Moving on from Mozilla

(Cross-posted on Medium)

This is a hard post to write.

After building out our suite of programs and taking the Mozilla Scienceprogram to the next level, it’s time for me to step back, move on, and give those programs space to grow.

Growing Mozilla’s stake in open science

In 2013 Mozilla asked me for to build their first science program. Together with one other staff member and a small budget, we made massive strides. We:

Participants of the first Working Open Workshop in Berlin doing the “Open Web stretch” (above: dodging the NSA.) Photo by kaythaney — available under a CC-BY-2.0 license.

Moving Mozilla as an Organization

More recently, the Foundation itself has been maturing as a non-profit, for the first time setting its sights on a 5-year-vision to advance “Internet Health” — more specifically, issues like digital inclusion and equity, privacy and security, web literacy, open innovation, and decentralization. Passing the leadership of the science program to the badass Steph Wright, I stepped into a new role, overseeing programs and network strategy. As a senior leader managing the Foundation’s $10m program portfolio, we transitioned the Foundation’s program structure from a series of discrete, siloed programs to a unified, focused network.

A few highlights:

Above all, thank you to my team

More than the launches and numbers, the real reward has been the ability to support my team of program leads this past year, a group of fierce (all-female) leaders in our organization.

The work they do building, scaling and supporting our communities on the ground are what make Mozilla what it is — and it’s been an honor and a privilege to lead that team as the organization grows. To Amira, Meghan, Sara, Arliss, Steph, Michelle — y’all are my heroes. Aurelia, Zannah, Abby — it’s been an honor watching you shape mentorship and learning at this organization. Keep leading the way. The open movement needs you.

This has undoubtedly been the hardest but most fulfilling job I’ve ever had, and while the work has been meaty and challenging, it’s time for me to return to my roots.

Next steps

13 years ago, I started out in the world of open access and information to help a friend struggling with a rare disease: research, medical care and support was scarce for them. That’s how I became interested in crafting systems and solutions to help address big, societal problems, including open and equitable access to information.

Props from 2015 Mozilla Festival. Photo by Mozilla Festival — available under a CC-BY-2.0 license

Today those problems remain urgent. The institutions that support the free flow of information are once again in jeopardy. Whether it’s data on animal welfare and abuse reports from the USDA being abruptly erased from the agency’s website, threats to taxpayer-funded data from on race and housing disparities, EPA on climate change and CDC on disease, work is needed to ensure the systems we’ve built and access we have fought for remain open and accessible to all.

These are the issues I will continue to work through — they are my life’s work. I’m going to be taking some time before announcing what comes next, but in the meantime, if you raise the “Open Access” Bat Signal, I will report. Drop me a line on Skype (@kaythaney).

… we even have capes. (Photo by Mozilla Science Lab — available under a CC-BY-2.0 license.)
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