— Mark Davis, President & Unicode Cofounder
In January 1991 I became the first president of the Unicode
Consortium, and in that position have presided over the board of directors since
then. I’ve had the honor of occupying those roles for just over a gigasecond now, and it’s time for a change.
Over time, it became apparent to me, the Consortium’s other
officers, and the Board of Directors that our management model was no longer
sufficient for what the organization had become over time, and what it needed to
be in the future. So, we began to explore a new, more
sustainable governance and management model. And an important part of that was
Among the first major steps in implementing this model was the
hiring of Toral Cowieson as our
first Executive Director and COO in 2021. Since then, Toral has helped
professionalize the management of the Consortium. Working with the Board and the
other Officers, Toral has also contributed to strengthening the Consortium’s
The Board and I have also recognized that, as President, I have
effectively occupied two distinct roles — CEO and CTO — and that these two
different roles require the full attention of two different people. Accordingly,
the Board has decided to split these two roles, formally creating the positions
of CEO and CTO, while retiring the title of President.
And as its next step — I am delighted to announce — the Board has
elected Toral Cowieson as CEO to replace me.
Toral has brought a wealth of experience in leadership across
non-profits, corporations, and board service to Unicode. As executive director,
she has connected with the people in the organization, provided thoughtful
leadership, and instituted and guided changes in our operations and governance.
I’m not stepping off the stage completely. The Board has
re-elected me as Chair of the Board, and elected me to the new position of CTO.
I’ll also be continuing as chair of the CLDR technical committee as well as
contributing to ICU and the UTC in focused areas.
The Unicode Consortium is the forum for companies, countries and
other groups to work together on interoperable standards, code, and data — to
support internationalizing software around the world. As a simple example,
whenever you glance at the date on your cell phone, the text you see is Unicode
characters, is formatted for your language according to CLDR language data
(including for English), and uses ICU code libraries to make that all work.
As CTO, my main goal this year will be to work with the board, technical groups,
and invited experts to continue maintaining and extending that foundation for so
much of the world’s software, while formulating a strategy for meeting upcoming
requirements and taking advantage of new technologies.
In addition, I am also pleased to announce some additional changes.
I’ve worked extensively with each of these people, and have the fullest
confidence that they will do great work in these new roles.
Peter Constable is a Technical Vice
President and the Chair of the UTC. Since 2003, Peter has worked for
Microsoft on various projects related to Unicode, internationalization, text
display and fonts. He became a Unicode technical director in 2008 and later
served as Treasurer.
Addison Phillips is the new Chair of the
Message Formatting Working Group. Addison is also the chair of the W3C
Internationalization Working Group and an active participant in the creation
of internationalization standards such as Unicode. He and I are co-authors
of IETF BCP 47, which is the standard for language and locale identifiers.
Elango Cheran is the Vice-Chair of the
recently formed Community Engagement team and an internationalization
engineer at Google. He actively contributes to the ICU and ICU4X projects,
and to the MessageFormat Working Group.
To support Unicode’s mission to ensure everyone can communicate in
their languages across all devices, please consider
adopting a character,
making a gift of stock,
or making a donation. As
Unicode, Inc. is a US-based open source, open standards, non-profit, 501(c)3
organization, your contribution may be eligible for a tax deduction. Please
consult with a tax advisor for details.