Alec Ross (author)

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Alec Ross
Alec Ross, state dept.jpg
Personal details
Born (1971-11-30) November 30, 1971 (age 49)
Charleston, West Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationNorthwestern University (BA)
WebsiteOfficial website

Alec Ross (born November 30, 1971) is an American technology policy expert who was Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the duration of her term as Secretary of State.[1] After leaving the Department of State in 2013 he joined the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University as a Senior Fellow[2] and is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Industries of the Future.[3][4] The Industries of the Future has been translated to fifteen languages, and was named the 2016 Book of the Year by the TriBeCa Film Festival's Disruptive Innovation Foundation.[5][6] Ross is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University.[7][8] He is also a Board Partner at Amplo, a global venture capital firm.[9]


Ross has claimed to have a working class background,[10] however, contrary to this claim his father was an attorney[3] and grandfather, Ray DePaulo, was the commercial minister at the American embassy in Italy. Ross was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia and in the seventh grade of grammar school he moved to Rome, Italy for a year to live with his grandfather.[11] Ross attended college at Northwestern University.[12]

After graduating in 1994 from Northwestern University with a B.A. in history,[11] Ross moved to Baltimore to work at Booker T. Washington Middle School as a Teach for America AmeriCorps Member.[11][12][13] Ross taught for two years and then accepted a position as special assistant to the president of the Enterprise Foundation. He focused on developing business, technology and fundraising strategies.[14]

In 2000, he co-founded One Economy, a global nonprofit that uses innovative approaches to deliver the power of technology and information about education, jobs, health care and other vital issues to low-income people.[1]

Government service[edit]

Ross teaching at Oxford University

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Ross played a key role in developing then-Sen. Barack Obama's technology and innovation plan, convening more than 500 advisors in the process of cultivating the candidate's innovation agenda.[5][15]

Senior Advisor Ross speaking at the State Department in 2014

In April 2009, Ross joined the State Department as Senior Advisor on Innovation.[16] Hillary Clinton described his work by saying that "Alec Ross has been my right hand on all that we're doing for internet freedom." Alec worked with Hillary Clinton instituting Civil Society 2.0.[17]

Through his work at the State Department, Ross institutionalized ways to use Web video and social networking sites.[18] In 2009 he told U.S. News and World Report, "It's about how can you reach large numbers of people who otherwise would be difficult to impossible to reach."[19] Ross argued that governments using modern communications technologies can be more creative and responsive in how they enable people to engage directly with each other and with other countries.[20]

Ross also drove efforts to aid other countries through digital development initiatives like wiring schools, adding wireless capacity to public works, text-message reminders to HIV patients, and leap frogging communities from cash culture to mobile banking. During the Libyan uprising, Alec drove the State Department's efforts to "restore communication networks in rebel-held territories such as Benghazi, working with the late Amb. Chris Stevens, to fight the Internet blackout imposed by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi."[21] Ross' team also "provided communications technologies to opposition members in the Syrian border areas and trained NGOs on how to avoid the regime's censorship and cyber snooping."[21]

During his tenure at the State Department, Ross was a vocal critic of efforts to control or surveil the internet.

In addition to concerns over countries increasing surveillance capabilities, Ross highlighted cases where businesses prioritized profit motives over the potential harms of technologies. In 2011, he publicly "criticised the developers of internet surveillance equipment who were willing to sell their services to repressive regimes and allow governments to censor their citizens.”[22]

Political career[edit]

In April 2017, Ross launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Maryland in 2018.[23][24] In February 2018 he announced as his running mate Julie Verratti, a craft brewery co-owner, former Senior Advisor at the Small Business Administration, and LGBT political activist.[25][26] In June 2018, Ross finished seventh in the nine candidate Democratic primary with 2.4% of the votes.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Ross resides in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife, Felicity, and their three children: Colton, Tehle, and Sawyer.[28]




  • 2013: Alec Ross. Light Up the West Bank: Want to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process? Start with 3G. Foreign Policy.[29]
  • 2012: Alec Ross. How connective tech boosts political change. CNN.[30]
  • 2011: Alec Ross and Ben Scott. 21st Century Statecraft. NATO Review.[31]
  • 2010: Alec Ross. Internet Freedom: Historic Roots and the Road Forward. The SAIS Review of International Affairs Volume 30, Number 2, Summer-Fall.[32]
  • 2007: Simon Rosenberg and Alec Ross. A Laptop in Every Backpack with Simon Rosenberg. NDN Globalization Initiative.[33]
  • 2016: Our Children and the Next Economy by Alec Ross.[34]
  • 2016: "The Language Barrier is About to Fall." The Wall Street Journal.[35]


  • Distinguished Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State[36]
  • Book of the Year, The TriBeCa Film Festival's Disruptive Innovation Foundation (2016)[6]
  • Disruptive Innovation Award, The TriBeCa Film Festival's Disruptive Innovation Foundation (2013)[37]
  • Oxford Internet Institute OII Award (2013)[38]
  • TriBeCa Film Festival Disruptive Innovator Award (2012)[39]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kang, Cecilia (April 6, 2009), "Diplomatic Efforts Get Tech Support", The Washington Post.
  2. ^ "Alec Ross - Columbia University - Senior Fellow". Aspen Institute. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "The Industries of the Future". Simon & Schuster. February 2, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  4. ^ "Best Sellers". The New York Times. February 29, 2016. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016.
  5. ^ a b McCauley, Mary Carole (June 18, 2016). "Book by Baltimore-based tech futurist makes global splash". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Carmody, Bill (April 24, 2016). "20 Most Disruptive Innovators of 2016". Inc. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  7. ^ "Alec Ross | Official Publisher Page". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  8. ^ Patrick, Anna (March 27, 2016). "Charleston native, author Alec Ross to speak at Taylor Books". Charleston Gazette-Mail. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  9. ^ Geron, Tomio (May 22, 2019). "Susan Rice, Other Politicos Join Venture Firm Amplo". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  10. ^ "The Global Future of Work: Interview with Alec Ross", 'International Policy Digest,' September 26, 2015. [1]
  11. ^ a b c Conconi, Chuck, "WL Feature: Alec Ross, Digital Diplomat", Washington Life, March 25, 2010
  12. ^ a b Kurtz, Josh (March 7, 2017). "SCOOP: Baltimore tech entrepreneur ponders run for governor in 2018". Maryland Matters. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  13. ^ Philipsen, Klaus. "A Governor from Baltimore?". Community Architect Daily blog. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  14. ^ "Innovator Alec Ross Joins State Dept.," National Journal, April 6, 2009. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Hillary Clinton Launches "21st Century Statecraft" Initiative by State Department", TechPresident, May 13, 2009.
  16. ^ "The Creative List: New Media", Washington Life, November 8, 2009.
  17. ^ Speech by Hillary Clinton, November 3, 2009. Found w/reference to Ross at:
  18. ^ "Obama's Geek Squad", Wired, June 18, 2009.
  19. ^ " Hillary Clinton Turns State Department Tech-Friendly", U.S. News & World Report, June 15, 2009.
  20. ^ "P2P2G: The rise of e-diplomacy", Politico, June 4, 2009.
  21. ^ a b Rogin, Josh (March 14, 2013). "Tech guru Alec Ross leaves the State Department". Foreign Policy. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  22. ^ Wilson, Cherry (November 2, 2011). "Clinton adviser makes Twitter attack on surveillance equipment firms". The Guardian. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  23. ^ "Alec Ross for Governor". Alec Ross for Governor of Maryland. Archived from the original on July 11, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  24. ^ Kamisar, Ben (April 26, 2017). "Former State Department adviser announces run for Maryland governor". The Hill. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  25. ^ "Gubernatorial Candidate Alec Ross picks craft brewery owner Julie Verratti as his running mate". WMAR-TV. February 19, 2018. Archived from the original on February 22, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  26. ^ Cox, Erin (February 19, 2018). "Democrat Alec Ross picks Montgomery County brewer as running mate". The Baltimore Sun.
  27. ^ "Official 2018 Gubernatorial Primary Election results for Governor / Lt. Governor". Maryland State Board of Elections. Annapolis, Maryland: State Board of Elections. July 31, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  28. ^ "The New Statesman | Baltimore Style". Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  29. ^ Ross, Alec (June 18, 2013). "Light Up the West Bank: Want to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process? Start with 3G". Foreign Policy. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  30. ^ Ross, Alec (June 20, 2012). "How connective tech boosts political change". CNN. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  31. ^ Ross, Alec; Ben Scott (2011). "21st Century Statecraft". NATO Review. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  32. ^ Ross, Alec (Summer–Fall 2010). "Internet Freedom: Historic Roots and the Road Forward. The SAIS Review of International Affairs". 30 (2). Retrieved November 17, 2011. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  33. ^ Rosenberg, Simon; Alec Ross (May 1, 2007). "Rosenberg". NDN Globalization Initiative. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  34. ^ ""Our Children and the Next Economy" by Alec Ross - Omnivoracious - The Amazon Book Review". Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  35. ^ Ross, Alec (January 29, 2016). "The Language Barrier Is About to Fall". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  36. ^ "The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs".
  37. ^ Dale, Austin (April 3, 2012). "Tribeca to Honor Justin Bieber, Edward Burns and Others with Disruptive Innovation Awards". Indie Wire. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  38. ^ "Oxford Internet Institute Honours Internet Pioneers, John Seely-Brown, Alec Ross, Max Schrems and Galaxy Zoo Co-founder, Chris Lintott". Oxford Internet Institute. October 24, 2013.
  39. ^ "Tribeca to Honor Justin Bieber, Edward Burns and Others with Disruptive Innovation Awards". Indiewire. Retrieved November 11, 2015.