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Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Thinking about the WMF Board composition


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The Board is currently finishing the search for a new appointed trustee, and it will appoint another two trustees at the end of 2015. At our retreat in November 2014, we discussed Board composition and s/election. We talked about possible ways to tap into a broader pool of candidates. Our two different community processes draw from similar pools of candidates, and our searches for appointees have identified few people outside of the US and Europe.

During our last Board meeting in February 2015 we started to think about ways to improve, and we would like to listen to your input and ideas before we discuss concrete changes to the bylaws.

This discussion is officially open until March 31, of course you can add your thoughts also later. It will not affect the upcoming community election of 3 Board members.

What we want to achieveEdit

  1. A continuous process of looking for potential trustees
  2. Diversity (gender, geography, expertise, background, different Wikimedia experiences)
  3. Finding talent inside and outside our communities
  4. Providing governance experience and training to potential candidates in our movement
  5. Providing lower overhead ways to contribute to WMF governance and advise strategic decisions
  6. Limiting bureaucracy and/or staff involvement
  7. Flexible Board composition: e.g., allowing for an extra 1-2 Trustees in some years

What it could look likeEdit

  1. More flexibility in the number of Board members
    Instead of having an absolute, non-variable number of Board members (currently 3 elected, 2 affiliate selected, 4 appointed, 1 founder), we could change to a more flexible model. For example, we could allow a minimum and a maximum of community-based and external seats, permitting us to add additional seats proportionately depending on the present needs of the Board.
  2. A standing pool of nominees
    To increase diversity of candidates we could start moving towards input from a nominating committee or more active self nominations to create a pool of qualified candidates. This pool could be the base for a selection by the Board or a mixture of selection by the Board and election by the community.
  3. Merge community and affiliation seats
    Chapters, thematic organizations and user groups are part of the community. While chapters and thematic organizations have an exclusive right to select 2 members of the Board, they can also participate in the community selection of another 3 members. To level this artificial separation it could be helpful to combine both processes.

What we are asking forEdit

Since the board is deeply linked to the community and partly is its emanation, we are now looking for your input and ideas on new options for all seats, simpler structure, and flexible size. Please comment on the above ideas or propose additional thoughts on the talk page.

Next stepsEdit

The Board will continue the discussion in their next Board meetings. Any changes will affect the bylaws, and there will be a 2 weeks consultation about the proposed changes before the Board votes on a resolution.

Update May 2015Edit

The Board started to think about its composition in spring 2015 because we wanted to create certainty about changes to known processes sufficiently in advance of any elections/selections. We realized that we need more time and input and we are still figuring out how we can improve the diversity and experience we are looking for and how we can benefit most from our community and its expertise. There won't be changes to the current model immediately.