Founder and Executive Director, Principal Investigator, and Associate Professor
Eric Gordon is a scholar/designer working in the areas of digital civic engagement, public participation, and game-based learning. He's a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and he is an associate professor in the department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College. He is the co-author of Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World (Blackwell Publishing, 2011) and the author of The Urban Spectator: American Concept Cities From Kodak to Google (Dartmouth, 2010). His newest edited volume (with Paul Mihailidis) is [Civic Media: Technology|Design|Practice] (https://mitpress.mit.edu/civic-media) (MIT Press, 2016).
Fellow, Principal Investigator, and Assistant Professor
Catherine is a researcher, artist and software developer. Her work focuses on data literacy, media innovation and civic art. She has co-developed a suite of tools for data literacy, developed custom software to geolocate news articles and designed an application, Terra Incognita, to promote global news discovery. She is currently working with the Public Laboratory for Technology and Science to explore the possibilities for journalistic storytelling with DIY environmental sensors. Her art and design projects have won awards from the Tanne Foundation, Turbulence.org, and the LEF Foundation. She is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab and a Research Affiliate at the MIT Center for Civic Media.
Co-Director, Principal Investigator, and Associate Professor
Paul Mihailidis is an associate professor in the school of communication at Emerson College in Boston, MA, where he teaches media literacy, civic media, and community activism. He is founding program director of the MA in Civic Media: Art & Practice and a Principle Investigator and Faculty Director of the Engagement Lab at Emerson College. Mihailidis also directs the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. His research focuses on the nexus of media, education, and civic voices. His newest books, Civic Agency (Routledge 2018), Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice (2016, MIT Press, with Eric Gordon) and Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen (Peter Lang, 2014), outlines effective practices for participatory citizenship and engagement in digital culture. Under his direction, the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, a global media literacy incubator program, annually gathers 75 students and a dozen faculty to build networks for media innovation, civic voices and global change. Mihailidis has authored numerous books and papers exploring civic media, and traveled around the world speaking about media and engagement in digital culture. He co-edits the Journal of Media Literacy Education, and sits on the advisory board for iCivics. He earned his PhD from the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Fellow, Principal Investigator, and Associate Professor
Miranda is associate professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College. She is author of The Writers: A History of American Screenwriters and their Guild (Rutgers UP, 2015), co-editor of Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries (Routledge, 2009), and co-editor of Production Studies, The Sequel! (Rutgers UP, 2015). Her primary area of research is the American media industries, with a specific focus on creative labor and professionalization. At the lab, she is building a game to counter race and gender biases within professional and student media communities. She traveled to Uganda to implement The Boda-Boda Game for the American and Ugandan Red Cross. She has written for Television & New Media, Cinema Journal, Popular Communication, Cultural Studies, Flow, and the anthology Gender and Creative Labor. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Motion Picture Oral History Digital Archive and the Board of the international feminist media organization, Console-ing Passions.
Aidan graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in painting, and has also studied design and architecture. In addition to her work at the lab, she works as an illustrator and teaches art to children with special needs. She splits her time between Boston and NYC and still loves to draw.
Director Grants and Finance
Anne Cahill is the Grants and Financial Director of the Engagement Lab. Prior to starting at Emerson she worked at Lahey Health in Burlington as the Associate Director of Grants Management. She also brings to the lab over 18 years experience in higher education having previously worked at both Harvard University and MIT. She was raised in Oswego, NY and currently lives in Somerville with her pets, Hannah & Lulu.
Becky is a project manager and researcher who specializes in civic media research and production. Becky coordinates the Boston Civic Media network as well as the second cohort of the City Accelerator by Living Cities. She also manages the digital development of the game for deliberative democracy @Stake. As part of conducting user research and development for @Stake, Becky has facilitated the game in Participatory Budgeting meetings, urban planning firms, and conferences. Becky received her BA from UC Davis in Cultural Anthropology. Her civic engagement interests include emerging civic technologies, best practices of community engagement, and public art projects.
Now responsible for ensuring the holistic coordination of resources and strategies across all projects and systems at the Engagement Lab, Christina joined the team in 2013 as the project lead for our flagship engagement game, Community PlanIt. Additionally, she has served as a project manager for everything from major digital game development at the Lab, like Unlocking Health for the World Bank, to small table-top games, like Work Flow for the UNDP in Bhutan. She's also headed up community-based research projects, such as Habit@. Christina's abiding interest in open access to participatory democracy, ethics, and the role of technology in shaping human experience drew her to the Engagement Lab. She holds degrees from the University of Chicago (A.B., English Language & Literature) and University of Southern California (M.A., English: Film, Literature & Culture) and brings a love of language, philosophy, and the visual arts to bear on her work with us. If you visit the Engagement Lab in Boston, chances are you may get to say hello to her dog, Marty, who follows her around most everywhere she goes.
Research Project Manager
Gabriel is a researcher and project manager specializing in civic media. He is coordinating a national study on civic media innovation and also supports both Boston Civic Media and Community IRB. Gabriel earned his PhD from the Syracuse University School of Information Studies where his dissertation research looked at newcomers to digital participatory platforms. At Syracuse, Gabriel worked as a researcher on a multi-year project exploring newcomer learning and motivation to citizen science projects at Zooniverse.org. His research interests also include community informatics and both online and offline instances of commons-based peer production. Gabriel is the founder of the Transformative Culture Project, a nonprofit that supports career development for young media professionals across southern New England. He is an affiliate of the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and an affiliate faculty at Emerson College.
Johnny is a veteran games, UI, and web engineer and consultant based in Boston, MA. Having worked on many sides and in every stage of the development pipeline, he specializes in creating world-class software and games, with an emphasis on tightly-controlled standards and obsessive code quality. Through his work he strives to empower colleagues and fellow stakeholders in every possible way, no matter what it takes. Johnny believes that fluid and transparent teamwork is vital to a final product of the highest quality. As an alumni of Emerson, Johnny is excited to be bringing his skills and experience back to campus and the Engagement Lab. On the side, he is also Director of Industry Outreach for The AbleGamers Foundation, and has given many talks and workshops on improving accessibility in games.
Jordan is a producer and project manager who specializes in production of digital games for social change. Jordan has led the creative production of Risk Horizon and Unlocking Health, two digital games made for the World Bank, as well as other web application based projects such as the recently launched DataBasic. He currently manages the UNDP Game Changer Fellowship Program, the Handwashing with Ananse Evaluation in Ghana, and the production of Emerging Citizens. Previously Jordan worked as a producer for Learning Games Network and taught a customized game design/research writing class at Emerson College. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing Poetry from Emerson College.
Mary Beth Dawson is a project manager and researcher for the Engagement Lab's handwashing with water and soap (HWWS) interventions in Ghana and India. She earned her MPH from the Boston University School of Public Health, where she concentrated in global health program design and evaluation. She is passionate about maternal and child health, LGBTQ+ health, and sexual and domestic violence prevention. Prior to starting at the Engagement Lab, she worked at the BU School of Public Health as a Project Coordinator for several studies on spinal cord injury and cerebral palsy. At the World Health Organization, she helped analyze data for an international qualitative study on adolescent perceptions of health. She also consulted with the Bhutan Ministry of Health to analyze staffing need at basic health units, and helped develop a mobile health app for measuring food affordability and accessibility in Ghana for a study led by Tufts University. She has also worked on an international qualitative study on access to maternity waiting homes in Zambia. Her graduate research on the identification of human trafficking survivors in medical settings has been published in the Journal of Human Trafficking.
Sean is responsible for managing all communications and marketing for the Engagement Lab. He earned his BFA in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College. His short story chapbook, I Am Happy You Are Here, was published by Wilde Press in 2011. He was raised in Maryland and currently lives in Somerville.
Wade Kimbrough is a game designer, researcher, and project manager. His primary focus is using games in a humanitarian and development context to help alleviate the impacts of climate change. He has designed and developed games for the Red Cross / Red Crescent Climate Centre, UNICEF, PLAN International, and the World Bank. Wade also teaches 3D computer game design at Emerson.
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director for Creative Writing
Jabari Asim is the author of five books for adults and seven books for children. He was an editor for 11 years at the Washington Post, where he also wrote a syndicated column on politics, popular culture, and social issues. The editor-in-chief of the Crisis, the NAACP's flagship journal of politics, culture, and ideas, he received a 2009 Guggenheim fellowship in Creative Arts. Most recently, he has taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was a scholar-in-residence.
P. Carl is the Director of HowlRound and the Creative Director of ArtsEmerson at Emerson College. His work at Emerson is focused on promoting theater practices around the core principle that theater is for everyone. He divides his time between theory and practice—between collaborating on the challenges facing our field, and developing and presenting work for the stage. He spent two years as Director of Artistic Development at Steppenwolf Theatre and served eleven years at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis as Producing Artistic Director. He regularly teaches, writes, consults, and mentors. Carl received a Ph.D. in comparative studies in discourse and society from the University of Minnesota.
Lina Maria Giraldo is a Colombian-born, Boston-based media artist focusing on Interactive Storytelling towards social change. She exhibits a diverse background ranging from digital educational tools, public art, and screen based, computer generated work. She holds a Master of Professional Studies on Interactive Telecommunications (ITP) from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where she was the recipient of both the Paulette Godard and the Tisch School Scholarships. She was awarded the Tsongas Scholarship at Mass College of Art, where she majored in Studio of interrelated Media with Departmental Honors and Academic Distinction. Her work has been displayed in galleries and shows as well as public spaces throughout Boston, New York, and Colombia. The Boston Globe, ABC News, and WBGH have highlighted her. Giraldo was selected to be part of the John F. Kennedy Legacy Gallery in the category of the Arts and has received grants from the Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, the St. Botolph Foundation, and a Creative City grant from New England Foundation for the Arts. She is currently part of the Boston AIR 2.0 Residency for the City of Boston.
Previous to his arrival at Emerson, Russell Newman served as the research director for the national nonprofit advocacy group Free Press. There, he focused on media and telecommunications policy, tracking current issues, writing issue briefs, creating Web content, and speaking publicly regarding emerging debates. With Robert McChesney and Ben Scott, he is the co-editor of The Future of Media: Resistance and Reform in the 21st Century (Seven Stories Press, 2005), named as one of Working Assets' Recommended Reads for July 2005. He spent several years as a freelance multimedia designer and as a promamduction designer for a number of independent films. He was active in noncommercial radio in Boston for nearly a decade. Russell was a Waterston Fellow at Suffolk University's Sawyer School of Management, where he earned a master's degree focusing on the political economy of mass communication, nonprofit management and documentary production; he earned his bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Russell is interested in exploring the intersections of the political economy of media, the epistemological foundations of media policymaking and governance, and ongoing struggles against existing structures of power.
Dr. Vincent Raynauld is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Emerson College. Additionally, he is serving as a member of the France-based research network Réseau Démocratie Électronique, as a research associate in the Groupe de Recherche en Communication Politique (GRCP) based in Laval University (Quebec City, Canada), and as an academic adviser for the non-profit research organization Samara in Toronto, Canada. His areas of research interest and publication include political communication, social media, research methods, e-politics, and journalism. His doctorate in Communication at Carleton University was completed under the supervision of Dr. André Turcotte in October 2013. A native of Montréal (Québec, Canada), Dr. Raynauld speaks and writes fluently in French and English.
Paul Turano is a visual artist whose work explores the relationship between humans and the environment. He is project director for Wander, Wonder, Wilderness, a multi-platform participatory art project currently based in greater Boston, that explores relationships between humans, community, and nature and highlights the potential impact of urban wilds and green spaces as an antidote to our de-natured lives. Components include: an essay film, generative mobile app and aggregating website. His prolific work in film, video and installation art has been shown nationally and internationally in over 60 film festivals, and at numerous museums and exhibition spaces.
Sarah Zaidan is an illustrator, game designer and researcher whose work explores how identity, gender and society are shaped by mass media, particularly video games and comic books. She is Kingston University London's first recipient of a Ph.D. by practice in superhero art and history with research findings presented in the form of an award winning video game, The Adventures of MetaMan: The Male Superhero as a Representation of Modern Western Masculinity (1940-2010). She is one of the creators and illustrators of the feminist superhero comic series My So-Called Secret Identity, in collaboration with Batman scholar Will Brooker.
With 15 plus years experience in cross-cultural communication in the healthcare industry, I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Civic Media, Art and Practice at the Engagement Lab. This is due to the fact that I am not attached to the ways of attaining my goals of getting the best potential and empowerment to the Middle Eastern region but I am committed to it.
I was raised in the United Arab Emirates to Egyptian parents and graduated with a bachelor of arts in International Relations from the American University in Cairo. This was the beginning of a big journey to learn more about ways to generate effective communication. It is a passion of mine to learn different means of attaining these goals.
I surround myself with people from all walks of life and corners of the world. I love traveling, not to just learn about history, art, or natural beauty, but to inquire about local customs and different ways of doing things. I have family members scattered on different continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe) which keeps me on the move and always aware of alternative ways of living. Traveling also exposes me to different cuisines, which I always open to trying. Best of all, nothing beats great food, company and great laughter.
Mariam Chahine is creating a cooperative, on-demand trash pick-up app called Zibal-T that will be a cost effective solid waste management solution to facilitate the removal of accumulated trash in the Middle East.
Rachel's research interests center on the ways civic media and online platforms influence sexual health education and how technology can aid in the creation of ethical romantic and sexual relationships. She holds a Master’s in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where she studied Political Science and Education Studies. Her work in interpersonal and gender violence prevention has led to collaborations with ABC’s Nightline, the creation of an online sex education platform, and collaborates with SitN Listen podcast on gender-specific recordings. Outside of academia, Rachel enjoys volunteering for TEDx Cambridge, hanging out at the Boston Harbor, and playing fetch with her cat, Bosnia.
Working to reduce campus sexual assault and increase healthy relationships, Rachel Hanebutt, co-founder of Confi, is partnering with Emerson College to create an in-person, online-facilitated peer program that utilizes school-specific student expectations and beliefs data to drive home the importance of sexual health, consent, and communication in relationships.
I grew up on the shores of southeastern Connecticut and have taken a round-about journey to Emerson. The short version: I have been a writer, a teacher, a small business owner, and a nonprofit director. Each of these experiences helped guide me to this place where I want to professionally harness whatever creativity and passion I have and use it to connect people and engage them on important social issues. I believe this is how I can best contribute to the creation of a slightly more tolerant, healthy, prosperous world, and sincerely look forward to working with and learning from everyone in the Engagement Lab.
In response to significant declines in civic knowledge and correlated declines in democratic participation, Jesse Fryburg is making an immersive film aimed at educators and parents in Greater Boston to raise awareness about the need for better civics education.
Riley is an Emerson Colloge alumnus who studied interactive media and screenwriting. He worked on "EEG AR (ElectroEncephelogram Augmented Reality): Things We've Lost"with artist and faculty John Craig Freeman. This inspired him to continue his new media education in the CMAP program. His past works include: mobile apps, text adventures and virtual reality art exhibits. Riley strives to prove that digital media can be beneficial to society and a means of artistic expression. His work often struggles with the ethical applications of new media, and he hopes to find answers in the CMAP program. He loves pretzels.
To help educate users on the causes of homelessness, Riley Hunt has created a variant of chess that explains the issues using narrative and game mechanics. Through the game, users will be encouraged to donate or volunteer to homeless shelters or other services that benefit individuals facing homelessness.
Allentza Michel is a policy advocate and an urban planner with a background in community organizing and program design and implementation. For the past 15 years she has diverse experience in the non-profit and public sectors at the local, national and international levels in:
Also an artist, Allentza likes to incorporate design thinking an cultural competency principles in planning and policy processes, which led her to start Powerful Pathways, a consulting collective which which assists public agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations design sustainable and equitable development plans and robust inclusive community engagement strategy. Ms. Michel received a Master's in Public Policy from Tufts University's Department of Urban and Environment Policy and Planning. She also holds a graduate certificate in Non-Profit Management from Boston University's Questrom School of Management and a BA in English and a BA in Social and Political Systems from Pine Manor College. she speaks Haitian Creole fluently.
Erica recently graduated with a major in Interactive Media from Emerson College, focusing on game and web design, and hopes to make games and media that are educational and community-oriented, helping people expand their minds and think about how the world functions as a whole. She loves to play simulation and world-building games when she’s not working on her own projects.
Gentrification, eviction, and displacement are on the rise in Boston; the city had the highest income inequality in the country in 2016. In order to increase citizen involvement in fighting these trends, Erica Salling is working with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics to build a projected installation that prompts citizens to speak about their experiences within Boston’s changing communities.
Samantha is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Civic Media, Art & Practice at the Engagement Lab. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Film & New Media Studies at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts with an emphasis on African, African American & Diaspora studies, race, class and gender. As a New York City native, she has always been inspired by urban areas to ignite her creativity. Travel influenced her learning at a young age and she hopes to incorporate her experiences with travel in her artwork. During her time at Wheaton, Samantha studied abroad at the James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, taking courses in the Creative Media Arts Department. Samantha has worked in education, the non-profit sector, college access, early childhood development, and youth development. She hopes to leverage her past experiences to create better life outcomes for youth. Learning with the Engagement Lab, Samantha wants to create youth programming that uses media literacy education to examine the expansion and importance of literacy in a world where new digital technologies are constantly emerging. When Samantha is not working, she spends her time planning trips abroad, going on long runs, writing short screenplays, exploring new local eateries, and editing photos.
Samantha Viotty is partnering with the Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library to produce a collective art piece with local teens using data about their community to show the necessity of building data literacy and its connection to civic life.
Jess' professional background is in strategic communications in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining CMAP, she was the Communications Director at Essential Partners, a nonprofit that promotes constructive dialogue across differences in identity and experience. Her expertise is content strategy, branding, and partnership-building. In Seattle, Washington, she worked in communications, outreach, and community engagement in the nonprofit and private sector. Prior to that position, she worked in a community engagement role in higher education, liaising between students, faculty, and nonprofit community partners. She is passionate about leveraging new media to enhance civic engagement, gender equity, and create new possibilities for how we talk about the defining issues for ourselves and our world.
Jessica Weaver is designing a game that will make the process of running for political office understandable, approachable, and fun for young women in partnership with IGNITE National, which trains high school and college women to run for office.
Kelsey Aijala is a junior at Emerson College studying Marketing Communications with a minor in Digital Media and Culture. She joined the Engagement Lab to further her interest in civic media and how art and play can be used to bring about positive change. At the Engagement Lab she provides graphic design assistance for projects.
Outside of the Engagement Lab she is a writer and an avid proponent for reading literature from diverse authors (ask her about her thoughts or for reading recommendations!). She also loves to cook and has an obsession with making noodles out of things that are not noodles with her spiralizer.
Beyond Emerson, she is interested in using her marketing degree to work on corporate social responsibility initiatives and wants to explore how brands can be platforms for social change.
Visual Media and Arts
Sofia Barrett is a junior enrolled in Emerson College's Visual Media and Arts program. Her passion is creating social change and awareness through a variety of different mediums, with an emphasis on film/video. She has been passionate about social justice since 2012, when she received the Humanitarian Award at the Harvard Westlake Film Festival. She loves cake pops and Newman's Own Virgin Lemonade.
Visual and Media Arts
Matt writes, draws, and battles the forces of cynicism when he isn’t asking too many questions. In addition to game design and testing, he provides graphic design and web development support for the lab. Currently a junior-senior studying Interactive Media, Matt is interested in games as an avenue for alternative expressions of identity and social justice.
Visual Media and Arts
Maddy Horgan is currently enrolled in her third year as a Visual & Media Arts student at Emerson College. Maddy is pursuing a focus on digital media and culture, and the impact social media plays in popular culture. Aside for her passion for the entertainment industry, Maddy helps run the Emerson Game Development Club and enjoys game design as a medium of digital media & culture.
Visual and Media Arts
Huma Hussain is a graduate student at Emerson College, studying Film and Media Art. She has a keen eye for detail, a strong technical ability and a healthy enthusiasm for brilliant ideas, fast-paced edits and smart design. While Huma is partial to video and sound editing, she's also spent time acquiring skills in design and creative writing. Through her work, Huma seeks to capture the inherently political life she's led as an Indian Muslim woman.
Visual Media and Arts
Born and raised in Hainan Province, China, Bin is a junior student of Emerson VMA department with focusing on interactive media. He habitually puts every daily experience into global context as he himself, an international student from a completely different cultural sphere, incessantly engages in cultural collision on every possible level. The most influential figure on his view of culture is Benedict Anderson, and he is a true believer of Anderson's life philosophy, that one should not limit his/her scope to a single language/nationality/culture. Being inspired by that, he would love to share his cultural uneasiness and global experience whenever possible. He is fascinated by ludology, technology, philosophy, and, maybe above all, hybridity of these studies. his current interests range from ethical choice in Japanese RPG game to philosophical problem with defining true artificial intelligent. His ultimate role model is Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Lily Rugo is a third year student at Emerson College, studying journalism and digital media culture. At the lab, she helps plan social media content, blog posts, news updates, and other lab communications. Lily's interested in world news, technology, media representation, and how digital media can combine journalism platforms.
Visual and Media Arts MFA
Akshaya is an MFA candidate in Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College.
Dan Cohen serves as executive vice president of pay television and digital sales for Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and Television Distribution for The Walt Disney Studios, which distributes television programming and motion picture properties including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ABC and Disney Channel to a wide array of media platforms and businesses around the globe. He has served in his current role since 2007 and has been with the company for nearly 20 years. Cohen leads the team responsible for delivering content to emerging digital arenas, negotiating worldwide content deals and pursuing licensing agreements with a wide spectrum of new media vehicles, distributors and platforms including electronic home video, pay television, video-on- demand, subscription video-on- demand, mobile, broadband, IPTV and other digital technologies.
Under his leadership, Cohen secured two of the most significant pay television deals in history -- Netflix in 2012 and Starz in 1999 – negotiating exclusive groundbreaking, multi-year deals and licensing agreements. He also significantly contributed to the launch of both the studio’s subscription video-on- demand entertainment service and Disney Family Movies, and led negotiations with iTunes, Amazon, Google, Walmart’s VUDU and Microsoft for the studio’s cloud-based digital movie service, Disney Movies Anywhere.
A 30-year industry veteran, Cohen has served as vice president, program acquisitions and scheduling for Tele-TV Media and vice president of film acquisitions and co-productions for Showtime Networks, and held roles at Viewer’s Choice, Palmer Cablevision and Post-Newsweek Cable.
Cohen is an active member of the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) Board of Directors, the Emerson College Board of Trustees and the California State University Industry Advisory Council. He holds a bachelor’s in economics from Portland’s Lewis & Clark and a master’s in radio and television from San Francisco State University.
Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and Associate Professor of the Pratice at MIT's Media Lab, where he heads research on Media Cloud, a system for quantitative analysis of agenda setting in digital media, and Promise Tracker, a platform that allows citizens to monitor powerful institutions using mobile and web technologies. He is the author of "Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection", published by W.W. Norton in June 2013. With Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan co-founded international blogging community Global Voices. Global Voices showcases news and opinions from citizen media in over 150 nations and thirty languages. Ethan's research focuses on issues of internet freedom, civic engagement through digital tools and international connections through media. He blogs at http://ethanzuckerman.com/blog and lives in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.
Intisar A. Rabb is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a director of its Islamic Legal Studies Program. She also holds an appointment as a Professor of History at Harvard University and as a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She previously served as an Associate Professor at NYU Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and at NYU Law School, and as an Assistant Professor at Boston College Law School; and teaches courses in criminal law, legislation and theories of statutory interpretation, and Islamic law. She also served as a law clerk for Judge Thomas L. Ambro of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, as a Temple Bar Fellow in London with the American Inns of Court, and as a 2010 Carnegie Scholar for her work on contemporary Islamic law reform. In 2015, she received awards from the Luce Foundation and the MacArthur Foundations for SHARIAsource – an online portal for content and context on Islamic law, designed to make available primary sources as well as informed scholarly commentary about them freely available. She has published on Islamic law in historical and modern contexts, including the monograph, Doubt in Islamic Law (Cambridge University Press 2015), an edited volume, Law and Tradition in Classical Islamic Thought (with Michael Cook et al., Palgrave 2013), and numerous articles on Islamic constitutionalism, Islamic legal maxims, and on the early history of the Qur'an text. She received a BA from Georgetown University, a JD from Yale Law School, and an MA and PhD from Princeton University. She has conducted research in Egypt, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere.
Jennifer manages UNDP’s Innovation portfolio for the Arab States region, covering 18 countries from the Gulf to the Maghreb. She manages regional activities to introduce new and alternative approaches to development, such as big data for development, games for social change, behavioural insights, and innovative forms of financing for development. She supports colleagues and partners in a continuous scanning of the horizon for fresh thinking to reframe development challenges, prototyping to quickly and inexpensively figure out what works and what does not, and “working out loud” to share successes and hard-won lessons learned. Prior to this position, Jennifer was an international development policy and programme advisor in UNDP Headquarters, with experience in capacity development and institutional effectiveness. Before joining the UN system, Jennifer worked for many years in the private sector as a management consultant with Accenture and Burson-Marsteller. Jennifer earned her Masters of Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) and her Bachelor of Arts from Yale University.
Matt Stempeck is excited to leverage Microsoft’s unique strengths to create social change and grow the civic technology ecosystem. As Microsoft’s Director of Civic Technology in New York City, Matt leads strategic outreach and develops creative engagement opportunities. Previously, Matt researched and designed technologies for civic impact at non-profits, startups, consultancies, and other technology companies. He has a Master's of Science from the MIT Media Lab, where he quantified global media attention to stories like Trayvon Martin, studied the emerging field of tech-driven peer-to-peer humanitarian aid, and built award-winning creative tools to fight misinformation online. Prior to MIT, Matt led online campaigns, communications, and tech trainings for the New Organizing Institute, Americans for Campaign Reform, and EchoDitto. Matt holds an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BA with honors from the University of Maryland College Park, where he wrote a thesis on the disruption blogs brought to mainstream journalism. He grew up outside of Boston (go Sox) and has also lived in London, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
Nigel Jacob is the Co-founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D Lab within Boston’s City Hall. Nigel’s work is about making urban life better via innovative, people-oriented applications of technology and design. Prior to joining the City of Boston in 2006, Nigel worked in a series of technology start-ups in the Boston area.
He was also previously the Urban Technologist in Residence at Living Cities, a philanthropic collaboration of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, is currently a board member at organizations such as Code For America and the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, and is an Executive-in-Residence at Boston University.
Nigel’s work has been written about extensively in magazines such as Wired, MIT Technology Review, Fast Company and books including The Responsive City, by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford and Smart Cities by Anthony Townsend.
This ground breaking work has earned Nigel a number of awards including being named a Public Official of the year in 2011 by Governing Magazine, a Whitehouse Champion of Change and the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation award for 2012.
Paula Ellis retired last year from her position as vice president for strategic initiatives for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. She was a member of the executive committee over national programs and new initiatives, responsible for developing and gauging the impact of the foundation’s overall strategy. She previously was vice president for operations at Knight Ridder, where she oversaw 15 newspapers and was a member of the Management Committee. Throughout her career as a news, corporate and civic leader, Ellis developed deep experience in national and community issues. From Washington, Ellis led Knight Ridder’s coverage of the end of the Cold War, the 1988 presidential elections and the Iran Contra Investigation. Later, as publisher of the The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, Ellis worked with local groups to foster civic leadership while drawing new readers to the paper. She named a Knight Ridder top performer three times. As an innovator in the journalism field, Ellis chaired Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board, was at the forefront of the coaching writers’ movement and helped found the National Writers Workshop. A Harvard Business School case study cited her work at The State in Columbia, S.C., where Ellis, then managing editor, led the transition to a digital newsroom. Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics at the University of Maryland, where she was editor of the student daily. She graduated from Northwestern University with a master’s degree in journalism. She is married to Gary Galloway, a 30-year newspaper reporter, columnist and editor, now retired.