It's been over thirteen months since Sue Gardner announced that she'd step down as the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit behind Wikipedia. The foundation has finally announced her replacement.
Lila Tretikov will be taking on the role.
Tretikov, originally from Moscow, moved to New York after the collapse of the Soviet Union, then went to the University of California, Berkley, to major in computer science and art. There, she did research work in machine learning.
She has worked for tech companies in the Bay Area for the past fifteen years, mostly in open source. This began with a stint at Sun Microsystems before she founded GrokDigital, and spent three years as senior director of development at Telespree. Most recently, she spent 8 years at SugarCRM, where she was in charge of internal IT, marketing, customer support and professional services, engineering, and product development. She's also an advisor to the board of Zamurai Corporation.
Two years ago, she won a bronze for Female Executive of the Year - Business Services - 11 to 2,500 Empnloyees - Computer Hardware & Software at the Stevie Awards.
Tretikov holds at least seven patents in intelligent data mapping and dynamic language applications.
Here's an interview she did with Forbes a few years ago:
"The Executive Director Transition Team, chaired by me, has unanimously recommended Lila to the Board to be our next ED, and the Board has unanimously approved the recommendation," writes Jan-Bart de Vreede in the announcement. "We believe she will be an excellent leader in the Wikimedia movement. She strikes us all as smart, brave and unpretentious, and we believe she has the skills the Foundation needs."
She'll officially take over on June 1st. In June, Gardner will serve as a special advisor to both Tretikov and de Vreede.
"I want to close this post with a heartfelt and deeply appreciative thanks to Sue Gardner, who has been the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation for the past seven years," de Vreede writes. "Sue’s leadership has built the Foundation into an effective, well-funded and well-managed organisation with integrity and a clear sense of purpose, and her steady and committed presence throughout the search process was integral in helping us come to this excellent result. We will be forever grateful for her leadership and vision, and I hope we can continue to rely on her support in the months and years ahead."
When Gardner announced her departure, she said she was "uncomfortable" with where the internet was heading.
She said at the time, "I feel that although we’re in good shape, with a promising future, the same is not true for the internet itself...Increasingly, I’m finding myself uncomfortable about how the internet’s developing, who’s influencing its development, and who is not."
She pointed to bills like SOPA/PIPA and CISPA, and said, "Wikipedia has experienced censorship at the hands of industry groups and governments, and we are –increasingly, I think– seeing important decisions made by unaccountable, non-transparent corporate players, a shift from the open web to mobile walled gardens, and a shift from the production-based internet to one that’s consumption-based. There are many organizations and individuals advocating for the public interest online — what’s good for ordinary people — but other interests are more numerous and powerful than they are. I want that to change. And that’s what I want to do next.”
Since then, Gardner and Wikimedia have had to deal with questionable practices from within the organization itself. After fighting companies accepting payment for influencing Wikipedia content, a respected Wikmedia employee was busted and fired for making paid edits.
It will be interesting to see how the organization develops under Tretikov's watch. Right now, she's still getting acquainted with the organization.
As you might imagine, managing a foundation that has such a profound influence on information consumption is no easy feat. A few years ago, we had a conversation with Gardner about this, which you can read here.
Tretikov will no doubt have her work cut out for her.
— Sue Gardner (@SuePGardner) May 1, 2014