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Reflections from my first year as Creative Commons’ CEO

About CC

Today marks my first year anniversary at CC. It is such an honour and a privilege to lead this organization whose relevance could not be more important at this time.

However, as I sit and write this reflection, I know for so many in our global community and network that our thoughts and prayers are with the women and girls in Afghanistan with whom I want to express my solidarity. I sincerely hope the international community will do all that it can to support women and girls in Afghanistan to exercise their basic human rights against a backdrop of chaos, violence and uncertainty. 

As for CC, I would like to take this moment of a year as CEO to reflect on all that we have achieved together during this extraordinary time. The global pandemic has meant that no one from this global, virtual organization has met in-person since February 2020. In fact, I’ve yet to meet a single Creative Commoner in-person since joining as CEO. However, we have not let this hamper our ambitions or restrict our achievements.

In the first four months of coming to CC, we led a virtual strategic process, which resulted in the creation of our new 5 year strategy. The theme of Better Sharing resonates now more than ever. This theme forms the central message of our 20th Anniversary Capital Campaign. It has been a privilege to support our 20th Anniversary Committee and to see the launch of the campaign in May this year. A huge thank you must go to the 20th anniversary co-chairs, Paul Brest and Ruth Okediji, whose wisdom and thoughtfulness shine through in their dedication to Creative Commons.

Our 20th Anniversary Capital Campaign was launched to a flying start, thanks to the generous support of Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. Their $5 million multi-year gift to launch a program focused on Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAMs) is a phenomenal investment in supporting openness in cultural heritage. Brigitte Vézina, who is leading CC’s work on GLAM, presented the new program at Wikimania earlier this week.

This generous gift will help us achieve our ambitious goal of raising $15 million by the end of next year. Thank you to all those who support our work – without you, we could not free knowledge and culture around the world for everyone, everywhere. 

Our strategy is our guiding map over the next 5 years, and it is great to see our priorities of advocacy, legal innovation, and capacity building start to take shape. Last week, our legal team, composed of Sarah Pearson and Kat Walsh, published an open consultation on how we will be addressing the issue of aggressive license enforcement. This has long been a topic in the open licensing community, and we are now seeing real action coming together to address this critical area of concern.

Our work in Open Education led by Dr. Cable Green continues, and it was a real success story to see California adopt what we have been advocating for in open textbooks. We hope that over the coming months, as the world looks to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), we will have something more to share with you on our open climate ambitions – watch this space. It has been exciting to watch our work with Grant for the Web mature in the second year of the collaboration. The program is thriving under the strong leadership of the Interledger Foundation.

Over the past year, we have also seen the successful transition of CC Search to Automattic, and our stewardship of the Open COVID pledge transferred to American University. It is a testament to CC to see projects which began here grow and prosper under the leadership of organizations that share our values. We have also seen staff too move onto new and exciting opportunities, and I want to thank each and every one of them for their tireless efforts at CC. It has been great to welcome Kat Drew, Kat Walsh, Marlena Reimer, Brylie Oxley and Ony Anukem to CC. Our global community remains a strength that no matter where you are in the world you will find people who share our values over the importance of sharing knowledge and culture. I am excited about our 20th Anniversary Summit, which is now just a month away. I invite you all to join the Creative Commons team, global network, and broader open community to discuss key issues and learn together, the week of September 20th.

And so for the next year, my key priorities remain the 20th Anniversary Campaign, to meet our goal of $15 million by the end of next year, implementing our strategy of Better Sharing, and continuing to raise the profile and awareness of Creative Commons across our world. I look forward to the year ahead and thank you again for your support, friendship and commitment to the powerful cause of sharing knowledge and culture.

Posted 17 August 2021