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Meet the founder, staff and board of directors of the Free Software Foundation.

    Founder and President

  • Richard Stallman

    Richard M. Stallman, President:

    Richard is a software developer and software freedom activist. In 1983 he announced the project to develop the GNU operating system, a Unix-like operating system meant to be entirely free software, and has been the project's leader ever since. With that announcement Richard also launched the free software movement. In October 1985 he started the Free Software Foundation.

    Since the mid-1990s, Richard has spent most of his time in political advocacy for free software, and spreading the ethical ideas of the movement, as well as campaigning against both software patents and dangerous extension of copyright laws. Before that, Richard developed a number of widely used software components of GNU, including the original Emacs, the GNU Compiler Collection, the GNU symbolic debugger (gdb), GNU Emacs, and various other programs for the GNU operating system.

    Richard pioneered the concept of copyleft, and is the main author of the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license.

    Richard graduated from Harvard in 1974 with a BA in physics. During his college years, he also worked as a staff hacker at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, learning operating system development by doing it. He wrote the first extensible Emacs text editor there in 1975. He also developed the AI technique of dependency-directed backtracking, also known as truth maintenance. In January 1984 he resigned from MIT to start the GNU project.

  • Staff

  • John Sullivan

    John Sullivan, Executive Director

    John started working with GNU Press and the Free Software Foundation in 2003 and then became the FSF's first Campaigns Manager, working on outreach efforts like Defective by Design, BadVista, and PlayOgg. In 2011, John became the Executive Director after four years as Manager of Operations.

    His background is mainly in the humanities, with an MFA in Writing and Poetics and a BA in Philosophy, but he has been spending too much time with computers and online communities since the days of the Commodore 64. He's become a dedicated GNU Emacs user after first trying it around 1996, and contributes code to several of its extensions.

    Prior to the FSF, John worked as a college debate team instructor for both Harvard and Michigan State University.

  • Chrissie Himes, Operations Assistant

    Chrissie is a graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law and Northeastern University, where she studied the music industry. She was previously a legal fellow at New Media Rights in San Diego.

  • Donald Robertson, Copyright and Licensing Associate General licensing questions:

    Donald is our copyright administrator in addition to doing licensing and compliance work with Joshua. Donald is a graduate of the New England School of Law and interned for the Hon. William G. Young at the federal district courthouse in Boston. Donald was previously the managing editor of the New England Law Review and wrote and published An Open Definition: Derivative Works of Software and the Free and Open Source Movement, 42 New. Eng. L. Rev. 339 (2008).

  • Jasimin Huang, Business Manager

    Jasimin handles most of the foundation's finance and business administration. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University, where she studied International Business & Finance. She obtained her MBA from Northeastern University while working at the FSF.

  • Jeanne Rasata, Assistant to the President

    Jeanne Rasata started at the FSF in 2006 as the program assistant. She is now the membership coordinator and provides support to the president.

  • Joshua Gay, Licensing and Compliance Manager

    Joshua works with Donald in our licensing and compliance team, and has twice previously worked with the FSF as a campaigns manager. He is a programmer and activist whose interests revolve around technology, government, education, and computer user-freedom.

  • Kẏra, Campaigns Organizer

    Kẏra is on the campaigns team primarily focusing on the Defective by Design campaign. They also serve as the technology director of the Free Culture Foundation, which opposes private ownership of technology, media, and ideas. They view free software through a critical and intersectional analysis of oppression, hierarchy, and domination. Kẏra works to empower marginalized identity groups to work against ableism, white supremacy, peripheral racism, cissexism, heterosexism, misogyny, and classism with free software. They recently founded the Empowermentors Collective: a skillshare, discussion, and support network for intersectionally marginalized people of color with a critical interest in technology and media hacking.

  • Libby Reinish, Campaigns Manager

    Libby's job is to inspire people to use free software and put pressure on companies that violate user freedom. She is a justice organizer who believes in the power of appropriate technology to transform communities. Before joining the FSF, Libby worked to build community radio stations with the Prometheus Radio Project and advocated for better media policy at Free Press.

  • Nico Cesar, Senior System Administrator

    Nico is from Argentina. A programmer since childhood, he earned a degree in Software Engineering from the Universidad Tecnologica Nacional in Santa Fe, Argentina.

    He previously had his own company for seven years, delivering solutions for GNU/Linux. For the last six years he's been doing sysadmin work for a living, while also giving public speeches, doing photography, hiking, sailing and traveling.

  • William Theaker, Outreach and Communication Coordinator

    A former FSF licensing intern, William has a keen interest in how the insight provided by the free software movement can be applied to other political movements. In his spare time, William likes to ride bikes, try new foods, and browse used book stores.

  • Zak Rogoff, Campaigns Manager

    Trained as an engineer, Zak is an activist who cares about technology's role in shaping society and social change. As a campaigns manager for the Free Software Foundation, his goal is to creatively communicate the role of freely licensed software in moving us toward a fair and free society.

Board of directors

In addition to Richard M. Stallman, the board of directors includes:

Gerald J. Sussman, Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT

Gerald has been involved in artificial intelligence research at MIT since 1964. He co-authored Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics and is the recipient of numerous awards, including ACM's Karl Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award and the Amar G. Bose award for teaching. He is a fellow of numerous institutions including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the ACM, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the New York Academy of Arts, and Sciences.

Geoffrey Knauth, Computer Science Instructor at Lycoming College

Geoffrey is an independent software contractor, has worked as a programmer, senior associate, systems engineer, and systems analyst at various companies and has contributed to the GNU Objective-C project. He is fluent in Russian and French and has a working knowledge of German, which helps him maintain relationships with computer scientists, mathematicians, and physicists of the Russian Academy of Sciences and with United States economists, scientists, and agencies. He holds a BA in Economics from Harvard University and is the treasurer of the FSF.

Henri Poole, founder of CivicActions

Henri Poole is an internet strategist with three decades' experience in information technology and more than a decade's with online communities and commerce. He was the first technologist to set up a blog for a member of the US House of Representatives. He has presented at conferences in Europe and in the US, and was the technical editor of Demystifying Multimedia. He co-founded CivicActions, a grassroots campaign technology consulting firm in 2004, helping provide network-centric free software technology solutions focusing on transforming the world.

Hal Abelson, Professor of Electrical Engineeering and Computer Science at MIT

Hal was designated as one of MIT's six inaugural MacVicar Faculty Fellows and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the MIT School of Engineering's Bose award, the IEEE Taylor L. Booth Education Award. He is co-director of the MIT-Microsoft iCampus Research Alliance in Educational Technology and of the MIT Project on Mathematics and Computation and co-chair of the MIT Council on Educational Technology. He serves on the steering committee of the HP-MIT Alliance. He developed and teaches the MIT course Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier and co-authored Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. He is a founding director of Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, and the FSF.

Benjamin Mako Hill, Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society

Benjamin Mako Hill is a social scientist, activist, and consultant working on issues of peer production and society. He is a PhD Candidate in a joint program between the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT Media Lab and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. His research focuses on sociological analyses of social structure in peer production communities. He has been an leader, developer, and contributor to the free software community for more than a decade as part of the Debian and Ubuntu projects. He is the author of several best-selling technical books, and an advisor to the Wikimedia Foundation. Hill has a Masters degree from the MIT Media Lab.

Bradley M. Kuhn, president of the Software Freedom Conservancy

Kuhn began his work in the free software movement as a volunteer in 1992, when he became an early adopter of the GNU/Linux operating system, and began contributing to various free software projects. He worked during the 1990s as a system administrator and software developer for various companies, and taught AP Computer Science at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati. Kuhn's nonprofit career began in 2000, when he was hired by the FSF. As FSF's Executive Director from 2001-2005, Kuhn led FSF's GPL enforcement, launched its Associate Member program, and invented the Affero GPL. From 2005-2010, Kuhn worked as the Policy Analyst and Technology Director of the Software Freedom Law Center. Since 2010, Kuhn has been the full-time Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, which provides a non-profit home to Free Software projects. Kuhn holds a summa cum laude B.S. in Computer Science from Loyola University in Maryland, and an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Cincinnati. His Master's thesis discussed methods for dynamic interoperability of free software languages.

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