Board expansion

Board of Trustees expanded as three new members are appointed

The Board of Trustees was expanded this week as three new members joined the Board. Following a resolution, the Board added Kat Walsh (Mindspillage), Oscar van Dillen (Oscar), and Jan-Bart de Vreede (Jan-Bart), who will take outgoing member Tim Shell's seat. The expansion brings the total number of people on the Board to seven and follows previous discussion on the possible expansion of the Board.

Kat Walsh, known as Mindspillage
Oscar van Dillen
Jan-Bart de Vreede

Walsh, a graduate student at the George Mason University School of Law, has been an Arbitrator on the English Wikipedia since October 2005, when she was appointed by Jimbo Wales. Also a former staff member of Wikia (unrelated officially to the Wikimedia Foundation), she was re-elected to the Arbitration Committee in the January 2006 elections (see archived story), and also serves as a member of the communications committee. (Following her appointment to the Board, Walsh resigned from the Arbitration Committee, citing her new position.) She has been an administrator on the English Wikipedia since April 2005 and is also an admin on Meta-Wiki and the English Wikinews; in addition, she is a Foundation press contact and a member of the OTRS subcommittee.

Van Dillen, meanwhile, is a musician and composer at the Conservatory of Rotterdam (see his article). The president of Wikimedia Netherlands, the Dutch chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, van Dillen is a bureaucrat on the Dutch Wikipedia and an admin on Meta-Wiki. He has also been a steward since June 2005, when he was first elected.

De Vreede, a father of two, is also from the Netherlands, and currently works for the Kennisnet Foundation. Though relatively new to the Wikimedia Foundation, he has attended both Wikimanias, where he was a speaker each time, and has worked to promote the use of wikis previously. He also has experience working with wikis using MediaWiki through the use of internal wikis at the Kennisnet Foundation.

The expansion of the Board had been previously discussed on the Foundation mailing list extensively, and a resolution passed in January had authorized the creation of a committee, composed of Florence Nibart-Devouard, Jimbo Wales, and then-Board member Angela Beesley, to look into the expansion of the Board and recommend all steps necessary. A recent audit report of the Foundation by the accounting firm Gregory, Sharer, and Stuart (see related story) had also suggested the expansion of the Board by "seeking additional independent board membership."

Besides appointing the three new Board members, the resolution passed also clarified several other issues. All appointed members of the Board will serve a maximum of one year, which can be renewed, and all elected members will serve a two-year term. However, both Walsh's and van Dillen's terms, both of which started officially on Friday, 8 December, 2006 will expire on Sunday 1 July, 2007; elections will be held the following month. De Vreede's term, meanwhile, will expire on Monday 31 December, 2007, as he will be serving the remainder of Tim Shell's term. Shell resigned earlier this year, and his resignation will become effective on Friday 15 December, 2006 when de Vreede will begin his term.

The resolution also clarified the terms of three of the other four current Board members. Both the terms of Wales and Michael Davis will expire in December 2007, and the Board also appointed Nibart-Devouard to another term once her current elected term concludes in July 2007. Thus, Nibart-Devouard will serve until July 2008. No mention was made of Board member Erik Möller's term, which is also set to expire in July 2007.

The resolution also authorized elections to the Board in June 2007 and June 2008; three positions will be open in each of the elections, and the winners will serve two-year terms on the Board.

The resolution was first announced by Board chair Nibart-Devouard on the Foundation mailing list. In her post, she thanked Shell for his service and welcomed aboard the three new members. After briefly introducing de Vreede, she explained that the Board was looking for "a more external guy", or someone not already deeply involved with the Foundation, who would be able to provide a different perspective and bring additional experience and leadership.

Both Walsh and van Dillen had run for the Board in the September elections, when Möller was elected, and had come in second and third, respectively. Walsh had 30 percent of the total vote, which used approval voting, and van Dillen had 28%; Möller had 42%. In her candidate statement, Walsh advocated greater communication within the Foundation and increased partnerships with other organizations, and in an interview with the Signpost that month, reiterated her commitment to streamlining the internal organization. She also cited her "skill at communication and dispute resolution" as some of her key strengths.

In his candidate statement, Van Dillen argued against copyright and instead stated his strong beliefs on copyleft, and also emphasized his longstanding commitment to the Wikimedia Foundation's mission. In his interview with the Signpost, he commented on his goal of "improving the Board's ability to act" and cited his "expertise and professional experience" as a former manager, combined with his experience with many language communities in Wikimedia projects, as some of his key strengths. Like Walsh, he also advocated a "more clear structure of organization."

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