Human Rights Lead


The Wikimedia Foundation is looking for a Human Rights Lead to join our team, reporting to the Vice President, Legal (Community Resilience & Sustainability).  As the Human Rights Lead, you will be responsible for helping to secure the human rights of participants in the movements from threats by malign actors, including governments, aiming to limit the ability of individuals or groups to freely share in creating and curating the sum of all human knowledge. In this role, you will guide the Foundation’s efforts in proactively preparing for and addressing critical risks to the human rights of community members and readers. This includes, under the supervision of the Vice President, coordinating with legal, security, community, and communications functions, among others, in supporting individuals under immediate threat. 

Key to this work will be remaining informed on global developments in order to identify emerging and shifting threats to users around the world, synthesizing information from a variety of streams, including Foundation risk reports and their own strategically deployed threat intelligence networks. The Lead’s goal is to support the movement and its communities in its efforts to reduce vulnerability to human rights risks (including but not limited to government bans of our sites, threats from state and organized actors, persecution of contributors and readers, and disinformation campaigns that threaten the safety of individual contributors as well as the reliability of the platform), minimize harm when such threats materialize, and recover quickly after materialized threats are contained.

The successful candidate will bring curiosity, independence, and vision. They will have strong people skills, with the ability to empathetically motivate and inspire both staff and international volunteers while understanding the needs and capacities of disparate stakeholder groups. They will bring strategic insight into creative resolution of complicated challenges and the ability to network with allied organizations and individuals in proactively planning to reduce crises. They will bring clarity in times of crisis, including the ability to compassionately guide individuals in times of intense emotional distress and to help professionals and volunteers rapidly mobilize internal and external support systems that may save lives. They are seasoned, experienced, and able to exercise good judgment in determining the most appropriate method, technique and/or priorities for achieving impact with a wide variety of high-stakes, emergent human rights issues facing the Foundation and the communities it supports.

You are responsible for:

  • In coordination with Legal and Public Policy teams, building and maturing the organization’s expertise in identifying, mitigating against, and addressing emerging threats to Wikimedia’s online communities and affiliated organizations through efforts to curb internet freedom, civic spaces where our communities self-organize, and systematic efforts challenging the integrity of editorial community processes. 
  • Networking with allied organizations and individuals around the world to remain current on emerging geopolitical trends and best practices in human rights response.
  • Working collaboratively with Wikimedia project contributors and users intensively and, when appropriate, publicly to understand their environments and challenges and to work with them, in coordination with staff from other teams, on defining best practices to maintain safety in their movement activities.
  • Identifying pathways to resilience for communities and working with them, in coordination with staff from other teams, in adopting impactful, scalable approaches for quick recovery after human rights threats.
  • Understanding and providing input to the strategic goals of the Foundation’s public policy advocacy to ensure organizational alignment on best practices and clear communication on human rights challenges impacting the Foundation’s mission.
  • Working to identify other mitigation approaches, designing programs on an annual cycle in consultation with the Vice President and other stakeholders, understanding resourcing requirements to execute, and advocating for uptake by appropriate teams/departments within the Foundation or by affiliate organizations.
  • Being on call 24/7 as required to review emergency alerts to ensure proper escalation of and response to human rights threats that endanger the life and liberty of individual users.
  • Creating response plans for such threats, bringing together stakeholders as necessary from within Community Resilience & Sustainability and other teams/departments and managing the implementation of those plans, once approved.  
  • Communicating with and, within policy and protocol, supporting those who are targeted by such threats to life and liberty as a result of their good faith engagement in our movement with empathy, compassion, and calm. 
  • Reporting on your activities and the state of the world to the VP and senior executives on a regular cadence with a critical eye to what works and what doesn’t, focused on ongoing systems improvement.
  • Communicating with key stakeholders in a precise, detailed or high-level communication style, depending on the needs of the audience, organization and community.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Skills and Experience:

  • Substantial professional experience in human rights work, preferably in a geopolitical or humanitarian environment.
  • Strong networking skills and ability to process and synthesize large amounts of information on geopolitical trends and their specific impact on the organization and its stakeholders.
  • Substantial risk management experience.
  • Ability to remain calm and focused in ambiguous situations and to plan and act in circumstances where individuals may be in grave peril. (Note that this role may include exposure to troubling images and media or direct contact with individuals who have been treated inhumanely.)
  • Resilience in dealing with difficult subject matter and ability to exercise appropriate self-care in balance to periods of high intensity crisis-containment work. 
  • Strong communication skills, with the ability to summarize essentials for an executive audience and detail precise response plans and debriefing documents and to communicate with compassion and clarity.
  • Good people skills, with the ability to motivate and focus lateral teams in high intensity work situations. If necessary, the ability to build and manage dedicated support staff to this role.
  • Adaptability around online communities and technology, with the ability to master new protocols and practices and to remain open to considering unfamiliar tools.

Qualities that are important to us:

  • An interest in the role of technology in shaping society, culture, and politics and high sensitivity around culture with the goal to respect, preserve and enhance.
  • Experience with internet technologies and their impact on human rights.
  • Independence.
  • Flexibility in working hours as necessary to respond to unanticipated situations, with a willingness to work nights, weekends, or holidays when necessary and a regular ability to meet within UTC-8 business hours.
  • Willingness to undertake moderate international travel to coordinate with volunteers and affiliate organizations as well as international humanitarian organizations who may be partners in this work.
  • Written and oral fluency in English. 

Additionally, we’d love it if you have:

  • Ability to correspond in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi or Russian is a plus.

The Wikimedia Foundation is... 

...the nonprofit organization that hosts and operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge, free of interference. We host the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive. The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that relies on donations. We receive financial support from millions of individuals around the world, with an average donation of about $15. We also receive donations through institutional grants and gifts. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.

As an equal opportunity employer, the Wikimedia Foundation values having a diverse workforce and continuously strives to maintain an inclusive and equitable workplace. We encourage people with a diverse range of backgrounds to apply. We do not discriminate against any person based upon their race, traits historically associated with race, religion, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy or related medical conditions, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, genetic information, or any other legally protected characteristics.

If you are a qualified applicant requiring assistance or an accommodation to complete any step of the application process due to a disability, you may contact us at or (415) 839-6885.

U.S. Benefits & Perks*

  • Fully paid medical, dental and vision coverage for employees and their eligible families (yes, fully paid premiums!)
  • The Wellness Program provides reimbursement for mind, body and soul activities such as fitness memberships, baby sitting, continuing education and much more
  • The 401(k) retirement plan offers matched contributions at 4% of annual salary
  • Flexible and generous time off - vacation, sick and volunteer days, plus 22 paid holidays - including the last week of the year.
  • Family friendly! 100% paid new parent leave for seven weeks plus an additional five weeks for pregnancy, flexible options to phase back in after leave, fully equipped lactation room.
  • For those emergency moments - long and short term disability, life insurance (2x salary) and an employee assistance program
  • Pre-tax savings plans for health care, child care, elder care, public transportation and parking expenses
  • Telecommuting and flexible work schedules available
  • Appropriate fuel for thinking and coding (aka, a pantry full of treats) and monthly massages to help staff relax
  • Great colleagues - diverse staff and contractors speaking dozens of languages from around the world, fantastic intellectual discourse, mission-driven and intensely passionate people

*Please note that for remote roles located outside of the U.S., we defer to our PEO to ensure alignment with local labor laws.

More information

Wikimedia Foundation
Wikimedia 2030
Wikimedia Medium Term Plan
Diversity and inclusion information for Wikimedia workers, by the numbers
Wikimania 2019
Annual Report - 2018 

This is Wikimedia Foundation 
Facts Matter
Our Projects
Fundraising Report

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