Our Team


Leadership Team

Rufus Pollock — Founder

Rufus Pollock

Dr Rufus Pollock is Founder and CEO of the [Open Knowledge Foundation][okf]. He was formerly a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a Mead Fellow in Economics at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge and is currently an adviser on open data to several governments. He has worked extensively as a scholar, activist and technologist on the social, legal and technical challenges around the creation and sharing of knowledge. More information can be found on his home page.

CEO [at] okfn.org

Laura James — CEO

Dr Laura James

Laura is a dynamic and adaptable leader who makes things happen, builds things and solves problems. She has worked extensively in technology, innovation and leadership roles in R&D, startups and other organisations, and enjoys making a positive impact on the world through her work. She has worked at AT&T Labs, was VP Engineering and the first employee at AlertMe.com, a connected home startup, and was Head of Knowledge at True Knowledge, a startup creating an artificial intelligence search platform. Laura holds Masters and PhD degrees in Engineering from the University of Cambridge, received the Royal Academy of Engineering Leadership Award and a NESTA Crucible Fellowship, and is a Chartered Engineer. Laura is also Co-founder and Director of Makespace. More information can be found on her home page.

CEO [at] okfn.org

Network Unit

Naomi Lillie — Network Director

Naomi Lillie

Naomi lives in Edinburgh and still considers herself an English Literature graduate, although these days she reads for fun. She has a professional background in project management and coordination, and has worked in academia where the closed nature of information was a source of much frustration. She joined the Open Knowledge Foundation in 2011 as Community Coordinator and Foundation Administrator, and has been supporting Network since 2012.

naomi.lillie [at] okfn.org

Neal Bastek — Digital Engagement Director

Neal BastekNeal supports network unit activities including liaising with Local Groups, Working Groups, and other organizations working in the open knowledge space. He’s currently based in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, but has roots that stretch coast to coast in the U.S..

Neal’s a seasoned open Internet advocate who helped launch the SavetheInternet.com campaign that brought the issue of Network Neutrality into mainstream U.S. politics back in 2006. He served as the web director at Free Press for several years and landed at the Open Knowledge Foundation after a brief detour into the world of money in politics and institutional corruption at Rootstrikers.

Neal holds a Master’s degree in English and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Oregon’s Applied Information Management graduate program where he teaches courses on information architecture, digital engagement, and digital content policy. He advocates for open space close to home with the Mill River Greenway Initiative. You can follow him on twitter @nbastek

neal.bastek [at] okfn.org

Heather Leson — Community Engagement Director


Heather Leson is a community builder, idea hacker who works all aspects of community at the Open Knowledge Foundation, specifically on strategy and support. As well, she is leading the Open Data Partnership for Development. This project aims to help foster Open Data community in the developing world.

Previously, Heather created and managed programs for Ushahidi’s diverse community, and mentored members of its open-source developer ecosystem. Her earlier leadership in open source communities such as Random Hacks of Kindness and CrisisCommons saw her successfully organize numerous participant-driven “unconferences”, workshops and hackathons. She is a Humanitarian OpenStreetMap board member and a Crisismapper.

Heather has 15 years of experience in technical incident management, software life-cycle development, customer care, and Internet communications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Combined Political Science and History from Carleton University in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, and a Library and Information Technician diploma from Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto.

heather.leson [at] okfn.org @heatherleson Textontechs.com

Beatrice Martini — Events Coordinator

Beatrice Martini

Beatrice is the Foundation’s Events Coordinator, curating the global events strategy and currently organizing OKCon 2013.

She has a Master degree in Music Studies, sharpened her team leadership skills at digital media academy Hyper Island, Stockholm and has years of experience as project manager in the Internet startup sector. Currently based in Berlin, she’s also a core member of OpenTechSchool, a community initiative offering free programming workshops and meetups. You can follow her on Twitter at @beatricemartini.

beatrice.martini [at] okfn.org

Theodora Middleton — Press Officer

Theodora joined the Open Knowledge Foundation in 2010, and has helped out with a range of stuff including managing the blog, compiling annual reports and organising the first Open Government Data Camp. She currently lives in London and works two days a week as the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Press Officer. Offline, her background is in grassroots campaigning for social and environmental justice, and she has a BA in History from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Legal and Political Theory from UCL. She’s currently studying more law, and sometimes works in adventure playgrounds.

theodora.middleton [at] okfn.org

Katelyn Rogers — Community Manager, Working Groups

Katelyn is the Working Groups Community Manager. She grew up in California and is currently based in London, after a four yearKateRogers1 stint in the southwest of France.

Prior to joining the Open Knowledge Foundation she worked at Wateraid on WASHwatch, an online platform for monitoring governments on their delivery of water and sanitation commitments. She holds a BA in Philosophy and French from UCLA and an MSc in Public Policy and Management from KCL where she wrote her dissertation on open government data policies in the Global South.

katelyn.rogers [at] okfn.org

Christian Villum — International Community Manager

8409622762_b2721cb7c1_tChristian is the International Community Manager for the Open Knowledge Foundation global network. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has a background in media and culture entrepreneurship, co-working facilitation, community creation, hacktivism – and is a dedicated open-everything advocate. He holds an MA in Culture, Communication & Globalization from Aalborg University and has previously lived, worked and studied in Berlin, New York and Chicago. On the side he is a member of the Science Friction art & technology collective and runs a few smaller projects including Uhrlaut Records, a boutique record label for challenging electronic music from Scandinavia.

christian.villum [at] okfn.org


Knowledge Unit

Lucy Chambers — Knowledge Director

Lucy Chambers

Lucy is the head of the Knowledge Unit, which focusses on supporting data users (particularly journalists and NGOS) by organising training via School of Data and building software tools to fix data problems.

She has been at the foundation since 2011 and has worked on the OpenSpending project as a researcher and community coordinator. She co-authored the report for the Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency on how technology can be used to promote transparency and accountability around government finance. She was also one of the editors of the the Data Journalism Handbook.

lucy.chambers [at] okfn.org

Neil Ashton — Tech Writer, Labs & School of Data

Neil Ashton contributes documentation, blog posts, and other web content to Open Knowledge Foundation projects including School of Data, OpenSpending, and Labs. He also collaborates with the Open Knowledge Foundation members on research projects as a data wrangler and scientific writer.

Neil is a writer and computational linguist. His interests resist categorization, ranging from ancient languages to functional programming and combining the abstract and the socially engaged. He has done graduate research at Cornell University and the University of Alberta.

neil.ashton [at] okfn.org

Michael Bauer — Data Wrangler, School of Data

Michael lives in Vienna and works as a Data Wrangler with the Open Knowledge Foundation mostly around the School of Data. After a detour in biomedical research, where he learned to love datawrangling, he spent some time doing advocacy for his passion: freedom in the digital age. He joined the Open Knowledge Foundation to satisfy his curiosity. He will gladly jump on any topic that you point him to.

michael.bauer [at] okfn.org

Tryggvi Björgvinsson — Tech Lead, OpenSpending

Tryggvi is a software engineer and a digital freedoms activist/promoter based in Iceland. He holds a Civilingenjörsexamen (M.Sc. equivalent) in computer engineering from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and a Ph.D. in software engineering from the University of Iceland. Tryggvi has a passion for digital freedoms in all of its forms and his expertise lies in free and open source software. He co-founded the Icelandic Digital Freedoms Society (FSFÍ) and has worked for and consulted the Icelandic government on various things related to our freedom in cyberspace.

tryggvi.bjorgvinsson [at] okfn.org

Tony Hirst — Data Storyteller, School of Data

Tony Hirst works part time for the School of Data in shaping the materials, masterminding the blog and running workshops. He’ll also be out and about on site visits to learn more about how organisations use data “in the wild” to help build on and shape the courses.

When he’s not with us, he’s a Lecturer in the Department of Communication and Systems at The Open University, Visiting Senior Fellow in Networked Teaching and Learning at the University of Lincoln, and regular blogger at OUseful.info.

With a background in electronics and artificial intelligence, he has authored on OU courses ranging from robotics to information skills, and most recently a course on computer game design and appreciation. He is passionate about open and lifelong education, and is actively involved in developing course models to support informal as well as formal education.

tony.hirst [at] okfn.org

Milena Marin — Project Coordinator, School of Data

Milena is based in London and joined Open Knowledge Foundation as Project and Workshop Coordinator for School of Data. Among others, she will be working with and supporting local partners, building the School of Data network around the world, and organising events, workshops and trainings. Before joining us, she worked for over 4 years with Transparency International (TI) as Data and Technology Coordinator.

You can contact Milena at milena.marin [at] okfn.org or and follow her on Twitter.

Anders Pedersen — Community Coordinator, OpenSpending

Anders Pedersen is Community coordinator at OpenSpending and currently based in The Hague. He holds an MA in Political Science from University of Copenhagen (2010). As an independent journalist he has crunched numbers on issues like health care, lobbying, taxation and the financial crisis in EU. He has worked as analyst and media professional with both the International Criminal Court and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. As a civil servant he worked on community outreach among Somalis in Copenhagen. Through volunteer roles he has conducted trainings across East Africa and since 2010 assisted an initiative to establish a community FM radio station in Puntland, Somalia. You can follow him on Twitter at @anpe.

anders.pedersen [at] okfn.org

Zara Rahman — Open Development Toolkit Lead

zara headshot Zara is currently based in Berlin. She previously worked for OpenOil, where she worked on opening up data in the extractive industries, focusing especially on contract transparency and improving accessibility of public domain information around the oil industry, and joined the Open Knowledge Foundation as the International Community Manager in early 2013, before moving on to work on the Toolkit this year. The Open Development Toolkit provides tools and training around development data, aimed at making it as easy as possible for civil society and journalists in low-income countries to access and understand development data.

She holds a BA in Modern Languages and Cultures (French, Spanish and Arabic), and enjoys writing and reading on feminism, diversity, and a range of other topics.

zara.rahman [at] okfn.org Twitter: @zararah

Projects Unit

Sander van der Waal — Projects Director

Sander van der Waal is Head of the Projects unit at the Open Knowledge Foundation. Overseeing many of the grant funded projects the Open Knowledge Foundation is involved with, Sander ensures any funded project will benefit maximally from cross-fertilization with other related initiatives across the wider Open Knowledge Foundation community, both nationally and internationally. Sander has a strong background in the open source world, having advised academic projects on open source software development at OSS Watch, based at the University of Oxford. He is a committer and contributor to the Apache Software Foundation and co-organised several big and smaller open source events.

sander.vanderwaal [at] okfn.org

Jonathan Gray — Director of Policy and Ideas

Jonathan Gray

Jonathan coordinates the Foundation’s policy and advocacy activities to expand the open knowledge commons and helps to catalyse new projects and collaborations that use this commons to improve the world. He has helped to start numerous initiatives at the Foundation, including the Data Journalism Handbook, Europe’s Energy, the Open Data Challenge, OpenGLAM, OpenSpending, the Panton Fellowships and The Public Domain Review. He studied Philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and is currently doing research in philosophy and the history of ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London. You can follow him on Twitter at @jwyg or visit his website at jonathangray.org.

jonathan.gray [at] okfn.org

Sam Leon — Project Manager, DM2E

Sam Leon

Sam Leon is the Project Manager of the DM2E project and Community Coordinator of the OpenGLAM initiative.

Sam lives in London and has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in the History of Ideas. He is interested in debates around open culture and the emerging discipline of the Digital Humanities. He works specifically with the Open Humanities and Open GLAM working groups. He is co-editor of the Open Knowledge Foundation blog and coordinates a project called TEXTUS, an open source platform for working with collections of texts and associated metadata.

sam.leon [at] okfn.org

Lieke Ploeger — OpenGLAM Community Manager

Lieke Ploeger

Lieke is the Community Manager for the OpenGLAM initiative, promoting free and open access to digital cultural heritage data. She is based in Berlin.

lieke.ploeger [at] okfn.org

Marieke Guy — Project Community Coordinator, LinkedUp

Marieke Guy

Marieke lives in Cirencester and is the Project Community Coordinator for the LinkedUp project, supporting the adoption of open data by educational organisations and institutions. She previously worked as an Institutional Support Officer for the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) helping raise awareness and building capacity for research data management at UK Higher Education Institutions. Her love for all things open began during her 13 years at UKOLN, a centre of expertise in digital infrastructure and information policy based at the University of Bath. She is a big fan of remote working and writes a blog on related technologies, cultural issues and organisational attitudes.

marieke.guy [at] okfn.org

Michelle Brook — Community Coordinator, LinkedUp

Michelle Brook

Michelle is community coordinator for the LinkedUp project. She is an idealist who wants to make the world a better and more fair place. With a background in policy, she is passionate about diversity, civil liberties, democracy, and equality. She has strong interests in in open access and open research data.

When she’s not asking questions or reading, she can be found on twitter as @MLBrook or lurking in coffee shops in London.

michelle.brook [at] okfn.org

Sally Deffor - Project Coordinator, Open Data & Privacy

Sally Deffor

Sally works part-time as the Project Coordinator for the Open Data & Privacy project.  Sally is a former Google Policy Fellow who supported the development of some initiatives on Creative Commons, Open Access and OSS at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre.  She has also worked as a communications specialist with the Tax Justice Network (Africa) and the USAID/ICFG (Ghana).  She currently lives in Preston where she is finishing up a PhD at UCLan on the digital practices of online news-making.  She also spends some time volunteering in her local community. You can find her on Twitter as @SDeffor.

sally.deffor [at] okfn.org


Mark Wainwright — Open Data Evangelist

Mark is a gay generation-X Cambridge graduate, who has worked in ESL, housing and stonecutting, inter alia. He has spent a year living and working in Maldives, is addicted to crosswords, and occasionally plays poker or bridge or go. He lives in Cambridge and will turn his hand to pretty much anything.

mark.wainwright [at] okfn.org

Commercial Unit

Irina Bolychevsky — Commercial Director


Ira is based in London, and was formerly the CKAN project manager and product owner. Ira oversees most things CKAN-related – evangelism, strategy, road map, design, clients, communications – and is always happy to point people in the right direction. Irina is a web-tech geek who enjoys finding better solutions to problems. In the rare moments when she isn’t busy with CKAN, Irina likes tea and dancing.

irina.bolychevsky [at] okfn.org

Nigel Babu — Data Wrangler and Developer

Nigel Babu

Nigel is a web developer working out of Bangalore, India.

He loves open source as it enables him to contribute to an ever-growing intellectual pool of knowledge. When he isn’t writing code for the Open Knowledge Foundation, he likes to cook, play with his Raspberry Pi, or contribute to Mozilla. In the past, he’s worn various hats, including a sysadmin one. Nobody is sure if he actually ever sleeps.

nigel.babu [at] okfn.org

Vitor Baptista — Developer


Vitor is a developer at the Open Knowledge Foundation. You can find out more about him at vitorbaptista.com

vitor.baptista [at] okfn.org

Dr Marcus Dapp — Principal Consultant

Dr Marcus Dapp

Marcus lives in Munich and has spent most of his professional life working on “digital openness” topics. For nearly three years he was an IT strategist for the City of Munich where he designed and led Germany’s first Open Government/Open Data project called MOGDy (EPSA). As a researcher, he worked intensively on software patents and open source software (PhD). Since then, he has been running his own lecture on “digital sustainability” at ETH Zurich (and, starting in 2012, at TUM Munich!). Find more on his slightly neglected blog at.

marcus.dapp [at] okfn.org

Sean Hammond — Developer, CKAN

Sean lives in Berlin and focuses on Python web development at CKAN. He has previously worked as the lead developer for CLICK-EAST, a research study that is developing an iPad game to help children with autism learn social and communication skills, and as a Java programming lecture at The University of Edinburgh. For his PhD, Sean developed a story authoring app for children. He enjoys crafting good code and working with open technologies. More info can be found on http://seanh.sdfeu.org/“>Sean’s website.

sean.hammond [at] okfn.org

Adrià Mercader — Developer, CKAN

Adrià lives in Newcastle upon Tyne and is a software developer focused on the Web and Open technologies in general, and the geospatial field in particular. Before joining the CKAN team he built and managed several geo-related projects for different organizations, ranging from online map viewers to spatially enabled services and APIs.

adria.mercader [at] okfn.org

David Raznick — Technical Lead, CKAN

David lives in London and is a data analyst turned web developer with a mathsy background. His main interests are in databases and the general organization of information/data, with the thinking that if everything could be organized better and people made more accountable, the world would be a better place. He formally used to work for a human rights charity in this role and wants a future sorting out more data.

david.raznick [at] okfn.org

Sam Smith — Designer

Sam Smith - Designer

With a background in design agencies, where he spent the first seven years of his career, Sam is a graphic designer experienced in design for both on and offline media. Sam has good all round design knowledge but specialises in digital design, with a hands on approach to HTML and CSS.

You can see what Sam has been working on recently on his website.

sam.smith [at] okfn.org

Joe Tsoi — Developer


joe.tsoi [at] okfn.org

Operations Unit

Michelle Heydon — Operations Director

Michelle is an administrative operations all rounder. Having spent the first part of her career as a Systems Administrator, she was part of a small group from the Xerox Reseach Centre Europe who spun out a new software start-up. Although that one didn’t take off, she went on to be at the birth of a further 3 IT start-ups, where she did “everything but the software” during the first few years of rapid growth. As well as being Head of Operations at the Open Knowledge Foundation, she is also a director of Digital Economy Consultants and administers the Press Fellowship Programme at Wolfson College, Cambridge.

michelle.heydon [at] okfn.org

Bobby Donovan — WordPress Specialist

Bobby is the Open Knowledge Foundation’s WordPress Specialist, helping to look after the fleet of blogs and other websites that it runs.

bobby.donovan [at] okfn.org

Meg Foulkes — Foundation Administrator


Meg studied English at Cambridge. Since then, she has worked as a librarian, private tutor and lawyer in Asylum and Immigration. She also works for the Freedom Movement for Syria and is a published poet. Meg is very happy to now be working for the Open Knowledge Foundation.

meg.foulkes [at] okfn.org

James Hamilton — Development Director

James handles grant fund-raising and reporting, and assists with financial reporting and forecasting.

james.hamilton [at] okfn.org

Joel Rebello — Systems Administrator


Joel is the Open Knowledge Foundation’s main system administrator.

joel.rebello [at] okfn.org

Cassandra Woolford — Accounts Administrator

Cass July 13

Cassandra is the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Accounts administrator and book-keeper.

cassandra.woolford [at] okfn.org