By Gerard Best
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday November 30, 2017 – For some time, the board of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) has expressed a desire to have greater diversity across its leadership structures. Finally, steps are being taken to have representation that better reflects the diversity of the ARIN community.
ARIN is one of five registries worldwide that coordinate Internet number resources. The ARIN region spans the United States, Canada and about half of the territories in the Caribbean. Yet, since ARIN was founded on April 18, 1997, two of its main oversight structures — the Board of Trustees and Advisory Council —have only been populated with persons from North America. At last, that changes.
Since official results were announced on October 16, following elections for ARIN’s 15-member advisory council and 7-member board of trustees, at least one milestone was already clear—for the first time the ARIN community elected someone to the board who was not a white male. More recently, ARIN’s leadership has taken the decision to add further diversity to its ranks.
Two women from the Caribbean will sit on the advisory council for the first time. Jamaican-born Kerrie Ann Richards was appointed as an interim member effective immediately to fill the remainder of the unexpired term of David Huberman, who resigned from the council effective November 17. That terms ends on December 31, 2018.
Richards, director of education non-profit Vision for Jamaica, described the council’s decision as a big win for ARIN and the Caribbean.
“It’s one thing for the Caribbean to be in the room, it’s another thing for us to be seated at the table. Although there has been a certain level of representation of the Caribbean at international Internet governance for a like ARIN, the fact is that we as a region have not collectively let our voice be heard, even in the shaping of policies that affect our region directly. I am here to be that voice,” she said.
Advisory council members also voted to appoint Barbadian-born Alicia Trotman for a one-year term, starting January 1, 2018. Trotman, a senior administrator at Barbados’ national telecommunications regulator, described the decision of the council as “a big step forward for Caribbean representation” at the regional Internet registry.
Trotman will fill the seat made vacant by Dan Alexander, principal engineer for Comcast Cable, after he was elected to the board. Andrew Dul, David Farmer, Leif Sawyer, Chris Tacit and Chris Woodfield were also re-elected to serve three-year terms on the advisory council, starting January 1, 2018.
In terms of diversity, the board elections outcome was equally important, if less surprising. Of the four candidates vying for two available board seats, only Alexander was both white and male. Of the others, two were female: Nancy Carter, CFO of Canada’s National Research and Education Network; and Leslie Daigle, Principal, Thinking Cat Enterprises. And the third—Stephen Lee, CEO of Arkitechs Inc. and co-founder of the Caribbean Network Operators Group—is a Jamaican-born Afro-American. The successful candidates, Alexander and Carter, will serve three-year terms on the board of trustees, starting January 1, 2018.
For her part, Trotman is already looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“My role is to facilitate policy development, and so I would encourage Caribbean stakeholders to vocalize any policy changes that they want to see happen. I’m looking forward to assisting any members seeking to undertake the policy development process, in order to propose amendments or even table new policies for consideration. So, my priority is to actively listen to and support ARIN’s broad and diverse base of members, from the Caribbean and elsewhere,” she said.
In understanding the needs of the Caribbean, Trotman and Richards are likely to find support from ARIN’s recently appointed Caribbean Outreach Liaison, Bevil Wooding, who is considered to be one of the leading Internet governance advocates for the region.
Speaking at ARIN’s 40th public policy meeting in San Jose, California last month, Wooding also announced plans to increase ARIN engagement with stakeholders in the Caribbean.
“Directly engaging and better supporting the ARIN community in Caribbean is a top priority for ARIN,” he said. “In 2018, you will be seeing several new initiatives targeting the technical community, regulators, governments and law enforcement agencies.”
“The needs of the Caribbean can be very different to those of the US and Canada. ARIN’s Caribbean members face challenges that their North American counterparts may not always easily relate to. So, for number policy decisions to best reflect the entire ARIN Community, those decisions must include perspectives drawn from the Caribbean,” he added.
John Curran, CEO of ARIN, agreed. He describes Wooding’s appointment as part of a larger strategic plan by ARIN to invest in policies and practices that are more representative of its entire membership, not just those in the demographic majority.
“We recognize that our policy development process can only benefit from the inclusion of more voices and perspectives from our constituents in the Caribbean,” Curran said.
All that remains now is for the Caribbean to seize the moment and make their voices and views heard.