Katherine Maher is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and former chief executive officer (CEO) and executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which owns and operates Wikipedia and various other free knowledge projects. She is an appointed member of the US Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, where she advises the secretary of state on the intersection of technology, democracy, and human rights. 

As CEO of Wikimedia Foundation, Maher was responsible for the success of Wikipedia, one of the world’s most popular web platforms. Over the course of seven years, she led Wikimedia’s growth in new and emerging markets, grew global site readership, and reversed decades-long declines in core contributors. She steered Wikimedia through the misinformation crisis of the late 2010s and led Wikipedia to its highest brand trust since its founding, doubling the Foundation’s fundraising capacity and raising Wikimedia’s first endowment. 

Prior to joining the Wikimedia Foundation, Maher was among the leading practitioners of the intersection of technology, human rights, democracy and international development. She served as advocacy, strategy, and communications director for the international digital-rights organization Access Now, focusing on global issues related to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy. Before Access Now, Maher was an information and communications technology (ICT) innovations specialist at the World Bank; ICT program officer at the National Democratic Institute; and innovation and communication officer at UNICEF, where she was a founding member of the UNICEF Innovation team. 

Maher is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a World Economic Forum young global leader, and a security fellow at the Truman National Security Project. She is on the board of directors for the Center for Technology and Democracy, Consumer Reports, the Digital Public Library of America, and System.com, as well as a trustee of the American University of Beirut. She received her bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies in 2005 from New York University’s College of Arts and Science, after studying at the Arabic Language Institute of the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and at the Institut français d’études arabes de Damas in Damascus, Syria.