Sascha Meinrath

Board President

Sascha is the Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State and director of X-Lab, an innovative think tank focusing on the intersection of vanguard technologies and public policy. Sascha is a renowned technology policy expert and is internationally recognized for his work over the past two decades as a community internet pioneer, social entrepreneur, and angel investor.

Prior to founding X-Lab, Sascha was vice president of the New America Foundation, where he founded the Open Technology Institute in 2008 and built it into one of the largest public interest tech policy organizations in Washington, D.C. He also founded the Commotion Wireless Project, which works around the globe to strengthen communities by providing tools to build their own local communications infrastructures, and co-founded Measurement Lab, a global online platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools that empower the public and key decision-makers with useful information about broadband connectivity.

Sascha was elected as an Ashoka Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship in 2012, and has been named to the Time Magazine “Tech 40” as one of the most influential figures in technology, to the “Top 100” in Newsweek’s Digital Power Index, and is a recipient of the Public Knowledge IP3 Award for excellence in public interest advocacy. He is widely published in both academic and media outlets.


Woody Kaplan

President Emeritus

Woody founded the Civil Liberties List (a political action committee) and is a full-time political and civil liberties activist. Along with serving as president of Defending Dissent Foundation, he is the Development Chair of American Atheists and serves on the advisory boards of the American Humanist Association, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the Godless Americans Political Action Committee, and the Secular Student Alliance. Kaplan is a former member of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Board of Directors and served on its Executive Committee. Congressional lobbying and organizational governance and development work are Kaplan’s major activities. His civil liberties interests include freedom of expression, the right of dissent, separation of church and state, racial justice, LGBT rights, reproductive freedom, abolition of the death penalty, the rights of the accused, police misconduct and a general extension of political and civil liberties.


Suraj K. Sazawal


Suraj serves as the North American partner to the CIVICUS Monitor, an international alliance that tracks the quality of civic space in over 130 countries, including treatment of protesters, the suppression of media, and other crackdowns on civil society. He is also co-author to Civil Society Under Strain, the first book to explore how the War on Terror hurt humanitarian aid.


Donald Goldhamer


Don  is an activist and advocate focused on civil liberties and individual privacy.  As a computer specialist since the 1960’s he has focused attention on the abuse of technology to undermine privacy and rights, through organizations such as the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and the ACM. Beginning in the 1970’s he has been involved in work toward prison abolition, transparency and civilian oversight; and later with the control and oversight of urban police.


Emily Berman


Emily is professor of Constitutional Law at University of Houston Law School. Her research interests focus on whether and how the legal, constitutional, and regulatory structures of the domestic criminal justice apparatus have been transformed by the past decade’s focus on efforts to detect, prevent, and punish the threat of terrorist violence. Her current work seeks to elucidate the implications of these changes for both criminal law and national security law. She has written extensively about domestic intelligence collection, executive power and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She has worked at the Brennan Center for Justice, New York University Law School and Brooklyn Law School.


Mike Rufo


Mike is a Bay Area activist, singer/songwriter, and sustainable energy consultant. Mike has directed several sustainable energy consultancies and is currently an Executive Consultant for Itron Inc. Mike also serves on the board of the Clean Power Campaign and was previously a board member with the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology (CEERT). In addition to his work addressing sustainable energy, his passions for civil liberties, social justice, the environment, and music come together in songs that promote grassroots activism.


Fadi Saba


Fadi specializes in teaching students.  He brings his background knowledge in civil liberties and rights into the classroom where students engage in critical thinking and debates.  Outside of teaching, Fadi is involved in the anti-war and pro-Palestinian freedom movements.  He is the president of Culture and Conflict Forum, a volunteer-run organization dedicated to bringing voices from and about the Global South.


Shannon Al-Wakeel

Shannon Al-Wakeel is managing director of Northeastern University School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Advocacy and Collaboration. She previously served as executive director of Muslim Justice League — an organization she co-founded in 2014 following federal announcements of a “countering violent extremism” campaign, in order to defend rights that are threatened under national security pretexts. An attorney experienced in community lawyering and public policy advocacy, Shannon also worked with Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and, later, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, where her advocacy contributed to secure immigrants’ rights protections at the local, state, and federal levels.


Shahid Buttar

Shahid is the former Executive Director of BORDC. He also serves on the advisory bodies of the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights, and South Asian Americans Leading Together. Shahid received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2003, where he served as executive editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, and graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in political science and creative writing in 2000. Shahid also supports populist constitutionalism as an independent columnist, community organizer, and hip-hop and electronica MC and DJ. In his creative capacities as a poet and musician, Shahid has performed around the world for audiences as large as 30,000, co-founded several grassroots art and culture groups around the country, facilitated workshops for young people and emerging artists, and released his debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, in 2008.


Arun Gupta

Arun is an independent journalist whose work can be found at Telesur,  Alternet and Truthout.  He is the founding editor of The Indypendent and the Occupied Wall Street Journal. 


Jilisa Milton

Jilisa Milton is an Alabama-based civil rights attorney, policy analyst, social worker, and racial justice activist. She has a joint JD/MSW degree from the University of Alabama. She became one of the founders of Black Lives Matter Birmingham Chapter in 2016, namely as a survivor of police violence, and is currently the Vice-President of the National Lawyers Guild. Jilisa leads reproductive work in the deep south as the President of Yellowhammer Fund, a southern abortion fund and reproductive justice organization, and a board member of West Alabama Women’s Center, a reproductive health facility, both dedicated to fighting against the criminalization of healthcare advocacy and on behalf of the right to bodily autonomy and gender justice.

In her daily work, Jilisa is Deputy Director of Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP),  a climate & environmental justice organization, and advocates for the rights of progressive voices in the southern region of the US.