At Berlin conference, affiliates, staff, and board work side by side

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Photo by Jeff Elder, public domain/CC0.
Wikimedia Foundation interim Executive Director Katherine Maher, community member Reda Benkhadra, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in April in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Jeff Elder, public domain/CC0.

Reda Benkhadra, 17, traveled from Morocco to Germany in April, where he stood side by side with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Wikimedia Foundation interim Executive Director Katherine Maher.
At the Wikimedia Conference, community members like Reda (an editor since age 13), board members like Jimmy, and Foundation staff like Katherine were all Wikimedians working together on the future of the movement.
Foundation staff joined nearly 100 recognized and active movement affiliates from around the world for the annual conference, hosted by Wikimedia Deutschland (Germany). Together they discussed building communications within the movement, and growing to reach new audiences outside Wikimedia’s current reach.
Nearly the entire Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees attended, and met to discuss the search for a permanent Executive Director, the vacancies on the Board, and the Foundation’s plans for the upcoming year. The Trustees in attendance also hosted a question-and-answer session, and discussed with community members how the Foundation can better support affiliates.
Photo by Jason Krüger, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Photo by Jason Krüger, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Affiliations Committee, comprised of volunteers and Foundation advisors, held their annual meeting, led a discussion with affiliates, and met with the interim Executive Director. Members of the Funds Dissemination Committee, volunteers who work with the Foundation’s largest grants, collected feedback on the Foundation’s annual plan—which was recently submitted to their committee for review.
The Foundation’s interim Executive Director, Katherine Maher, attended the Board meeting and main conference. Katherine hosted a question-and-answer session with members of the Foundation’s leadership team, and led a presentation on the Foundation’s strategy process and annual plan. She met with executive directors and staff of Wikimedia movement affiliates, and community members from around the world.
“Sitting with community members from around the world is one of my favorite ways to spend time,” said Katherine. “We discuss, debate, listen, and plan for our shared future. We connect on our shared values and learn from our different cultures and contexts. And we play Wikidojo, which is definitely an experience worth scaling!”
With the support and cooperation of several community members, the Foundation’s Program Capacity and Learning team and the Community Resources team led two “learning days” prior to the conference attended by 51 affiliates. The group learned about designing effective programs, engaging volunteers, communicating about movement work and impact, “and ways to bring their new knowledge back home,” said senior strategist Jaime Anstee, who organized the learning days. The CE department staff also led sessions on community listening, the grants program restructuring, outcome mapping, and a review and retrospective on global metrics during the main conference. “The pre-conference learning days were really helpful,” said Edgar Rosero Villacís from the Wikimedistas de Ecuador user group. They “let us see ourselves in a new perspective and be more bold about our own growth.”
The Foundation’s Community Tech team, part of the Product department, collaborated with Wikimedia Deutschland’s Technical Wishes team on a presentation about community-centered software development, “talking about what we’ve learned from the Community Wishlist process, answering questions, and getting feedback,” said product manager Danny Horn. The coworking was so productive that Danny and engineering manager Ryan Kaldari stayed in Berlin for two extra days, working with the Wikimedia Deutschland team on a project that ranked high on both the German wishlist and the Foundation’s international wishlist. They also held an in-depth discussion about Wikisource, answered technology questions for chapters, and learned more about GLAM needs.
The Communications department led sessions during the learning days and main program, and met with affiliates to help them better chronicle the work of Wikimedia’s volunteers. Communications staff introduced the Communications Resource Center, new efforts on social media including a new Facebook group for the community, and ongoing Wikipedia 15 efforts. The team met with affiliates about the New Readers research project, and the development of tools to support advocacy and public policy work by affiliates.
The Foundation’s Legal department answered questions about the department’s work and met with community members on policy issues such as the freedom of panorama. “What a great time to connect with dedicated community members taking the lead on so many exciting projects,” said Geoff Brigham, the Foundation’s general counsel.
Other Foundation teams also took part:

  • The Foundation’s Advancement team discussed with affiliates how to improve collaborations and communications, and how to pursue strategic partnerships with groups outside Wikimedia.
  • Members of the strategic partnerships team discussed the Wikipedia Zero program, and ways to expand the reach and diversity of Wikimedia projects.
  • The Resources team helped to lead the pre-conference learning days, led a variety of sessions at the conference, and met with numerous recipients of Foundation grants and committee members. They explained recent changes to the grants program, and collected feedback on conferences in Wikimedia.

Wikimedia Foundation leadership and staff wish to thank Wikimedia Deutschland for hosting a conference that provides so many opportunities to engage with the affiliates and community leaders on the important work they are doing.
Community member Pepe Flores agreed. “It’s always nice to meet new people from around the world, especially when they share the same passion for knowledge,” said the University of the Americas professor who works with Wikimedia Mexico. “It was so inspiring!”
You can engage in conversations with the Foundation during upcoming office hours with our interim Executive Director, and of course at this year’s Wikimania in Italy.
Jeff Elder, Digital Communications Manager
Gregory Varnum, Communications Strategist
Wikimedia Foundation

Photo by Jeff Elder, public domain/CC0.
The Wikimedia Foundation’s Zach McCune photographs Wikipedia volunteer editors in a park in Berlin during the conference. Photo by Jeff Elder, public domain/CC0.

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