Earlier today, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced that the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees has appointed Katherine Maher as its new executive director.
Maher formerly served as communications officer for Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that governs the massive online encyclopedia. She became interim director in March following a period of turmoil during which a board member and former Executive Director Lila Tretikov both resigned. Those resignations came after an unprecedented “no-confidence” vote by the site’s editors.
“Our mission is vast, diverse, and inclusive, where everyone can find a home and purpose,” said Maher in a statement. “We are driven by an insatiable curiosity for the world around us, and a fundamental belief in the power of collaboration and cooperation. I’m honored by this opportunity to serve this remarkable organization and movement, and I look forward to building our future together.”
Outgoing Board Chair Patricio Lorente called Maher “an excellent fit for our movement and organization.”
Before working for Wikimedia Foundation, Maher had jobs promoting tech and innovation at international development organizations including UNICEF, The World Bank, and Access Now. Her appointment was announced during Wikimania, the foundation’s annual conference, which is currently taking place in Italy.
Yesterday, the foundation also selected Natalia Tymkiv and Christophe Henner for its Board of Trustees. Henner, formerly the Board Chair of Wikimedia France, is the deputy CEO of the gaming division of Webedia, a France-based digital media company. Tymkiv has been an administrator on Ukrainian Wikipedia since 2012. She’s the financial director at the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law, a Ukrainian nonprofit that works on media policy and human rights.
Prominent Wikipedians weighed in on the Wikimedia-L mailing list with messages of support for the new members and for outgoing Board Chair Patricio Lorente.
The new appointments may bring to a close a period of unrest in which hundreds of editors expressed objections to various decisions of the board, including the appointment of Arnon Geshuri, who helped Google enforce a “no cold call” recruiting policy that was later deemed illegal by the Department of Justice. Others editors perceived a lack of transparency and poor communication from board members, especially around controversial projects like a proposed “Knowledge Engine.”