When Netscape established the Mozilla Project in 1998, they also formed mozilla.org (the virtual Mozilla Organization), headed by an independent firstname.lastname@example.org (Mozilla Staff), to guide the project. Jamie Zawinsky (jwz) drafted a mission statement for mozilla.org that laid out the module ownership model and meritocratic principles that form the basis of the project's leadership structure even today.
As the project evolved Mitchell Baker felt the need to clarify the interaction of the Mozilla Organization, Mozilla Staff, and the Mozilla Community in an overview of the Mozilla Project and mozilla.org. However, although the organization's specific roles and responsibilities have sometimes changed and adapted with the project, although AOL abandoned the project and the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation have come into existence, the project's governing principles have not changed.
Leadership within the Mozilla Project is based on merit: the more worthy your contributions, the more respect you get. Formal authority in the project derives from email@example.com, who are ultimately responsible for stewarding the Mozilla source code, and is delegated to contributors who fill official roles in the Mozilla Organization. Internal conflicts and other leadership problems are (or should be) directed to firstname.lastname@example.org for resolution. Roles within the organization are not tied to any employment requirements; but as jwz warns, employees must remember to wear a Mozilla Organization hat, not a corporate hat, when making decisions under their Mozilla role: All Mozilla contributors are subject to the same rules and review requirements.
The Mozilla Project welcomes contributors of every background and skill level. Our development communication channels are open to everyone, but do keep in mind that the more involved contributors in the Mozilla Project tend to be extremely busy and overworked, so it may take a long time to get a response from them. If you're asking a question or requesting review, be persistent (sometimes people forget to respond and need a reminder), but be patient, too.