A farewell letter from Jay Walsh, Communications Director

Dear Wikimedia friends,

Staff portrait of Jay Walsh

I recently stepped down from my role as Senior Director, Communications at the Wikimedia Foundation. That was simultaneously a scary and exhilarating decision. I started working with the Wikimedia Foundation in January 2008, when, under Sue Gardner’s leadership, a handful of folks moved from St. Petersburg, Florida to the neighborhood we now call home in SoMa, San Francisco. This very blog was one of the first big projects I wanted to put into place, and I’m thrilled to see it has grown so much since then – over 1300 posts in dozens of languages, with contributions from members of our movement far and wide.

It’s been an incredible ride! From crazy press confusion and/or elation around our quirky medley of legal, free speech, technological, editorial issues and complexities, to the joys and triumphs of year after year of awe-inspiring fundraising, to launching incredible new features and products. We at the Foundation, and everyone in our movement, are at the helm of something unique and powerful. A one-of-a-kind non-profit, a truly mission-driven organization, powered by tens of thousands of passionate volunteers from every corner of the planet.

At the Foundation we all get to work on something(s) that will impact hundreds of millions of lives. It is such an incredible brand, and a seemingly (but we know it’s not!) impossible and crazy idea. It is wonderfully bigger than us all. It’s as big for us as it is for a 13 year old kid lost in some three hour scholastic kumite between Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds, hydrophobicity, ferromolybdenum, and Ep. 62 of BSG.

For many readers, our projects appear kind of static, but for those of us at the Foundation, we know different. They are made of, and exude, pure energy. It’s enriched uranium for humanity’s education. It’s what can make being part of all things Wikimedia simultaneously insane and awesome, but when we step back a few miles and take it all in, there’s nothing but amazement. Please keep remembering to step well back when trying to understand and fathom the greatness of it all.
I have expressed my appreciation and adoration already to my colleagues at the Foundation, but I also want to recognize everyone in the Wikimedia movement as well. Everyone is involved in telling the story of our projects, through your individual edits and collaboration, to the work you do to promote free knowledge and conduct outreach to new contributors around the world. More and more we want to put you, the incredible members of our community, at the center of the Foundation’s communications efforts – on the Wikimedia blog, in our publications, and in our media and social media outreach. I can’t imagine a better focus for all of those efforts.

I won’t completely leave the Foundation just yet. I continue to support the Foundation and the movement on a handful of projects that will keep me in touch through the end of 2013. Beyond that, it’s a work in progress. An amazing thing about working for the Wikimedia Foundation is that every other possible job in the universe looks a little bit smaller and a lot less exciting and wild.

You will be hearing more soon from the Foundation about a search for a new communications leadership position that will take the team forward. In the meantime, the communications team is handling all of the Foundation’s regular communications activities, telling our story, talking to the global press, and working to improve and expand the conversation with our global community.

My very best wishes to everyone in the Wikimedia movement as you continue to move bravely and boldly into the free knowledge future. I will be watching every step of the way as you continue to feed the world every possible piece of (notable!) knowledge. I will be ever lost in your pages, fattening up my brain, and thanking you for your endless efforts.

Jay W

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4 Comments on A farewell letter from Jay Walsh, Communications Director

Jan-Bart de Vreede 11 months

Dear Jay, I was hoping that you were fooling us yet again, but this seems more permanent somehow :) I am really happy that you were able to contribute so much for such a long time. You have been an integral part of the growth and succes that we have been able to accomplish over the past years, thank you so much for that!

Its crazy to think that our next board Q&A will be without you!

Regards

Jan-Bart

Paul 11 months

I know you people live in a bubble, but that you have sat while there has been such a distareous breakdown in trust between WMF and the en community sould at least temper your tone of your farwell, though I see, no. Its all good, we read here.

Part Deux 11 months

Anybody remember the last time Jay Walsh resigned? He was back within a week or two. See you soon, Jay! http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2012-October/122398.html

Nemo 11 months

Thanks for this nice letter and for letting us know; many of us were somehow worried and confused by the thought of you leaving.

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