Wikimedia Foundation

San Francisco, CA

Executive Director

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.
— Wikimedia Foundation vision statement

Over half a billion people use Wikipedia and its sister projects every month. As a top five web property and the only donor-supported site in the top 100, the Wikimedia Foundation enables a global community of volunteers to collect, develop and make freely available the sum of humanity’s knowledge.

The Wikimedia Foundation is seeking an Executive Director to guide the organization through its next phase of innovation and growth. It’s an unusual role, requiring an unusual mix of skills and characteristics. We want someone with a product and engineering background who has built successful organizations or led significant units. Someone who shares our values of freedom, sharing and access to information, and who has the courage and conviction to live up to them on a daily basis.  A person with a natural inclination towards collaboration and transparency, who’d flourish inside a decentralized global movement, and who can create clarity out of chaos.

Looking forward…
The Wikimedia Foundation is the most influential and respected organization in the free knowledge movement. Its purpose is to enable as many people as possible to develop, grow and disseminate free multilingual educational material using open source software. It provides the technical, operating and managerial infrastructure for Wikipedia and Wikimedia’s other free knowledge projects. This includes the continuous delivery of technology improvements that enhance the user experience, enable new forms of collaboration, and adapt the Wikimedia projects to the changing technological environment (e.g. the rapid global adoption of smartphones and tablets). To advance these priorities, the Wikimedia Foundation is focused on:

  • Sustaining a robust, resilient, secure and scalable infrastructure for hosting Wikimedia projects;
  • Supporting a vibrant, diverse and international community through iterative and continuous deployment of simple and powerful software that enables anyone to easily read and contribute to Wikimedia projects across diverse platforms and operating systems;
  • Helping other Wikimedia movement organizations in their work towards the mission by providing them with financial and organizational resources; and
  • Advancing the proposition that knowledge, and open source tools used to share and access knowledge, should be free and freely available to everyone globally.

Key to the success of the Executive Director (ED) will be a commitment to understand and advance Wikimedia’s core values. The ED will need to have the technology management and product development skills to effectively lead a high traffic website, and experience designing and implementing planning processes with a high built-in assumption of fast and iterative change. He or she will need to have exceptional communication skills, and to possess both a drive to achieve transformative results and a deep respect for collaborative processes. The ED’s ability to effect change in partnership with Wikimedia’s community will be decisive not just to their success, but to Wikimedia’s lasting impact in the 21st century.

Reporting to the Board of Trustees and acting in partnership with the global volunteer community, the ED will provide the leadership and set the strategy for the Wikimedia Foundation while managing its day-to-day operations and activities, currently with a budget size of $55M and staff of 180. Wikimedia’s highly-successful, community-driven fundraising model requires the ED to spend very little time on fundraising activities, allowing them to remain focused on technology and activities that advance the mission.

First and foremost, it is the Executive Director’s priority to modernize Wikimedia’s user experience and to nurture, grow and diversify the community of Wikimedia contributors. Secondarily, the ED will ensure that the Wikimedia Foundation’s grantmaking program supports innovation across the Wikimedia movement, and enables contributor growth in underrepresented demographics and geographic areas.

The Wikimedia Foundation commits itself to the principles of equal opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of ethnic origin, nationality, religion, political perspective, gender, age, disability or sexual identity or orientation. Wikimedia also values past international experience and fluency in languages in addition to English.

For more information please see the Position Description Addenda, or contact:

Lisa Grossman
(650)323-3565 or LisaG [at] mOppenheim [dot] com 

Mark Oppenheim
(415) 762-2640 or MarkO [at] mOppenheim [dot] com