It is with deep regret that I share that Eileen Hershenov, General Counsel and Board Secretary, will be departing from her position at the Wikimedia Foundation. On behalf of the executive team, Foundation Board, and myself, I want to thank Eileen for her critical contributions to advance our legal, public policy, and advocacy work during her time with us at the Foundation.
Eileen will be departing from her position in early December, and Tony Sebro, current Deputy General Counsel, will act as Interim General Counsel as we look to fill the position permanently. I thank Tony for his willingness to support this transition period and know and trust the Legal Department will be under excellent leadership during this time.
In her departing email to staff, Eileen said, “I leave hoping that I will be able to work with many of you again in some capacity in the future. We work on such amazing projects, and for such an important mission. How lucky to work for something that matters so much to so many people, and to be fighting—in the face of sometimes daunting technological, social and political headwinds—to maintain and extend the foundational values and principles necessary to any truly open, free and egalitarian society.” In her email, Eileen also noted that while she had hoped to be at the Foundation for many years, family reasons necessitated her move back to New York.
During her tenure, Eileen led an experienced team of attorneys and public policy experts to defend the Wikimedia projects, communities, and Foundation and advance our mission. She was instrumental in our ongoing work to lift the block of Wikipedia in Turkey, representing Wikimedia in Ankara within days of joining us. She advanced our ongoing litigation against the NSA and saw us through when we became the sole plaintiff of the case.
Eileen led the organization’s policy direction during a period of increased global focus on privacy, while improving our existing policies to protect the rights of our readers and editors around the world. She also worked with our Chief Financial Officer, Jaime Villagomez, to mature our organization-wide risk identification and assessment as part of strategic planning. For her team, she has been a loyal and committed leader, deeply focused on developing the incredible team she inherited, while recruiting additional excellent people to join our mission.
While Eileen is leaving too soon, she leaves us with a tremendously thoughtful, capable, and strategic department, in which I have complete confidence while we conduct a search for a new General Counsel in the coming months. I am also grateful that Eileen has agreed to continue to work with us on some projects over the remainder of this year and perhaps into the next.
With much gratitude, I thank Eileen for her service to our organization, our movement, and our mission. I will miss her counsel, but am grateful for all she did during her time here. I know I speak for my colleagues at the Foundation in looking forward to her continued presence in the Wikimedia community.
Katherine Maher, Executive Director