Harvard Ash Center Announces Appointment of Wael Ghonim as Senior Fellow

July 14, 2015

Cambridge, MA – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School today announces the appointment of Egyptian technologist and Internet activist Wael Ghonim as a senior fellow. Ghonim recently cofounded Parlio, a new online community focused on elevating thoughtful discourse.

Ghonim’s research during his fellowship will focus on how technology can be harnessed to create space for civic-minded citizens, experts, opinion-makers, academics, and officials to engage each other in discussions of the most pressing social, political, and economic issues facing our communities.

“Wael is a tremendous addition to the intellectual life of the Ash Center," said Tony Saich, Daewoo Professor of International Affairs and director of the Ash Center. “He brings an important and unique understanding to our work here at the Kennedy School on how technology has the potential to reshape institutions and strengthen citizen engagement in the democratic process.”

Tarek Masoud, the Sultan of Oman Associate Professor of International Relations at the School and a faculty affiliate of the Ash Center added, “Wael Ghonim is a symbol of the power of technology to empower citizens and create communities that act collectively to spark social change. His new project is very much in this vein: he's trying to figure out how to take the best things about social media — the potential for exchanging ideas, disseminating truth, and giving voice to underrepresented perspectives — and amplify them.”


A computer engineer, an Internet activist, and a social entrepreneur, Ghonim is a cofounder of Parlio, an online global community engaging in thoughtful discussions around issues that matter. Prior to founding Parlio, Ghonim was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Google Ventures.  Ghonim also spent six years at Google during which he headed up Marketing and Product in the Middle East North Africa region where he was responsible for driving the growth of Google's products across the region, and evangelizing the use of the Internet and growing the Arabic content in the region. In 2011, Ghonim was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people, and received the JFK Profile in Courage Award. Dubbed the "keyboard freedom fighter," he used the power of the Internet and social media to fight for social justice, democracy, and human rights in Egypt. Ghonim is the founder of Tahrir Academy, an NGO, which is an online knowledge-sharing platform for Arabic-speaking youth. Ghonim received his bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering from Cairo University and earned an MBA from the American University in Cairo.

About the Ash Center

The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education and public discussion. Three major programs support our mission: the Program on Democratic Governance; the Innovations in Government Program; and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia. For more information, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.


For more information, contact:

Daniel Harsha

Associate Director for Communications and Government Relations

Ash Center Democratic Governance and Innovation