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You are here: Home FSF News FSF adds three highly qualified board members

FSF adds three highly qualified board members

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Jun 26, 2024 10:10 AM

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has selected John Gilmore, Christina Haralanova, and Maria Chiara Pievatolo to become FSF board members starting June 23, 2024. This exceptional development of adding three new members to the FSF's board of directors is the result of reviewing eighty-three nominations, having ten candidates in forum discussions with FSF associate members, conducting months of conversations between current board members and all candidates, and reviewing input from FSF staff and supporters. After that, a three month provisional board member period started on March 23, 2024.

"Our carefully designed board process delivered three highly qualified board members," says FSF president Geoffrey Knauth, "we invested fourteen months of effort into the process and this first iteration, and we're excited to get to work with these exceptional and dedicated free software advocates."

The FSF designed a transparent, community supported process to identify and evaluate new board members. The process involved detailed discussions with the FSF's global associate members. "The FSF has made a major step towards establishing a solid governance structure that sets us up for a strong future in which we can respond to software freedom threats ahead of us," Knauth said.

The FSF is an unwavering defender of software freedom and what that means. This is a role the new board members appreciate deeply. "FSF's moral stance for the freedom of individual software users remains key to keeping the free software movement effective in the 2020s and beyond," as newly appointed board member John Gilmore explains. "This moral grounding provides a foundation for writing and evolving legal documents such as the GNU General Public License, and for making decisions on how to keep it effective as the world evolves. In addition, FSF stewards many key pieces of software used by millions of people and companies worldwide," he continued.

"FSF has a vital role in protecting software freedom," states newly appointed board member Christina Haralanova. "We, as members of the community and board members, have the ethical duty to support free software, no matter the circumstances. Software freedom is, however, the struggle of many more communities than we can imagine. While accompanying and training rights-protecting activists, including feminists, environmentalists, human rights defenders, librarians, and journalists, I have found a deep understanding and support for technical activism along with their core activism. We at FSF need to reach those supporters in a way that makes it easier for them to adopt, adapt, and diffuse the concepts of freedom among their peers."

Biographies

John Gilmore (US)

FSF board member John Gilmore

John Gilmore is a philanthropist, computer engineer, entrepreneur, civil libertarian, and nonprofit board member. He is a pioneer with thirty years of experience in the computer industry, including applications programming, systems programming, language implementation, management, and investment. He was the fifth employee at Sun Microsystems, cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a cypherpunk privacy activist. He co-designed the DHCP protocol that your phone or laptop uses daily to get its Internet address. He also contributed decades and more than $12 million to improving United States drug laws. Gilmore has served as a member of many nonprofit and for-profit boards for four decades.

He cofounded Cygnus Support, the successful commercial free software company that polished and supported GCC, Binutils, and GDB; and invested tens of millions of revenue dollars into engineers improving GNU tools. Gilmore also wrote, maintained, or improved many free software programs. He wrote the program that became GNU Tar, was the GDB maintainer for years, improved the GNU Binutils and the GNU manuals, and catalyzed and funded GNU Radio and Gnash.

Christina Haralanova (BG / CA)

FSF board member Christina Haralanova

Christina is an academic researcher, free software activist, technical trainer, and university lecturer. She has been an active free software supporter since 2000, helping over 30 women's rights-defending organizations and community centers understand the importance of software freedom and migrate to free software. Founding member of the Free Software Association, Bulgaria, and later Board member of Koumbit, member of FACIL – for the adoption of free software in Quebec (FACiL, pour l'appropriation collective de l'informatique libre, ), Christina has been working in the intersection of technology, feminism, and social justice. Christina's Master's thesis analyzes women's contribution to free software development (2010). Her Ph.D. thesis discovered how to transform hacking spaces to become more accessible, diverse, and pedagogically engaging diverse, and accessible to everyone (2019). In her current practice, Christina is exploring ways to help Canadian community organizations create strategic and sustainable technological practices in their daily usage.

Maria Chiara Pievatolo (IT)

FSF board member Maria Chiara Pievatolo

Maria Chiara Pievatolo is a professor of political philosophy at the university of Pisa, Italy. She is one of the earliest Italian proponents and practitioners of open (as in "free") scholarly principles. She founded one of the oldest Italian Open Access journals in the humanities and social sciences, the "Bollettino telematico di filosofia politica." Chiara is also a founding member of the Italian Association for the promotion of Open Science (AISA), of which she is currently president. "Openness" of science refers to the freedom of knowledge commons from obstacles due to monopolies and secrecy, bureaucratic evaluation obligations, or academic hierarchy. Inspired by the philosophy of GPL, free software, and copyleft she is interested in alternative non-monopolistic forms of copyright (such as Kant's), and thus that are capable of taking seriously the interest of the public use of reason and the knowledge commons.

Moving forward

These three new members of the FSF's board of directors are the first to be appointed since 2020, when Odile Bénassy joined. Given the importance of the FSF to the free software movement, and the importance of its board to ensure preservation of the software freedom definition, the board has not taken its task lightly. Next, the FSF will evaluate current board members with the FSF's associate members in August, after which the voting members will review the feedback received and decide if each current board member should remain. For more information on the FSF's board process, please refer to board process graph.

Maria Chiara Pievatolo speaks to the importance of sustaining the FSF's unique mission: "The first best thing would have been to modify copyright law to protect authors and the public instead of intellectual monopolies. But doing it by hacking copyright for fun and freedom, against corporate-captured lawmakers, was - and is - certainly the second best. The FSF needs our support."

The board thanks the FSF's many supporters and associate members for their valuable input and dedication to the organization while we work through this process. The board could not do its work in leading the central organization in the free software movement without the input of its supporters. To become an FSF associate member and contribute to this process, as well as support the Foundation as a whole and enjoy a wide range of member benefits, you can sign up here.

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