About a year ago, Sue Gardner, chief of Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, announced her intention to step down. Today, it has been revealed that Lila Tretikov will be the new executive director.
Tretikov was a chief product officer at SugarCRM, where she’d worked since 2006. She will take on her new job starting on June 1, when Sue Gardner leaves the NGO.
“The Executive Director Transition Team, chaired by me, has unanimously recommended Lila to the Board to be our next ED, and the Board has unanimously approved the recommendation. We believe she will be an excellent leader in the Wikimedia movement. She strikes us all as smart, brave and unpretentious, and we believe she has the skills the Foundation needs,” the announcement reads.
Her first priority will be to immerse herself in understanding Wikimedia’s projects, since she hasn’t been an editor on the platform.
Tretikov is characterized by Wikimedia chairman Jan-Bart de Vreede as an exceptional leader with a passion for knowledge, a deep technical and product background, and highly collaborative approach.
He mentioned that he was impressed by her background in engineering and product development, as well as her experience with leading a high-growth organization.
“When I got the news, I thought, ‘This is big in every way: A big website -- the fifth most popular in the world. A big community -- 80,000 active Wikimedians from around the globe. And a big mission -- nothing less than making the sum of all human knowledge freely available to all.’ When I thought about why I wanted to take on a challenge this big, the answer was clear: Becoming a Wikimedian is an opportunity to be part of something bigger than ourselves,” the new exec said.
Sue Gardner, who has led Wikimedia Foundation for seven years, gave her nod of approval to Lila Tretikov. She explained that leading the NGO had a unique role in her life, that required an unusual mix of skills and capabilities.
That being said, Gardner believes Tretikov is the right choice for the job. “The Wikimedia Foundation needs a leader who is open and flexible and consultative, but who also knows when to stand firm and be brave, particularly against efforts to censor Wikipedia or intimidate Wikipedians. I believe Lila will be flexible where possible, but firm when necessary,” Gardner praised her successor.