Facebook nabs Change.org COO Jennifer Dulski to lead Groups

Facebook is serious about using Groups to propel its new mission to “bring the world closer together.” That’s why it’s made a big-name hire for the product leader for the Facebook Groups team. Former Change.org COO and president Jennifer Dulski will take the role.

In a Facebook post, Facebook’s CPO Chris Cox wrote, “This is a big day for us because we’ve been trying to recruit Jen for a long time. Many of you already know she’s a product star who’s focused on social impact.” We’ve reached out to Facebook and Dulski for further comment.

Dulski wrote on her own Facebook that, “At a time when our world seems increasingly divided and people are often feeling more alone, it is more important than ever to help people create and be part of communities that are meaningful to them — communities that teach us about each other and remind us of what we share rather than what pulls us apart.”

Prior to her 4.5 years at Change.org, Dulski was a group VP at Yahoo, then co-founded local deals startup The Dealmap, which she sold to Google in 2011. She’s also sat on the boards of TEGNA (formerly Gannett), Little Passports and Move Inc. Dulski resigned from the TEGNA board today to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Facebook Groups already has 1 billion users out of the social network’s 2 billion total, and 100 million people belong to what Facebook calls “meaningful Groups.” But Facebook has set of a goal of getting 1 billion people into meaningful groups. In June the company rallied Group admins together in Chicago for a summit where it announced new features like Group analytics and member request questionnaires.

There’s a huge opportunity for Dulski to bridge the gap between sharing publicly or to hundreds of friends in the News Feed, and communicating directly with close friends via Messenger. Groups is where users can forge important bonds with strangers who share their hobbies, ambitions, life phases, medical conditions or political affiliation.

Facebook’s new Admin Recommended Groups feature

Creating those ties isn’t just a way for Facebook to differentiate itself from broadcast networks like Twitter and chat services like Snapchat. The product could drive Facebook’s hope to mend its polarized community in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election that divided people by party lines, geographic location and beliefs on controversial issues like immigration and healthcare.

Facebook has taken the rap for purportedly helping Donald Trump win the presidency through the distribution of false news and political ad buys by the Republican campaign and Russian agents seeking to influence the election. If Dulski can build better discovery, communication and moderation features into Groups, it could show people that Facebook can assemble them with their communities rather than pitting people against each other.

You can read Dulski’s full post about joining Facebook below.