Aspen Tech Policy Hub Announces Inaugural Cohort of Incubator Fellows & New Funding Support

June 18, 2019

The West Coast Aspen Institute Initiative Will Engage Technologists in Policymaking Through Summer 2019 & Beyond

Contact: Betsy Cooper
Founding Director, Aspen Tech Policy Hub

San Francisco, CA & Washington, DC, June 17, 2019 – The recently formed Aspen Tech Policy Hub tomorrow will announce its inaugural cohort of Incubator Fellows. The San Francisco-based policy incubator, which is part of the Aspen Institute Cybersecurity & Technology Program, will teach these tech experts about the policy process and help them to formulate and advance solutions that address society’s problems. The ultimate objective is to build bridges between Washington, D.C., and Silicon Valley, with policymakers that better understand today’s technologies and challenges, and technologists who recognize the important role of public policy.

In addition, the Hub welcomes over $500,000 in new funding support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Omidyar Network, and Mozilla. This follows an initial generous seed donation from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the organization of craigslist founder Craig Newmark.

Fellows will be introduced at an event at Northwestern University’s San Francisco facility on June 18 with Tom Kalil, Chief Innovation Officer at Schmidt Futures and Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Elizabeth Dwoskin of the Washington Post.

Editor’s Note: Press wishing to attend the June 18 launch event should RSVP at

Betsy Cooper, founding director of the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, said “I am thrilled to be welcome our inaugural class of fellows, and am especially excited that they demonstrate tremendous diversity in technology expertise as well as personal and professional background. Our fellows do not look or think like typical Silicon Valley or typical Washington, and we are excited to see what solutions they innovate as a result.”

The inaugural Aspen Tech Policy Hub fellows include:

  • Sean Ahrens, founder of Y Combinator-backed; builder of organizations and technology to democratize healthcare data.
  • Amina Asim, data scientist at the United States Agency for Global Media; PhD in Media, Technology & Society from Northwestern University
  • Steven Buccini, software engineer and former candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives.
  • Aloni Cohen, postdoctoral fellow with a PhD in computer science from MIT researching questions at the interface of computer science and law.
  • Allison Day, linguist and social justice activist coordinating engineering and natural language processing (NLP) teams building next-gen AI for the Google Assistant.
  • Anil Dewan, product manager with the United States Digital Service (USDS); former product director at NPR-affiliate KCRW; delivering critical services through technology and software; believer in harnessing technology for social good.
  • Ginny Fahs, software engineer, writer, and activist; executive director of #MovingForward, a global social movement fighting harassment/discrimination in venture capital.
  • Erica Greene, machine learning engineer with experience at The New York Times, Etsy, and Jigsaw specializing in community and privacy.
  • Karissa McKelvey, software engineer and Director of the Dat Protocol Foundation; co-founder and board member of Code for Science and Society.
  • Brandie Nonnecke, PhD, founding director of the CITRIS Policy Lab and co-director of the CITRIS Tech for Social Good Program at UC Berkeley; fellow at the World Economic Forum and board member of Women in Machine Learning.
  • Neal Parikh, co-founder of SevenFifty, a technology startup based in NYC; research scientist in machine learning and AI with a PhD in computer science from Stanford University.
  • Alex Rosenblat, technology ethnographer; author of Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work; Research Lead at the Data & Society Research Institute.
  • Elizabeth “Liz” Ruiz, management consultant specializing in business strategies and organizational design at Deloitte Consulting LLP; attorney; works across sectors ranging from agriculture to national security.
  • Ora D. Tanner, doctoral candidate in Instructional Technology and Educational Measurement at the University of South Florida (USF); Assistant Director at USF Office of Undergraduate Research.
  • Steve Weis, co-founder & CTO of PrivateCore, a security startup acquired by Facebook; PhD in cryptography with a focus on protecting people’s sensitive data.

Incubator Fellows will be in residence full time from June to mid-August 2019. During their residence, fellows will produce at least one practical policy output—for instance, mock legislation, toolkits for policymakers, white papers, op-eds, or an app—and will ‘exit’ the incubator by presenting their ideas to a stakeholder with decision-making authority over that issue.

“The Hewlett Foundation is thrilled to see the Aspen Tech Policy Hub launch with such a talented and diverse cohort,” said Eli Sugarman, Program Officer at the Hewlett Foundation. “We look forward to seeing what the fellows accomplish in the weeks and months to come working at the intersection of technology and cyber policy.”

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub is a West Coast policy incubator, training a new generation of tech policy entrepreneurs. We take tech experts, teach them the policy process through an in-residence fellowship program in the Bay Area, and encourage them to develop outside-the-box solutions to society’s problems. We model ourselves after tech incubators like Y-Combinator, but train new policy thinkers and focus the impact of their ideas. For more information and biographies of the fellows, please visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. 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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