December 21, 2023

By J. Nathan Matias

Photo of Brandi GeurkinkThe Coalition for Independent Technology Research’s Board is thrilled to announce that Brandi Geurkink will lead the Coalition as our inaugural Executive Director beginning in the new year. 🎉

Since its launch in October 2022, the Coalition has grown to more than 300 individual researchers and 50 research groups who work together to advance, defend, and sustain the right to ethically study the impacts of technology on society. As Executive Director, Brandi will work together with Coalition members from academia, journalism, and civil society to challenge the tech industry’s resistance to research in the public interest, and to overcome other obstacles to this crucial work.

“As we look ahead to 2024—when more than half the world’s population will vote in national elections—the need for independent research into the societal impacts of technology has never been greater,” notes co-founder and Board member Rebekah Tromble. “And yet, the community of researchers conducting this vital work is facing immense pressure and threat. To protect public interest research, we need a leader with the experience and strategic vision to build and strengthen our connections and our voice. Brandi is precisely the person for this job.”

Brandi joins the Coalition as Executive Director after serving on the Board of Directors since February 2022. She brings nearly 10 years of experience as an organizer, campaigner, and advocate who has worked on promoting corporate accountability in numerous fields including technology, human rights, and international development.

About Brandi Geurkink

“We are proud and delighted that Brandi will lead the Coalition, whose work is all the more vital every day, as independent research comes under threat from both corporations and governments,” says Susan Benesch, a Coalition co-founder and Board member. “To all her work as a member of our board and in her previous roles, Brandi has brought wisdom, vigor, and moxie – just the right powerful mix.”

Brandi is a well-respected ally of the independent research community, known for her strategic thinking, diplomacy, and ability to build influential and effective multi-stakeholder coalitions. Her most recent role was at the Mozilla Foundation, where she led the organization’s advocacy for policies that would improve independent researcher access to data and open-source auditing of consumer technology platforms in Europe and the United States. At Mozilla Foundation, she created YouTube Regrets, the world’s largest community-driven audit of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm which has won multiple awards. Previously, Brandi also directed a research team and advised on the technology portfolio of Reset Tech, a nonprofit philanthropic organization dedicated to restoring the critical connection between media and democracy. Before working on corporate accountability in the technology sector, she was an organizer and campaigner with the International Civil Society Centre in Berlin and the ONE Campaign in Washington, D.C.

“The future of human flourishing depends on reliable public knowledge about technology — knowledge that’s often created by affected communities,” says co-founder and Board member J. Nathan Matias. “Since the start, the Coalition has supported community researchers, journalists, and academics together. Brandi understands the needs of our diverse members as an innovator in participatory science herself. I’m excited to see what the Coalition will accomplish with such a capable organizer, campaigner, and communicator at the helm.”

Brandi’s work has been cited by policymakers working on digital regulation in Europe and the United States, and her research and opinions have been featured in national and international publications including the Wall Street Journal, NPR, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, the Times of India, WIRED, Fast Company and more.

“In a moment when critical conversations about technology regulation are being dominated by industry and government actors, Coalition members are beacons of light, bringing independent, public interest research to the table. I’m excited and honored by the opportunity to bring their expertise to the forefront of public debates and to establish the Coalition as a leading interest group on issues involving technology and society,” says Geurkink.

Brandi will take up this role in January, based in Berlin, Germany.

About the Coalition

The Coalition for Independent Technology Research works to advance, defend, and sustain the right to study the impact of technology on society. We aim to do so by building a coalition of academics, journalists, civil society researchers, and community scientists committed to advocating for and organizing in defense of research that is ethical, transparent, and privacy-preserving. We are committed to supporting research by individuals as diverse as the societies we share. The Coalition and its members are, and will remain, independent of the technology industry we study.

The Coalition is a fiscally sponsored project of Aspiration, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.