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Remarks of Michael Roberts on His Retirement from the Presidency of ICANN

12 March 2001

March 12, 2001 - Melbourne, Australia

Members of the Board, ladies and gentlemen,

This enterprise has been a considerable challenge to startup; there has seldom been a day in the past two and half years that has not tested my commitment to the principles on which ICANN was founded.

ICANN is new, ICANN's private sector consensus model is new; the Internet is new. Without established wisdom to guide us, the leaders of the startup effort have been forced to rely on our sense of the core values on which the Internet was established. Time and again the bottom line litmus test has been: is this the right thing to do for the Internet?

Balancing the instructions in our charter to protect the stability and interoperability of the Internet while at the same time promoting competition and private enterprise is not easy. Frequently, as is the case with several of the agenda items for today, we must seek that broad middle ground which represents consensus. The Board must strip away the fevered advocacy, the impure exhortations, the arguments from limited knowledge and find the essence of the contending views on which it may make a reasoned decision.

Nothing as complicated as ICANN gets done without a team effort and I owe many debts to many people who have contributed their time and energy to ICANN. From the dozens who have worked with me directly, I especially need to acknowledge the remarkable efforts of Molly Van Houweling, Andrew McLaughlin, Louis Touton and Joe Sims, who have been principally responsible for supporting the Board's policy work. All of us owe a debt to Jeff LeVee who heads the litigation team that is batting 1.000 against those who would unwisely attempt to solve their problems by suing ICANN. Also, the team of professionals at the Department of Commerce - Becky Burr, Karen Rose and Andy Pincus - who have repeatedly confounded the bureacractic doubters by finding ways to get the job done among the maze of federal regulations. Herb Schorr and his staff at ISI have in many ways large and small made it possible to establish our headquarters and initial staff in Marina del Rey.

As we have gone through the startup period, the work of ICANN has shifted from consultants and outsourcing to the excellent group of full time employees who have joined the company. Without their tireless efforts very little would get done.

Of course, the primary work of ICANN is making and administering policy and I need to recognize the dedication of the members of our three Supporting Organization Councils, and their working groups and constituencies, who are charged with the primary responsibility of advising the Board in their areas of speciality and who frequently find themselves little thanked for their efforts.

Finally, I need to thank my wife and partner of 43 years, Lennie Roberts, who has not only endured the constant absences of her husband but who most remarkably is still willing to deliver me to the San Francisco airport at least once a week.

Serving ICANN, on the Board and on the staff, continues to require a rare blend of intellectual rigor and physical endurance; of humility in undertaking to represent the concerns of individuals all over this complex planet of ours; and a willingness to listen as well as a capacity for action. Against the voices of doubt, the Board has established a strong record of working together to accomplish the tasks assigned to us. As it looks to the future and works with you to chart the best course for ICANN, I know that the community will be well served.

I turn over the Presidency of ICANN tomorrow to my very able successor Stuart Lynn with great confidence in his capacity to continue to successfully meet the many challenges of this job.

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