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Organizational Changes Coming to ICANN org

4 June 2020
By Göran Marby

In this day and age, all organizations experience change; whether planned or unplanned, change is inevitable. This requires us to be responsive and adaptable. As stewards of ICANN org, my Executive team and I take this responsibility seriously. Whenever changes occur, it is our duty to evaluate the impacts of the change and leverage the opportunity to evolve our support for the community to maximize efficiency, collaboration, and resources.

GDD Leadership

Today, I am pleased to announce that effective immediately, Theresa Swinehart, Senior Vice President of Multistakeholder Strategy & Strategic Initiatives (MSSI) and my co-deputy, will assume permanent leadership of the Global Domains Division (GDD). This is in addition to her leadership of MSSI and co-deputy role. In March 2020, I appointed Swinehart interim Executive of the GDD function.

I made this change to help us centralize and improve our support to the ICANN community and our stakeholders. Both GDD and MSSI serve the community and address subject areas that bridge policy, review recommendations, strategy, and specific initiatives impacting stakeholders.

MSSI is responsible for several areas including: running reviews and a range of strategic initiatives we work on with the community (such as General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR], the evolution of the multistakeholder model, and the Cross-Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability, Work Stream 2 [WS2]).

The role of GDD includes working with the contracted parties, along with other cross-functional areas of work (including GDPR and several review recommendations under implementation).

By increasing the coordination and integration between GDD and MSSI, we can better leverage natural synergies and efficiencies, ensure coordination with relevant policy implementation, and better support stakeholders and the community.

Theresa is a leading advocate for an open and secure Internet, and an expert in global Internet governance and cooperation. Her extensive industry experience and knowledge, including more than15 years as a key contributor to ICANN’s growth and development, give her a unique perspective on how we can work more efficiently, foster collaboration, and create new ways to engage with the community.

Susanna Bennett Leaves ICANN org

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that our friend and colleague, Susanna Bennett, Senior Vice President & Chief Operations Officer, has made the decision to leave ICANN org and begin a new chapter, effective 1 July 2020.

Susanna joined ICANN org in 2013 and has played a vital role in its growth and evolution.

During her tenure, Susanna led several major initiatives, including forming the Security Operations team; launching the Accountability Indicators platform; evolving Board Operations and enhancing support to the ICANN Board; launching the Open Data Program; and helping lead the development of the 2021-2025 Operating & Financial Plan and the FY21 Operating Plan & Budget. We’ve been fortunate to have her leadership and I’m particularly grateful to her for the wisdom, calm, and expert advice she has provided to me over the years.

Distributing the Work of the Operations Team

As a result of Susanna’s anticipated departure, I’ve distributed the activities and teams previously under the Operations function to make better use of our resources and increase collaboration.

New Planning Department

I am pleased to announce that Xavier Calvez, Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, will assume leadership of a new Planning Department. This new department brings together the strategic planning and trends work previously led by MSSI with operating and budget planning. This change will allow us to streamline the planning process, improve our collaboration at the planning stage within the org and across the community, and help us prioritize activities in the mid and long term.

Risk Management

To make informed decisions about risks facing the org, we must first identify and mitigate the risks we face. The mitigation work needs to be integrated within operational and strategic planning, and therefore, Risk Management will now be under Xavier’s responsibility.

Reviews Implementation

Separately, the community and the org are managing the many recommendations resulting from current ICANN Reviews. This presented an opportunity to simplify and incorporate the Reviews recommendations work into the overarching planning process. As a result, Xavier will also assume responsibility for the implementation of Reviews recommendations.

Xavier has extensive international experience in strategic planning, and process change and improvement, as well as financial reporting, analysis, and modeling. He is ideally suited to ensure that the coordination of our planning efforts and our fiscal management meet the needs of ICANN org and the community through these challenging times.

Other Operations Work

Security Operations will now report to Gina Villavicencio, Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources because of the natural synergy between security operations and our facilities and safety teams.

Board Operations, which is the ICANN org’s support function to the ICANN Board of Directors is moving back under John Jeffrey, General Counsel and Secretary. This is consistent with his role as my co-deputy and as the Board’s Secretary.

Please join me in congratulating the executives on their new responsibilities. And I know we will all miss Susanna’s leadership and friendship, and we are grateful for all she has done for ICANN. Thank you my friend. Please join me in wishing her well in her future endeavors.

If you have questions or comments, please post them in the Comments section.




Göran Marby

Göran Marby

Former President & CEO