Hi all,

I am writing to share some news about the leadership of our Legal
department at the Wikimedia Foundation. Over the last eight months, we’ve
worked to identify a permanent General Counsel for the Wikimedia
Foundation. I am delighted to share that we have found a new General
Counsel, Eileen Hershenov.  I am sad to say that our respected colleague
and friend Michelle Paulson has decided this is a good time to move on to
something new.

*Michelle moving on*

Michelle Paulson, who has been serving as interim General Counsel, has
decided that after nine years it is time to move on from the Wikimedia
Foundation. Michelle has made her mark here: she served as interim General
Counsel twice; created our legal fellowship program, pushed to make key
policies more user-friendly and aligned with our core values; protected the
office, organization, and volunteers from threats; helped built a new
Foundation public policy program; vigorously and passionately defended the
privacy and security of our users; advocated for truly inclusive policies
and recruiting practices; and acted as a steadfast voice and advocate for
the values which make our movement possible.

Michelle’s brilliance, humor, professionalism, and determination have
fundamentally shaped our organization and movement. We will miss her
immensely, and I look forward to seeing what she will achieve in the name
of justice, equity, openness, and opportunity.

*Eileen Hershenov joining our movement*

Today I would like to introduce you to Eileen Hershenov, who will join us
as General Counsel on May 8th.

Eileen has nearly 30 years of experience in media and intellectual property
law, as well as in civil rights and civil liberties law, not-for-profit law
and governance, and privacy and cyber-security. She is passionately
committed to values that make our movement possible: free expression,
access to knowledge, freedom of association and an internet that embodies
the open-source movement and that resists censorship and surveillance.
Throughout her career, she has applied these values to her work with a
unique focus on grassroots organizing and advocacy.

Previously, Eileen served as Vice President and General Counsel for
Consumers Union, the not-for-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine
and ConsumerReports.org, for 10 years. In that role, she worked with tens
of thousands of volunteers in the organization’s advocacy programs. Before
Consumer Reports she spent 11 years at the Open Society Foundations, where
she served as the General Counsel to the global foundation network,
overseeing the legal work of the foundations in close to 40 countries
across the globe.

Eileen was also the founding general counsel for the Central European
University,[1] the first U.S.-accredited liberal arts university located in
a former Communist country. She has worked for the American Civil Liberties
Union and the NOW Legal Defense Fund. Most recently, she has been working
at Miller Korzenik Sommers Rayman LLP, a media law firm, and serving on the
boards of a number of public interest justice organizations.

*Next steps*

Eileen is based in New York City, and will relocate to San Francisco with
her family this summer. Until then, she will be commuting to the office
starting in May to begin work with the Legal team.

Transitions can feel uncertain, but I know that this movement is one that
is welcoming and appreciative of what new colleagues bring to our efforts.
We had hoped Michelle would stay with us as Deputy General Counsel, but
after nine years I think we all can appreciate the desire for a wikibreak
(and rumors of a new puppy!). In the meantime, Eileen and Michelle are
working together to ensure that we have a smooth transition and no balls
get dropped. I am so grateful to Michelle for her generosity of time,
attention, and care in working to make sure this transition supports the
Legal team, the Foundation, and the movement.

We will publish a formal public announcement closer to Eileen’s first day.
Until then, please join me in welcoming Eileen and thanking Michelle for
her years of commitment to our movement.


Katherine Maher

Wikimedia Foundation
149 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

+1 (415) 839-6885 ext. 6635
+1 (415) 712 4873
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