Lori Fena, who has overseen the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for the past two years, confirmed that she is stepping down after the organization finds a replacement, probably in the next three to six months.
Fena, 36, said she is returning to the private sector, where she plans to provide venture consulting services for companies and investors. She will stay on EFF's board of directors and will continue work as chair of TRUSTe, the nonprofit privacy watchdog organization that Fena cofounded.
"One of the nice things about this process is that there's huge opportunities for EFF to go to the next step, and we have some candidates to make that a very real possibility," she said.
Fena is credited with moving EFF from Washington to San Francisco, considered at the time a risky move, and ultimately bringing the organization higher visibility by aligning it with private companies.
Before Fena's tenure, EFF "was beginning to have a reputation of being a little outside the Internet community," said Cindy Cohn, an attorney who with the support of EFF is mounting a legal challenge to government controls on the export of encryption. "She did a good job of reaching out to business, not being just a civil libertarian group but a group that works with the business interests in Silicon Valley."