[Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Announcement *please read*

Sue Gardner sgardner at wikimedia.org
Wed Mar 27 22:00:17 UTC 2013

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

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

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

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.


Sue Gardner
Executive Director
Wikimedia Foundation

415 839 6885 office
415 816 9967 cell

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