The start of Volunteer Appreciation Week in the US (April 19 to 25, 2009) seemed an auspicious time for me to introduce myself to the amazing community of Wikimedia volunteers! I started last week in the new position of Chief Program Officer for the Wikimedia Foundation and have received such a wonderful warm welcome. Thank you!

Every minute of every day so far I have been awed by the people behind all the great and nearly innumerable activities going on! My background is in management of volunteer-driven programs. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Central and West Africa, I became passionate about volunteer programs being the answer for long-term sustainable change that is most needed and most appropriate for the beneficiaries they serve.

I also had the chance to see first-hand how access to information, or lack of access could profoundly affect individuals, communities and whole societies. My work at the Wikimedia Foundation will be to help support the volunteer community in achieving their mission. I aim to help strengthen the volunteer support structure, to help provide materials and skill building opportunities for current and potential Wikipedians, and to facilitate the exploration of new projects and strategies to increase participation as well as the quality and reach of our content. I look forward to getting to know more individuals as I advance along this adventure!

Jennifer Riggs, Chief Program Officer