As the ICANN community, organization and Board prepare for ICANN58 in Copenhagen, I am already looking ahead to ICANN59 in Johannesburg. It’s not because I prefer warm sun over winter chill – it’s the anticipation of the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the ICANN Fellowship Program. The ICANN Board approved the Fellowship Program in April 2007, with the first round of Fellows participating that June in ICANN29 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. One of my first endeavors at ICANN was serving as Project Coordinator for this new Fellowship Program, and ICANN29 was my first ICANN Public Meeting. So this event holds a special place in my ICANN memory book.
Over the years, the program has evolved. We learned how to crawl, then moved on to walking at a good pace. We gained momentum through the strength of the growing base of Alumni Fellows. These Fellows were dedicated to the mission of ICANN and helped build a foundation for the family that the Fellowship Program has now become. Within the Fellowship Alumni base, you can find individuals representing each of the ICANN community groups, including Advisory Committees and Supporting Organizations. I am proud that we now have 10 ICANN Alumni Fellows working in the ICANN organization. The most recent hires were Siranush Vardanyan, Fellowship Coordinator; Mario Aleman, ALAC/At-Large Community Support; and Amr Elsadr, Policy Development Support Manager.
In the upcoming months, I will share information about the Fellowship Program, along with stories of successful Alumni who volunteer alongside you in our many community groups.
This month, the spotlight is on León Felipe Sánchez Ambia, one of two Fellowship Alumni elected to the ICANN Board. (Already seated is Rafael “Lito “Ibarra of San Salvador.)
An Intellectual Property (IP) attorney from Mexico, León Felipe Sánchez Ambía was selected by At-Large as the successor of Rinalia Abdul Rahm to serve on the Board for three years. His term begins in November 2017. He is now finishing his service as the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) Vice-Chair, having been the Nominating Committee (NomCom) selectee to this position. He is also wrapping up his role as Co-Chair of the Cross-Community Working Group (CCWG) on Accountability, where he was deeply involved with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition for the past several years.
This is a natural progression that began at ICANN44 in June 2012, when Sánchez was selected to participate in the Fellowship Program in Prague. He has been engaged ever since, attending ICANN46, ICANN48 and ICANN49. At each meeting, he gained experience, lent his knowledge and expertise, and performed in an unofficial role mentoring new Fellows and other Newcomers just entering the ICANN sphere.
When told of that he was selected by his peers to the ICANN Board, Sánchez stated, “It is a privilege and honor to be able to serve our community. I am very grateful to have this opportunity.” Sánchez embodies the spirit of fellowship and the spirit of community. He is a role model, showing what can happen when the ICANN family reaches both outward and inward to train and retain individuals who are helping guide the course of ICANN in the world.