a national executive search firm

Chief Communications Officer

Wikimedia Foundation
San Francisco, CA, United States

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that hosts Wikipedia and its sister projects, is excited to announce the search for a Chief Communications Officer (CCO), to be based out of its headquarters in San Francisco. Reporting to the Executive Director, the CCO will be responsible for the development and leadership of senior level communications strategies that are consistent with the Wikimedia vision and core values.

A clear thinker, speaker and writer, the CCO will act with strategic insight and sound judgment to lead a four-person team and external support agency in the development and distribution of materials supporting the foundation’s strategic objectives. S/he will employ a wide range of tools and tactics to ensure information reaches target audiences with measurable impact.

The Wikimedia Foundation is a highly open and transparent organization operating in the context of a decentralized global network of volunteers. The purpose of the CCO role is to ensure a fast, easy flow of information in multiple languages, both internally within the Wikimedia movement and externally with the press, readers, donors and others. You can read about the Wikimedia Foundation’s guiding principles here: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Wikimedia_Foundation_Guiding_Principles

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual education material. We operate some of the largest collaboratively-created reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, the world’s fifth most-popular website. Our projects include more than 29 million volunteer-authored articles in more than 285 languages. Combined, they represent the largest collection of shared knowledge in human history, built and edited by millions of people.

The Wikimedia Foundation, with a staff of about 180, sustains and supports that global volunteer community by providing the technical and managerial infrastructure and tools needed to continue their contributions. The Wikimedia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization.

Communications Strategy – As a member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s senior team, develop and execute a forward-looking, comprehensive communications strategy. Provide perspective and guidance on current and emerging opportunities and challenges that influence the WMF’s ability to fulfill its mission and meet its goals. Develop and execute plans supporting high-priority initiatives.

Media Relations and Issues Management –The Wikimedia Foundation gets a lot of press interest, which it handles itself and also through a global network of chapter and volunteer spokespeople. In general, and unusually for an organization representing a famous brand, we tend to speak freely rather than aiming to control or restrict access to information about us. The CCO will maintain relationships with top-tier global media to increase media coverage of our priority initiatives and to respond to inquiries. Responsible for overseeing the media list and developing tracking mechanisms to chart progress of WMF initiatives and campaigns. Responsible for the drafting and editing of statements, FAQs and other media materials, as well as working with team members and partner agencies to ensure widespread distribution and follow-through. Serves as a public spokesperson for the WMF as needed. Equips other spokespeople, including volunteers, with media training, coaching and staffing. Ensures that Wikipedia and WMF founder Jimmy Wales is appropriately advised and supported.

In addition, responsible for ensuring information-sharing and mutual support of WMF communications staff and our diverse global community of chapter and volunteer spokespeople, on mailing lists and wikis. This includes media monitoring and sharing of stories and trends, soliciting input on draft planning, sharing background materials, developing key messages and coaching volunteers in how to respond to specific inquiries. Occasionally this will involve issues and crisis management, including the quick assimilation of large volumes of complex material and speedy development and execution of plans.

Internal Movement Communications – An important part of the CCO role is to ensure the Communications department acts as a central clearing house supporting the free flow of information in multiple languages from the WMF to community members, and from community members to each other and to the general public. This includes overseeing and guiding the work of staff and volunteers in the development and publishing of reports (including the WMF monthly activities reporting) and blog posts, the management of social media, and the facilitation of translation work. For the organization as a whole and particularly Finance, support timely publishing of plans, statements, reports and accompanying FAQs that uphold the WMF’s commitment to transparency, accountability and openness.

Branding – Oversee brand positioning and brand management, including on the WMF website and social media, in WMF recruiting collateral, in marketing and other materials developed by partner organizations, in guiding design and display decisions supporting a vibrant, creative office environment and in fundraising materials. For the Fundraising department, oversee design and production of the annual report and support development of other collateral materials. Support Legal and other departments in handling inquiries and requests related to the brands administered and protected by the WMF.

Leading staff – Manage, guide and coach communications team members and ensure the team is structured and resourced to accommodate the needs of the WMF.

We are looking for a senior-level strategic thinker with significant experience navigating complex international organizations, movements or networks. The successful candidate may well have handled communications for organizations involved in advocacy work, social movements, organizing, journalism or politics. He or she will have a track record of building consensus among large dispersed stakeholder groups and will have existing relationships with key members of the global media. This role requires political deftness, intellectual curiosity and a deep passion for the WMF mission.

Qualified candidates should have:
o A minimum of 10 years of strategic-level communications experience working in global organizations or movements;
o A clear, effective communications style, both verbally and in text;
o Experience speaking on the record for major organizations, political candidates or movements;
o Experience with the internet industry including comfort with concepts and vocabulary related to product development and engineering;
o Familiarity with internet-related issues such as laws limiting freedom of expression online and censorship technologies, open culture/free culture, the free and open source software movement, and online surveillance, privacy and security;
o Significant skilled personal use of communications technologies including social media, mailing lists, IRC and wikis;
o Ability to quickly absorb and understand large volumes of complex information;
o A strong track record of effectively partnering with thought leaders and executives;
o The ability to work in a fast-moving, highly-diverse grassroots environment, while effectively prioritizing and leading a variety of activities;
o Languages in addition to English are a plus;
o Having lived or worked outside your country of origin is a plus;
o Experience in the Wikimedia movement is a plus;
o Bachelor’s degree or equivalent with strong academic results.
o Advanced degree in communications, public relations, international relations or a related field is preferred.

The Wikimedia Foundation commits itself to the principles of equal opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of ethnic origin, nationality, religion, political perspective, sex, age, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation. We value international experience and fluency in languages in addition to English.

Qualified candidates should send resume and supporting materials* to Amy Segelin (amy@chaloner.com) and Kassie Wilner (kassie@chaloner.com). If you are a Wikimedia community member please note that in your cover letter since it’s a plus for us.

*Supporting materials may include original written work developed for professional purposes, links to online projects, blogs, community involvement etc. A writing or presentation exercise will be given to finalist candidates.