A Joint Statement from Terah Lyons & PAI Board Chair on Executive Director Transition
Leadership Transitions at the Partnership on AI, from PAI Board Chair, Eric Horvitz
It is with both sadness and gratitude that I announce Terah Lyons’s forthcoming departure as Executive Director of the Partnership on AI (PAI), which will be effective January 31, 2021. Since 2017, Terah has played a critical role in the early development, growth, and success of the organization. We wish her all the best in her new endeavors, which she will share at a later date.
I am excited to share that Rebecca Finlay will assume the role of Acting Executive Director at PAI. Rebecca has been the Vice-President of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), and has been serving on PAI’s Board of Directors. Rebecca has decades of experience in nonprofit leadership, including efforts directly addressing the influences about AI on people and society. She is enthusiastic and highly qualified lead PAI during this important period. Over the coming months, we will be conducting a global search to identify a new permanent Executive Director for the Partnership.
On behalf of the PAI Board of Directors, I would like to thank Terah for her three years of dedicated service. Over that time, Terah took the Partnership into the air and on the first leg of its journey, directing and overseeing multiple impactful projects and initiatives.
Under Terah’s leadership, the Partnership has convened multiple stakeholders on a range of topics important to AI and society. The organization will continue to pursue its goals, defined by a set of key thematic pillars, building on the impact we have made across the last several years. I have been particularly excited about the following efforts:
- Fairness, Transparency, and Accountability: PAI’s flagship initiative on challenges and opportunities with the fairness, transparency, and accountability of AI systems. Notable work includes studies, leading to important caveats around the use of risk-assessment tools in the criminal justice system, updated research on the use of risk scores during the COVID-19 pandemic, research efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the AI industry, and work on enhancing practical explainability in AI.
- Safety-Critical AI: A norms-focused social and technical approach to building AI technologies that are safe, predictable, and trustworthy. Notable work includes the establishment of a first-of-its-kind AI Incidents Database and ongoing work on responsible publication practices.
- ABOUT ML: PAI’s ongoing cross-sector effort to develop, test, and implement machine learning system documentation practices at scale. Notable work includes a collection of real-world deployed examples of machine learning documentation, as well as a newly launched research study focused on methods for inclusion in the AI development process.
- AI, Labor, and the Economy: A multi-stakeholder initiative gathering partner organizations, economists, and worker representative organizations to develop shared recommendations for the role of AI in advancing a beneficial economic future. Notable work includes our community’s Framework for Workforce Wellbeing, our ongoing AI and Shared Prosperity Initiative and Steering Committee, and new research around data labeling and responsible sourcing in the AI supply line.
- AI and Media Integrity: A multidisciplinary effort to coordinate those on the frontlines of information integrity challenges around the world with those building and deploying technology – including actors from media, civil society, industry, and academia. Notable work includes user research on the impact of manipulated media labels, community-sourced insights on synthetic media detection tools, and the ongoing efforts of our AI and Media Integrity Steering Committee.
These achievements have laid the groundwork for our next chapter. I and the rest of the Board of Directors are grateful for the dedication, passion, and enthusiasm that Terah has shown the Partnership on AI and its community over the past years. She will be missed by the staff, Board, members, and partners alike. We look forward to following Terah as she takes on new challenges and adventures.
We’ve been on an incredible journey. Looking forward, we are excited about Partnership on AI’s future under Rebecca’s leadership.
Board Chair, Partnership on AI
A Departure Message from Founding Executive Director Terah Lyons
Dear PAI Community,
After three years of serving as the first Executive Director of the Partnership on AI, I will be stepping down from my current post as of January 31, 2021 to pursue a new opportunity and to take time for personal commitments.
When I started my work with the organization three years ago, the Partnership was still an idea full of promise, designed to fill a critical need: to converge a wide array of stakeholders in a collaborative environment, to help build a future where artificial intelligence empowers humanity by contributing to a more just, equitable, and prosperous world. Since then, we have carried that mission forward in building an extraordinarily dedicated and active network of stakeholders and a strong body of work — successfully moving the Partnership from an experiment in multi-stakeholder design to a lasting institution. We have supported organizations and individuals who otherwise never would have had an opportunity to do so to collaborate with one another, and have influenced positive outcomes in the public, private, and social sectors with whom we closely work.
I want to convey my deepest gratitude to all who have been and continue to be so supportive of this organization over the years — staff, board members, and, of course, our valued Partners and funders. Without you, the Partnership would not be what it is: a strong and vibrant community of practitioners, activists, experiential experts, scholars, and institutions working collaboratively to ensure that AI benefits society.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the Board for their support of me and my transition — and to introduce you to our fantastic new acting leadership. Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity and the honor to work with Rebecca Finlay, first from her role as Vice-President, Engagement and Public Policy at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), a PAI Partner, and then as a board Director at PAI. I am thrilled to see Rebecca take up the role of Acting Executive Director, and am fully confident that she will bring her force of passion for the organization and her expertise in both nonprofit management and in issues related to PAI’s work and mission to the position.
I will watch with much excitement and anticipation as the Partnership continues to make strides in achieving its ambitious mission — which is even more important and essential today than it was four years ago, when PAI was first envisioned. We are still in the early days of the Partnership’s contributions to what has become an expansive field, with deeply urgent and important questions. I am honored to have had the opportunity to see us to this important juncture, working alongside each of you.
For now, it’s back to work. I thank you all for sharing this journey with me, and beyond it, I look forward to tracking the Partnership’s continued accomplishments and impact with great interest and pride.
Founding Executive Director
Senior Communications Manager