About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides the essential infrastructure for free knowledge globally. We operate the world's most collaborative project (including Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons & various other projects that are part of our multilingual, free-content Wikimedia family). We welcome anyone who shares our vision to join us in collecting and sharing knowledge that fully represents human diversity.

The Wikimedia Foundation has more than doubled in size in the last few years and has an operating budget of $100M+. Currently, a talented and passionate team of 500+ (60% building tech and products) is based in 40 countries across the globe.

Through a vast affiliate network of (140+) chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups, 280,000+ editors contribute monthly in over 300 languages. There are 55 million media files on Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. We are the worldʼs fifth most popular digital platform, providing free educational resources globally. 1.5 billion unique devices visit Wikimedia Foundation sites monthly.

The future of knowledge

The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipediaʼs volunteer communities are actively evolving to face the challenges of our time, including by:

  • Investing in the overall health and diversity of volunteer communities to be more inclusive and globally representative
  • Curbing harassment by developing a universal code of conduct and building software to support community governance
  • Developing tools and programs to expand the quantity and diversity of Wikipedia content
  • Modernizing Wikipediaʼs technology to meet the needs of the future
  • Advocating for policies that preserve user privacy, free expression, and the free exchange of knowledge online
  • Enhancing volunteersʼ ability to combat disinformation with better resources and insights

 

Today, Wikipediaʼs more than 55 million articles can be accessed in over 300 languages, for free, and without advertisements, all created by volunteers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wikipedia saw record-breaking increases in daily traffic with a growing community of medical professionals contributing knowledge about COVID-19 to the platform. Studies have shown that Wikipedia is one of the most-viewed sources for health information, and its role in providing trusted access to information about COVID-19 in the pandemic led to a milestone collaboration with the World Health Organization in October 2020.

Wikipedia, the worldʼs largest free online encyclopedia, celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021. This birthday commemorates two decades of global efforts to support free knowledge, open collaboration, and trust on the internet. In a time when disinformation and polarization challenge our trust in information and institutions, Wikipedia is more relevant than ever.

The Opportunity: Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director

Founder, Jimmy Wales. Offered people the opportunity to gather, create knowledge, and give it away for free. Photo by Victor Grigas/Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

Wikimediaʼs next chief executive officer and executive director (CEO/E.D.) champions the mission, charts the course and ensures the ongoing success of Wikipedia globally through Wikimedia. The CEO/E.D. will enter as the organization builds on its strengths in its 20th anniversary year, and delivers its global work, at scale.

The internal and external complexity has grown dramatically for Wikimedia and our next leader needs to have the proven ability to step into an ambitious growth-oriented tech/product environment, and lead a strong executive leadership team, making sure we have the right operating models internally for the next decade and beyond, to be able to effectively support the growth and aspirations of global Wikipedia communities.

By inspiring thousands of stakeholders globally (internal colleagues, community members, donors, Trustees, external stakeholders), the CEO/E.D. embodies, promotes and defends Wikipediaʼs values in all interactions and marshals the talent and financial resources necessary to successfully achieve Wikimediaʼs mission.

The leader navigates between identifying future trends and empowering talented staff driving critical work in advancement, communications, finance and administration, legal and policy, operations, product, talent and culture, and technology. Wikimedia, and the CEO/E.D., also operate under an expectation of significant transparency and public scrutiny, and within an increasingly complex and high risk environment around tech and policy regulation.

Externally, there are frequent efforts that threaten volunteers and are hostile toward Wikipediaʼs mission. In parallel, changes in tech, data and multimedia continue to accelerate in response to how users consume information differently. Wikipedia is the only nonprofit top-50 global website, and while currently well-resourced, has just a fraction of the investment capacity of other tech platforms.

Internally, as the organization scales, and regularly onboards new colleagues and pushes others to evolve rapidly, it is also becoming more geographically dispersed. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the move to a virtual workforce, placing a premium on culture-building and connection.

 

Reports to: Board of Trustees and is evaluated by Board HR Committee

Location: United States of America (Significant travel globally and within the United States)

Strategy:

  • Through intensive consultation with the Board of Trustees, staff and community, set and execute a compelling strategy that clarifies and aligns Wikimedia Foundation team investments, priorities, and goals in support of the 2030 Movement Strategy.
  • Communicate transparently with the Board of Trustees and all constituents about Wikimediaʼs—and the Movementʼs—opportunities, choices, and progress toward goals.

 

Governance and Risk:

  • Support the Trustees in their critical governance work.
  • Ensure the organization is anticipating security, reputational and technology risks.

 

Community:

  • Support the communities that create and manage Wikipedia and its sister projects.
  • Build authentic relationships throughout the global Wikimedia community; listen intently to community members, chapters, affiliates and user/thematic groups to develop, adapt and champion strategies that grow volunteer engagement and readership.

 

Wikimedians at Wikimania, our global annual conference, in Italy in 2016. This photo lives on our free photography commons, under a Creative Commons license. Photo by Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

External relations: Inspire all stakeholders as a champion of Wikipediaʼs mission and values
in a wide variety of settings (press, policy, tech) and the knowledge sectors—culture, academic, research, science—globally.

Fundraising: With the support of the Advancement department, cultivate major gifts and
donor relationships for both ongoing operations and the Foundationʼs endowment.

Equity and Inclusion: Embrace diversity on every dimension, expanding and deepening Wikimediaʼs internally- and community-focused work on equity and inclusion.

Management and culture:

  • Reinforce and model Wikimediaʼs values in all interactions.
  • Recruit, lead, and partner with a high-performing executive team to prioritize and advance enterprise- and movement-level goals.
    Empower executive team leaders; drive rational decision-making and resource-allocation.
  • Foster cross-organization and multidisciplinary collaboration, as well as role clarity, professional development, operational excellence, creativity, innovation, and continuous improvement.
  • Build strong interpersonal relationships with individual Board Trustees as well as with the Board as a collective.

The Leader

This photo lives on Wikimedia Commons, a repository of stunning images that are freely licensed for all to use. Photo by Md shahanshah bappy, CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

Qualifications

  • Deep resonance with Wikimedia's values and mission, ideally with personal experience in a social movement and a closely related field (open/free knowledge, media, knowledge equity and access, international development, human rights, etc.)
  • Strong leadership and management track record within a complex, mission-driven organization with both a significant operating budget (Wikimediaʼs operating budget is $100M+ currently) as well as globally dispersed staff (hundreds) and programs.
  • Has integrated a strong organizational culture to chart a higher impact course. Brings tangible examples of success in refining and executing on ambitious strategic plans, guiding investments (ideally with meaningful exposure to tech/product) and complex problem-solving. Listens to, integrates, and champions ideas from a variety of stakeholders.
  • Proven track record in recruiting, building, retaining and mentoring high-performing, diverse, global leadership teams
  • As a key spokesperson, has influentially represented an organization and its mission to multiple audiences. Develop and foster other faces and voices of the Foundation.Familiarity with and an ability to lead a global, annual fundraising effort, including identifying and executing on relevant, innovative new funding models.
  • Is at-ease with significant public visibility and scrutiny; champions voices that donʼt naturally get championed.
  • As a global citizen, has a track record of leading outside of just the North American context.
  • Deeply understands technology's vital role in enabling both mission and execution, especially as it relates to scale, products and emerging technologies.

 

Leadership Attributes

  • Shows—in action and thought—significant moral leadership: high integrity, ethics beyond reproach, humanity, empathy, and sound, deliberative judgment. Is a trust-builder.
  • Visibly embraces and promotes diversity and equity in all dimensions.
  • Brings a relationship orientation and a communications style that inspire and galvanize volunteers to engage and donors to invest.
  • Flexible, collaborative, diplomatic, calm, patient and transparent style; able to effectively adapt to, and evolve, a strong culture. Humility to recognize that she/they/he is merely a steward of a broad, large-scale movement.
  • Curiosity and critical thinking skills; a lifelong learner who sees situations through multiple lenses.
  • An ability to report to and work with a small board that is hands-off in operations but brings a strong and varied understanding of the Wikimedia ecosystem.

How to Apply

Please share nominations or submit a resume and cover letter (in non-pdf format) to: wikimediafoundation@viewcrestadvisors.com

The Wikimedia Chapters Conference in Berlin, 2016. Our people are passionate! Board members will have a chance to get to know us when they attend two of our annual conferences. The passion, the sense of service, and genuine altruism is a marvel in itself. Photo by Jason Krüger/Wikimedia Deutschland, CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects form the largest collaborative collection of free knowledge—written in roughly 300 languages and built by and for the world. At the Wikimedia Foundation, the U.S.-based nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia, we strive to reflect the communities we currently work with, and those we hope to work with in the future. With this in mind, diversity and inclusion are core to our mission. In order to build a diverse and inclusive environment, we prioritize impact rather than intention, contributions rather than culture fit, and equity rather than equality.

As an equal opportunity employer, the Wikimedia Foundation values having a diverse workforce and continuously strives to maintain an inclusive and equitable workplace. We encourage people with a diverse range of backgrounds to apply. We do not discriminate against any person based upon their race, traits historically associated with race, religion, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy or related medical conditions, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, genetic information, or any other legally protected characteristics.

Viewcrest Advisors, our search partner, is committed to social justice and access to opportunity and actively cultivates relationships with leaders who have varied life experiences as well as the skills needed to lead strong, innovative organizations. Additionally, Viewcrest Advisors commits to protecting your personal data privacy; please visit www.viewcrestadvisors.com to view their privacy policy.

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