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Knight–Georgetown Institute Appoints Alissa Cooper as Inaugural Executive Director

January 17, 2024

Georgetown and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation have appointed 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, 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. 

“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 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.

“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.” (new window)