Alec Ross is one of America’s leading experts on innovation. He has been an entrepreneur, served for four years as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, and advised President Obama on the intersection of technology and geopolitics for his first presidential campaign.
Alec Ross is one of America’s leading experts on innovation. He has been an entrepreneur, served for four years as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, and advised President Obama on the intersection of technology and geopolitics for his first presidential campaign. He did the same during his time as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, a role created for him to maximize the potential of technology and innovation in service of America’s diplomatic goals. In this role, Ross advanced the State Department’s interests on a range of issues including Internet Freedom, cybersecurity, disaster response, and the use of network technologies in conflict zones. Currently, he continues to educate various world leaders and top CEOs about these topics.
Ross’s best-selling book, The Industries of the Future, explores the technological and economic trends and developments that will shape the next ten years, from cybersecurity and big data to the commercialization of genomics to the code-ification of money, markets and trust. Since its publication in February of 2016, it has gone into an 8th printing and the rights have been sold for translation into 18 languages.
Ross currently serves as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and sits on the board of directors or advisors for companies in the fields of technology, media, telecommunications, education, health care and cybersecurity.
AT THE PODIUM
Ross provides an expert’s point of view on topics ranging from the strategic uses of social media in business and government, to driving innovation through large organizations, to cybercrime and cyber security. He pulls from his firsthand experience implementing strategies at the State Department to present actionable insight on current issues slated to disrupt the future.
In his newest program, Ross draws on his study of culture, politics, and economics to forecast the effects of Donald Trump's presidency on business, tech, and innovation. Born and raised in the heart of Trump country - Charleston, West Virginia - before becoming a successful entrepreneur and senior government official, Ross is uniquely positioned to illuminate issues around trade, antitrust, taxation, and their impact on markets in the short- and long-term, as well as what's next for the United States' relationships with Europe and Asia.
After graduating from Northwestern University, Ross started his career as a sixth grade teacher through Teach for America in inner-city Baltimore. In 2000, he and three colleagues co-founded the nonprofit organization One Economy and grew it from modest origins in a basement into a global organization serving millions of low-income people, with programs on four continents.
During his time at the State Department, Ross led an effort to increase the diversity and level of problem-solving abilities in the Foreign Service. He managed a large-scale process for making the U.S. Department of State a more innovative institution. A 2012 study by Deloitte and the Partnership for Public Service scored the State Department as having the most innovation-friendly culture of any cabinet-level agency.
An advocate for Internet Freedom, he established a global Internet Freedom agenda that became the first distinctly 21st century human rights agenda, deploying $100M in funds for cutting-edge projects that keep the internet open and help protect citizens and activists in authoritarian environments.
Understanding the growing importance of social media, Ross conceived a system of public diplomacy through social media that now reaches 15 million people a day. He is largely responsible for creating the system of using text messaging codes to donate to relief funds. Ross also served as Convener for the Technology, Media & Telecommunications Policy Committee on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team.
Ross has been awarded many recognitions for his work, including “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy Magazine, Huffington Post’s “10 Game Changers in Politics,” the 2010 Middle East/North Africa Technology Person of the Year by the Union of Arab ICT organizations, and the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award.
Ross has served as a guest lecturer at numerous institutions, including the United Nations, Harvard Law School, and the London School of Economics. His writing has appeared in publications including the Johns Hopkins SAIS Review of International Affairs and the NATO Review.
Ross lives in Baltimore with his wife and their three young children.