After the Wikimedia Foundation’s roller-coaster ride of the past few months, the appointment of chief communications officer Katherine Maher to lead the organisation as interim executive director has been greeted with relief by Wikimedians and WMF staff.
Maher brings to her new role a significant track record of international experience in technology-oriented management, community engagement, and governance. Getting people to trust each other and work together appears to be a hallmark of her style.
Her experience began with programmatic work and the modelling of market and governance stability in the Middle East. She went on to manage HSBC’s international development program from the UK, moving to financial and market analysis in the company’s Düsseldorf and Toronto offices.
Since then, Maher's career has mostly been in the NGO sector—first for a specific project in establishing an open-source citizen reporting site for Lebanon; then in the management, project design, and advocacy of ICT-supported endeavours for UNICEF; the non-partisan US National Democratic Institute; and the World Bank. In the 16 months before she was chief communications officer at the WMF, she was the advocacy director for Access Now, leading their global advocacy on human rights and technology policy.
The Signpost interviewed Maher last week by Skype audio on a range of issues—from the impending recruitment of key WMF managers to more existential challenges that face the Wikimedia movement.