[Wikimedia-l] Announcement *please read*

Kat Walsh kat at wikimedia.org
Wed Mar 27 22:12:31 UTC 2013

I'm not sure it could be any easier to write this message, but I'm not sure
it could be any harder either.

It is a great privilege to be able to say, as she is moving on, that this
is not a sign of any trouble or strain between Sue and the board, or any
sign of trouble at Wikimedia. It would be hard to be in a better condition
to have a calm, angst-free transition, which reflects the professionalism,
leadership, and real concern for the organization that Sue has shown all
throughout her time in the position; I was incredibly sorry to hear she
would be moving on from this role even as she goes on to find new ways to
further the values we both believe in.

When we hired Sue, we knew it was for a tremendous task, one that we could
hardly have asked of anyone, especially at the stage in our history while
we were small and struggling. We had no idea how lucky we were to connect
with her, someone who had the unusual mix of skills needed to take us from
where we were as an organization to where we are now, and who had the
passion for our movement and the values it holds to become its best and
strongest advocate. Now we are lucky to have her as a full part of the
transition team, as the one who best knows the specific demands of the
role, and to continue to lead the organization until her successor is in as
strong as possible a position going forward.

As Chair, I recognize that she's been a great leader of the organization,
and that we have a challenging task ahead in finding a successor--but that
she will be leaving us in an excellent position for another outstanding
leader to take up where she left off.

In a personal capacity, I have truly valued being able to work closely for
these past years with someone I consider a mentor and a friend, and with
whom I was able to have a great deal of mutual trust, respect, and candor.
And so even recognizing this as a decision that was bound to come sometime
and makes perfect sense, I am sad to know she will be moving on, and to
have to write this message. Fortunately, this isn't yet goodbye, and given
that she'll be closely tied to our movement in whatever new role she
chooses, even that will only be a "see you later".

I look forward to working with her, and with all of you, to search for and
prepare the next amazing person to lead the organization into the future.


On Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 3:04 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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