Our community has sustained a tragic loss. It is with great sadness that I offer condolences on behalf of the ICANN Board on the passing of Stéphane Van Gelder.
Stéphane was an active member of the ICANN community for many years, serving as Vice Chair and Chair of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council; Chair of the ICANN Nominating Committee (NomCom), and most recently, as the Vice-Chair for Policy in the Registries Stakeholder Group, among many other roles, both formal and informal.
His impact on Internet Governance and his accomplishments extended well beyond his involvement with ICANN, ranging from recent achievements such as the launch of TLD Fastrack Limited, advising prospective new generic top-level domain registry operators, and co-founding French registrar Indom. He has served on the Board of AFNIC, the non-profit organization that manages French top-level suffixes, and the French chapter of the Internet Society.
While Chair of the GNSO Council, Stéphane oversaw and shepherded some important milestones and achievements in the GNSO. These ranged from the completion of an overhaul of the GNSO's operating procedures; the establishment of the joint DNS Security & Stability Analysis working group with the ALAC, ccNSO and NRO; completion of the Fast Flux, Post-Expiration Domain Name Recovery and Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy (IRTP) Part B Policy Development Processes (PDPs) and the joint ccNSO-GNSO Internationalized Domain Name working group; launch of the IRTP Part C, Thick WHOIS and Locking of Domain Names subject to Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) Proceedings PDPs; and continuing work on WHOIS studies, registration abuse policies, and multiple other GNSO projects. His tenure as Chair also saw the completion of the Applicant Guidebook for the 2012 New gTLD Program and the launch of the Program.
The 2017 NomCom 360 Leadership Evaluation said it all…
“Stéphane did a great job as an advisor to the Chair. His leadership style is informal, but he is quite direct and to-the-point when dealing with people. Other words describing Stéphane’s leadership style are: structured, disciplined, focused, non-biased, involved and mission-directed. In addition, he is diplomatic, fair, respectful and sensitive with people. In particular, he is compassionate and patient, and he devotes the needed time to those whose first language is not English. Stéphane is very much a consensus builder, encouraging participation by all. He is quite good at establishing relationships and moderating tensions. He is a very likeable fellow.”
In his 2010 candidate statement for GNSO Council Chair, he stated, “Before starting INDOM, I was a print and TV journalist for 10 years. This meant staying curious about everything; interacting with people of different backgrounds; having the necessary confidence to express myself in public; talk or write in a way that remains accessible to people with different knowledge, attention and experience levels; and having a strong respect for the truth and for the facts.”
Stéphane always brought his people-oriented approach to ICANN. He was open minded, he was kind, and he was curious. He was smart, witty and an exceptional conversationalist. He championed fair representation and valued the discourse that emerged from the multiple interests and diverse viewpoints across the community. His impact on the ICANN community, and on many of us individually, cannot be overstated. Stéphane was a wonderful colleague, a great collaborator and a good friend. We will remember him fondly and we send our deepest condolences to his wife, children, family, and friends.