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Job openings/Chief Global Program Officer

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Job Title

Chief Global Program Officer (CGPO) [CLOSED]

Job Summary

The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit charitable organization committed to building a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. All members of the board, management team and staff are focused towards fulfillment of that mission.

A young organization, the Wikimedia Foundation is currently building out its management team. It is on the cusp of completing its first-ever strategic plan which will provide high-level direction for the coming five years. The strategic plan will call for investment in growing readership of the Wikimedia projects in the Global South, as well as investment in strengthening the size, health and engagement of the Wikimedia editing community.

Located in San Francisco, the Chief Global Program Officer position will have a central role in the Wikimedia management team. He or she will report to the Executive Director and will work intimately with the senior management team, as well as with leaders in the Wikimedia editing community.

Success in this role will be defined by three things:

  • Growth in number of Wikimedia project editors, also known as “Wikimedians,” with a special emphasis on priority characteristics and geographies. This will be accomplished through funding and other support of volunteer-organized outreach, events and “meetups”; improvements to the editing experience on-wiki; and the development and launch of various kinds of rewards, incentives, and support for editors.
  • Growth in number of Wikimedia project readers, with a particular emphasis on priority geographies. This will be accomplished through improvements to the readers' experience on-wiki, as well as the development and launch of partnerships for expanding reach to offline audiences. The CGPO will also work with other members of the Wikimedia team to resolve significant barriers to usage related to internationalization/localization, accessibility, cultural issues, technical performance or other issues.
  • Continued evolution of structures, systems and group/individual volunteer roles that support the Wikimedia movement. This will be encouraged by training and facilitation activities where necessary, and might include working with Wikimedians, Wikimedia project readers and Wikimedia staff to define new roles for chapters, develop mentoring programs for new editors, designate spokespeople, the development of "customer service" roles, and other functions.

Currently, the Wikimedia Foundation has approximately 39 paid staff. That number is expected to grow in coming years consistent with the Wikimedia Foundation's scope and impact. Much of that growth will occur in the program team, which is currently very small. This is a roll up your sleeves, participatory organization, and teams of staff and volunteers tend to form flexibly around projects. The CGPO should expect to act as a collaborator, manager, strategist and tactical implementer.


The Wikimedia Foundation provides the operating and managerial infrastructure required to sustain Wikimedia’s free knowledge projects.

Wikimedia's flagship project, Wikipedia, has become the largest general reference work ever compiled in human history. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have contributed more than 15 million encyclopedia articles in 265 languages, all of which can be freely shared and used for any purpose. It is consulted by more than 300 million people every month, making it the fifth most popular web property world-wide.

In addition to Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation operates Wikimedia Commons, a vast repository of millions of educational multimedia files, and has launched other community projects to develop textbooks, dictionaries, online courses, annotated source texts, and other educational materials. It maintains MediaWiki, the open source software which powers all its projects, and which is used to power thousands of collaborative websites operated by third parties.

Established in 2003 by Jimmy Wales two years after creating Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) ensures Wikipedia's continued operation under the stewardship of a nonprofit organization, funded primarily through direct support from the general public. All of Wikimedia's projects are free of charge and free of advertising.

The Wikimedia Foundation maintains the technical infrastructure to support these online volunteer communities and pursues a permanent agenda of technical innovation. It also supports international conferences, public outreach activities, and strategic relationships which support the cause of free knowledge.

The Wikimedia movement is supported by volunteer-run chapters in 27 countries. These chapters, which operate independently of the Wikimedia Foundation, are important partners in increasing awareness of the Wikimedia projects, and advancing the goals of the movement in a defined geographic area.

Immediate Priorities

The Chief Global Program Officer’s immediate priorities are to:

  • Develop strong relationships with, and secure the trust and confidence of the Executive Director, colleagues on the senior management team, key Wikimedians and other stakeholders;
  • Actively engage in understanding the strategic plan and interpreting it within the context of the program department. This plan is the culmination of a full year of collaboration among Wikimedia Foundation staff, board members and volunteers. It is being built out at an operational planning level from February to July 2010: those plans will begin to be executed in July 2010. For the Program department, the strategic plan will require a fundamental re-imagining of structure, staffing and goals. The department will need to grow;
  • Thoroughly understand the Wikimedia Foundation – its mission, values, history, culture, traditions, projects, activities, personalities, constituencies and governance structure;
  • Thoroughly understand Wikimedia's editor and reader communities, as well as the context in which Wikimedia operates e.g., relationships with related entities including media organizations and other content creators/providers such as galleries, libraries, archives and museums, FLOSS (free/libre open source software) organizations, governmental and non-governmental entities, businesses and non-profits;
  • Immediately assess the state of play of in-process program activities, including the “bookshelf” project, the public policy initiative, and various communications activities.

On-Going Responsibilities

The Chief Global Program Officer will execute the following responsibilities on an on-going basis:


  • Develop quantitative and qualitative means for measuring engagement of existing editors, including questionnaires and server log analysis; use the results to drive resources dedicated to improving the editor experience through such mechanisms as improvements to the wiki editing experience and development of new functionality enabling editors to self-organize more easily, the funding and support of face-to-face meet-ups, and development of various rewards, incentives and supports for editors;
  • Develop and execute a strategy for recruiting new editors including improving the new editor experience and making it easier for people to try their first edit; enabling a default experience for new editors that provides shelter, guidance and aids acculturation; working on creating mentorship roles and encouraging experienced editors to support new ones; developing support kits and tools for outreach work carried out by volunteers;
  • Conduct focused outreach to recruit editors who can bring new expertise to the editing community (e.g., academics);
  • Conduct focused outreach to recruit editors and accelerate community development and readership in high-priority geographies, including the design and deployment of on-the-ground staff teams and a managerial structure supervising the work and cross-pollinating learning from it;
  • Develop quantitative and qualitative means for measuring engagement of readers and prospects, including questionnaires and server log analysis; use the results to drive resources dedicated to improving the reader experience;
  • Develop Wikimedia's value proposition and comprehensive communications materials supporting it, with particular reference to the differing needs of current and prospective readers and editors; ensure that all Wikimedia leaders are equipped to represent the movement publicly.


  • The Program department, led by the Chief Global Program Officer, functions as the central coordinating point inside the Wikimedia Foundation for assembling, organizing, enhancing and sharing knowledge related to Wikimedia’s community policies, procedures and practices;
  • In collaboration with other members of the management team and leaders in the Wikimedia movement, continue to evolve the knowledge base and practices that enable Wikimedia staff, projects and communities to function; navigate an appropriate balance between consistency through structure, and freedom to organize and conduct work in a self-organized fashion;
  • In collaboration with other members of the management team and leaders in the Wikimedia movement, support the continued emergence and refinement of structures and systems and individual volunteer roles supporting the Wikimedia movement, including by providing facilitation and training where necessary e.g., refined or new roles for chapters, mentors for new editors, spokespeople, “customer service” representatives, and other roles.

Ideal Experience

Candidates should have the following type of experience and qualifications:

  • A record of success building online communities focused on collaborative creation of educational or informational materials in the public interest;
  • Experience in mission-driven ventures, particularly relating to sharing knowledge and developing new intelligence through collaboration; comfort and experience in a technology-driven environment; experience working with or managing large scale online communities, with a focus on volunteerism, from the commercial or non-commercial space (e.g. Ubuntu, Mozilla, OpenStreetMap, Yahoo! Answers,, Yelp);
  • A track record as an exceptional communicator, in writing as well as verbally; experience preparing and making effective presentations to diverse groups large and small with different interests and priorities;
  • International experience and an understanding of diverse cultures, linguistic groups, political/religious affiliations and philosophies is desirable;
  • Demonstrated skills in engaging, motivating, coordinating and supporting communities, and in managing the sometimes chaotic and quasi-anarchic nature of free-thinking communities is important.


The successful candidate should be:

  • A mission-driven individual with an understanding of, belief in and commitment to the societal benefits of freely-available information and of the free/libre open source software movement; a passion for how these principles are important in the development of civil societies; an ability to communicate that passion;
  • An independent and open-minded individual who values and appreciates diversity, input and collaboration from various constituencies; has the ability to make unpopular decisions when necessary and explain them;
  • A charismatic communicator, both in writing and speaking, and particularly able to triangulate amongst the various interests of a highly diverse community; an ability to be a public face of an organization with a great sensitivity to how diverse audiences might interpret what is said;
  • An inveterate listener and explainer; comfortable receiving input from many sources, and able to act on information to develop increased support for Wikimedia programs and for the organization as a whole;
  • A strong manager who will advocate for the program team and its needs; a hard worker with a high energy level; a “doer” with a willingness to work hands-on with other staff, community members and members of the management team;
  • Emotionally mature and self-reliant; someone who will thrive working in a small but growing team; an ability to tolerate a high degree of ambiguity, and to negotiate with people having sharply defined opinions while maintaining positive, respectful relationships;
  • Someone with a sense of humor.

About the Wikimedia Foundation