Seconded — thank you for these continuing updates, and for always inviting
conversation. Essential, even when it takes time for those seeds to sprout.


On Tue., Sep. 6, 2022, 7:11 p.m. Craig Newmark, <>

> Maryana, much appreciated!
> Craig Newmark, craigslist founder
> On Tue, Sep 6, 2022, 9:53 AM Maryana Iskander <>
> wrote:
>> This message is being translated into other languages on Meta-wiki. ‎You
>> can help with more languages.
>> <>
>> Hi everyone,
>> I’ve started my ninth official month as CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation.
>> Based on feedback from this list and elsewhere, I am trying to proactively
>> communicate every few months on my priorities and what I continue to learn.
>> I regularly return to the five ‘puzzles’
>> <>
>> I identified in my original letter to you. For me, these continue to pose
>> big questions about our role in the world and our ways of working with each
>> other. I’ve mentioned that one highlight of the year so far has been
>> bringing colleagues together – volunteers, editors, affiliates, Foundation
>> staff, board members – to reconnect at a human level. Many of you have
>> shared with me the need for more spaces that can help us build (and
>> rebuild) relationships and trust.
>> As more communities return to in-person events, I have benefitted from
>> spending time with volunteers at WikiCon Brasil and at the Wikimania meetup
>> hosted in Cape Town. I look forward to participating in-person and
>> virtually at many more regional gatherings in the months ahead.
>> I am writing today to provide you with an update on the three priorities
>> I identified in January.
>> Priority 1: Strategy and Planning
>> My first priority remains focused on strategy and planning. In June, we
>> shared the successful adoption of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Annual Plan
>> <>.
>> It is now anchored in the strategic direction of our movement – knowledge
>> equity and knowledge as a service – and it identifies the Foundation’s
>> strengthened focus on regions and on projects. This plan benefited from the
>> contributions and feedback of hundreds of volunteers who provided input
>> on-wiki and through other multilingual channels of communication. We’ll
>> share updates on progress before the end of the calendar year on the Annual
>> Plan meta page and in other forums. Our intention is to continue asking for
>> guidance and input from volunteers, affiliates, and communities.
>> I mentioned in my April message that the Wikimedia Foundation has grown
>> very rapidly over the past 3 years as part of its medium term plan – 
>> increasing
>> its budget by more than 30% in the past year with the addition of more than
>> 200 new people since 2020. This growth will not continue as we stabilize
>> and make sure that new resources are delivering maximum impact for our
>> mission. The Foundation’s approved budget represents a 17% increase, most
>> of this is inflationary and other year-on-year costs. Funding to other
>> movement entities (individual and affiliate) grew by 24% percent.
>> While the annual plan is an important start, it does not address all of
>> the significant strategic issues facing Wikimedia – none of which can be
>> solved in a single year. Within the framework of our movement strategy and
>> emerging charter, I plan to continue partnering with Foundation
>> stakeholders and communities in co-planning approaches to tackle strategic
>> issues that an annual plan cannot fully address. The Board of Trustees will
>> help kick this off with strategic planning engagements at the board’s
>> upcoming meeting in Berlin. This will be followed by important
>> conversations about strategy implementation at the Wikimedia Summit
>> <> (returning for
>> the first time since 2019).
>> Priority 2: Leadership
>> I highlighted in January that CEO transitions are disruptive for most
>> organisations and change often continues after a new leader has arrived. I
>> have been trying to build a broader leadership team at the Wikimedia
>> Foundation as I focus on successfully onboarding new hires, investing
>> more in internal talent management, undertaking succession planning for key
>> roles, and providing stronger communications support for the Foundation’s
>> senior team.
>> Product/Technology
>> My top priority when I joined was to actively step in and support the
>> Foundation’s product and technology teams while we recruited executive
>> leadership of these mission critical functions with a new Chief Product and
>> Technology Officer. This goal has been achieved
>> <>
>> as Selena Deckelmann is now officially on board at the Wikimedia
>> Foundation after a successful nine-year career at Mozilla, most recently as
>> the head of Firefox. She is reaching out to learn from our technical
>> contributors and volunteers, and can be contacted directly at
>> Advancement
>> Having assessed the Wikimedia Foundation’s leadership structure, I have
>> decided not to create or resurrect any additional C-level roles at this
>> time. Instead, we will add more organization-wide responsibilities to
>> existing leadership roles in order to increase accountability, improve
>> coordination, and reduce silos. I am pleased to share that Lisa Gruwell (
>> will assume additional responsibilities as a
>> Deputy to the CEO while also remaining the Chief Advancement Officer. I
>> believe this will provide the Foundation with further leadership
>> stability as well as provide important institutional memory given Lisa’s
>> 12+ years of Wikimedia experience.
>> In that time, Lisa has delivered an unparalleled track record of results
>> throughout every chapter of the Foundation’s history since its inception.
>> She has supported communities around the globe and engaged allies in
>> embracing the vision of Wikimedia. Lisa is always looking to the future and
>> asking how we can deepen the impact of our work. She often channels the
>> voices of our contributors, readers and donors – I have seen firsthand how
>> deeply Lisa cares about this mission and the people who make it possible
>> from those at the Foundation, in our movement, and around the world.
>> Legal
>> Working closely with General Counsel Amanda Keton, we recently appointed 
>> Stephen
>> LaPorte ( as Deputy General Counsel. This is a
>> key role that the Foundation’s legal team has had for several years. In
>> addition to leading the Legal Affairs and Public Policy teams for the last
>> decade, Stephen has built a track record of effective partnership with
>> communities to support our technical aspirations, while seeing around the
>> corners of the policy landscape to protect and expand free knowledge. We
>> will all benefit from Stephen’s experience and wisdom in this role.
>> Communications
>> The Foundation’s communications department is led by Vice President Anusha
>> Alikhan ( to support strategic efforts for
>> external, movement, and Foundation audiences. Anusha joined Wikimedia in
>> 2019 from the Knight Foundation and has prior experience as a freelance
>> journalist, editor and lawyer. Her leadership of the communications team 
>> recognizes
>> Anusha’s capabilities as a consummate communications professional, her
>> embodiment of Wikimedia’s values, and her unwavering commitment to equity
>> and inclusion.
>> Finance & Administration
>> Jaime Villagomez ( remains our Chief Financial
>> Officer, very capably overseeing the Foundation’s finance and
>> administration teams to steward our finances, strengthen the operational
>> infrastructure of our movement, and enable the Foundation to better meet
>> its strategic objectives.
>> Talent & Culture
>> Alongside an experienced team of leaders, I am temporarily heading up our
>> Talent & Culture department in order to learn more about what is needed at
>> this time – I plan to make further leadership decisions by the end of the
>> year.
>> Chief of Staff
>> Finally, I have redefined the Chief of Staff role to support the broader
>> organization and movement, not only the CEO. Communicating regularly and
>> effectively, not just to relay information but to create shared
>> understanding across diverse stakeholders, is one of the most important
>> capabilities we need at the Foundation, and this role is intended to help
>> us all. Nadee Gunasena ( recently became Chief
>> of Staff after four years of executive communications support at the
>> Wikimedia Foundation. Many of you may already know Nadee as someone who
>> stands ready to help affiliates and community members with communications
>> and other needs.
>> Priority 3: Values and Culture
>> Strategy, planning and leadership are necessary ingredients for success.
>> My experience has taught me that values and culture often matter more. I
>> have been on a journey seeking to understand how the Wikimedia
>> Foundation’s organizational values
>> <> are lived
>> in practice. And how values can clarify what others should expect of us.
>> This feels like an important question now, especially given how much has
>> changed at the Foundation since these were first penned in 2016. We are
>> beginning those conversations between now and December following input from 
>> employee
>> groups, our Board of Trustees, as well as data from a recent all-staff
>> survey. I am always interested to hear from others who also think about
>> values and how they shape organizational culture and performance.
>> I haven’t stopped asking for time to keep learning from all of you -
>> thank you to those who have reached out for more conversations and to share
>> perspectives. I can always be reached directly at
>> .
>> Maryana
>> Maryana Iskander
>> Wikimedia Foundation CEO
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