A former Dutch politician, a cable company VP and a Latin American ccTLD manager joined the ICANN board of directors today.
The three new directors took their seats at the conclusion of the ICANN 54 public meeting in Dublin.
Two were Nominating Committee appointees, the third was selected by the Address Supporting Organization to replace six-year veteran Ray Plzak.
Lousewies van der Laan is possibly the highest-profile new director.
She is a former politician who has sat as a member of both Dutch national and European parliaments.
She was a member of the super liberal D66 party in the Netherlands, briefly leading whilst it was part of a governing coalition before a leadership vote defeat and her subsequent retirement from politics in 2006.
Wikipedia has her as a former party spokesperson for “foreign policy, higher education, justice, technology, European affairs and gay rights”
Since then, she has spent time as chief of staff of the president of the International Criminal Court and an independent public affairs consultant.
She’s the second former MEP to sit on the current ICANN board, after German Facebook lobbyist Erika Mann.
The other NomCom appointee is Rafael “Lito” Ibarra, who runs SVNet, the ccTLD manager for El Salvador’s .sv domain.
According to ICANN, he is known as the “father of the Internet” in El Salvador, due to his contributions over the last couple of decades.
He seems to have received the .sv delegation from Jon Postel himself, in the pre-ICANN days.
He’s also on the board of LACNIC, the Latin American IP address registry.
The ASO appointee is Ron da Silva, VP of network engineering at US cable giant Time Warner Cable.
His previous employers include AOL and Sprint. He’s also been chair of ARIN’s advisory council.
The NomCom also reappointed incumbent George Sadowsky, who already has six years of ICANN board service under his belt.
The other two departing directors were Wolfang Kleinwachter and Gonzalo Navarro.
ICANN has named Olga Madruga-Forti, an Argentinian telecoms policy expert, as the newest member of its board of directors.
Selected by this year’s Nominating Committee, Madruga-Forti will take over from R. Ramaraj when his second term ends at the Toronto meeting this October.
According to the biography provided by ICANN, she has extensive experience of telecommunications policy, particularly related to satellite, in both public and private sectors.
She currently works for ARSAT in Buenes Aires as international counsel. She’s previously worked for Iridium, Loral and the US Federal Communications Commission.
ICANN pointed out that she represents telcos at the International Telecommunications Union, a relevant data point, perhaps, given the WCIT conference coming up in December.
Madruga-Forti ticks one of the Latin-American boxes on the ICANN board.
NomCom has also reappointed two other directors for second terms on the board: Gonzalo Navarro (Latin-America) and the reliably contrarian George Sadowsky (North America).
New leadership members of three ICANN supporting organizations have also been selected by NomCom.
Jennifer Wolfe of the intellectual property law firm WolfeSBMC, which counts new gTLD applicants Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods among its clients, has been appointed to GNSO Council.
I believe she’s destined to replace Carlos Dionisio Aguirre when his term is up later this year.
Canadian Alan Greenberg and Frenchman Jean-Jacques Subrenat have been reappointed to the At-Large Advisory Committee.
Mary Wong, who currently sits on the GNSO Council representing non-commercial stakeholders, has been appointed to the ccNSO Council.
The full biographies of all 2012 NomCom appointees can be found here.
ICANN’s next public meeting, and all its public meetings thereafter, will be a day shorter than usual, following a decision to cancel the regular Friday morning program.
No Friday means no public meeting of the board of directors.
While the move is being characterized as an effort to enhance the effectiveness of ICANN’s board – a particular concern, frequently voiced, of chairman Steve Crocker – it’s also a perplexing shift away from ICANN’s core tenet of transparency.
One of the effects could be to mask dissent on the board.
From now on, it appears that all of ICANN’s top-level decision-making will happen in private.
Instead of wrapping up each public meeting with a board session at which resolutions get voted on, each meeting will instead be book-ended by less formal “community sessions”.
During these sessions, the board will apparently report to attendees about what it has been doing since the last meeting and what it plans to do before the next meeting.
Crocker said in a statement:
We believe that the removal of the Friday public Board meeting and its replacement with two Board community sessions will improve the effectiveness of both the Board and the staff and increase the time that the Board has to interact with the community.
That may well be true — time will tell — but let’s look at what the ICANN community is almost certainly losing.
First, there will be no more transcripts of board meetings at all.
Today, only the public meetings have published recordings and transcripts. Intersessional meetings are minuted, but not transcribed. If recordings are made, they are not published.
Killing off transcripts completely is a pretty obvious step backwards for an organization committed by its bylaws to “operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner”.
Second, if there is dissent on the board, it will be essentially shielded from the community’s view for some time after the fact.
In both cases, certain directors read prepared statements into the record harshly criticizing the majority view.
In March 2011, for example, George Sadowsky stated that ICM’s purported community support for .xxx was “illusory” and that approving the TLD could lead to DNS Balkanization.
And with new gTLDs last June, Mike Silber abstained in the belief that the program was incomplete and that the vote had been scheduled “based on artificial and ego-driven deadlines”.
In both cases, the ICANN community heard the dissenting views – in person, webcast, recorded and transcribed – moments before the vote actually took place.
With no public board meetings, it seems likely that in future that we’re going to have to wait a week to read the voting record for any given resolution and a month or more to read directors’ statements.
Under ICANN’s bylaws, the voting record, which breaks down who voted for and against resolutions, is contained in a preliminary report that is not published for seven days after the vote.
Also under the bylaws, directors’ voting statements are not published until the minutes of the meeting are approved at the board’s next meeting, typically one to two months later.
If the new procedures had been in effect last year, the statements of Sadowsky and Silber would not have been published for over a month after they were made.
With that in mind, it’s clear that killing off the public board meetings could in no way be seen as a positive step for transparency at ICANN.
It’s true that these meetings have for several years been pure theater, but it was theater with value.
ICANN’s directors have been barred from applying for the soon-to-be-vacated CEO position.
The board elected a panel of directors to get the CEO search underway last Tuesday, but noted:
no current or incoming member of the Board or liaisons may be considered as a candidate for the role of the CEO for the current CEO Selection process.
A replacement for Rod Beckstrom, who announced that he will step down when his contract expires next June, will now be overseen by a special CEO Search Process Management Work Committee.
The committee will comprise: Steve Crocker, Bertrand de La Chapelle, Erika Mann Chris Disspain, Cherine Chalaby, Ray Plzak and R. Ramaraj. George Sadowsky will chair.
I had previously put at least three of those on my speculative list of “insiders” who could conceivably apply for the CEO’s job.
Filipino businesswomen Judith Duavit Vazquez has been selected to join ICANN’s board of directors.
She will take the seat being vacated by Gambian development consultant Katim Touray at the end of the ICANN meeting in Dakar October 28.
Vazquez has a pretty impressive resume covering senior roles at major telecommunications, internet and media organizations in the Philippines.
Her corporate board experience includes 20 years at GMA Network, a major player in Filipino TV and radio, and time at a few non-profits.
Board work has included seats on compensation, audit and risk management committees – useful skills given ICANN’s ongoing accountability and transparency reform work.
In terms of involvement with internet addresses, Vasquez has worked with APNIC, the Asia-Pacific regional internet registry, according to her bio.
She’s also a woman, which will have counted in her favor.
ICANN’s Nominating Committee, which selects eight of ICANN’s directors, had made no secret of the fact that it wants the board to resemble less of a sausage-fest.
German politician Erika Mann is currently the only female voting director, following the departure of lawyer Rita Rodin Johnston in Singapore.
I speculated in June that NomCom’s selection “will almost certainly be a woman from a region currently under-represented on the board. My guess is Russia.”
I was obviously wrong about Russia, and while the Asia-Pac region has hardly been under-represented in the past, Vasquez is the first ICANN director to hail from South-East Asia.
NomCom also extended recently installed chairman Steve Crocker’s term on the board, which was due to expire in October, for another three years, as was expected.
For the full list of NomCom committee appointees, see the ICANN announcement.