User:Sue Gardner

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Sue Gardner
Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
"The Wikimedia movement asks you to imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. My job is to move us closer to that goal, every single day."
Sue Gardner, Executive Director

About me

I'm the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. I've been working at the Foundation since June 2007 - first in St. Petersburg, Florida, and now in San Francisco, California.

I'm a Canadian citizen, born in Barbados. I was raised by a family that believed in public service - my parents taught me it's everybody's job to try to make the world a better place. I studied journalism because I thought the most important thing I could do with my life was give people access to honest, accurate, useful information. I think journalism's valuable because at its best it's scrappy and blunt and stands up for ordinary people.

In 1990, I started work as a producer with CBC Radio's As It Happens, and then spent about 15 years as a writer, producer and documentary-maker, mainly out of Toronto, Canada's east coast, and New York. Before joining the Wikimedia Foundation I ran CBC.CA, the news site of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Ten years into my career the internet was coming into general use, and it was starting to be much easier for people to share information directly with each other. I found that incredibly exciting -- it meant that a lot of the systemic biases and inefficiencies and brokenness that were inherent to the journalism/communications industry could be eliminated, with the result being that the public interest overall could be radically better served. That's what drew me to the Wikimedia Foundation, where I work today.

I've lived in Canada and the United States as well as briefly in Barbados and Bermuda, and have visited 43 countries including every continent except Antarctica.

I can read simple text in French and Spanish, slowly and imperfectly, but I am only fluent in English. I use Google Translate to support me in understanding and communicating with non-English-speaking Wikimedians, but I very much appreciate when people are able to correspond with me in English.

My work

As Executive Director, I'm responsible for overseeing the operations of the Wikimedia Foundation. I report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. I work with the Board to create our strategy and align resources in support of it; I set the Wikimedia Foundation's agenda, goals and targets including creating the annual plan; ensure our work is in line with the movement's values and culture, is efficient and effective and that we have good controls; oversee all fundraising and donor management activities; ensure transparency and accountability; and represent the organization as its public face including with the media and a wide array of stakeholders. You can read my full job description on the Wikimedia Foundation site.

During my time as Executive Director, we've increased annual donations to the Wikimedia Foundation from about 2.7 million dollars annually (2006-07) to more than 30 million dollars annually (2011-12). In 2010, a Charity Navigator analysis named the Wikimedia Foundation the fastest-growing U.S.-based non-profit, as measured by revenue increase. In 2009, I was named by the Huffington Post as its "media game changer" of the year. In 2010, the Wikimedia Foundation ran a year-long collaborative and transparent strategy development process --the first of its kind ever, anywhere-- in which more than 1,000 people came together online to develop a strategic plan for the Wikimedia movement. That plan shifts Wikimedia's emphasis from the Global North to be more inclusive of the Global South, and resulted in a number of projects aimed at recruiting new people to help write the projects. Since 2007, I have grown the staff of the Wikimedia Foundation from 10 people to about 100: this has enabled us to make the Wikimedia sites more stable and responsive, to add functionality better supporting readers and editors, and to support growth in readership to nearly a half-billion readers monthly, making the Wikimedia projects the fifth most-popular web property in the world.

I edit on multiple wikis: the English Wikipedia, Foundation, Meta, Internal, Strategy, and others. My edits are mostly publishing information about the Wikimedia Foundation for editors to read (like this, or this), or talking with editors (like here, or here). I also often lead or facilitate on-wiki consultation processes such as this one in 2011, when the Board asked me to develop recommendations for it related to movement fundraising and funds dissemination.

Like lots of people, I edited Wikipedia for several years before registering, mostly fixing typos and small mistakes. I first registered in 2007, and in the years since then, I've begun to edit more frequently and deliberately.
Disclaimer: Although I work for the Wikimedia Foundation, contributions under this account do not necessarily represent the actions or views of the Foundation unless expressly stated otherwise. For example, edits to articles or uploads of other media are done in my individual, personal capacity unless otherwise stated.

Contact me

  • E-mail: sue@wikimedia.org
  • In the office at (415) 839-6885
  • Skype username is susanpgardner
  • My username on the projects is Sue Gardner
  • Mailing address is Wikimedia Foundation, 149 New Montgomery Street, Third Floor, San Francisco CA 94105
  • My personal blog is http://www.suegardner.org
  • SuePGardner on Twitter
  • SueGardner on Identi.ca
  • LinkedIn profile
  • I'm on Facebook, Diaspora and Google+, and if you tell me you're a Wikimedian I'll be your friend :-)


Frequently Asked Questions[edit]

The information below is meant to give answers to the questions I'm most often asked. If you have a question that's not answered here, please ask it on my talk page, or e-mail me at sue@wikimedia.org. Thanks.

Do you edit the Wikimedia projects, and if so, do you have any special status? How are other editors supposed to treat your edits?
I do edit, mostly in the English Wikipedia, and my edits don't have any special status. When I edit, I am in no way acting as an official representative of the Wikimedia Foundation, and my edits should be treated like anyone else's.
I have a question or a comment about Wikipedia. Where can I send it?
Please send it to info-en@wikimedia.org. Mail sent to that address is handled by a global network of volunteers - the same people who write Wikipedia - and they will be happy to reply to you. Please note that if you have a concern about the article about you, your organization, or someone you know, it might be worth your while to read the Article Subjects FAQ first. And thank you for reading Wikipedia.
I am angry about an editorial dispute I'm having on one of the Wikimedia projects. Can you help me?
No, I'm sorry, I can't. The Wikimedia editorial community is responsible for resolving editorial disputes, and I don't (and shouldn't) get involved with those processes. I sometimes occasionally express an opinion on an editorial issue that interests me --- in those cases, I'm acting as an ordinary Wikipedian not as the ED of the Wikimedia Foundation, and my opinions should carry no special weight.
I would like to make a donation, or, I have a question about my donation.
If you are a Wikimedia donor or prospective donor, or if you have questions about our fundraising operations, first: thank you! You can send donation-related questions, comments and feedback to our fundraising team, at donate@wikimedia.org. Or, just go here to donate.
I'm a journalist, and would like to speak with you for a story I'm working on. Who do I contact?
Please e-mail Jay Walsh, who runs communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, at jwalsh@wikimedia.org.
Where can I send a speaking invitation?
Please send speaking invitations to The Lavin Agency, at info@thelavinagency.com or +1 800 265 4870. I have to turn down most requests because I'm too busy with other things to speak often. I'm most likely to speak at your event if it's large and/or the video will be made publicly available afterwards, and if the audience is people Wikimedia is hoping to attract as editors or partners (for example, people in the educational space, women, people in high-priority geographies like India, Brazil and MENA). If you're a Wikimedian, you don't need to go through Lavin. In that case, it's probably fastest for you to just write me and my assistant Joslyn Lewis (jlewis@wikimedia.org).
Do you provide reference-type letters for Wikimedians?
Yes, definitely. If you want a reference letter, please just ask whoever you know best on the staff: we are all happy to provide reference letters. If you want one from me, please mail me or Joslyn. If you don't know anybody on the staff personally, please e-mail the Legal and Community Advocacy Department -- for example, you could try Philippe Beaudette at pbeaudette@wikimedia.org or Maggie Dennis at mdennis@wikimedia.org. Please note I don't do LinkedIn recommendations.
How can I find out about jobs at the Wikimedia Foundation?
All Wikimedia Foundation jobs are posted here.
I would like permission to reuse material from Wikipedia or one of the other Wikimedia projects.
You can reuse Wikipedia article text anywhere you like, without asking permission, as long as you adhere to the conditions of the license. Wikipedia's licensed under the Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA: go here to read a simple explanation of the CC-BY-SA license, or go here to read the full legal text. Wikipedia has some good information about free licenses too: here are the articles on copyleft, Creative Commons, the Free Software Foundation and free content. If you want to use the Wikipedia trademark, please read our trademark policy.
I would like to send you a proposal.
If you're considering sending a proposal, please do some research first: you can start here, here and here. You can send business proposals to Kul Takanao Wadhwa at kul@wikimedia.org, and proposals offering technical services or products to CT Woo at ctwoo@wikimedia.org. Please be aware that we get lots of proposals and most of them are rooted in a pretty poor understanding of who we are and what we do: if you don't get a response to yours, that may be why.
I want to talk with someone at the Wikimedia Foundation and don't know who to contact.
First you should probably think about whether you actually need someone from the Wikimedia Foundation. The Wikimedia movement is much larger than just the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikimedia Foundation isn't a central hub that touches everything the movement does: there are lots of important activities that are run by volunteers, or by other organizations. Some places you can get started: here is a massive list of subject-specific mailing lists. If you're interested in helping out with MediaWiki or other aspects of our technical infrastructure, go here or here, take a look at our code repository or find us on IRC on #mediawiki and #wikimedia-dev on irc.freenode.net. Here is a place where new editors can get advice and support. Here is where people interested in recruiting and supporting new editors congregate. Researchers interested in the Wikimedia projects gather here. If you are pretty convinced you need a Wikimedia Foundation person, you can go here to find out more about them. You may be able to reach individual staff members at scheduled office hours on IRC.
I tried to reach the Wikimedia Foundation by phone and it was really hard to navigate.
Yeah, I am sorry about that. It's true: we have deliberately set up the phone system so it's hard to reach a human being. Really, we had no choice: we were finding ourselves having a lot of very long calls, many with people who didn't really understand who they were phoning. (Example: somebody reading the article about the Guinness Book of World Records thought that by phoning us, they were reaching Guinness.) We are much easier to reach through e-mail, chat or IRC, than by the phone.
I am a member of the Wikimedia community, and I would like to complain about something the Wikimedia Foundation has done or is doing.
In general, I sympathize. Many community members have dedicated considerable time & energy to the projects and they feel a strong sense of ownership/investment in what happens to them. That said, the people involved with the Wikimedia movement are both numerous and diverse --- everything the Wikimedia Foundation does is going to please some of them, while leaving others unhappy. And of course, sometimes the Wikimedia Foundation will just plain make a mistake. If you send me mail or post on my talkpage to tell me you're unhappy with something the Wikimedia Foundation's doing, I will read what you wrote, and I may or may not reply. Please don't ask me to investigate or intervene to change a decision a staff member has made: I'm not saying definitively that I would never do that, but it's fairly unlikely that I would.
Can I get an official photo?
Here's my official photo.
Can I get your official biography?
Yes, it's below. Please note this version may not be up-to-date. If you need a bio that's guaranteed to be current, please contact my assistant, Joslyn Lewis at jlewis@wikimedia.org.
Sue Gardner is the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the world's largest and most-popular encyclopedia, containing more than 20 million collaboratively-created, volunteer-authored articles in over 280 languages. It is used by more than 476 million people every month, making it the number five most-popular website in the world.

In her first year with the Wikimedia Foundation, Gardner more than doubled donations, and a 2010 Charity Navigator analysis named the Wikimedia Foundation the fastest-growing U.S.-based non-profit, as measured by revenue increase. Since Gardner joined the Wikimedia Foundation in the summer of 2007, Wikipedia and its sister projects have doubled their global readership, making them now the world's fifth most-popular web property. She has relocated the organization to San Francisco, more than tripled its annual revenues and instituted ambitious new programming goals to increase reach, quality and participation. In 2009, Gardner was named by the Huffington Post as its "media game changer" of the year. In 2010, she wrapped up a year-long collaborative and transparent strategy development process --the first of its kind ever, anywhere-- in which more than 1,000 people came together online to develop a strategic plan for the Wikimedia movement. That plan shifts Wikimedia's emphasis from the Global North to the Global South, and aims to recruit new people to help write Wikipedia. It is now being implemented.

Gardner, a seasoned journalist, was formerly head of CBC.CA, the website for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, one of Canada's most prominent and best-loved cultural institutions. Under her leadership, CBC.CA won many international awards for excellence, and grew to become Canada's most popular news site. Gardner started her career in 1990 as a producer with CBC's “As It Happens,” an internationally-recognized groundbreaking news and current events radio program. She has since worked in radio, television, newspapers, magazines and online.

What is the Executive Director's Barnstar?
I started giving out the Executive Director's Barnstar in September 2011. Its purpose is to recognize, celebrate and thank Wikimedians who are making a significant contribution to the projects. Barnstars have a long tradition on the Wikimedia projects: for many years, editors have each other awarded barnstars for the purposes of praising and thanking, and as a way to spread joy and love throughout the projects. I am happy to be part of that. The work that editors do is important --it's making the world a better place for hundreds of millions of people-- and I want to support and celebrate it.
The Executive Director's Barnstar was designed for me by my colleague Frank Schulenburg: thank you, Frank. You can nominate people to receive it by leaving a message on my talk page on the English Wikipedia or on Meta-Wiki. I sometimes give it out to promising new editors, and sometimes to people who have been making a significant contribution for many years. I am always particularly happy to receive nominations for Wikimedians working in languages other than English because, since I only speak English and am mostly active on English-using wikis, all non-English work is less visible to me. I am also very happy to give the barnstar to people who are known as the founder of their language-version, or who played a key role in their project's early days. I'd also like to give it to young editors as well: I know there are lots of people under 14 doing excellent work in the projects, and I'd love to acknowledge them. I try not to give the award out to people I know well personally, despite the fact that I know lots of deserving people.
I think this FAQ could be better, and I would like to make a small edit to it. (Such as updating a fact, fixing a typo or adding a little more information.)
Please do! If you think your edit might be controversial, you can raise it on my talkpage first. But I encourage you to be bold: if you think it's probably a good edit, I will likely agree with you :-)

Topics That Interest Me (as an editor)[edit]

As a journalist I covered a wide range of stories --everything from the economy to sports to politics to entertainment-- tending to specialize in social issues, race and women's issues, and the social implications of technology and popular culture. Like all journalists, I am generally pretty curious, and I know a little about a lot of things. I am definitely not an expert in any of these topics, but here is some of what interests me:

  • History of media, especially in Canada, UK, United States, especially public broadcasting
  • Canadian history, Canadian culture, especially modern literature, film, music, TV
  • Women's history and the history of feminist movements
  • Biographies of prominent/interesting women of all types
  • Biographies of well-known journalists and media personalities
  • Technology and gender, social implications of technology
  • Urban planning, history of cities, history of public housing, new urbanism, gated communities, slums
  • Organizational culture, organizational development, organizational theory, governance, psychology of incentives
  • Social movements, especially political, counterculture, youth (beatniks, skinheads, hippies)
  • Alternative community structures / intentional communities (e.g., communes, kibbutzes, housing co-ops)
  • Typography, informational graphic design, data visualization, maps, wayfinding
  • Behavioural economics, behavioural psychology, psychology of judgment and decision-making
  • Usability, accessibility and ergonomics in interface design and product design
  • Mid-century modern architecture and design, especially Scandinavian, especially Danish furniture and silver
  • Post-1975 history of Cambodia
  • History of Easter Island
  • Post-1960 Canadian poetry
  • Fiction and literature, especially modern, female, British, science fiction.

Articles I will work on when I have time[edit]

(This is just a notation to remind myself.)

Handbag
Golden Gate Park#Chronic homeless encampments
My userpage on Meta