The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to announce that Eileen Hershenov has joined the organization as General Counsel. Eileen brings nearly 30 years of experience in media and intellectual property law, civil rights and civil liberties law, not-for-profit law and governance, and privacy and cyber-security. Throughout her career, she has worked with mission-driven organizations to promote equality, free expression, and openness.
The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. Together, Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects are visited by more than a billion unique devices every month. The Wikimedia Foundation is driven by its mission to build a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all human knowledge.
As General Counsel, Eileen will lead an experienced team of attorneys and public policy experts to defend the Wikimedia projects, communities, and Foundation. She will be responsible for maintaining and developing the legal infrastructure, policy, and relevant legal defenses for the Wikimedia Foundation. She will also advise the Foundation on ethical and policy positions around access to knowledge, freedom of speech, privacy, copyright, and other issues relevant to the Wikimedia movement.
“Eileen is deeply committed to the values that make the Wikimedia movement possible: free expression, access to knowledge, and a secure, open internet,” said Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “Her knowledge, passion, and leadership make her an excellent addition to the Wikimedia Foundation and our global community.”
Previously, Eileen served as the founding general counsel for Consumers Union, the not-for-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and ConsumerReports.org. In that role, in addition to defending against legal attacks on the organization’s product reviews and investigative journalism, she was part of the executive leadership team charged with rethinking the organization’s approach to public policy and advocacy. Eileen supported the work of tens of thousands of volunteers who advocated for healthcare reform and net neutrality, among other issues. She also played a lead role in developing and implementing Consumer Reports’ evolving business policies, which are designed to ensure and protect the organization’s independence from commercial influence and special interests.
Prior to joining Consumers Union, Eileen spent 11 years at the Open Society Foundations, where she served as General Counsel to the global foundation network. In this position, Eileen led the development of an in-house legal counsel department, overseeing the legal work of the foundations in more than 30 countries. Her work with the Open Society Foundations supported the efforts of local advocates in the former Soviet Union, Central Europe, as well as in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. During her time at the Open Society Foundations, Eileen also served as the founding general counsel for Central European University, the first U.S.-accredited liberal arts university located in a former communist country.
“Wikimedia is a shining example of what’s possible when the values of the free and open internet are preserved,” Eileen said. “I’ve spent much of my career supporting many of the same principles that have allowed Wikipedia to flourish. I’m thrilled to join a global movement of people who are committed to these values.”
Eileen began her career in public interest as an organizer and advocate for victims of toxic substances who were denied court access to seek restitution. Her legal work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) marked the start of her passion for supporting free expression, free access, and freedom of association. She currently serves on the boards of a number of public interest justice organizations, including the advisory board of the Future of Privacy Forum, and the governing board of the Appleseed Foundation.
Eileen received her BA in Economics from Yale College, and graduated from Yale Law School. She currently lives in the state of New York with her family, and will be relocating to the Bay Area this summer.
You can read a press release of this announcement on the Wikimedia Foundation’s website.