SECTION B. Professional and Educational Background
1. Provide details of your current job, role, title, employer and affiliations
|York University |
Manage the Internet, social media and other technical needs of multiple programs and initiatives of the university’s Centre for Refugee Studies. Represent the Centre at various university and international meetings and conferences. Conducts seminars and workshops for the Centre and its partners, locally and globally
Involved in a start-up venture involved in enhancing global development and literacy through education-centric
Internet Society Canada Chapter
President and Board Chair
Co-founded the first-ever national chapter in Canada after multiple attempts by others had failed. Attracted sponsors and oversaw the Chapter’s incorporation, negotiations with the Internet Society, and growth in a new Board and membership
2. Describe your educational and professional history. Provide all information that you believe may be relevant to being an effective member of the ICANN Board
|** EDUCATION |
- BA Philosophy, York University
- BAA Journalism, Ryerson University
** RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE
Linux Professional Institute (LPI);
President and Board Chair
- Specialist in building communities of practice, enabling development of a shared vision, consensus building and public outreach
- Took an idea from an email exchange into an international non-profit with seven-figure budgets, operating in almost every country
- Provided leadership, directly managed the communications and marketing effort, managed staff resulting in periods of rapid growth in members, partners and international relationships
- Engaged the community in governance and advocacy issues
- Registered LPI as an accredited organization at the World Summit for the Information Society, led a 22-person delegation (from six continents) to the Geneva WSIS conference, and wrote a paper for Harvard Law Review on the Summit from our perspective.
Co-Founder. President and Board Member
- Oversaw this ongoing IT services and consulting company from its beginnings, managed its sales and marketing Involved with government and shareholder relationships, strategic planning, and product development
LPIC level 1, 2, 3
Designed the certification program
3. Describe any current and past volunteer community positions, roles and accomplishments. We are particularly interested in similar Board directorship and committee experience
Vice-Chair of the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC)
- Won five consecutive elections within the North American Region, initially as NARALO’s first Chair and then as a two-term member of ALAC.
- Founder and member of multiple At-Large and Cross-Community Working Groups and cross-community committees
* Convener and initial co-chair, Applicant Support CCWG
* Convenor and Co-Chair, At-Large Future Challenges WG
* Co-Chair, ALAC Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) Working Group
* Convener, At-Large Registrant Rights WG
* Member, GNSO Working Group on objectionable top level domain names
* Member, IGO/INGO Name Protection WG
* Member, GNSO Consumer Choice, Competition and Trust WG
* Member, Advisory Group on High-Security Top Level Domains
* Co-chair, 2009 At-Large Summit and Co-scribe of the Summit Communiqué
* Liaison to the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG)
Canadian Association for Open Source (CLUE)
Co-Founder, Board Chair and Executive Director
- Organization to promote Linux, open source and open standards
- Held membership drives, did local policy advocacy
- Organized the groups entry as an ICANN At-Large Structure and have served as its representative to NARALO since its inception.
- Industry association, promoting open systems and open IT standards
4. List any relevant personal or professional web pages
|Personal linkedin page: |
Recognition as a top newsmaker for efforts to advance open source
A small sampling of publications
SECTION C. Internet Involvement and Interest in ICANN
1. Describe how you meet the criteria for the At-Large selected ICANN Board Director position
|Previous to my involvement in ICANN, I was heavily involved in the promotion of openness and transparency in the realm of information and communication technologies. Through the advocacy of open systems, open standards and open source software, I have developed a keen sense of the challenges and strategies required to assert the public interest, on a global scale. |
Within ICANN this passion has taken many forms: from hosting At-Large social gatherings in my Toronto home, to publicly challenging core assumptions about ICANN’s expansion of top-level domains, to attending phone conferences of every RALO to get a feel for local character and issues. I have often been counted upon to assess community sentiment on issues and extract from them sound, concise positions - which have then been reviewed by the ALAC and accepted as statements or Advice. Even the recent At-Large position on “closed generic” top-level domains -- which superficially appeared to be extremely diverse, even divisive -- was assembled and stated in an ALAC-endorsed analysis in which I discerned an approach that was more cohesive than was expected.
On the whole, such work demonstrates the skills and instincts that are critical to the position of ICANN Board member -- to advocate and advance the interests of the general public into all of its vision, strategies and directions going forward.
I have also, in the time I have been involved in ICANN At-Large, demonstrated the necessary time commitment to not only participate, but to be prepared. In fact, the time commitments indicated in the call for interest are less than I currently spend on ICANN-related activities.
2. Describe current and past involvement in, contributions to, and leadership roles in activities and organizations involved in the development and operation of the Internet, its naming and addressing infrastructure and/or its security and stability
|I have served as Subject Matter Expert on open source software and development techniques to the United Nations Development Program and the International Telecom Union. On this and other fields of expertise, I have been an invited presenter at conferences around the world (including a keynote address at Idlelo, the first-ever African conference on open source). I also wrote more than 100 commentaries for ZDNet, and numerous contributions to many publications. |
Open source software and development techniques are highly relevant to the stability and security of the Internet and its naming system. Much of the software that is used to maintain this infrastructure -- including BIND and other name-resolving systems -- is developed using open source licensing and development models.
In addition to the above-mentioned involvement in ICANN, the Canadian Association for Open Source and the Internet Society, I have also been a member of the Canadian Standards Association and participated in ISO/JTC1 working groups related to IT standards.
In the Internet's early days I operated "telly", one of the central nodes in Toronto's connection to the global UUCP network which was the forerunner of the Internet.
3. Provide a statement about what you would contribute in the At-Large selected ICANN Board Director position to ICANN and its mission
|My primary objective in joining the ICANN Board is to advance the commitment to what ICANN CEO Chehade has referred to as "Multi-EQUAL-Stakeholderism", in order for ICANN to serve its core purpose as a custodian of critical Internet resources. To do this effectively demands combining: |
- The ability to properly analyze the issues and understand "the big picture";
- The vision to assess the impact of any decision on all stakeholder groups and communities;
- The willingness to speak truth to power;
- Demonstrated commitment to consensus building and transparent action;
- The communication skills necessary to clearly express Internet end-user perspectives at the highest level of decision making.
4. Provide a statement about what you would contribute in the At-Large selected ICANN Board Director position to the At-Large Community
|At this critical time -- during which the Board will have to deal with the aftermath of the Brazil meeting, the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary Conference and the associated threats to the multi-stakeholder model *while* it oversees the gTLD expansion -- effective and comprehensive end-user representation is demanded in all facets of ICANN high-level decision-making. In this environment, ICANN will be called upon repeatedly to justify its very existence and legitimacy. |
My record of championing end user, public interest issues within ICANN -- sometimes confronting established institutional bias in the process -- is well documented. Such a strong, end-user-focused perspective is mandatory within the ICANN Board, one that recognizes the many strengths of the multi-stakeholder model while working from within ICANN to make it more responsive to the global public interest.
The finest service I can offer to the At-Large Community is by being a highly effective and accountable Board member, unafraid to assert the public interest while building upon consensus, shared vision, and common goodwill.
5. Please describe specifically how and why you will be able to advance, at the ICANN Board, the interests of the At-Large Community and the broader global community of Internet end-users
|I believe I bring uniquely to the position of Board member, three complementary qualities: *vision*, *innovation* and *clarity of expression*. |
Throughout my career, flowing through to my involvement in ICANN and ISOC, I have been engaged in the empowerment of the users of technology to have a voice in their future. I have been involved in almost every activity within ICANN that is designed to impact or measure “consumer choice, confidence and trust”. (One of the messages that must be brought to the Board is that not all users of the Internet are necessarily “consumers”, and this business orientation has negatively biased much of ICANN’s end-user focus).
Some of us have long maintained that the current state of the multi-stakeholder model, as ICANN currently operates it, is heavily business biased. Critical activities such as the Top-Level Domain expansion have been proceeding without significant regard to the substantial confusion that will accompany the new domains. So-called protection measures such as the hastily-added “Public Interest Commitment” regime appear to be more for show than substance. Names protection is increasingly being seen as being influenced by aggressive lobbying efforts rather than bottom-up process and user needs.
As a result of these and other challenges, ICANN is losing the ability to define itself, as outside actors seek to focus on the perception of ICANN as captured by industry, and either unwilling or unable to adequately serve the public-interest. In the coming years, ICANN will be increasingly called upon to answer for these deficiencies.
My involvement in the Board will ensure that end-user perspectives will be fully represented, going forward, on all major issues facing ICANN and its community. Attention to the public interest, with the support and influence of the At-Large-elected Board member, is the best way to address the criticisms and re-establish leadership and global respect for both ICANN and the multi-stakeholder model.
It is not enough to simply have inclusive, progressive and end-user-focused ideas. These ideas must be put into action. And often the best way to engage is to be creative -- not just quick-thinking during discussions and debates, but also creativity in approaches to build coalitions for solving problems and implementing new ideas.
Throughout my career I have demonstrated an ability to invent and develop new approaches to engage, to involve and increase awareness. My work and engagement within ICANN have demonstrated such abilities on numerous occasions. The following are ideas, concepts and programs that I either initiated or helped to fruition. While in almost all cases the innovations are not singularly derived, in the instances where they have been raised or adopted I was either the primary catalyst, alone or in collaboration with others:
Individual participation: NARALO was the first, and for a long time only, region in ICANN At-Large that welcomed (and gave voting abilities to) members of the public who did not belong to an At-Large Structure. As one of the crafters of NARALO’s Rules of Procedure, I helped designed a place where individuals willing to participate can play an active role from the beginning.
The first At-Large Summit: While the idea itself was not new, the actual ability for the Summit to take place was due to the initiative of myself and a small group of others who encountered and overcame significant obstacles in realizing the concept. As Co-Chair of the Mexico City Summit and one of the authors of its communiqué I was involved in it from start to finish, and its success has paved the way for future events such as ATLAS II
Consensus: During my tenure as the first chair of NARALO, no decisions required formal votes. All voices were heard and decision making was done by consensus. This is a tradition that remains in NARALO, almost uniquely, to this day.
Future Challenges: As principal spokesperson with Jean-Jacques Subrenat, I made the case to ALAC that it must not be constantly reactive to Public Comment Periods and initiatives of other stakeholders. The Future Challenges Working Group was established, almost as a think tank, with little set agenda but tasked with making ALAC efforts more proactive and foresighted.
The first-ever ALAC White Paper: I was the initial champion, convenor and principal author of “Making ICANN Relevant, Responsive and Respected”, a document which was unanimously endorsed by ALAC and contains many widely shared ideas and concepts that I will advance at the ICANN Board as the opportunity arises.
Cross-Community Working Groups (CCWGs): I did not invent the concept, but I have been one of ICANN’s most vocal champions of breaking down the silos between ICANN’s stakeholder communities. I represented ALAC as first Co-Chair of ICANN’s inaugural multi-chartered CCWG (on TLD Applicant Support). I was also the initiator of the CCWG on the Brazil Meeting, proposing a plan of action at an ALAC/NCSG meeting the day after CEO Chehade had called upon the community to come together in Buenos Aires.
CLARITY OF EXPRESSION:
ICANN is a difficult-to-penetrate institution, with its own culture, its own internal language and a broad set of conventions and assumptions that guide activity within it. Even terms such as multi-stakeholder and registrant, commonly understood within the ICANN environment, are alien to most of the public.
Since first becoming involved in ICANN At-Large I have strived to make it more accessible, understanding that before we can have an engaged community we need an aware community. I worked within At-Large to produce “policy briefs” that attempt to make complex issues presented in common language. I have led or participated in numerous special-issue informative webinars. In my own discussions and debates within ICANN I make special effort to avoid clutter and “get to the point”. And I have been often told that the ALAC statements and advice for which I was primary author can be easily identified by a style of expression that is low on jargon and equivocation but high in substance.
Clear thinking and clear expression are a vital components of advancing and defending the end-user-centric perspective, especially within closed Board meetings where external scrutiny and direct accountability are not possible. Superior vision, useful perspective and innovative approaches are wasted if they cannot be sufficiently explained or defended.
As a Board member I commit to retain (and enhance) accessibility and clarity in my own discourse, and will strive to seek and establish more effective communications both within ICANN, and between ICANN and the rest of the global community. I will continue to be fully accessible to, and consultative with, both ALAC and the greater At-Large Community in developing my positions and tactics.
6. Is there any additional information you would like to submit that would be helpful to the BCEC in making its decision? If so, please summarize it here
|When I consider my analysis and commentary of ICANN policies and actions, I am foremost mindful of my friends, family, and the network of associates I have grown over my life. Most of them are unaware of ICANN's existence, let alone function, and this situation is quite normal. As with roads or water delivery, most people should not need to be involved with infrastructure unless it stops working properly. |
The current attention which ICANN has attracted from governments and other sectors, indicates it is losing sight of its primary role to serve the global public interest. I will be a clear, strong voice in regaining that direction.
I make every effort to think beyond the hypothetical and theoretical, considering real world consequences of actions to those who provide and consume Internet communications and services. Such thinking influences all I have done within ICANN to date; I seek to carry this influence, and the vision behind it, to its Board.