Affiliate-selected Board seats/2016/Nominations/Osmar Valdebenito
- Osmar Valdebenito G.
This round of selection of Board members is different and will surely be tougher than others. The Wikimedia Foundation is at a crossroads, with crucial challenges and opportunities ahead. It has many aspects to rework and rebuild: with its staff, with its leadership, with its affiliates and of course with all of the volunteers that build this movement and keep it alive.
Not only will the Board have to go through the process of evaluating and selecting a new Executive Director —the situation calls on us to revisit and think again the actual meaning and role of the Board and of WMF itself. An elemental and simple question remains to be answered: What is the Wikimedia Foundation supposed to be? The assumption that it should aim to be a Silicon Valley high-tech corporation has been definitely proven misguided after a painful series of events.
I believe in a Wikimedia movement that is served by the Wikimedia Foundation, but that is not centered in the Foundation. In fact, the actual, really existing Wikimedia movement is not centered on the Foundation, but is a diverse amalgamation of people and organizations with the common goal of advancing free, common and open knowledge. We need to establish official two-way communication channels with our communities —including of course non-affiliated editors and online volunteers, as well as user groups, thorgs and chapters— to enable WMF staff and leadership to get precious input but also to communicate, to consult and to inform. There are situations that the Board must handle carefully and privately, but these must be limited, justified and still be communicated. Transparency and openness can no longer be sacrificed in the name of corporate culture. Not, at least, in a movement such as ours. This is also true between WMF Board, leadership and staff.
I believe we are a community as a movement, but also a movement of communities to be considered —past decisions, discussions and communications from the Wikimedia Foundation in the past have shown a certain confusion between “community” and those able or willing to engage in discussions, usually only in English and in very narrow channels (Wikimedia-l or closed Facebook groups). We need a Foundation that is diverse because our movement is extremely diverse; a Foundation that includes (but also hears!) our volunteers from the developing world and those speaking languages other than English, a Foundation with clear efforts to fight the gender gap, a Foundation that is open to sexual diversity, and I think I can help to bring some of that diversity to the Board.
I believe I have valuable assets for serving the Foundation in this special time. I have experience from all possible sides of the Wikimedia movement (as an editor, as a chapter member and leader, as ED of another chapter and as a member of the FDC). I took charge of Wikimedia Argentina after the complicated departure of the previous ED and had to oversee not only its administrative normalization but also definitions about strategy and future growth, and I successfully led its process of incorporating further staff, and applying for movement funds through elaborate annual plans. My formal education, my experience in private organizations and currently in educational institutions —in charge of the admission of undergraduate students in the largest public university in Chile— are also well-aligned with the capabilities expected from a WMF BoT member.
True, the Board shouldn't and can’t take charge of operations. But focusing on strategy does also involve overseeing how that strategy is implemented. I want a Board that, instead of “outsourcing” all information gathering and basic policy discussions to staff, develops also its own communication channels. Information from multiple, diverse sources is vital for an effective Board. Professionalism should not be understood in opposition to openness. I want a Board that is representative of our movement and, furthermore, that is aware and behaves as a representative should do. I want a Board that is accountable to our communities and I offer my experience and commitment to achieve it.
I'm 28 years old and I'm from Santiago, Chile. I’m an Industrial Engineer with a Master in Public Policy and Management. Currently, I work as Chief Admission Officer in the University of Chile, the main public university of the country, implementing policies to increase diversity (especially with students from lower income families and female students in STEM courses). Previously, in the private sector, I’ve also worked as project manager for a business intelligence company, including working with several private and public organizations in Latin America.
Wikimedia-wise, I’ve been a volunteer on the Spanish Wikipedia since September 2004 (40k+ contribs), where I have been an admin-sysop since 2006. Also, I’m a sysop on the Spanish Wikisource and the Spanish Wikivoyage, and an active contributor to Wikimedia Commons (12k+ contribs). Between 2010 and 2012, I worked in the Library of the Chilean National Congress in the project to release in Wikisource the original records of the Congress in its first years of operation (1810-1845) and the historical Chilean Encyclopedia.
I was founder and first President of Wikimedia Chile between 2011 and 2012, and then I had the chance to be the Executive Director of Wikimedia Argentina between August 2012 and March 2014, a period of difficult reorganization as well as growth. I continue working with both organizations and other in the Latin and Ibero-American region through the Iberocoop network; I was elected its General Coordinator following the November 2014 meeting in Buenos Aires.
In 2011, I was selected as part of the Advisory Committee to the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation that shaped the creation of the Funds Dissemination Committee. In 2014, I was selected as a member of the Funds Dissemination Committee, where I have served for the last two years and had been able to observe how the Wikimedia affiliates have worked and improved.
I am eligible to serve as a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation.
- Endorsement from Wikimedia Mexico:
“In front of the circumstances the movement is facing, Wikimedia México believes the Wikimedia movement needs more diversity of all kinds, effective leadership and openness, as well as a strengthened governance. We see in Osmar Valdebenito the necessary abilities and we trust on him as an organization to have a positive influence on taking the necessary decisions to lead the movement towards a new reality. We know Osmar has successfully and effectively dealt in the past with similar challenges, and he has what's needed to take a seat in the Board. Not only our chapter but other persons and organizations have had in Osmar an ally and a confident conversational partner, and we are sure he will represent to good effect the values we believe in amid this challenge. The Board of Wikimedia México unanimously proposes and endorses Osmar's nomination to the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation.”
- Endorsement from Wikimedia Argentina:
“Wikimedia Argentina was aware of Osmar's will to serve the WMF BoT at this cornerstone moment and unanimously approved endorsing his candidature on our February 27 board meeting. We believe that Osmar's and Christophe's are two complementary profiles that add up to the kind of trustees that the Wikimedia Foundation needs to realign itself with the movement and to do the necessary internal changes.
We know Osmar from long ago –some of us already knew him as a prolific and respected editor and admin at the Spanish Wikipedia, others met him in Wikimanía 2009 and others later came to know him as a chapter member, Executive Director and ever since trustful friend and adviser. We know him from many angles, and we know he excels at various level that would be really valuable for the Board to count on at the moment of selecting a new ED, revisiting its role vis-à-vis the community (outside) and staff (inside) and projecting the Foundation for the future:
- Osmar knows the editing community as a contributor of Wikipedia and several other of our projects;
- Osmar knows what it means to build and run a Wikimedia affiliate from his experience in Wikimedia Chile;
- Osmar knows what an ED is supposed to give an organization from his experience with us at Wikimedia Argentina;
- Osmar knows in deep about inter-personal relations and staff management not only from his work at Wikimedia Argentina –we are aware of the important difference in scale, though there is an essential grasp that still counts– but also from his past and current works, where he leads important working teams;
- Osmar knows what it means (and what it doesn't mean) to develop our efforts in the so-called Global South, and is connected with affiliates and volunteers from very diverse realities and geographies;
- Osmar knows the affiliates' community from his attendance to several international meetings since Wikimanía 2009, including WMCON, Iberoconf and other thematic summits.
Most of all, and above all of those qualifications, anyone who has had the opportunity to meet him knows he is as responsible and professional as he is open and easy going, always able to give a chat and to exchange opinions with others. Those are traits that no Board member should miss if he is expected to keep in touch with this diverse and vibrant community of communities. We know he delivers and the Board needs him the most.”
- On behalf of the board of Wikimedia Chile I express our endorsement for Osmar's candidacy approved on March 3, 2016 at the WMCL Board meeting. --Warko (talk) 23:02, 3 March 2016 (UTC)
- At the Wikimedia NYC March 2016 public meeting, attendees took part in an open vote to endorse Osmar's participation as a candidate in this election. This is part of our chapter's policy to encourage a more diverse and more transparent process for the WMF board elections.--Pharos (talk) 17:46, 18 March 2016 (UTC)