Open and Innovative Governance at Heart of Aspen Institute FOCAS 2012 Seminar

August 1, 2012

Contact: Sarah Eppehimer, Aspen Institute, (202) 736-5818

Washington, D.C. Leaders and experts from the public, private, and academic sectors will explore the role of transparency and openness in fostering more effective, innovative and accountable governance at a roundtable discussion Aug. 5-8 in Aspen, Colo. The event will be streamed live at

The annual Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS), a project of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, explores how public policy and private initiatives can better serve communities. Participants in this year’s FOCAS, titled Towards Open and Innovative Governance, will address the changing roles of citizens and governments in the digital age.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is the forum’s senior sponsor.

“Citizenship and governance in 2012 can benefit from the same digital disruptions that have transformed the business world,” says Charlie Firestone, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program. “This forum will explore exciting new ways to move that process along.”

“Technology has transformed media in the past decade from a one-to-many experience to a participatory one,” said Michael Maness, Vice President for Journalism and Media Innovation at Knight Foundation. “But we’re only beginning to tap the potential of technology to make citizenship and governance far more participatory, allowing individuals and communities to be much more engaged.”

Participants of this year’s FOCAS will include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, President of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, California Controller John Chiang, Ushahidi Executive Director Juliana Rotich, and Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Susan Gardner. 

Towards Open and Innovative Governance will mark the seventh year that FOCAS includes an interactive web experience, thanks to generous funding from Knight Foundation.  FOCAS 2012 will be streaming live at at 8:45 a.m. mountain time August 6-8. Viewers are invited to follow the discussion on twitter @AspenInstitute and @AspenCS and to tweet about the event using #FOCAS12.


The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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