Wikimedia Foundation Appoints Maryana Iskander as Chief Executive Officer

Maryana Iskander

New CEO brings global experience in breaking down systemic barriers to access and opportunity

14 September 2021, San Francisco, California — Today, the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation announced the appointment of Maryana Iskander as the organization’s new CEO. She is a globally recognized social entrepreneur and an expert in building cross-sector partnerships that combine innovative technology with community-led solutions to close opportunity gaps.  

As CEO of Wikimedia Foundation, the global nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and 12 other free knowledge projects, Maryana will champion the organization’s goal to ensure that people everywhere can access and share knowledge freely. She will formally begin on January 5, 2022 and report to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. 

Since 2013, Maryana has served as CEO of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, a South African non-profit social enterprise focused on building African solutions for the global challenge of youth unemployment.  Under her leadership, Harambee received the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2019 for its model to support now over 1.5 million youth with access to learning and earning opportunities. Throughout her career, Maryana has sought to break down barriers that improve access to information and opportunity. 

“Maryana’s approach to leadership is based around collaboration and community,” said Nataliia Tymkiv, Acting Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation. “She has deep appreciation for the role that volunteer-led communities can play in addressing social challenges. Throughout her career, she has driven tangible impact on issues from healthcare to unemployment. We believe that she will be a powerful champion to grow the Wikimedia movement and increase global access to free knowledge.”

“Today, societies across the world are confronted by systemic challenges that require the best of human-led and technology-enabled solutions. This remarkable global movement demonstrates how powerful that combination can be in ensuring that every human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge,” said Maryana Iskander. “I am honored to support this inspiring vision and build a more equitable future for knowledge together.”   

The Wikimedia Foundation currently has over 500 employees around the world, with an annual budget of over $100 million. The Foundation operates the technology infrastructure that enables more than 18 billion visits to Wikipedia monthly and advocates for policies globally that protect and advance access to information. In her role as CEO, Maryana will take on the urgent task of expanding access to, and participation in, free knowledge globally, as the threats of widespread misinformation and online censorship grow more dire.  

Wikimedia also supports a movement of over 280,000 volunteer contributors who edit Wikipedia and its sister sites every month. Maryana will collaborate closely with the volunteer movement to make progress towards a shared vision for the future of Wikimedia which prioritizes knowledge equity, helping to close knowledge gaps in content on Wikimedia projects and increasing the diversity of contributors to the sites by reducing barriers to knowledge that prevent women and marginalized communities from equitable participation. 

Maryana also brings experience from leadership roles in the public, private, and social sectors. She spent more than half a decade as the Chief Operating Officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a volunteer-led social movement focused on access to healthcare. Maryana was also the Advisor to the President of Rice University, an associate at global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

Born in Cairo, Egypt, Maryana was educated in the United States and the United Kingdom. She holds a B.A. magna cum laude from Rice University, an M.Sc. from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she received a Distinguished Alumna Award. Maryana is also a Truman Scholar, a Henry Crown Fellow, and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She serves on the board of World Education Services.

About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive. 

The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that relies on donations. We receive donations from millions of individuals around the world, with an average donation of about $15. We also receive donations through institutional grants and gifts. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.

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