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Berkman Klein’s Sue Hendrickson Becomes First Global Technology Governance Fellow; Elisabeth Sylvan Appointed Interim Executive Director

Berkman Klein’s Sue Hendrickson Becomes First Global Technology Governance Fellow; Elisabeth Sylvan Appointed Interim Executive Director

With gratitude for her service and with excitement for her new role, the Berkman Klein Center (BKC) announces that Sue Hendrickson will become the first Global Technology Governance Fellow at BKC. Current Managing Director Dr. Elisabeth Sylvan will become the Interim Executive Director.

In the new fellowship role at BKC, Hendrickson will leverage her extensive expertise in technology and human rights issues to develop approaches for the global governance of high-impact technologies like artificial intelligence.

“As the Executive Director of BKC, I’ve had a front row seat to breathtakingly rapid developments in the tech sector,” Hendrickson said. “There is an urgent need to understand how these developments exacerbate existing societal problems and offer new opportunities to improve people’s lives. I am excited to collaborate with leaders from industry, academia, government, and beyond to tackle the hardest challenges of global governance in the technology sphere.”

Hendrickson, who came to BKC with three decades of tech policy experience, said that “addressing these governance issues is a multi-year challenge, but I am excited by the initial efforts that I will be organizing during this fellowship. Together with Dr. Rumman Chowdhury, former Director of ML Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability at Twitter, I will explore approaches for accountable technical oversight of artificial intelligence. I am also honored to collaborate with Rt. Honorable Jacinda Ardern, former prime minister of New Zealand and Special Envoy for the Christchurch Call; we will explore governance mechanisms and tools for combating online extremism and dealing with harms from generative language models.”

During her time as Executive Director, Hendrickson worked on a variety of projects at the intersection of technology, law, and human rights. For example, as ChatGPT was launching, Hendrickson worked with OpenAI and Khan Academy to examine how generative AI would impact student learning and teacher pedagogy. In collaboration with French President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders in technology, she supported the launch of the Laboratory for Online Child Protection, an international effort designed to create new mechanisms for detecting and preventing online child abuse. In response to the Biden administration’s call for American companies to minimize the adverse societal impacts of their products, Hendrickson worked with partners in the corporate, government, and civic sectors to convene a multi-stakeholder symposium on Ethical and Rights-Respecting Technology.

“Sue has a rare knack for leading people to see old problems in new ways,” said BKC co-founder and Faculty Director Jonathan Zittrain. “As today’s digital challenges draw attention from sovereign, business, and civil society leaders, and concern all of us, Sue’s fellowship project will help these leaders to confront these daunting challenges – discerning what tools to deploy across a complicated and delicate landscape.”

Managing Director Dr. Lis Sylvan has been appointed by the Board of Directors to serve as Interim Executive Director of BKC while the search for a new Executive Director is conducted. After her tenure as Interim Executive Director, Sylvan will move into the role of Senior Director for Strategy and Programming. In this new role, she will manage global research partnerships, develop new programs, and work to drive the strategic trajectory for the next decade of BKC.

Sylvan joined BKC in 2019, after receiving her PhD from the MIT Media Lab and then working at several tech-focused nonprofits. At BKC, she has spearheaded new educational and programmatic initiatives such as the Summer Institute, BKC Research Sprints, and Co-designing Generative Futures, all of which were created via active engagement with the BKC community. She also leads multiple initiatives for BKC’s Policy Practice on AI, focusing on topics related to education, youth, and technology.

“It has been a genuine pleasure collaborating with Lis. With her innovative approach to globally inclusive research and programming, BKC is in good hands,” remarked Hendrickson. Sylvan said that a core strategic goal of hers is “to ensure that BKC remains an incubator for interdisciplinary research that both commends and critiques the rapid pace of technological development.”


Sam Hinds