The Wikimedia Foundation is excited to announce the appointment of Valerie D'Costa as Chief of Community Engagement. Valerie joins the Foundation after a decade at the World Bank Group, including nine years as leader of InfoDev, an initiative to facilitate sustainable development through access to data and information. Altogether, Valerie brings more than 25 years of experience launching and growing international initiatives in the developing world.
The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Together, Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects are visited by around 1.5 billion unique devices every month. The Wikimedia Foundation is driven by its vision of building a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
"We were looking for someone with a global perspective, international experience, fluency in technology, and a deep empathy for community," said Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. "Valerie knows that our 2030 strategic direction will only be possible when we bring the world along. She will lead Wikimedia's efforts to meet our aspirations for our community growth, health, diversity, values, and program outcomes."
As Chief of Community Engagement, Valerie will head the organization's Community Engagement department. She will oversee the department's day-to-day operations and efforts to support Wikimedia's global community of contributors and affiliates. Valerie will drive the continued global expansion of the Wikimedia movement in areas of the world where the local community is in early development. Maggie Dennis, the organization's current Chief of Community Engagement, will transition to Vice President of Support & Services.
Previously, Valerie led the World Bank's Women's Economic Empowerment Program, where she helped female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses in developing countries grow and gain access to new market opportunities. Prior to this, she was the director of infoDev, a World Bank program that supported innovation hubs and technology incubators for entrepreneurs in developing countries. Before the World Bank, Valerie spent 15 years working with the government of her home country of Singapore on issues of international information and communications technology (ICT) policy and trade.
Valerie has spent her career in the intersection between technology and improving people's lives around the world. She brings a deep understanding of the importance of local ownership, cross-cultural communication, and program sustainability. She emphasizes the importance of collaboration and partnership with local communities in designing and implementing programs and approaches, believing that local partners best understand their own needs and aspirations.
"The projects created by the Wikimedia community have become incredibly helpful resources for people around the world," Valerie said. "I am thrilled and honored to be a part of the talented team which supports this important work, and to support the Wikimedia Foundation's 2030 strategic direction."
Valerie received her Bachelor of Laws from the National University of Singapore and her Master of Laws from University College London. She received an executive MBA certification from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, and is also certified as an executive leadership coach by Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies. In her spare time, Valerie enjoys cooking, hiking, painting and mentoring middle school students in Washington DC, where she will continue to be based.