Board report for May-June 2011

Our new Board Secretary, Phoebe Ayers, is jumping right into her new role and both emailed and posted the first of a new series of regular board updates.  Text is pasted below:

Wikimedia Board of Trustees — activity report May-June 2011

Resolutions and votes

Controversial content

  • Controversial content resolution — this resolution was passed in May after a year-long process of discussion and research. It reaffirms the Board’s position on censorship, calls for continued community involvement in image review and asks for the creation of a personal image filter feature which would allow readers to not choose whether to view certain classes of images.
  • Images of identifiable people resolution — this resolution was passed in May along with the controversial content resolution. It lays out the Board position on image subject consent, specifying that evidence of consent should be obtained and documented from the subject of the media for images and videos of living, identifiable persons in private situations that are hosted on Wikimedia projects.

New chapters

  • Wikimedia Canada and Wikimedia Chile were recognized. Both are recently incorporated.

New advisors and observers

  • Advisory board additions — Jessamyn West and Veronique Kessler were nominated for the advisory board by trustees and approved by Board vote. Jessamyn is a U.S.-based librarian and blogger who is also a community manager of Metafilter, a global online community; and Veronique is the WMF’s outgoing Chief Financial Officer.
  • Board Visitors — passed in May, this resolution lays out parameters and criteria for inviting visitors to Board meetings, and defines that approved Board visitors may be invited to one meeting a year for most agenda items. Visitors will not have voting rights or email list access.
  • Visitor appointment — the first visitor to be invited was Doron Weber from the Sloan Foundation, invited in June for the coming year.

Strategy and planning

  • Annual plan approval — The Board unaminously approved the WMF’s annual plan for 2011-2012. The plan is developed by the executive director with input from the Board and senior staff, and lays out WMF’s budgeting, hiring and programmatic plans for the year. A draft of the plan was shared with the Board in May, and the final document was reviewed in June, with review led by Stu as the board Treasurer.

Other Board work

  • The Board Governance Committee (Matt, Jan-Bart and Ting) contracted with a consultant and scheduled the 2011 trustee evaluation process. They also kicked off the officer election process by calling for candidates and candidate statements. Elections will be held in Haifa.
  • The Audit committee, led by Stu, wrapped up its work for its 2010-2011 year. During the year, the committee held three meetings in August, October, and March. It covered the basics, reviewing the audit plan, audit results, and the Foundation’s annual IRS filing, as well as helping improve the FAQs and other public disclosures of the Foundation’s financial position. The primary non-routine issue this year involved the transparency and financial control implications of certain chapters directly receiving donor funds, and the committee contributed some energetic editing to support the new consolidated movement-wide reports page on meta. The Committee also weighed the alternatives for independent auditors over the upcoming year and decided to re-engage KPMG and expand KPMG’s role somewhat to provide further guidance and assistance around fundraising models. Finally, Stu sent out a call for volunteers for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
  • As Board Treasurer, Stu held a few meetings with Sue and her staff to review the annual plan and then provided a recommendation that the Board approve the plan.
  • Stu was also active in the interviewing process for the Foundation’s new Chief of Finance and Administration.
  • Movement roles work to define the relative roles of Wikimedia entities continued on Meta, including Sam, Bishakha, and Arne, producing a set of draft recommendations to the Board and to movement groups.
  • In May-June 2011 the Board met twice online to review the annual plan.
  • The Board’s next in-person meeting is scheduled for Wikimania in Haifa, Israel.
  • Meeting agendas and details are shared at m:Board meetings.

Trustee outreach and other activities

  • In May, Kat visited the WMF offices, to meet with Foundation lawyer Geoff Brigham and to help develop a summary of WMF legal practices. This has been posted for comment.
  • In June, Ting attended an event organized by Wikimedians in Almaty, Kazakhstan and spoke to an audience of students. The local Wikimedia group has freed an entire 16-volume Kazakh-language encyclopedia by getting the publisher to agree to a free license and release the digital files, with the goal of adding the content to the Kazakh Wikipedia. They have received a grant to work on this project, and are also interested in becoming a chapter.
  • June 14, Sam attended a meeting of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) project, which is bringing together several major research and public libraries as well as library organizations to develop a common framework for shared digital library collections in the U.S.
  • ALA: in June, Phoebe, along with Sue and staff members Frank Schulenberg and Annie Lin, attended the American Libraries Association (ALA) annual conference, the largest library conference in the world, in New Orleans, USA. Sue gave the keynote address, Frank and Annie staffed a booth promoting the campus ambassador project, and Phoebe participated on a panel called “The Wikipedia Effect: How Wikipedia Has Changed the Way the World Finds and Evaluates Information” (also on the panel: Paul Kobasa, editor-in-chief of the World Book encyclopedia).
  • In May, Bishakha visited Bangalore and met with the India chapter’s Executive Committee members and attended Bangalore meetup 33. On May 14, she attended Pune meetup 13 and met with prospective Campus Ambassadors in Pune. In June, Bishakha attended the daylong 4th Malayalam wikimeet in Kannur, Kerala. Highlights: the release of the first Malayalam WikiSource CD, a visually impaired man’s demo of using text to speech software on Wikipedia, and meeting the youngest Malayalam contributor, a 7-year-old who shot and uploaded 14 images of food to Wikimedia commons. National program consultant Hisham Mundol was also present at all these meetups.
  • Jimmy was as usual traveling the world for meetings, speeches, and press work. He was scheduled to speak at a conference of Nobel Prize winners in Morocco in early May, but the conference was cancelled due to the terrorist attack. In mid-May he went to Germany at the request of Wikimedia Deutschland to film a video in support of the UNESCO initiative, as well as a fund raising video. At the eG-8 meeting in Paris, he was invited to a private lunch with President Sarkozy at the Élysée Palace. Other attendees included Rupert Murdoch (News Corporation), Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. (New York Times), Eric Schmidt (Google), and others; copyright enforcement was high on the agenda, and Jimmy spoke about the importance of free culture and community sharing. Other meetings took place in London, Washington DC, Moscow, Zermatt (Switzerland), and Israel (met with Shimon Peres).

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