Foundation/Strategy Retreat

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Mozilla Foundation Strategy Retreat FAQ

What are MoFo Strategy Retreats?

MoFo Strategy Retreats are 2-day sprints that aim to help us create forward momentum towards our strategy and address a high-impact challenge. In addition, they serve to:

  • Keep us focused on how we can advance our external impact
  • Create organizational elegance by aligning outcomes of Strategy Retreats with ongoing planning, All-Hands, Board conversations and other programs where helpful.
  • Build more participation and familiarity with the strategic planning process across the organization.

Why did we decide on this approach?

The MoFo executive team (Mark Surman, Angela Plohman, Ashley Boyd) has been exploring ways to help advance the strategy through cross-functional, collaborative thinking around impact. The retreats started in 2017 to provide an opportunity for people at different levels to engage in strategy, and to practice together how we solve specific challenges.

How do Strategy Retreats fit into our regular planning cycle?

We host Strategy Retreats twice per year. The first retreat will take place in the spring, early enough in the year for us to examine where we may need extra focus and attention. The second retreat will happen in the fall, where we’ll focus on the next year’s planning cycle.

Strategy Retreats take place as part of a larger sequence of strategic planning processes at MoFo. The outcomes of the retreat link to and flow into preparation for board meetings, All Hands, team-level planning, etc.

How are the themes and attendees decided?

The MoFo executive team will define the theme and outcomes, and select participants for each retreat. Themes will be selected that can be advanced in a few days between the executives, MoFo staff and external parties.

Attendees for each retreat will vary depending on the theme, to bring a diversity of insight and expertise from across the organization. They will include MoFo staff to represent a cross-section of the organization, varying tenures at MoFo, office and remote workers, and various professional backgrounds and areas of expertise. External participants may also be invited.

Who is designing/facilitating the Strategy Retreats?

Stephanie Ryan from The Coaching Studio will design and facilitate the retreats. She has been working with the executive team for several years and has attended several All-Hands. The Coaching Studio will continue working to support the Executive Team and the organization as a whole through strategic planning.

What is the expectation of participants after the retreat?

Participants in the strategy retreats are not cohorts. They are invited based on their expertise and opinions as it relates to the theme of the retreat. They may continue to consult or work on the outputs of the retreat after the fact, however that is usually determined on a case-by-case basis.

There are some expectations for work that participants will engage in both before and after the retreat.

  • Before
    • Complete any pre-reading/viewing/assignments in advance of the retreat
  • After
    • Share back the experience and takeaways with their teams, and also perhaps during a staff call
    • Participate in a 1:1 feedback discussion about the retreat

Strategy Retreat Details

April 2019

Theme: The theme for the April 2019 Strategy Retreat is working like a movement. We’ll explore how we can build strength through massive collaboration and engagement with the movement for internet health. We’ll focus on how–across existing MoFo programs–we can get to the next level of growth and impact through our collaboration with, and promotion, of our movement partners. We’ll draw on ideas and inspiration about how to introduce and scale this approach within our work from each other and external sources.

Outputs: The aim of the retreat is to develop or refine strategic movement building plans for three initiatives already underway at Mozilla. These include:

  • EU misinformation and related campaigns working with partners following the election (Theme/Revenue/Reach OKR)
  • Collaboration with and among fellows on defining an AI agenda for the internet health movement (Theme/Reach OKR)
  • Responsible CS Challenge - weaving winners, finalists and judges into the movement, accelerating ethics in CS/AI (Theme OKR)
  • We’ll also brainstorm additional places where we can build on this thinking with cross-org support

By the end of the retreat, teams working on the initiatives above will have a clear plan about how to use our programmatic tools/platforms/resources to expand collaboration and participation across the movement. All participants will have new skills that will allow them to ‘work like a movement’ as individuals, as teams and with our community. These skills will allow them to develop further collaborations beyond those designed at the retreat.

April 2019 Participants The executive team, in consultation with some directors, invites staff and partners that bring diverse thinking and expertise in relation to the theme. For the April retreat, this group represents staff across teams, roles, geographies, tenures and professional backgrounds--key stakeholders in the initiatives listed above, as well as core supports for public messaging/promotion/partnerships based on these efforts.

Abby Cabunoc Mayes Practice Lead, Working Open
Angela Plohman EVP, Strategic Operations
Anil Kanji Director, Digital Engagement
Ashley Boyd VP, Advocacy & Engagement
Brandi Guerkink EU Campaigner
Camille François Mozilla Fellow
Chad Sansing Open Culture Lead
Gabi Ivens Mozilla Fellow
Jenn Beard Program Officer
Jesse Ward Major Gifts Officer
Juan Barajas Director, Partnerships
Kevin Zawacki Editorial Lead
Lainie DeCoursy Senior Program Manager, Strategic Operations
Lindsey Dodson Senior Program Officer
Lotta Rao Director, Communications
Mark Surman Executive Director
Melissa Huerta Senior Program Officer
Michelle Thorne Senior Program Officer
Miriam Avery Director, Strategy Foresight, MoCo
Rizwan Tufail Director, Fellowships & Awards
Sarah Allen Director, Events and Training
Theo Chevalier Localization Project Manager

Rashida Richardson from AI Now and J. Bob Alotta from Astraea Foundation will be joining as guests for portions of the retreat.

September 2018

Theme: The September Strategy Retreat is a key component of our strategic planning process, where we’ll be focused on on answering the following question: “What concrete improvements to the health of the internet do we want to make over the next 3-5 years?” Together, we’ll explore how we might use our core programs - shaping the agenda, connecting leaders and rallying citizens - to set our sights on a specific, compelling impact goal that builds on the ‘your data and you’ theme used in 2018. As a step in the development of this statement, together, we will be exploring, clarifying, and narrowing our list of potential impact statements to undergo further analysis. The outcome of this retreat will link directly to and flow into the preparation for the November board meeting.

Specific goals:

  • Hone draft impact goals that describe concrete 'wins' on internet health over the coming years
  • Review these goals against a set of criteria related to Mozilla's mission, community and likelihood of success -- narrow the number of goals under consideration
  • Create a list of questions that need to be answered and evidence that needs to be gathered to further test the goals against the criteria
  • Develop a plan to engage staff, fellows and key allies from across the movement in further fleshing out and testing the thinking on the narrower list of goals
  • Overall, deepen engagement in strategic planning and improve our ability to do analysis and make decisions as a group

By the end of the retreat, participants will have a clearer understanding of each of the impact statements, as well as be able to connect their team’s work to those statements. Tangibly, we’ll expect to have honed and refined versions of our draft impact statements, alignment on the criteria by which they’ll be reviewed, details to help us build out out deeper analyses (questions to answer, evidence to gather) and next steps on broader engagement.

September 2018 Participant bios

Angela Plohman Mark Surman
Ashley Boyd Mehan Jayasuriya
Chris Riley (MoCo) Michael Auckland
Jesse Von Doom Paul Zenke
Josh Wolf Rizwan Tufail
Jon Lloyd Sam Burton
Juan Barajas Sara Haghoodsti
Kristina Shu Sarah Allen
Lainie DeCoursy Sunil Abraham
Lotta Rao

May 2018

Theme: During this Strategy Retreat, we will explore how MoFo can thrive in the long-term and build on our success to date for greater impact in the world. Starting with a review of our current programs, we will work to explore how we can build excellence as we maximize impact, expand global reach and foster long-term sustainability. We will use the interim MoFo program evaluation report as our core document and will draw insight, ideas and inspiration from each other and external sources.

This retreat was rooted in finding inspiration from others doing social change and movement building work. Participants all played key roles in taking the discussions and learnings from the retreat back to their teams, and also facilitated activities and break-out groups on the same themes at Toronto All Hands.

May 2018 Participant bios

Amira Dhalla Lainie DeCoursy
Angela Plohman Mark Surman
Ashley Boyd Melissa Romaine
Jairus Khan Sara Haghdoosti
Josh Wolf Sarah Watson
Juan Barajas

External participants:

  • Chris Stone, Fmr Pres, Open Society Foundations
  • Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry
  • Rashad Robinson, Color of Change

August 2017

Theme: During this Strategy Retreat, we’ll look towards where we want the Internet health movement to be five years from now, and we’ll examine in detail why this work is important now, what to focus resources on in the final year of our 3-year strategy, and how we can increase our external impact, with an eye towards our future ambitions for the movement.

We’re not changing the strategy or programs for 2018. We are, however, taking a stance on focus and simplicity for the initiatives within in each program area.

  • Shape the agenda = Internet Health Report and related research/initiatives
  • Connect leaders = $ to support leaders and their work in the movement
  • Rally citizens = campaigns to educate and motivate people to take action; asking companies and governments to pay attention to internet health

We’ll also explore initiatives that support the above programs - including MozFest and a digital engagement strategy. Also key will be connecting these initiatives to each other and to the overall movement.

This retreat helped kick-off our planning for 2018. We were able to step back and dig in on deeper levels around WHY our work matters and is urgent, while also generating concrete ideas for how we might take this work forward in the next 18 months. Outcomes included draft objectives for 2018 and plenty of content that now lives in our strategy brief.


August 2017 participants bios

Amy Schapiro Juan Barajas Paul Johnson
Angela Plohman Kasia Odrozek Rizwan Tufail
Ashley Boyd Lainie DeCoursy Sam Burton
Chris Lawrence Lindsey Frost Sarah Allen
Cori Zarek Lotta Rao VojtechSedlak
Hana Sun Mark Surman Will Easton
Jesse Von Doom Michael Auckland

External participants:

  • Betsy Hoover, Partner and Co-Founder of Higher Ground Labs & 270 Strategies
  • Kirstie Whittaker, Mozilla Fellow for Science Alumna
  • Tom Liacas, Senior Strategist, NetChange Consulting

April 2017

Theme: Increase impact and momentum around implementation of how MoFo drives public demand for better privacy and security. We want to create a space in which our combined issue, messaging, campaign and network expertise will strengthen our existing plans for raising public understanding of–and action in support of–better Internet privacy and security.


Core questions include:

  • What are core privacy and security issues emerging globally in which MoFo can make a unique and important impact in 2017?
  • How do we use the Mozilla Network for these themes and campaigns?
  • What other existing resources can we leverage to develop the most impactful results in these areas and how?
  • What new resources / approaches / actions do we need to cultivate in order to create the most impact in this area in 2017 and how?


The outputs from this retreat heavily influenced planning around our mass market education “Privacy by Default” campaign, as well as furthered thinking around our grantmaking strategy related to privacy and security themes/projects/etc.


April 2017 Participants

Angela Plohman Jen Caltrider
Ashley Boyd Lainie DeCoursy
Brett Gaylor Lotta Rao
Chris Lawrence Mark Surman
Chrystian Rodriguez Meghan McDermott

External participants:

  • Camille Fischer - Former Obama Administration Policy Advisor, White House National Economic Council
  • Josh Levy - Campaign strategist and digital rights advocate
  • Sarah Aoun - Digital Security Trainer with Research Action Design (RAD)