Katherine Maher

Katherine Maher
Katherine Maher in 2016
Maher in 2016
Katherine Roberts Maher

(1983-04-18) April 18, 1983 (age 38)
Alma materNew York University
OccupationBusiness executive
TitleExecutive director of the Wikimedia Foundation
Maher talking about Wikidata in 2017

Katherine Roberts Maher (/mɑːr/;[1] born April 18, 1983)[2] is the former chief executive officer and executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, positions she held from 2019 to April 2021 and from 2016 to April 2021 respectively.[3][4][5] Previously, she was chief communications officer.[6] She has a background in the field of information and communications technology and worked in the non-profit and international sectors, focusing on the use of technology to empower human rights and international development.[2]

Early life and education

Maher grew up in Wilton, Connecticut[2] and attended Wilton High School.[7] After high school, Maher graduated from the Arabic Language Institute's Arabic Language Intensive Program of The American University in Cairo in 2003, which she said was a formative experience that instilled a deep love of the Middle East.[8] Maher subsequently studied at the Institut français d’études arabes de Damas in Syria and spent time in Lebanon and Tunisia.[2][9][10]

In 2005, Maher received a bachelor's degree from New York University in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.[11]

Maher originally thought she was going to be an academic and worked for human rights and international development organizations.[12]


Katherine Maher with giddha dancers at WikiConference India 2016.

After internships at the Council on Foreign Relations and Eurasia Group, in 2005, Maher began working at HSBC in London, Germany, and Canada as part of their international manager development program.[2]

In 2007, Maher returned to New York City where from 2007 to 2010 she worked at UNICEF as an innovation and communication officer.[13] She worked to promote the use of technology to improve people's lives and traveled extensively to work on issues related to maternal health, HIV/AIDS prevention, and youth participation in technology.[2] One of her first projects at UNICEF involved testing MediaWiki extensions related to accessibility in Ethiopia.[14] Another project received USAid Development 2.0 Challenge grant funding to work on the use of mobile phones to monitor nutrition in children in Malawi.[13]

From 2010 to 2011, Maher worked at the National Democratic Institute as an ICT Program Officer, working in the field of information and communications technology (ICT).[15] From 2011 to 2013, Maher worked at the World Bank as an ICT innovation specialist and consulted on technology for international development and democratization, working on ICT for accountability and governance with a focus on the role of mobile phones and other technologies in facilitating civil society and institutional reform, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.[16] She co-authored a chapter on "Making Government Mobile" of a World Bank publication titled Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile.[17] In 2012, Maher's Twitter feed on issues related to the Middle East was noted for its coverage of the Arab Spring.[18][19]

From 2013 to 2014, Maher was advocacy director at the Washington, D.C.-based Access Now.[6][20] As part of this work, she focused on the impact on people of laws about cyber security, morality, and defamation of the state that increase state censorship and reduce dissent.[21] Access was a signatory of the Declaration of Internet Freedom.[16]

Maher states that she focuses on global digital inclusion as a way to improve and protect the rights of people to information through technology.[2][22][23]

Wikimedia Foundation

Maher and Jimmy Wales at Wikimania 2017

Maher was chief communications officer of the Wikimedia Foundation from April 2014 to March 2016.[6][24][25] She was interviewed by The Washington Post on United States copyright law.[26]

Maher became interim executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation in March 2016 following the resignation of executive director Lila Tretikov[20][27] and was appointed executive director in June 2016. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced the appointment on June 24 at Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario, Italy, effective June 23, 2016.[3][6]

In 2019, Maher became CEO of Wikimedia.[4]

In February 2021, she announced her intention to step down from her positions as CEO and executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation on April 15, 2021.[4][5]

Personal life

Maher is based in San Francisco, California. She speaks English, Arabic, French, and German.[8]



Works and publications

See also


  1. ^ Maher, Katherine (January 10, 2020). "Maher rhymes with car, and is not a cognate of a female horse, a town leader, or a military leader. You'd think the Brits would know this after decades of colonial theory and praxis". @krmaher. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Boix, Montserrat; Sefidari, María (September 3, 2016). "Maher: "La Fundación necesita reflejar la cultura que queremos ver en la comunidad"" (Video). Wikimujeres. Wikimanía Esino Lario 2016.CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ a b Lorente, Patricio; Henner, Christophe (June 24, 2016). "Foundation Board appoints Katherine Maher as Executive Director". Wikimedia Blog.
  4. ^ a b c "Wikimedia Foundation CEO Katherine Maher to Step Down in April 2021". Wikimedia Foundation. February 4, 2021. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "[Wikimedia-l] Thanks for all the fish! / Stepping down April 15". wikimedia-l mailing list. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Gardner, Sue (April 15, 2014). "Katherine Maher joins the Wikimedia Foundation as Chief Communications Officer". Wikimedia Blog.
  7. ^ "More than half of Wilton High makes honor roll" (PDF). Wilton Bulletin. May 10, 2001. pp. 3D.
  8. ^ a b c "AUCians Recognized Among Top 99 Foreign Policy Leaders Under 33". The American University in Cairo. October 8, 2013.
  9. ^ Rooney, Ben (June 28, 2012). "Web Can Foment Openness as Corrupt Regimes Fall". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on September 4, 2012.
  10. ^ "Katherine Maher, CEO and Executive Director of Wikimedia Foundation". ABILITY Magazine. October 13, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  11. ^ "2000s" (PDF). NYU Alumni Magazine (22). Spring 2014. p. 59.
  12. ^ "Katherine Maher, CEO and Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation". ABILITY Magazine. October 13, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Heather Ann (August 2, 2009). "SXSW 2009 Interview – Katherine Maher and Guarav Mishra" (Video). AustinLifestyles.com.
  14. ^ Maher, Katherine (June 26, 2016). "Wikimania 2016 – Q&A with the ED of Wikimedia Foundation Katherine Maher" (Video). Wikimania 2016. Wikimanía Esino Lario 2016.CS1 maint: location (link)
  15. ^ "Tech in the Egyptian Revolution" (Video). frogdesign Design Mind. March 12, 2011.
  16. ^ a b Curley, Nina (October 9, 2012). "Resisting Internet Censorship: Katherine Maher of Access at SHARE Beirut" (Video). Wamda.
  17. ^ Raja, Siddhartha; Melhem, Samia; Cruse, Matthew; Goldstein, Joshua; Maher, Katherine; Minges, Michael; Surya, Priya (August 2012). "Chapter 6: Making Government Mobile". Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile. Washington, DC: World Bank. pp. 87–101. doi:10.1596/9780821389911_ch06. ISBN 978-0-8213-8991-1. OCLC 895048866.
  18. ^ York, Jillian (April 3, 2012). "A Seat at the Table: A Twitter-ful list of women crucial to foreign policy". Levo League. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  19. ^ York, Jillian C. (June 20, 2012). "Introducing the FPwomerati: Why didn't Foreign Policy include more women in its Twitterati list? Here's a list of 100 female tweeters around the world that everyone should follow". Foreign Policy.
  20. ^ a b Lorente, Patricio (March 16, 2016). "Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees welcomes Katherine Maher as interim Executive Director". Wikimedia Blog.
  21. ^ Fletcher, Lisa (August 8, 2012). "Predicting crime online and offline". The Stream. Al Jazeera English. Archived from the original (TV show) on September 26, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  22. ^ Maher, Katherine (October 29, 2016). "MozFest Speaker Series: Privacy and Harassment on the Internet" (Video). Mozfest 2016.
  23. ^ "El día que Wikipedia se apagó y decidió dar una batalla política". LA NACION (in Spanish). October 16, 2018. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  24. ^ Fitzsimmons, Michelle (January 16, 2016). "Wikipedia is still disrupting after 15 years". TechRadar.
  25. ^ Bradley, Diana (May 15, 2014). "Wikimedia hires Maher to fill chief comms role". PRWeek.
  26. ^ Tretikov, Lila (February 25, 2016). "[Wikimedia-l] Thank you for our time together" (Mailing list post). Wikimedia-l. Wikimedia Foundation.
  27. ^ "Innovators: Katherine Maher". The Diplomatic Courier. September 10, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ a b c "Katherine Maher". Barnard College, Columbia University.
  29. ^ "People: Katherine Maher". Youth for Technology Foundation. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  30. ^ "Team: Katherine Maher". Truman National Security Project. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  31. ^ "Politico Magazine: No, the U.S. Isn't 'Giving Up Control' of the Internet". Truman National Security Project. March 2014.
  32. ^ "Advisory Council: Katherine Maher". Open Technology Fund. Archived from the original on October 13, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  33. ^ "People: Katherine Maher". World Economic Forum.
  34. ^ "The Future of Human Rights". World Economic Forum.
  35. ^ OxfordUnion (February 28, 2018). "Katherine Maher - Technology Empires Debate - Proposition (5/6)" – via YouTube.
  36. ^ "Meet the 2019 Class of Young Global Leaders". World Economic Forum.

Further reading

External links

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