In many countries and contexts around the world, the simple act of sharing knowledge freely online is challenging. This act, an expression of the rights to freedom of expression and to reliable information, can also be threatened by weak—or entirely hostile—public policy environments.
The Wikimedia Foundation’s Global Advocacy team exists to help the Foundation, affiliates, and volunteers safeguard the free knowledge movement by advocating for public policies that promote and support access to knowledge. This team works to realize the Foundation’s vision of a world where everyone, everywhere, can safely create and share knowledge without fear of consequence or barriers to access.
The world we want requires public policies, laws and regulations that protect and support free knowledge. This is why the Foundation and the broader Wikimedia community engage in advocacy and public policy work. Our team works with the communities because policy change is most successful when informed by people who are directly impacted, and because we are stronger when we combine our capacities and expertise. Together, we stand for policies that support and protect Wikimedia’s model, its people, and its values.
The Global Advocacy team has grown in this past year in order to constructively shape rising government regulation and proactively respond to the threat of online disinformation. We’re excited to introduce what we do, how we do it, and who our team members are.
What we do—and how we do it
To champion and and advance free knowledge around the world, we:
- Protect the model of volunteer-led governance of Wikimedia’s free knowledge projects by promoting access to knowledge and free expression, modern copyright rules for the digital age, and strong intermediary protections.
- Protect the people in our communities by advocating for robust privacy rights and taking action against mass surveillance.
- Protect the values of the Wikimedia movement, leading by example in defending the human rights of people who interact with Wikimedia projects and taking action to counter disinformation.
Every day is different. Many laws, policies, and practices impact the Wikimedia projects and broader Wikimedia movement, so we have to monitor, analyze, and provide input on these to different stakeholders in our shared online information ecosystem. We carry out a wide range of activities, which include: representing Wikimedia in conversations with government and intergovernmental bodies; working with industry and civil society coalitions; conducting research about effective regulation; and, working with community leaders to address their policy concerns.
You can read our FAQ if you want to learn more about how we prioritize issues, with whom we work as allies on these, or how you can get more involved and participate in our efforts. For concrete examples of what we do to advocate for free knowledge, you can read our monthly retrospective, “Don’t Blink,” on Diff. You can also stay up-to-date with our activities by following us on Twitter or joining our mailing list. And if you want to get in touch, please send us an email to email@example.com.
Who we are
We’re excited to introduce our members—a mix of regional policy and human rights, anti-disinformation, communications, and community-organizing experts.
Rebecca MacKinnon (She/Her)
Vice President of Global Advocacy
Rebecca is an experienced advocate for privacy rights and media freedom, who has had a long career in journalism, academia, and public policy. As the Foundation’s first-ever Vice President for Global Advocacy, she provides strategic leadership and direction on advocacy to promote and defend a legal and regulatory landscape essential to the future of free knowledge globally. Rebecca draws on her rich experience leading and launching organizations such as Ranking Digital Rights, Global Voices, and the Hong Kong chapter of Creative Commons, as well as her expertise as an internet freedom scholar (see her book, Consent of the Networked) and CNN Bureau Chief in Beijing and Tokyo. She has been a champion of the free knowledge movement throughout her career and even served on the Wikimedia Advisory Board from 2007–2012. You can learn more about Rebecca from her hiring announcement.
Jan Gerlach (He/Him)
Director of Public Policy
Jan has been at the Wikimedia Foundation since 2015: he was the Foundation’s first-ever public policy hire. He leads our work to educate lawmakers and governments around the world about positive internet policy that promotes and protects Wikipedia and participation in free knowledge. Jan supports our group of regional and advocacy specialists who engage with policymakers, the Wikimedia community, and other stakeholders. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jan was the Executive Manager of the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St.Gallen (Switzerland) and spent time as a Visiting Researcher at the Berkeley Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. In his own words: “I am very interested in all aspects of the Internet and how we can make it a better place for the benefit of society.” Outside of work, Jan is passionate about music, sailing, surfing, and snowboarding.
Allison Davenport (She/Her)
Manager of Public Policy Analysis and Research
Allison joined the Foundation as a Legal Fellow and quickly fell in love with the broader movement and values behind Wikipedia. She now leads policy research at the Foundation and oversees academic fellowships. Allison develops value-based public policy positions in collaboration with other Foundation departments and advises the Global Advocacy team on policy strategy. Her work encompasses a range of domestic and global policy issues related to copyright, intermediary liability, freedom of expression, and more. In these roles, Allison is able to build on her previous experience as a researcher at Authors Alliance, a Berkeley-based nonprofit, doing policy work related to fair use and rights reversion, and at University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. Allison enjoys being in nature, consuming and creating stories, and spending time with her rescue cat.
Katherine (Kat) Gatewood (She/Her)
Senior Operations Manager
Kat leads the Global Advocacy team’s strategy and operations. She builds and supports systems and processes, and drives strategic planning to help the team in their work to promote and protect Wikipedia and participation in free knowledge. She helps refine how the team collaborates across the Foundation and with external partners, manages communications, and leads project management for the team’s campaigns and initiatives. Kat spent the last 15 years building and leading global nonprofits in Director of Operations and Chief Operating Officer roles for social change organizations focused on tech, journalism, government accountability, and human rights. Kat loves figuring out what teams need to make their visions happen, exploring tiny concert venues, and snail mail. Life goals include thru-hiking the Grand Canyon and finishing the Saturday NY Times crossword without cheating. She’s also a professionally trained pastry cook.
Richard (Ricky) Gaines (He/Him)
Senior Human Rights Advocacy Manager
Ricky advances the Foundation’s values and policy positions around freedom of expression, access to knowledge, privacy, and censorship online while defending knowledge as a human right. He also drives the implementation of the Human Rights Policy, including coordinating human rights impact assessments across Wikimedia projects. Ricky joined the Foundation after building a career in human rights. At the United States Department of State, he led a portfolio of foreign assistance programs and contributed to foreign policy initiatives to protect and uphold human rights throughout Latin America. At Delta Air Lines he used this experience to manage international security programs including the company’s participation in the resettlement of Afghan evacuees in August 2021. Ricky speaks English and Spanish fluently, and in addition to what he calls “all of this work stuff”, he also cares for his lovely rescue pets.
Costanza Sciubbia Caniglia (She/Her)
Anti-Disinformation Strategy Lead
As the Foundation’s Anti-Disinformation Strategy Lead, Costanza ensures that Wikimedia projects and members of the Wikimedia movement are protected against manipulated information, and that Wikimedia’s model is widely understood. Working together with communities and multiple teams at the Foundation, she expands our understanding of the issue and identifies the best ways to protect the Wikimedia model and values against disinformation and misguided regulation. Costanza comes to the Foundation with a background in diplomacy and public information at the United Nations, including as a spokesperson for Italy on the United Nations (UN) Security Council and as a UN Public Information officer. She has worked in disinformation research at Harvard University and in media analysis, including as an Election Observer for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Miguelángel (Miguel) Verde Garrido (He/Him)
As Senior Editor for the Global Advocacy team, Miguel shapes and leads the team’s efforts to communicate in a clear, accurate, and compelling manner. He manages the editorial process for written products from concept development to sign-off, and collaborates with the Communications department on communications campaigns and projects. Miguel’s expertise comes from an academic career in global politics and international relations (Dr. rer. pol., Freie Universität Berlin), political philosophy and political science (MA, Kyoto University), and philosophy (BA, Universidad Católica Andrés Bello). His research mostly focuses on how contemporary information and communication technologies impact, limit, and empower the political and digital agency of civil societies at the global and local scale. Prior to the Foundation, Miguel has worked with policy think tanks, nonprofit organizations, and university research projects, published peer-review articles and book chapters, and edited collected volumes.
Lead Public Policy Specialist for Asia
The Global Advocacy team has an expert on public policy for Asia. They work with allied organizations and community members across the region to keep a pulse on country-specific issues related to free knowledge.
Kate Ruane (She/Her)
Lead Public Policy Specialist for the United States of America
Kate works to shape United States (US) public policy in ways that protect, preserve, and benefit Wikimedia projects and the free exchange of knowledge online. As Lead Public Policy Specialist for the US, Kate spearheads efforts to create and defend a public policy environment within the US that allows the Wikimedia Foundation’s projects to thrive and grow and advances our broader values of protecting free expression, sharing free knowledge, and safeguarding privacy. In that capacity, she has led the Foundation’s successful advocacy to secure a general license for the provision of internet services in Russia during that country’s war with Ukraine, fought against harmful amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and pushed for the creation of strong consumer privacy protections by the US federal government.
Amalia Toledo (She/Her)
Lead Public Policy Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean
Amalia works on public policy issues and advocacy campaigns related to digital rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has dedicated her career to examining how technology developments and policies affect the realization of human rights and gender equality. She has honed her skills in advocacy and research project coordination roles for nonprofit and international organizations, helping to build programs that seek to advance gender equality, promote freedom of expression, and protect high-risk groups such as journalists and human rights defenders. Her career has focused on human rights, gender and social justice. Originally from Puerto Rico, she enjoys learning about and experiencing different cultures. She has lived in Argentina, Chile, Spain, Jordan, and Colombia.
Franziska (Ziski) Putz (She/Her)
Movement Advocacy Manager
Ziski is responsible for organizing and activating the Wikimedia community to advocate for a policy environment that supports and protects free knowledge. She leads the team’s collaboration and engagement with the Wikimedia movement via a variety of initiatives that include: Co-designing advocacy campaigns, launching learning exchange programmes, and organizing conversation hours. She collaborates closely with teams like Communications, Research, and Community Resources. From her experience as a digital-rights activist, anti-surveillance researcher, and policy consultant on emerging technologies in international development contexts, Ziski is convinced that those directly impacted best understand their own local context and needs. She works to bring this grassroots energy and co-design approach to the free knowledge movement’s policy initiatives.
Aly Marino (They/Them)
Fellow, Technology Law & Policy
Aly joined the Wikimedia Foundation in 2022 as a Technology Law & Policy Fellow. They work on domestic and global policy issues related to free knowledge, free expression, and intermediary liability. Aly also supports the work of the lead public policy specialists and Global Advocacy team. Aly joined the Foundation in 2022 after completing their J.D. at Brooklyn Law School and working for the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. Previously, they spent over seven years at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office working on some of the office’s most high-profile and consequential investigations and trials, including People v. Weinstein. Aly also brings years of experience in strategic communications, legislative affairs, and policy advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels. In their spare time, Aly advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community, survivors of sexual violence, and disabled law students and legal professionals. Aly lives in Brooklyn, NY, USA, and is a cat-parent.
Valentina Vera Quiroz (She/Her)
Human Rights, Policy, and Tech Fellow
Valentina is a lawyer with a Masters in Law (LL.M.) from Harvard Law School. She supports the Legal and Global Advocacy teams on human rights due diligence, public policy on disinformation, and privacy laws. She has established a career advocating for freedom of expression as a lawyer and researcher. Valentina has conducted research for the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, Global Voices, Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression, and the Foundation for Press Freedom. In the legal field, she has clerked at the Constitutional Court and the Transitional Justice Tribunal in Colombia, and has lectured in Public International Law at the University of Los Andes. Valentina is interested in studying how the law should treat the efforts of social movements to bring the issue of collective remembrance into the digital realm.
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