The Board of Trustees oversees the WMF and its relations with communities and affiliates. Its oversight role requires the Board to monitor the WMF so that its interactions with Communities at all times are positive, helpful, reasoned, respectful, equitable and resolves problems.
In the context of recent events, it is important that engagement with the Community should be there, especially on matters which involve them. Board would oversee to facilitate that Foundation’s engagement with communities and user groups is respectful, equitable, and positively oriented, especially in situations where the community is in a subordinate position, such as asking for grants.
The next few years will see a major change in the Wikimedia Movement. The Movement Charter will be drafted and implemented and the Global Council will come into existence. There would be a formal structure where the global community, which is presently a loose collective of affiliates and communities, could participate in the functioning and governance of the Wikimedia movement. The details of how this relationship will be established would be the predominant issue concerning the relation of the Board of WMF and Wikimedia Affiliates.
There should be a certain realignment of duties, roles, resources and responsibilities, with these moving from the WMF to the IGC/Global Council. It's vital for the Wikimedia movement that this endeavour succeeds in a smooth and uneventful manner.
In this backdrop, it appears to me that the Board would have a dual role. First of all, it would oversee the Foundation’s actions in this transfer of power, and the post-transfer revision of the way the Foundation functions. It's important that all the actions the WMF takes in this regard are positive, contributory and also in good faith. In this, the Board’s traditional role would allow it to guide the WMF to smoothly transition to the new dispensation.
The second would be the Board’s relation with the Global Council. The Global Council would be coming into existence, taking up new responsibilities, and establishing new relations with stakeholders. Such a transition from a startup to a functioning, effective and stable organisation would have its moments of difficulties. Here, the experience and collective memory of the Board would allow it to have a mentor-like advisory role of the Global Council, in good faith, and sparingly, wisely done.
There would be contentious points in this transition, such as what responsibilities, what powers, what share of resources, who would have the last word on what issue, and so on. The Board, in its role of oversight, would guide the Foundation staff to show good faith, positive engagement, respectful discourse and not pose any kind of opposition or resistance in this regard.
A similar role would be played by the Board as it monitors the interaction between WMF and Communities in the formation of regional hubs.
In the interim period, the affiliates and user groups would continue to interact with the Foundation staff. The Board would continue to provide a helpful listening ear till this transition is over, so that communities and their concerns aren’t neglected by WMF and Council while engrossed in this process.
As a Board of Trustee elected community member, I would work to see that the transition is fair, just, equitable and smooth, so that a functioning and eventful Global Council is established.