Ushering in the Advisors #3: Tess, Renny

Following the launch of the FrontlineSMS Advisory Board late last year, we’re honoured to announce news of our latest two appointees – Tess Conner and Renny Gleeson. Tess and Renny join previous recruits Larry Diamond, Jenny AkerJan Chipchase and Erik Hersman.

Rather than formulate a general board of Advisors, we’re trying to be strategic by appointing individuals in areas we consider key for the ongoing success and growth of the project. Tess and Renny fall into the branding/public relations category – clear communication and positioning will be increasingly crucial as we continue to build and deploy non-profit facing mobile services. In addition to their professional expertise, both have a strong interest in ICTs and their impact around the world. Tess has already spent the past year helping us with press and outreach, and Renny has been instrumental in the exciting – and path-breaking – branding work carried out on FrontlineSMS and the growing family of related projects.

Tess is an independent Communications Executive leading consultations which involve global community investments and social initiatives. With experience living and working in the developing world, she’s developed a great deal of passion and understanding around on-the-ground realities faced by rural communities, and the potential of the right technologies in the hands of these communities. Recently with Cisco Systems, her drive is to understand issues concerning technology’s role in education and economic development. She graduated with a Masters in Global Media and Postnational Communication from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and is an avid surfer.

Renny has worked all sides of the interactive marketing space from client, to agency, to publishing/sales, beginning his “career” as an animator and game designer creating online and CD-ROM games, before helping to found Saatchi & Saatchi’s Darwin Digital company in 1997. He was later recruited by the National Basketball Association to be their Senior Director of Global Media and Interactive Marketing, where he created mobile programs and programming, oversaw fantasy game-related syndication revenue and developed interactive platforms for NBA corporate partners. Renny has since found his spiritual home at Wieden+Kennedy (W+K) as their Global Director of Interactive Strategies, where he shapes client vision on the “brave new digital world”.

We’re incredibly excited to be able to draw on the considerable experience of our new Advisory Board members, each of whom will help steer and direct our technical, marketing and organisational development. With software downloads now approaching 5,000 and the imminent launch of a number of new initiatives, not to mention the emergence of new spin-off organisations such as FrontlineSMS:Medic and FrontlineSMS:Credit, there’s without doubt plenty to be getting on with.

The Board of Advisors will all be profiled on the FrontlineSMS website once all appointments have been made. The final two will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Welcome Tess and Renny! \o/

Ushering in the Advisors #2: Larry, Jenny

Following the launch of the FrontlineSMS Advisory Board last month, we’re honoured to announce news of our latest two appointees – Larry Diamond and Jenny Aker. Larry and Jenny join previous recruits Jan Chipchase and Erik Hersman.

Rather than formulate a general board of Advisors, we’re trying to be strategic by appointing individuals in areas we consider key for the ongoing success and growth of the project. Jan and Erik were chosen because of their user focus, and their experience in the field, and Larry and Jenny join us as strong and widely respected members of the academic community. Both have a strong interest in ICTs and their impact around the world. FrontlineSMS has many unanswered questions – not to mention presenting some meaty research opportunities – and we hope they will be able to help us figure those out, and move our analysis and understanding of its impact forward.

Larry DiamondLarry Diamond is based at Stanford University and is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he also directs the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. During the first three months of 2004, Larry served as a senior adviser on governance to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. Since then, he has lectured and written extensively on U.S. policy in Iraq and the wider challenges of post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction, and was one of the advisors to the Iraq Study Group.

During 2004–5, Larry was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Independent Task Force on United States Policy toward Arab Reform. With Abbas Milani, he coordinates the Hoover Institution Project on Democracy in Iran. Larry has been a strong FrontlineSMS supporter over the past two years, and continues to advise, promote and explore the use of the software in the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.

Jenny AkerJenny Aker is an Assistant Professor of Economics at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.  She obtained her PhD in agricultural economics from the University of California-Berkeley, a M.A. from the Fletcher School (Tufts University) and a B.A. from Duke University.  In addition to her work at Tufts, she is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor at the Center for Studies and Research in International Development (CERDI) at the University of Auvergne.

Jenny’s research focuses on the impact of information, particularly information technology, on individuals and households’ behavior, agricultural markets and producer and consumer welfare in low-income countries, with a primary focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Based upon her previous work in Niger on the impact of mobile phones on agricultural markets, she is currently partnering with Catholic Relief Services on Project ABC (Alphabetisation de Base par Cellulaire), a project which uses mobile phones as a platform for functional literacy and for obtaining price information via SMS.  She is also working on a mobile-phone based civic education project in Mozambique. Both of these projects utilise FrontlineSMS, making Jenny – and her focus areas – an ideal Advisory Board candidate.

We’re incredibly excited to be able to draw on the considerable experience of our new Advisory Board members, each of whom will help steer and direct our technical, marketing and organisational development. With software downloads now in excess of 4,000 and the imminent launch of a FrontlineSMS Developer Community, not to mention the emergence of new spin-off organisations such as FrontlineSMS:Medic and FrontlineSMS:Credit, there’s without doubt plenty to be getting on with.

The Board of Advisors will all be profiled on the FrontlineSMS website once all appointments have been made. Two more will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Welcome Larry and Jenny! \o/

Ushering in the Advisors #1: Erik, Jan

At one time or another, all projects need a little help and direction. FrontlineSMS is no exception, and we’re fortunate to have been able to draw on the skills, experience and support of many close friends and allies over the past couple of years or so. During the FrontlineSMS building process we’ve been totally focused on the users – unashamedly so – and only now are we beginning to catch up organisationally.

This week sees the formation of a Board of Advisors for FrontlineSMS. With a field- and user-based theme, we’re honoured to welcome Erik Hersman and Jan Chipchase as our first round of appointees.

ErikErik is the co-founder of Ushahidi (which means “testimony” in Swahili), a web application created to map the reported incidents of violence happening during the post-election crisis in Kenya. Raised in Sudan and Kenya, Erik brings unique energy and insight to the world of technology and innovation – bridging the gap between Africa and Silicon Valley. An avid blogger Erik writes two different technology blogs including AfriGadget and WhiteAfrican. One dedicated to low-tech African ingenuity, and the other to high-tech mobile and web changes happening throughout Africa.

The user-needs-driven focus of the Ushahidi/FrontlineSMS relationship has become a model in collaboration for us, and Erik’s experience, passion and focus mirrors our own multidisciplinary approach to identifying and solving problems. His experience and understanding of the African technology landscape will be invaluable as we move our efforts forward. Erik has been a great mentor over the years, and he remains a good friend.

JanJan specialises in understanding the intersection of people, culture and technology. For eight years he worked out of the Nokia Research Center, Tokyo where, as Principal Scientist he conducted user experience and exploratory design research, taking teams into the field across the four corners of the globe. He is currently based out of Nokia’s Los Angeles design studio, conducting research to guide and support corporate strategy. Jan’s thinking is featured on his blog at www.janchipchase.com.

Jan, who we’ve known for a while, has built a considerable following for his work with Nokia, and continues to be a leader in his field. His focus on people, culture and technology is a perfect fit for us in many ways, reinforcing our own commitment to understanding and responding to user needs as a major driver in the development of social mobile tools. Jan’s experience will be particularly valuable as we begin the process of understanding the challenges and impact of FrontlineSMS on the ground.

We’re incredibly excited to be able to draw on the considerable experience of our new Advisory Board members, each of whom will help steer and direct our technical, marketing and organisational development. With software downloads rapidly approaching the 4,000 mark, the imminent launch of a FrontlineSMS Developer Community, and the emergence of new spin-off organisations such as FrontlineSMS:Medic and FrontlineSMS:Credit, there’s without doubt plenty to be getting on with.

The Board of Advisors will all be profiled on the FrontlineSMS website once all appointments have been made. Two more will be unveiled next week. In the meantime…

… welcome Erik and Jan! \o/