Alissa Cooper appointed inaugural executive director of Knight–Georgetown Institute – Knight Foundation
Learning and Impact

Alissa Cooper appointed inaugural executive director of Knight–Georgetown Institute

Esteemed Technologist and Advocate to Lead New Policy Hub for Growing Network of Scholars and Experts Who Study Information and Technology

Washington –  Georgetown University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announce the appointment of Alissa Cooper as the inaugural executive director of the Knight–Georgetown Institute (KGI), a new hub dedicated to fostering more informed information and technology policy through elevating independent research. A thought leader at the forefront of tech policy, privacy, standards and regulation, Cooper brings the depth of insight and experience needed to guide this new institute.

Previously, Dr. Cooper served as vice president, engineering, and fellow at Cisco Systems, where she played a central role in shaping Cisco’s approach to technology standardization, public policy and privacy across the company’s networking, security and collaboration businesses. Her leadership roles included serving as the chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the world’s premier Internet standards organization. Learn more about Cooper here.

“We are very pleased to welcome Alissa as the inaugural executive director of KGI. Her experience in multiple sectors will propel forward KGI’s establishment of partnerships so key to the mission of the Institute,” said Georgetown University provost Robert M. Groves.

This appointment is a significant milestone for the Knight–Georgetown Institute, announced last May to serve as a central hub for the growing network of scholarship that seeks to shape how technology is used to produce, disseminate and access information. The institute, situated just blocks from the U.S. Capitol, is the result of a $30 million commitment from Knight Foundation and Georgetown University. Designed to be a resource for decision makers in both the public and private sectors, journalists and others working to distill and communicate these complex issues, the new Knight–Georgetown Institute (KGI) will also serve as a neutral convener in the heart of Washington, D.C. More here.

“I am humbled and honored to lead the work of the Knight–Georgetown Institute at this critical moment in our nation’s history,” Cooper said. “Working with the brightest minds at Georgetown and across the interdisciplinary research field, we have a unique opportunity to empower informed decision making that will shape our shared futures and our democracy.” 

As an integral part of Georgetown’s Tech & Society Initiative, the Knight–Georgetown Institute is positioned to elevate and distill actionable insights from academic research, making them accessible to policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists and civil society. The Institute’s launch builds on Knight’s more than $100 million in commitments to support leading independent researchers, technologists and policy experts (Knight Research Network) who are advancing our collective understanding of the challenges and opportunities that accompany new information technologies.

“A growing field of research is now closing some of the most persistent gaps in our knowledge about the promise and pitfalls of digitally-mediated information in our democracy,” said John Sands, Knight Foundation’s senior director for Media & Democracy. “As scientists and experts reach broader agreement, the Knight-Georgetown Institute, under Alissa’s leadership, will ensure that consensus is both accessible and actionable.”

About Georgetown Tech & Society Initiative

Georgetown’s Tech & Society Initiative is a cross-campus network of centers and institutes engaged in interdisciplinary collaboration, research and action at the intersection of technology, ethics and governance. The initiative includes the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation, the Center for Digital Ethics, the Center on Privacy & Technology, the Center for Security and Emerging Technology, the Ethics Lab, the Institute for Technology Law & Policy, and the Massive Data Institute. Learn more on our website and follow Tech & Society on social media

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:

We are social investors who support a more effective democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. Learn more at and follow @knightfdn on social media.


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