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Staff and Board

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Oct 17, 2012 10:36 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.

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

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

    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).

  • Georgia Young, Program Manager

    Georgia joined the FSF as outreach and communications coordinator in January 2015 and in June 2015, she became the program manager. She is a musician, knitter, cook, and occasional theatermaker by night.

  • 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.

  • Lisa Marie Maginnis, Senior SysAdmin

    Lisa started working with the FSF in 2013. Her passion for free software has guided her career and personal interests. Since learning about GNU/Linux on a BBS at a young age she has spent countless hours increasing her knowledge of and teaching others about computers.

    Before working with the FSF, Lisa ran her own company operating out of Washington, DC. Throughout her life she has enjoyed contributing her skill set to various nonprofit organizations and activist campaigns. She continues to donate her time today and also enjoys camping and growing cacti.

  • Stephen Mahood, Outreach and Communication Coordinator

    In spring 2011, Stephen (marxistvegan on freenode IRC) helped create the cyberunions podcast, which discusses free software, labor unions, and social movements. Just before joining the FSF, he spent three years in Mexico City working with radical social justice organizations, focusing on helping them use free software in their work. Most of his technical experience came from his work with Occupy Boston IT and May First/People Link, where he combined labor organizing and technical skills to support organizations focused on systemic change. Stephen believes free software is a catalyst for connecting social movements and breaking free from the chains of control.

  • 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, 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

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.

Matthew Garrett

Matthew is a developer specializing in the interactions between operating system kernels, platform firmware, and system security. He is particularly interested in mechanisms for avoiding the false tradeoff between user security and user freedom, ensuring that users have ultimate control over which software their devices will and will not run. He won the 2013 Free Software Foundation Award for the Advancement of Free Software and is a recognized speaker on the topic of the importance of free software in wider society. He holds a PhD in genetics from the University of Cambridge.

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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