Alec Ross (government official)

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Alec Ross
Alec Ross.JPG
Born November 30, 1971
United States Charleston, West Virginia, U.S.
Education Northwestern University
University of Bologna, Italy
Occupation Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs[1]
Employer Columbia University

Alec Ross (born November 30, 1971) is a 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.[2] After leaving the Department of State he joined Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs as a Senior Fellow and is the author of the book The Industries of the Future.[3] Ross is currently a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University.[4]


After graduating in 1994 from Northwestern University with a B.A. in history, Ross moved to Baltimore as a Teach for America corps member. 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.[5]

In 2000, he co-founded the nonprofit 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.[2]

Ross resides in Baltimore with his wife and three children.[6]

Political career[edit]

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Ross played a key role in developing then-Sen. Barack Obama's technology and innovation plan.[7]

In April 2009, Ross joined the State Department as Senior Advisor on Innovation.[8] Hillary Clinton described his work by saying that "Alec Ross has been my right hand on all that we're doing for internet freedom."[9]

Through his work at the State Department, Ross institutionalized ways to use Web video and social networking sites.[10] 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."[11] 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.[12]

Ross also drove efforts to aide 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."[13] 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."[13]

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.”[14]

Ross is the author of the forethcoming book "The Industries of the Future."[15]



  • 2016: Alec Ross. The Industries of the Future. Simon & Schuster.


  • 2013: Alec Ross. Light Up the West Bank: Want to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process? Start with 3G. Foreign Policy.[16]
  • 2012: Alec Ross. How connective tech boosts political change. CNN.[17]
  • 2011: Alec Ross and Ben Scott. 21st Century Statecraft. NATO Review.[18]
  • 2010: Alec Ross. Internet Freedom: Historic Roots and the Road Forward. The SAIS Review of International Affairs Volume 30, Number 2, Summer-Fall[19]
  • 2007: Simon Rosenberg and Alec Ross. A Laptop in Every Backpack with Simon Rosenberg. NDN Globalization Initiative.[20]


  • Distinguished Honor Award from the US Department of State
  • One of 40 leaders under 40 years old in International Development,[21]
  • Disruptive Innovation Award, from the TriBeCa Film Festival.[22]
  • Oxford Internet Institute OII Award 2013.[23]
  • Huffington Post Game Changers 2010.[24]
  • Foreign Policy Magazine "Top 100 Global Thinkers" 2011.[25]
  • Newsweek Digital Power Index Top 100 2011.[26]
  • TriBeCa Film Festival Disruptive Innovator Award 2012.[27]
  • Politico's "50 Politicos to Watch" 2010.[28]


  1. ^ "Faculty Page". Columbia University. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Diplomatic Efforts Get Tech Support", Washington Post, April 6, 2009. [1]
  3. ^ "Alec Ross - Participant". Aspen Institute. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 
  4. ^ "Alec Ross Author's Page". Simon & Shuster. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "Innovator Alec Ross Joins State Dept.," National Journal, April 6, 2009. [2]
  6. ^ "The New Statesman | Baltimore Style". Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  7. ^ "Hillary Clinton Launches "21st Century Statecraft" Initiative by State Department," TechPresident, May 13, 2009. [3].
  8. ^ "The Creative List: New Media," Washington Life, November 8, 2009. [4]
  9. ^ "Remarks on TechCamp Vilnius". Still4Hill. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Obama's Geek Squad", Wired, June 18, 2009. [5]
  11. ^ "Hillary Clinton Turns State Department Tech-Friendly", U.S. News & World Report, June 15, 2009. [6]
  12. ^ "P2P2G: The rise of e-diplomacy", Politico, June 4, 2009. [7]
  13. ^ a b Rogin, Josh (14 March 2013). "Tech guru Alec Ross leaves the State Department". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Wilson, Cherry (2 November 2011). "Clinton adviser makes Twitter attack on surveillance equipment firms". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  15. ^ "The Industries of the Future". 2016-02-02. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  16. ^ Ross, Alec (18 June 2013). "Light Up the West Bank: Want to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process? Start with 3G.". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Ross, Alec (June 20, 2012). "How connective tech boosts political change". CNN. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  18. ^ Ross, Alec; Ben Scott (2011). "21st Century Statecraft". NATO Review. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  19. ^ Ross, Alec (Summer–Fall 2010). "nternet Freedom: Historic Roots and the Road Forward. The SAIS Review of International Affairs" 30 (2). Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  20. ^ Rosenberg, Simon; Alec Ross (1 May 2007). "Rosenberg". NDN Globalization Initiative. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  21. ^ "Meet the 40 Under 40". DevEx. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  22. ^ Dale, Austin (April 3, 2012). "Tribeca to Honor Justin Bieber, Edward Burns and Others with Disruptive Innovation Awards". Indie Wire. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "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. 
  24. ^ "Who Is The Ultimate Game Changer In Politics?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  25. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  26. ^ "Digital Power Index: Navigators". Newsweek. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  27. ^ "Tribeca to Honor Justin Bieber, Edward Burns and Others with Disruptive Innovation Awards". Indiewire. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  28. ^ "50 Politicos to Watch 2010". POLITICO. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 

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