Liz Steininger for the ZF Board

Hello all,

I would like to nominate Liz Steininger, CEO of Least Authority, for ZF board. I’ve met Liz at several Zcash occasions, including the recent ZCON3 where she presented on understanding ZK-SNARKS (Understanding the Moon Math of ZK Snarks workshop led by Anna Kaplan and Liz Steininger - YouTube).

I think Liz would be an excellent fit for the open Zcash Foundation Board Member position. Her experience at Least Authority would give her broad familiarity with the crypto/tech industry. This could give her perspective on a wide variety of projects in the space, which could serve as a source of insight for the ZF. Her role as CEO of Least Authority also gives her valuable experience in coordinating groups of people, resource allocation, etc. Also, I think that same familiarity with the space and the people within it will help to potentially grow the Zcash Foundation and Zcash as a whole beyond our own borders so we can better collaborate with other like-minded people.

I reached out to Liz and she tentatively accepted my nomination. Due to the approaching deadline, I am posting this nomination now, which she can hopefully accept in time. However, Liz did tell me she was busy preparing for the entire Least Authority team to get together this week, so I would ask that she be given enough time to affirm her nomination here (can the deadline be pushed back a day or two if need be?).

I hope Liz can be a great candidate in the election for the next ZF board member, and thank you Liz for being willing to explore this opportunity!

David

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:heart:

With all due respect, I prefer a candidate who hasn’t been affiliated with Zcash in the past. We need new blood.

The Zcash Foundation board has concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest with regards to this nomination.

ZIP 1014 states that “Members of ZF’s Board of Directors MUST NOT hold equity in ECC or have current business or employment relationships with ECC”. While Liz is not an employee of ECC, she is CEO / Managing Director of Least Authority, a company that we understand to be majority owned by Zooko and members of his family.

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Thanks for the nomination @David_Heisenberg and I accept it.

I am a long time supporter of Zcash and would appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the community!

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@Dodger I don’t hold equity in ECC or have current business or employment relationships with ECC.

It is correct that I am employed as the CEO/Managing Director of Least Authority. Zooko, as an individual, is a member of the board of Least Authority (About Team - Least Authority).

Since Zooko is not ECC, I don’t believe this equates to a conflict of interest. However, it isn’t ultimately my determination to make, so I am happy to discuss this.

My interest in this role is to help the Zcash community because I believe the world needs Zcash. Although this is just a personal view, I do believe my work with Least Authority is complementary.

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I think Liz would be great for the board, but would like to hear from members of the ZF board about what they believe is the conflict of interest (@Dodger’s post had speculation about Zooko’s current role wrt Least Authority and Zooko’s family ties to LA seem less like a COI). To be blunt - there isn’t a large number of candidates being proposed for the seats that need to be filled so I think for the sake of getting the best candidates on the ballot ECC, ZF, @zooko, and the ZF board should quickly figure out if an actual conflict exists.

I personally am not taking a side on if one exists until I see details.

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To add/clarify on my personal interest here:
My personal view is that both privacy and transparency are necessities in the systems we use. I’ve worked with open source software for nearly my whole career because of the values that code and community should be open. For many years I worked on the side of information transparency as a means to empower people with knowledge, especially to participate in their organizations. And for the almost the last decade I’ve worked on the side of privacy to protect individuals’ information and communications, including the security required for privacy to be effective. Throughout all of my work with technology, I have come to appreciate the advancements that make for more elegant solutions, especially in balancing the needs of transparency and privacy. Zcash is interesting to me because it incorporates technological and cryptographic advancements to offer a more elegant solution to the need for private digital global cash.

And on the topic of Least Authority’s alignment, this is the company mission:
“Least Authority is committed to building and supporting the development of usable technology solutions and ethical business practices to advance digital security and preserve privacy as a fundamental human right.”

Regardless of whether my nomination proceeds and the outcome of the election, I am happy to be a part of this community. And this has been a great excuse to share with you all about my experience and interests so we can connect more on these topics :slight_smile: I look forward to continuing to contribute in whatever ways I can.

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For the record, I and the other ZF board members have a lot of respect for Liz and the rest of the Least Authority team, and we’re glad that they are part of the Zcash ecosystem. We’d be glad to have her if it wasn’t for the conflict of interest problem.

The issue is Liz works for Least Authority. Least Authority is a company that various ZF board members know, from direct involvement in the matter, was almost completely owned by Zooko and his family. Zooko also controls ECC, and the ZF Board believes that there should be clear separation between ECC and ZF (the Zcash community also expressed this view in ZIP 1014).

If this ownership relationship is still there, it would put Liz in an impossible position. As long as this ownership relationship exists, we do not believe any employee of Least Authority, no matter how awesome, can be a ZF board member. It would be bad for ZF and, frankly, bad for them. We welcome any disclosures that Least Authority is not in whole or in part owned by Zooko or his family members, and that Least Authority (including any parent companies or subsidiaries) no longer has a business relationship with ECC/Bootstrap.

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@Dodger I appreciate the deliberation of the Board and your detailed explanation.

Based on your post it sounds like you intend the policy to include the following, beyond the explicitly stated parties of the nominee and ECC:

  1. Any business relationships with ECC by the owners of the nominee’s employer, and
  2. Any business relationships of ECC’s individual Officers and Directors, outside of ECC.

As I stated before, I do not hold equity in ECC or have current business or employment relationships with ECC. As a result, the current writing of the policy is unclear that it would apply in my case.

If it is your intention to have the policy be broader to include the above-mentioned relationships, I suggest you officially clarify this in the policy so future potential nominees can be clear that they aren’t eligible prior to putting in the effort. For the ownership of the nominee’s employer, including percentage thresholds or other guidance would be helpful (as “control” via ownership is interpreted by differently in various contexts).

Had I known that the interpretation of conflict of interest is extended beyond what is explicitly stated (between the nominee and ECC) and the details were better defined in your current policy, I would not have bothered to proceed with the nomination.

Nonetheless, I now withdraw my running for the position on the ZF Board. (I’m not sure this is procedurally necessary to say, but just so everyone knows I consent to being removed.)

I look forward to other opportunities to contribute to the Zcash community!

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