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Leading innovators join World Wide Web Foundation Board of Directors

Web Foundation · July 7, 2014

Today, we are pleased to announce that the World Wide Web Foundation has elected two world-leading innovators to serve on its Board of Directors. Sam Pitroda, an internationally respected development thinker, policy maker, telecom inventor and entrepreneur, and Alex Johnston, a leading communications expert, will join other board directors in shaping the strategic direction of the World Wide Web Foundation as it seeks to achieve its mission: establishing the open Web as a global public good and a basic right.

Established by the inventor of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web Foundation pursues its mission based upon three key pillars: affordable access to the Web, online rights and participation. In each of these areas, the Foundation combines robust original research with powerful advocacy and coalition building initiatives to deliver sustainable change. Pitroda and Johnston join a diverse international board, which works under the Chairmanship of Rick Haythornthwaite, and includes prominent individuals from the technology, philanthropy, academic and business sectors. All members of the Web Foundation’s Board of Directors serve on a pro bono basis and do not accept remuneration for their services.

Welcoming the election of the two new board members, Anne Jellema, Chief Executive Officer of the World Wide Web Foundation said:

We are delighted that Sam and Alex have been elected to join our Board of Directors. Their broad international experience and deep sector expertise will prove invaluable as we pursue our mission of building an open, free and universal Web to enhance the human rights of all.”

About Sam Pitroda

Mr. Sam Pitroda is an internationally respected telecom inventor, entrepreneur, development thinker, and policy maker who has spent 49 years in information and communications technology (ICT) and related global and national developments.

Credited with having laid the foundation for India’s telecommunications and technology revolution of the 1980s, Mr. Pitroda has been a leading campaigner to help bridge the global digital divide. During his tenure as Advisor to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Pitroda led six technology missions related to telecommunications, water, literacy, immunization, dairy production, and oil seeds. He was also the founder and first Chairman of India’s Telecom Commission. In these plural roles, Mr. Pitroda helped revolutionize India’s development philosophies and policies with a focus on access to technology as the key to social change.

As a way to induce the second phase of India’s technology revolution, in 2005 Mr. Pitroda headed India’s National Knowledge Commission (2005-2009), to provide a blueprint of reform for the knowledge-related institutions and infrastructure for the 21st century in the country.

Recently, Mr. Pitroda served as Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation, with the rank of a Cabinet Minister. He served as the Chairman of the Smart Grid Task Force, as well as the committees to reform public broadcasting, modernize railways, deliver e-governance, and other developmental activities. He is also a founding Commissioner of the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development and Chairman of the International Telecommunication Union’s m-Powering Development Board that looks to empower developing countries with the use of mobile technology.

In addition, Mr. Pitroda holds over 15 honorary PhD’s, close to 100 worldwide patents, and has published and lectured widely in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

About Alex Johnston

Mr. Johnston has recently re-joined Freud Communications as a Director.  Previously, he was an Executive Vice President at Omnicom, a leading international holding company for advertising and marketing service agencies whose global clients include Apple, MacDonalds and PepsiCo.  At Omnicom, he advised on digital and earned media strategies for clients and managed digital incubation initiatives. Prior to joining Omnicom in 2010, Mr. Johnston was a senior communications advisor to PepsiCo, Inc. From 2005 to 2008, he was the Managing Partner and Founder of Fleming Media, a rights and media acquisition fund backed by the Fleming family. Mr. Johnston was a co-founder of Freud Communications, where he was Creative Director for many years.

You can read more about our Board of Directors here:

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  1. Ramesh Swamy

    July 8, 2014

    It is shocking that you chose to include Sam Pitroda who is termed an accused in a case of Fraudulent transaction in India. Hope you guys did your due diligence well? This doesnt bode well for the WorldWideWeb Foundation.


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    1. Dillon Mann

      July 10, 2014

      Thanks for your comment Ramesh. We are aware of the summons issued by a local Delhi court, which names our board member Mr Sam Pitroda as one of six respondents. We hold ourselves and our representatives to the very highest ethical standards and will continue to monitor developments in this case.


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