ARIN Board Challenged to Diversify

Before the American Registry for Internet Numbers' 40th Public Policy Meeting closed last week, members were reminded that the elections for two seats on its Board of Trustees was an opportunity for needed change.

The opening of polls last Thursday marked the end of an era. The clue was the candidates. For the first time in ARIN’s history, at least one seat on its board would not be filled by an elected white male. 

Of the four vying, only Dan Alexander, principal engineer for Comcast Cable, 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 is a Jamaican-born, Afro-American Stephen Lee, CEO of Arkitechs Inc. and a co-founder of the Caribbean Network Operators Group.

By its very composition, the pool promises an unprecedented outcome.

“This is the first time that we will have elected someone who is not yet-another-white-guy,” said Bill Woodcock, who served on the Board of Trustees for 15 years before stepping down at the ARIN meeting in San Jose, California.

“It has been 20 years of only white guys. Twenty years,” he said, in an interview immediately after the San Jose meeting, adding that the coming change was not coincidental but calculated. 

“I stepped down because I can’t solve the problem of diversity on the board by remaining on the board myself. I am yet another white guy.”

As Woodcock sees it, his push for greater diversity in ARIN’s top-tier leadership serves the body's best interest. 

“It’s a matter of selecting from the best possible pool of candidates. If we take the entire pool of candidates and we throw out everyone who is not a white guy before we fill the available seats, we get a mediocre Board. If we could get two really good candidates this time instead of two mediocre ones, the board would improve. If we could do that again next year, the board would improve again. Then we may be at an extraordinary board, rather than an average one. That’s what I’m hoping for,” he said.