Wikimedia hires Maher to fill chief comms role

Wikipedia operator the Wikimedia Foundation has hired Katherine Maher as CCO.

NEW YORK: Wikipedia operator the Wikimedia Foundation has hired Katherine Maher as CCO.

She started in the role on April 14, reporting to outgoing executive director Sue Gardner. As of June 1, Maher will report to incoming executive director Lila Tretikov.

Maher is responsible for internal and external communications for the organization and providing comms support to Wikimedia’s various departments and programs, as well as the organization as a whole.

She joined from Access, where she was advocacy director. Previously, she was ICT innovation consultant for The World Bank, ICT program officer for the National Democratic Institute, and innovation and communication officer for UNICEF. She has been a partner with private research and consulting firm Menapolis since June 2012, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Additionally, Maher was involved with the production of RightsCon, a conference that brings together key stakeholders and influential voices on the issue of an open Internet.

Maher was not immediately available for comment.

In January, Wikimedia began the process of restarting its communications function after numerous senior staffers, including global comms manager Matthew Ross, left the organization. In the interim, Geoff Brigham, general counsel and head of the legal and community advocacy team, led the comms unit until Maher was appointed. Brigham has resumed his main role as general counsel.

Last September, Jay Walsh stepped down from his role as communications head after almost six years to found a consultancy. He was contracted to work as an independent adviser and consultant to Brigham, and is now advising Maher for the "next few months," he told PRWeek.

Along with Maher, Brigham and the rest of the C-level team are closely working with Tretikov and Gardner.

"This was planned to be a leadership transition phase, and it was expected that the C-level team would work with both [Tretikov] and [Gardner] during the transition," said Walsh, who added that when Tretikov starts on June 1, they will all report to her.

The appointments come as the group is defining how PR pros can interact with the website amid challenges from firms like Wiki-PR that specialize in Wikipedia edits.

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