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Surprise eleventh-hour picks for NomCom leadership after ICANN U-turn

Kevin Murphy, October 14, 2021, 04:50:27 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN has named the new chair of its influential Nominating Committee, and it’s not who you might have expected.

The Org last night said Michael Graham will chair NomCom for the 2022 cycle, with Damon Ashcraft taking the chair-elect role.

The news came weeks later than expected — live during an online Prep Week session of ICANN 72 last night in fact — and followed a secretive ICANN vote that saw the board of directors U-turn on its initial selection.

ICANN said that 2021 chair-elect Tracy Hackshaw — who under ICANN convention was the heir apparent for the chair, replacing Ole Jacobsen — had “withdrew his candidacy for 2022 NomCom Chair due to a new professional role he has taken”.

No additional information on the withdrawal, which came as a surprise even to NomCom insiders, was made available. Hackshaw has not responded to an October 5 request for comment and does not appear to have addressed his withdrawal in public.

It’s the second time in recent years a chair-elect has not gone on to take the chair. In 2015, Ron Andruff was snubbed after poor peer-evaluation results. Hackshaw, however, appears to have scored more respectably in his review.

While the leadership picks were not revealed until the 11th hour, it seems ICANN actually made its choice in secret two weeks ago.

In a September 30 vote, the board selected Graham and Ashcraft.

But that resolution actually overrode and replaced a September 12 resolution, which was never published, appointing Hackshaw as NomCom chair. The September 30 resolution states:

Whereas, prior to publishing the Approved Resolutions of the 12 September 2021 Board meeting, the Board became aware of new information that is relevant to the evaluation of candidates.

Whereas, taking into account this new information, the BGC has recommended that the Board rescind its previous resolution and approve Michael Graham be appointed as the 2022 NomCom Chair and J. Damon Ashcraft be appointed as the 2022 NomCom Chair-Elect

That resolution was redacted in its entirety until last night. For some reason ICANN found it necessary to keep its NomCom picks secret until the very last moment.

The 2022 NomCom has the responsibility of picking three ICANN directors, one member of the Public Technical Identifiers board, two ALAC reps, and one member each of the ccNSO Council and GNSO Council.

Both chair and chair-elect are IP lawyers. New chair Graham is travel company Expedia’s top IP guy, and Ashcraft is a partner at the law firm Snell & Wilmer. It’s Ashcraft’s second go at the job in recent years, having chaired the 2019 committee.

Due to the leadership kerfuffle, the NomCom is starting its work on this cycle slightly later than usual.

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Comments (4)

  1. The NomCom is NOT “starting its work on this cycle slightly later than usual.” The 2022 committee will officially be seated at the end of ICANN72 as is the common practice. Due to the earlier than normal AGM (September 17-22, 2022), the NomCom will actually be ahead of schedule as compared to this last cycle.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      The public record, along with comments I’ve received from others, suggests that NomCom 2022 is starting work slightly later than usual.

      You were appointed chair of the 2021 committee September 10, 2020.

      The 2021 committee began the “planning” phase of its work that same month, before the 2020 AGM.

      This year, the chair was named in October, over a month later than the previous cycle.

      Unless I’m being told that NomCom 2022’s work began last month, chairless, that certainly seems to suggest it’s starting its work slightly later than usual this year.

      I’m not sure I follow the logic how an earlier 2022 AGM makes any difference. Next year’s AGM is slightly earlier than usual, but surely that gives NomCom less time than usual to complete its work, putting it an additional month behind schedule.

      Apologies if I’ve misunderstood your point.

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