Kelly Born to Join Cyber Policy Center as Executive Director

The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) is pleased to announce that Kelly Born has been named the first executive director of the Cyber Policy Center. With a focus on cybersecurity, disinformation, digital democracy and election security, the Cyber Policy Center’s research, teaching and policy engagement aim to bring new insights and solutions to national governments, international institutions and industry.

As executive director, Born will collaborate with the center’s program leaders to pioneer academic programs focused on cyber issues, including new lines of research, a case-based, policy-oriented curriculum, pre- and postdoctoral training and practitioner fellowships, policy workshops and executive education. Born will also serve as the key spokesperson within the university and externally to the media, policy influencers, industry, foundations and civil society organizations. 

Prior to joining Stanford, Born helped to launch and lead The Madison Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic undertakings in America working to reduce polarization and improve U.S. democracy. There, Born designed and implemented strategies focused on money in politics, electoral reform, civic engagement and digital disinformation. In this capacity, Born worked with academics, government leaders, social media companies, foundations, and nonprofits around the world to help improve online information ecosystems. 

Before joining the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Born worked as a strategy consultant with the Monitor Group, supporting strategic planning efforts at Fortune 100 companies, governments, and nonprofits in the U.S., Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. 

Born earned a master’s degree in international policy from Stanford University. The graduate program is offered through the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

“We are thrilled that Kelly is returning to Stanford to play a leadership role at the Cyber Policy Center,” said Nathaniel Persily, the center’s faculty co-director, and the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. “Her deep knowledge of our core research areas and strong relationships with leaders in academia, government and technology circles position the center well to achieve its strategic aims.”

The Cyber Policy Center was established in June 2019 and includes four programs: the Program on Democracy and the Internet; the Program on Geopolitics, Technology, and Governance; the Internet Observatory; and the Global Digital Policy Incubator. Together, they focus on addressing the threats cyber technologies pose to security and governance worldwide. 

The center’s launch event, “Securing Our Cyber Future: Innovative Approaches to Digital Threats,” featured the center’s first white paper, “Securing American Elections: Prescriptions for Enhancing the Integrity and Independence of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections and Beyond,” which was co-authored by scholars affiliated with the Cyber Policy Center. The report details 45 recommendations for protecting the 2020 U.S. presidential election from domestic and foreign interference.

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to work with the distinguished faculty and staff at the new Cyber Policy Center, as well as the broader Stanford community of faculty and students,” said Born. “Questions of how best to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms presented by our increasingly networked, online world are amongst the most important and challenging questions global societies are grappling with today. Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center is ideally suited to pursue the research, teaching and policy engagement necessary to help answer these questions.”

About the Cyber Policy Center

The digital age has exposed countries to new security threats and sovereignty challenges that policymakers have only begun to address. In addition, social media and network technologies increasingly strain the balance between protecting the First Amendment and preventing foreign actors from influencing elections. To date, technological advancement in this domain has outpaced government policies, doctrines, or regulations. The Cyber Policy Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University aims to address this need through research, policy advocacy and teaching. Program areas address topics including cybersecurity, election security, misinformation, digital democracy and human rights, artificial intelligence, and emerging technologies. Through research, policy engagement and teaching, the Cyber Policy Center brings cutting-edge insights and solutions to national governments, international institutions, and industry.