Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Ideal candidate profile (2019)

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This was prepared by the WMF Board in support of the 2019 Affiliate-selected Board seats elections.

Context[edit]

To achieve Wikimedia 2030's strategic objectives in an exponentially complex and rapidly evolving technological and social space, the Wikimedia Foundation is continuing to mature its operations and effectiveness. We operate the world's fifth-most popular website in a contested, competitive, highly-scrutinized environment containing some of the world's most sophisticated and well-capitalized companies. We also support one of the world's largest distributed global volunteer networks, with partnerships across the education, cultural, and scientific/research sectors. We have more than 350 employees, and expect to grow significantly in the coming year, and more than $150M assets under management. Wikimedia is a multi-stakeholder ecosystem constantly on the move. Trustees on the Wikimedia Board play a vital role in shaping and approving the Foundation strategy, ensuring resources are well used in pursuit of the mission, and championing our vision, mission, and values within our communities and in public.

The Board's role is to ensure the effective governance of the Foundation in pursuit of the mission, and advise on organizational strategy. This includes fiduciary and legal obligations and liabilities, oversight of organization funds, mission alignment and outcomes, and CEO performance. Our culture on the Board is evolving to include an emphasis on performance and outcomes, in order to hold Wikimedia more accountable to the mission and those we all serve. We are charged with guiding and overseeing Wikimedia Foundation develop robust management and succession planning structures, the ability to tackle complex operations, more autonomy in executive leadership roles, and collaborative execution across the organization.

Desirable expertise[edit]

As a Board, we are bolstering our own capacity to take on long term challenges and respond to a rapidly changing environment.

As the Wikimedia Foundation continues to mature and grow in scope, size and complexity, it also relies on and needs a Board which consists of leaders with similarly mature talents and capabilities to ensure the body remains a significant partner and stakeholder to the organization they oversee. As an elected volunteer Trustee, you will likely need to possess some or all of the following experience or expertise to be an effective Board member:

  • You are a mission- and values-driven leader with a deep commitment to sharing power and knowledge, as well as affecting global social change for a more just and open world.
  • You also have personal experience successfully leading an organization during a period of growth, scaling, or strategic change, in which you were challenged to grow.
  • You found ways to hire faster, train faster, and change processes faster by engendering a culture focused on performance and collaboration.
  • You have high standards and ask the right questions to push an organization to new levels of professionalism and achievement, while also protecting against undesirable financial and organizational disruption.
  • You understand how to evaluate the performance of a complex technology, product, data multimedia platform, ideally one that is open source, open data, or community-led.
  • You are comfortable dealing with ambiguity and handling change; you can provide thoughtful feedback, be responsive and take up and follow-through with commitments.
  • You have communicated across teams, networks and cultures to support innovative partnerships and ventures. You are familiar with international environments, and open to different perspectives and approaches while remaining very respectful of others.
  • You have a deep respect for individual privacy and freedom of inquiry.
  • You have the time to commit to learning, attending and participating in events, discussions and documents regarding the technological and organizational growth of the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia movement.
  • You have expertise related to the upcoming priorities of the Wikimedia Foundation.


Time/effort commitment[edit]

Trustees serve for three-year, renewable terms. Each year, the Board convenes two to three times in person at different locations around the world and three to six times online, as necessary. Meetings require coordination with members across the world and across time zones. Overall, the time commitment for standard service is easily 75 hours per year (not including travel). Trustees serve on one or more Board committees, supporting and providing counsel to the CEO and her team, or promoting the Wikimedia movement through speaking engagements and connecting with the Wikimedia communities, in coordination with Foundation staff.

All Board positions are unpaid and provided in service of the movement, though Board related travel is funded by the Foundation.

Once you are on the Board, you need to have the ability and agility to fully embrace a role where your primary responsibility is to ensure the health and sustainability—and good governance—of the Wikimedia Foundation. Being a Wikimedia Foundation Board member is not a job for the faint of heart. It is for a leader willing to invest significant time and energy in being an effective steward of the world's singular and vital knowledge commons on the internet.

We welcome any new prospective candidates reaching out to us, individually, to better understand the expectations, the responsibilities, the workload and what it might take to be an effective Board member.

Further reading[edit]