was willing to bet on a small organization with a lot of potential… and then continued on to build on that potential to make it one of the most powerful examples in the space of open knowledge and learning.
Here’s what will happen next.
The Board has appointed a Transition Team which consists of the Chair of the Board of Trustees Kat Walsh,  and HR Committee member Alice Wiegand, Sue, Sue’s deputy and the Wikimedia Foundation’s Vice-President of Product and Engineering Erik Moeller, Geoff Brigham our General Counsel, and Gayle Karen Young, our Chief Talent and Culture Officer. I am the final member and am the Chair of the Transition Team, and Sue will be facilitating its work on my behalf.
(In case you don’t know, non-profit organizations often have outgoing EDs support the recruitment of their successors. The Board is of course ultimately responsible for appointing the Executive Director, but we want our search to be supported by our staff members, including Sue. Sue , Erik, Geoff and Gayle have done a lot of hiring for the Wikimedia Foundation over the past number of years, and we know they will bring experience and wisdom to the process.)
I will also be responsible for making this a transparent (where possible) and confidential (where needed) process and will set up the corresponding pages on Meta in the coming days (please give me some time to do so :). First step will be the office hours with Sue and myself this Saturday.
We haven’t yet defined exactly what the process will look like, although we do know that we will be engaging a search firm to help us. The Transition Team will be meeting informally over the next several weeks, and will have our first face-to-face meeting together in mid-April in Milan, as part of the Wikimedia Conference. I will give a status report shortly after that.
I’d be very happy to answer any questions you’ve got. To that end, Sue and I will be having office hours this Saturday, 30 of March, at 11AM PST [6PM UTC]. Or, we can talk on this list.

Jan-Bart de Vreede
Vice Chair
Wikimedia Board of Trustees

On Mar 27, 2013, at 11:04 PM, Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> Hello Wikimedia community members,
> This is not an easy e-mail to write, and it’s been a very hard
> decision to make. But I’m writing to tell you that I’m planning to
> leave my position as the Executive Director of the Wikimedia
> Foundation.
> My departure isn’t imminent -- the Board and I anticipate it’ll take
> at least six months to recruit my successor, and I’ll be fully engaged
> as Executive Director all through the recruitment process and until we
> have a new person in place. We’re expecting that’ll take about six
> months or so, and so this note is not goodbye -- not yet.
> Making the decision to leave hasn’t been easy, but it comes down to two things.
> First, the movement and the Wikimedia Foundation are in a strong place
> now. When I joined, the Foundation was tiny and not yet able to
> reliably support the projects. Today it's healthy, thriving, and a
> competent partner to the global network of Wikimedia volunteers. If
> that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t feel okay to leave. In that sense, my
> leaving is a vote of confidence in our Board and executive team and
> staff --- I know they will ably steer the Foundation through the years
> ahead, and I’m confident the Board will appoint a strong successor to
> me.
> And I feel that although we’re in good shape, with a promising future,
> the same isn’t true for the internet itself. (This is thing number
> two.) Increasingly, I’m finding myself uncomfortable about how the
> internet’s developing, who’s influencing its development, and who is
> not. Last year we at Wikimedia raised an alarm about SOPA/PIPA, and
> now CISPA is back. Wikipedia has experienced censorship at the hands
> of industry groups and governments, and we’re --increasingly, I
> think-- seeing important decisions made by unaccountable
> non-transparent corporate players, a shift from the open web to mobile
> walled gardens, and a shift from the production-based internet to one
> that’s consumption-based. There are many organizations and individuals
> advocating for the public interest online -- what’s good for ordinary
> people -- but other interests are more numerous and powerful than they
> are. I want that to change. And that’s what I want to do next.
> I’ve always aimed to make the biggest contribution I can to the
> general public good. Today, this is pulling me towards a new and
> different role, one very much aligned with Wikimedia values and
> informed by my experiences here, and with the purpose of amplifying
> the voices of people advocating for the free and open internet. I
> don’t know exactly what this will look like -- I might write a book,
> or start a non-profit, or work in partnership with something that
> already exists. Either way, I feel strongly that this is what I need
> to do.
> I feel an increasing sense of urgency around this. That said, I also
> feel a strong sense of responsibility (and love!) for the Wikimedia
> movement, and so I’ve agreed with the Board that I’ll stay on as
> Executive Director until we have my successor in place. That’ll take
> some time -- likely, at least six months.
> Until then, nothing changes. The Wikimedia Foundation has lots of work
> to do, and you can expect me to focus fully on it until we have a new
> Executive Director in place.
> I have many people to thank, but I’m not going to do it now --
> there’ll be time for that later. For now, I’ll just say I love working
> with you all, I’m proud of everything the Wikimedia movement is
> accomplishing, and I’m looking forward to our next six months
> together.
> Jan-Bart’s going to write a note in a couple of minutes with
> information about the transition process. We’ll be hosting office
> hours this weekend as well, so anybody with questions can ask them
> here or turn up to talk with us on IRC.
> Thanks,
> Sue
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