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Staff and Board

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Aug 10, 2016 10:43 AM
Meet the founder, staff and board of directors of the Free Software Foundation.

    Founder and President

  • Richard Stallman

    Richard M. Stallman, President

    Richard Stallman founded the free software movement in 1983 when he announced he would develop the GNU operating system, a Unix-like operating system meant to consist entirely of free software. He has been the GNU Project's leader ever since. In October 1985 he started the Free Software Foundation.

    Since the mid-1990s, Stallman 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 programs that are components of GNU, including the original Emacs, the GNU Compiler Collection, the GNU symbolic debugger (gdb), GNU Emacs, and various others.

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

    Stallman graduated from Harvard in 1974 with a BA in physics. During his college years and after, he 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.

  • Andrew Engelbrecht, Senior Systems Administrator

    Andrew was a long time volunteer at the FSF, where he gained experience in system administration and developed his passion for software freedom. He was hired as a web developer at the FSF in 2016, and promoted to Senior Systems Administrator in 2018. He is interested in machine learning and the question of how its emergence will shape our society in the near and distant future. He enjoys cycling, programming, house music, and tasty vegan food.

  • Craig Topham, Copyright & Licensing Associate

    For general licensing questions:

    Craig has been an Associate Member since 2007, and he came to work for the Free Software Foundation as a Copyright and Licensing Associate at the end of 2018. Prior to the FSF, Craig worked as a PC/Network Technician for the City of Eugene, Oregon for twelve years. Some of Craig's FSF duties include: handling copyright assignments, GPL compliance for FSF-copyrighted works, and helping with the Respect Your Freedom program. Besides the desire to see free software thrive, Craig also envisions a world where everyone's inner light shines bright. You can find him every other Friday hosting the Free Software Directory meeting on freenode #fsf from 1200-1500 Eastern time.

  • Dana Morgenstein, Outreach & Communications Coordinator

    Dana joined the FSF team in July 2017 after ten years of working as a writer, editor, and blogger in the juvenile products industry. She enjoys cartoons, cats, karaoke, trivia, very good books, and very bad books.

  • Donald Robertson, Licensing and Compliance Manager

    General licensing questions:

    GPG key: 13A0 851D 6307 FC54 FCCB 81BA 2C10 0831 6F3E 89B7

    Donald joined the FSF in 2008 as the Copyright Administrator and has held several positions in the organization before becoming the Licensing & Compliance Manager. 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).

  • Ian Kelling, Senior Systems Administrator

    Ian was an FSF volunteer before joining the FSF in May 2017 as a senior systems administrator. He's also a free software developer and has contributed to various projects including GNU Emacs.

  • 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.

  • John Hsieh

    John Hsieh, Deputy Director, Clerk

    John joined the FSF in April 2016, after spending more than a decade in senior management positions with human service and social justice organizations in Boston and New York. In addition to his nonprofit career, he has held various roles in lobbying, management consulting, and start-ups. John studied business, computer science, political science, and women's and gender studies at the undergraduate level; he also holds an MBA and an MS in Community Economic Development.

  • Matt Lavallee, Operations Assistant

    Matt Lavallee joined the FSF as Operations Assistant in July 2016. He mails your orders from the FSF shop, picks up the phone when you call, and does all kinds of other useful things. He is a former bookkeeper, cheesemonger, and radio DJ. When not working he cultivates his sophisticated taste in books and music and rides his bicycle around.

  • Michael McMahon, Web Developer

    Michael joined the FSF tech team as Web Developer in January 2019 after working with GNU/Linux in manufacturing, gaming, and education. He enjoys tinkering, board games, DJing, public speaking, parenting, and cats.

  • Ruben Rodriguez, Chief Technology Officer

    Spaniard, software engineer, photographer, GNU hacker, guitar player, ape descendent. Ruben started his career developing free software for research centers and universities, then founded the Trisquel project and other nonprofits. He has been collaborating with the FSF tech team since 2008, and finally joined as a senior systems administrator in 2015. He likes dogs and paragliding, and dislikes writing about himself.

GPG keyring of the FSF staff and board

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, Treasurer; 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.

Henry Poole, founder of CivicActions

Henry 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.

Benjamin Mako Hill, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Washington

Benjamin Mako Hill is a social scientist, technologist, and activist. In all three roles, he works to understand why some attempts at peer production — like many of the most successful free software projects — have built large volunteer communities while the vast majority never attract even a second contributor. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. He is also a faculty affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and an affiliate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science — both at Harvard University. He has also been a 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 and a PhD from MIT in an interdepartmental program between the Sloan School of Management and the Media Lab.

Bradley M. Kuhn, president of the Software Freedom Conservancy

Bradley M. Kuhn is the Distinguished Technologist at Software Freedom Conservancy and editor-in-chief of Kuhn began his work in the software freedom movement as a volunteer in 1992, as an early adopter of GNU/Linux, and contributor to various Free Software projects. Kuhn's non-profit career began in 2000 at 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. Kuhn was appointed President of Conservancy in April 2006, was Conservancy's primary volunteer from 2006-2010, and has been a full-time staffer since early 2011. 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. Kuhn received an O'Reilly Open Source Award, in recognition for his lifelong policy work on copyleft licensing.

Kat Walsh

Kat Walsh is a copyright, internet policy, and technology lawyer. She was most recently at Creative Commons, where she was one of the drafters of version 4.0 of the CC license suite, and previously worked for the American Library Association in their information technology policy office. Kat came to the free software community through free culture. An early Wikipedian and advocate for free cultural works, she was on the Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees from 2006-2013 (Chair 2012-13), where she advised on strategic, policy, and legal issues, and currently serves on its advisory board. She is also on the board of the Foundation. Kat holds a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law and a B.A. from Stetson University; she is a member of the Virginia State Bar and the US Patent Bar.

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