By Anand Vora, Vice President of Business Affairs, Public Interest Registry

Back in 1994, Joel Kurtzman, the founding editor-in-chief of the business publication Strategy & Business, coined the term “thought leadership,” which was the name of a rubric he created to identify interview subjects who had ideas worth sharing.

Since then, thought leadership has taken on more meanings; some view it merely as another phrase in a long line of temporal corporate buzzwords; others think of convoluted marketing or branding strategies that help charismatic business leaders secure TED talks. Marketing professional Sangram Vajre even gives three compelling reasons why you should never, under any circumstances, call yourself a thought leader.

So what is thought leadership, and why is it important? At Public Interest Registry (PIR) we believe it’s a critical part of who we are now and who we aspire to be in the future. We’ve been running the .ORG domain for more than 15 years, and our team comprises some of the industry’s sharpest and most knowledgeable minds. What better to do with this collective experience than to share it?

Thought leadership allows us to share our accumulated knowledge and expertise in the domain industry with those who need it. It also helps us make good on our mission to empower people doing great things online—whether it’s advocating for positive change or giving back to their communities by providing the tools and knowledge they need to use the Internet effectively. Thought leadership also helps us ensure the Internet remains a powerful platform for people to build a safe and secure online presence, both today and well into the future.

To continue this work and in support of our own non-profit mission, we are developing a comprehensive outreach and education initiative that incorporates thought leadership at its core. The initiative includes technical training, community support, online education, industry events, and fellowship programs. Most importantly, we are continuing to make investments in our thought leadership by adding talented and inspired domain professionals to our team.

Suzanne Woolf

Suzanne Woolf

Our most recent addition to the PIR family is Suzanne Woolf, who will be joining us in the newly created position of Senior Director of Technical Community Engagement. Suzanne is no stranger to PIR, having served on the PIR Board of Directors since May of 2018, but we are thrilled for her to make the jump to PIR in this new capacity. We couldn’t be more excited to have her in this critical role where she will be able to share her wealth of expertise with the .ORG community.

Suzanne has led an impressive career in the development and operation of the domain name system (DNS), including the operation of DNS root servers and the implementation and standardization of the DNS protocols themselves. She served on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board as well as the Internet Architecture Board of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), where she is currently co-chair of the DNS Operations Working Group (DNSOP). It’s no exaggeration to say that there are few people in the world who understand the technical Internet ecosystem better than Suzanne.

In this new role, Suzanne will be building and executing PIR’s technical engagement strategy with operator groups, standards bodies and research organizations, ensuring we are able to take full advantage of new developments in technology and able to contribute to the future technical evolution of the Internet.

Suzanne says that being part of the PIR team is a big part of what motivates her, and she is looking forward to not only learning from everyone across the organization but leveraging her technical expertise and perspectives to strengthen PIR’s business approach and greater mission. While a technologist first, Suzanne brings a unique perspective to the table: “Technology doesn’t exist independently, any more than the other pieces of what we [PIR] do exist on their own,” she explains. “The key is in making sure all of our pieces are aligned and working together so that we can help others use the Internet to realize their own goals and aspirations.”

By continuing to invest in people like Suzanne who bring deep technical domain expertise, industry understanding, and the passion to share both, we are able to better do our part to make the Internet a safe, secure, and trusted space for those who use it to fulfill their own missions. If that’s not what ‘thought leadership’ is all about, we don’t know what is.

When you see Suzanne out “in the wild” at an industry conference or technical summit, be sure to say hello—or test her domain knowledge with some esoteric industry questions!