As we reflected in the 2022 Year-End Review, Digital Democracy’s work never felt as impactful, or more urgent. We have an increasing number of partners in 15 countries who are using technology for Indigenous land sovereignty and environmental justice, we are also improving our core products, launching new tools, and continuously improving the Earth Defenders Toolkit.
All this work takes collaboration, and thankfully, thanks to support from our funding partners and individual donors, we’ve been able to expand the Digital Democracy team. We’re kicking off 2023 with a team of 19 people (both full and part-time) spread across nine countries and three continents!
We are thrilled to welcome the following folks who recently joined our team, including long-time friends, admired comrades, and new-to-us people whose diverse backgrounds and experiences are already enriching our work.
First, we would like to introduce you to Seth Vincent (he/him). Seth joined our team last April as a Senior Back-end Developer and is leading the revamp of our peer-to-peer database architecture. He’s worked as a news engineer building newsroom tools and data visualizations, a web engineer building geospatial applications, an advisor to a student news organization, and a writing tutor. He was also the co-founder of Open Seattle, a volunteer organization in Seattle, WA that hosts events for learning about and for collaborating across disciplines to address local public-interest issues. He is based in Olympia, Washington US.
A heartfelt Kia Orana to Ben Tairea (he/him), a long-time inspiration to us who is our first Earth Defenders Toolkit Community Steward as well as a general member of our Programs team. Ben is the co-founder of the Āhau tool, and is also a member of the Digital Identity New Zealand Executive Council, Advisory Board Member for Veracity Labs Aotearoa and Tairea Anau Village Council. We are excited to learn from his experience supporting Indigenous communities to develop their capacity and access to digital tools. Ben is from the Cook Islands and is currently making his way through South America on a roadtrip with his family.
Bienvenida al equipo Jaidith Hernandez (she/her). Jai joins as our Operations & Finance Associate and brings to the table a long career working in non-profit organizations and a natural knack for numbers. She is working hard behind the scenes to ensure Digital Democracy’s activities are running smoothly – we are so thankful to have her on the team! Born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Jai now lives in Delaware, US.
Welcome to Elys Jones (they/them/ielle/elle), who joins the Mapeo tech team as a front-end developer. They are an interdisciplinary developer, systems designer and community organizer, and we are excited to count on their rich and diverse perspectives and experiences. Elys has been working with New Design Congress, a research organization that recognizes all infrastructure as expressions of power, and sees interfaces and technologies as social, economic, political and ecological accelerants. Elys also contributed to the Para-Real research, and founded ReclaimFutures and Loose Antenna. Originally from the Isle of Man, Elys is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Bienvenida a bordo Barbara Gonzalez (she/they/ella). Barbara is also a long-time collaborator of Digital Democracy, and is joining both the Programs and Operations teams. She has over a decade of experience in community development, Indigenous rights and gender equality, particularly within grassroot organizations and indigenous nations in South America, including working with our partners from Alianza Ceibo and Amazon Frontlines for four years. We feel honored to have her on our team. Currently, she is helping plan our upcoming retreat in Ecuador and working to make our dream of an Amazonia Women’s Program a reality. Originally from Venezuela, Barbara is based in Treaty 1, Winnipeg, Canada.
Bienvenido Tomás Ciccola (he/him/they/el), who joins us as a Back-End developer at Digital Democracy, and is working alongside Seth in the revamp of our peer-to-peer database architecture. With a degree in new media, he taught himself programming as a way to develop new artistic tools for new media artists. We love how much Tomás values the demystification of technology and the sharing of technical knowledge to non-technical people. He is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
And finally, bienvenida al equipo Maria Álvarez Malvido (she/her)! With a background in social anthropology, communications, and journalism, she has collaborated with Indigenous Peoples in Mexico and Latin America in the design and facilitation of participatory methodologies for the development of community networks and other communication strategies to access, share and preserve local knowledge in self-determined ways. This month, she joins our Programs team to provide direct support to program partners, support our Train the Trainers methodology, as well as work on our communications and storytelling. We feel very lucky to have her on our team. Maria is based in Oaxaca, Mexico.
A heartfelt thank you to Rudo Kemper
With love and gratitude we are saying thank you and Tot ziens en bedankt voor alles to Rudo Kemper (he/him), who for the past two years was our Mapping, GIS and Earth Defenders Toolkit Lead. Since joining our team in October 2020, he has been the motor behind the Earth Defenders Toolkit, an inspired representative of our team at external events, and he played a key role in supporting partner communities from across the world, from Kenya to Suriname, Ecuador, Six Nations and more. Moreover, he is the founder and a core steward of the open-source application Terrastories, used by Indigenous communities across the world to map their place-based oral histories, which Digital Democracy is now stewarding along with volunteer support.
We are thrilled to continue collaborating with Rudo through Terrastories, and that he is deepening his work on Indigenous land rights issues in his new role as Chief Program Officer of Cadasta. Congratulations Rudo! We wish you all the best on the next stage of your path, and to our future collaborations.