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Moving on from Creative Commons

About CC

I have some bittersweet professional news to share. I will be stepping down from my position at Creative Commons and joining the Wikimedia Foundation as Chief of Staff. Leading Creative Commons has been the most challenging and rewarding role of my career. It has been a privilege to do this work, and together we’ve had some incredible accomplishments. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and professional staff, and a caring and driven community — I deeply believe that our collaborative efforts are the reason for every success we’ve had. I’m excited to continue working on issues that I care about in the open community. And I’m excited to continue working collaboratively with the CC team as a community member and partner.

Looking back on five years as CC’s CEO, I believe that the organization is in a stronger position than it has ever been. CC’s focus is clear, building a vibrant, usable commons powered by collaboration and gratitude through community support and training, product development and partnerships, and engagement.

Operationally, CC has an inspired and driven management team, with exceptional staff leading all aspects of our operations and programs. They are some of my favorite humans, and it’s been a joy to work with them. The team is guided by a multi-year strategy and collaboratively developed goals that support accountability and transparency. Financially, the organization has established a meaningful reserve upon which it can draw, secured partnerships with new multi-year funders, and initiated a strategy to secure multi-year relationships that has been embraced by the Board and is being executed upon by CC’s senior management.

Together, we renewed and expanded the CC network, and it is now nearly four times its previous size, with new and long-standing leaders working together to grow CC in communities previously not engaged with CC. I can’t underscore how important that community work has been, how impactful it will be in the future, and how happy I was to see the community hold such a central role in CC’s strategy and programs. Finally, CC has renewed and strengthened partnerships with funders, peer organizations, content partners, institutions, governments, and more. We have established The Big Open, and taken a leading role in inviting others to join us.

That’s a lot. And after five years, it should be. I joined the organization at a challenging time, with a deep belief in the power of sharing to create a more equitable world, to drive innovation, and create access for all to culture and knowledge. My hope was always to leave the organization in a good place, so that its next CEO can join the staff, community, and board in imagining where CC should go next.

Nobody’s perfect, but I do believe I’ve accomplished the goals we set together, and it’s a good time to move on and invite new leadership in the organization. In the intervening period I will work closely with the CC management team and the board to effect a smooth transition.

To the entire CC team, with whom it has been my great pleasure to work so closely for the past five years, I want to share an enormous amount of gratitude. To CC’s many partners, supporters, and communities, I’m sure I’ll see you again in The Big Open. And as CC enters its 20th year, I look forward to celebrating with all of you as colleagues and friends.

Please also read Creative Commons Board Chair Molly Van Houweling’s post on what’s next for CC.


Ryan Merkley
CEO, Creative Commons

Posted 13 August 2019