Katherine Maher

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Katherine Maher
Katherine Maher.jpg
Maher in 2016
Katherine Roberts Maher

(1983-04-18) April 18, 1983 (age 36)
Alma mater New York University
Occupation Business executive
Years active2005–present
Title Executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation
Maher talking about Wikidata in 2017

Katherine Roberts Maher ( /mɑːr/ ; [1] born April 18, 1983) [2] is the chief executive officer and executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, a position she has held since June 2016. [3] Previously she was chief communications officer. [4] In addition to a background in the field of information and communications technology, Maher has 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. [5] After high school, in 2003, Maher graduated from the Arabic Language Institute's Arabic Language Intensive Program of The American University in Cairo, which she said was a formative experience, instilling a deep love of the Middle East. [6] Maher subsequently studied at the Institut français d’études arabes de Damas in Syria. During this period, she also spent time in Lebanon and Tunisia. [2] [7]

In 2005, Maher received a bachelor's degree from New York University in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. [8]


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

In 2007, Maher moved back to New York City where from 2007 to 2010 she worked at UNICEF as an innovation and communication officer. [9] She was one of the founding members of what became known as the innovation team, focusing on the use of technology to improve people's lives. As part of this position, Maher traveled globally and worked 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. [10] 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. [9]

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). [11]

From 2011 to 2013, Maher worked at the World Bank as an ICT innovation specialist. At the World Bank, Maher was a consultant in technology for international development and democratization, working on ICT for accountability and governance, focusing on the role of mobile phones and other technologies in facilitating civil society and institutional reform, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. [12] She co-authored a chapter on "Making Government Mobile" of a World Bank publication titled Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile. [13] In 2012 Maher's Twitter feed on issues related to the Middle East was cited as being notable in its coverage of the Arab Spring. [14] [15]

From 2013 to 2014, Maher was advocacy director at the Washington, D.C.-based Access Now. [4] [16] 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. [17] Access was a signatory of the Declaration of Internet Freedom. [12]

Wikimedia Foundation

Maher and Jimmy Wales at Wikimania 2017 2017-08-13 Wikimania, Closing ceremony (02) (freddy2001).jpg
Maher and Jimmy Wales at Wikimania 2017

From April 2014 to March 2016, Maher was chief communications officer of the Wikimedia Foundation. [4] [18] [19] During this time, she gave an interview in The Washington Post on United States copyright law. [20]

In March 2016, Maher became interim executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation following the resignation of then executive director, Lila Tretikov. [16] [21] Maher was appointed executive director in June 2016. The appointment was announced by Jimmy Wales on June 24, 2016, at Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario, Italy, effective June 23, 2016. [3] [4]

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]



Personal life

Maher is based in San Francisco, California. Besides English, she also speaks Arabic, French, and German. [6]

See also

Works and publications

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  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.
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  3. 1 2 Lorente, Patricio; Henner, Christophe (June 24, 2016). "Foundation Board appoints Katherine Maher as Executive Director". Wikimedia Blog .
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  8. "2000s" (PDF). NYU Alumni Magazine (22). Spring 2014. p. 59.
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