Tech for Social Justice

About the Tech for Social Justice Field Scan

The Technology for Social Justice Field Scan is a participatory action research project intended to find out who works in this space, understand the types of work currently being done with technology for social justice (and more broadly, in the public interest), as well as the pathways people take into this work. The goal is to identify people, groups, and networks who work in this space, including those who are not ‘the usual suspects’ in the civic technology world, and to learn from them: what their paths into the work have been; what they see as their greatest constraints; where they see barriers; what they feel is most needed to grow and diversify the field; and what success and failure look like for them.

Project Lead

Research Action Design (RAD) uses community-led research, transformative media organizing, technology development, and collaborative design to build the power of grassroots social movements. RAD is a worker-owned collective. Our projects are grounded in the needs and leadership of communities in the struggle for justice and liberation.

Project Co-Lead/Anchor Partner

The Open Technology Institute (OTI) at New America is committed to freedom and social justice in the digital age. To achieve these goals, it intervenes in traditional policy debates, builds technology, and deploys tools with communities.

Core Research Team

  • Berhan Taye

    Ford Mozilla Open Web Fellow

    Berhan is a social justice activist, a peace studies practitioner, and an avid advocate for open data and the open web. Berhan previously worked at a Conflict Early Warning and Early Response Center mitigating violence in East Africa.

  • Chris Schweidler

    Research Action Design

    Chris Schweidler is co-founder of Research Action Design (, a worker-owned cooperative that partners with grassroots organizations on research, tech, media and secure digital strategies. Chris has spent more than a decade supporting rigorous community-led research and popular communication as a part of social justice advocacy and movement building. Chris has collaborated on community based research across a broad range of interlinked struggles including low-wage worker rights, immigrant rights, health equity, racial justice, LGBTQ rights and struggles against criminalization and mass incarceration. She is also committed to the growth of the Research Justice Network, a community of rabble rousing researchers that seek to bring forth stories of struggle, change and liberation with a transformative research agenda. You can find Chris in Joshua Tree, California.

  • Bex Hurwitz

    Research Action Design

    Bex is a codesigner and maker of media and technology for social justice.

  • Georgia Bullen

    New America's Open Technology Institute

    Georgia Bullen is the Director of Tech Projects at New America’s Open Technology Institute. She has been a long-term activist in the Internet Health movement, both through her work with OTI and as an individual who keeps her finger on all the pulses of the global transparency and open internet fight. She’s passionate about issues such as net neutrality and community engagement to ensure fair access to technology, and leverages this passion to support a breadth of projects with management, visualization, architecture and design. She has a background in human-centered design, urban planning and software development, and is an advocate for women in technology.

  • Maya Wagoner

    Open Technology Institute

    Maya M. Wagoner is a research assistant at the Open Technology Institute and a Master’s student in Comparative Media Studies at MIT who is interested in building digital platforms with principles of social justice, collaborative design, and critical pedagogy. Prior to studying at MIT, she grew up all around California, worked as a UX designer and usability researcher, and was an organizer of both the UC Santa Cruz African/Black Student Alliance and Code for San Francisco. She currently lives in Somerville, MA and fosters wayward cats in her home.

  • Sasha Costanza-Chock

    Research Action Design

    Sasha is a scholar, activist, media maker, and troublemaker.


  • Harlan Yu


    Harlan Yu is a principal at Upturn, based in Washington DC. Upturn works alongside social justice leaders to shape the impact of new technologies on people’s lives. Recently, Harlan has been working closely with major civil rights organizations to examine law enforcement’s use of body-worn cameras and other emerging police technologies. Harlan holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton University and has extensive experience working at the intersection of technology and policy. He has worked at Google in both engineering and public policy roles, at the Electronic Frontier Foundation as a technologist, and at the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • Helyx Chase Scearce Horwitz

    Media Mobilizing Project

    Helyx Chase Scearce Horwitz is the Technology Manager at the Media Mobilizing Project. Based in their hometown of Philadelphia, Helyx is a independent video artist and activist who is passionate about storytelling as a means to draw connections. Their video art is built by, about, and for televisions and computers and lives at the intersection of experimental video and technology. Helyx holds a B.A. from Hampshire College where they studied Video, Social Movements, and Youth Development

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is the co-founder of, a digital platform for worker voice. Since its founding in 2013, has catalyzed the growth of global employee networks advancing change at companies like Netflix, Starbucks, REI and Wells Fargo. She is a 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow, 2015 JM Kaplan Innovation Fellow and 2017 Future for Good fellow at the Institute for the Future. In 2015, Michelle was proud to join President Barack Obama as co-moderator of the first ever digital Town Hall on Worker Voice, bringing the voices and concerns of workers directly to the White House.

  • Kim Garcia

    Hack the Hood

    Kim Garcia is a researcher and evaluator currently living & working in Oakland, California. Born in the Philippines and raised in Toronto, her research background spans from homelessness and poverty, aging among people living with HIV/AIDS, access to health care among vulnerable communities, and sex-positive youth development. She currently works for Hack the Hood and actively volunteers with Bay Area community-based organizations. Kim is passionate about reducing inequities facing communities of color, especially womxn. Outside of research, she enjoys being outdoors, supporting community arts, and smashing the patriarchy & imperialism with other womxn.

  • Alfredo Lopez

    May First/People Link

    Veteran activist and writer Alfredo Lopez is a founder and member of the Leadership Committee of May First/People Link, the country’s largest progressive Internet membership organization. In his 50 years as a movement activist, he’s been involved in many struggles and issues. He has written five published books and currently writes on technology for the website This Can’t Be Happening. He lives in Brooklyn.

  • Jack Aponte

    Palante Tech Cooperative

    Jack Aponte is a genderqueer Black Boricua and a worker-owner at Palante Technology Cooperative. Jack has worked at the intersection of tech and social justice since 2003, with roles including website builder and developer, project manager, open source contributor, tech consultant and trainer on a wide range of topics. Jack has been involved in activism and organizing for many years, working primarily within LGBTQ and people of color communities. They serve on the board of Aspiration, the Backdrop Project Management Committee and the LOL Makerspace steering committee. Jack is also a writer, leftist gadfly, casual musician and all around geek.

  • Susan Mernit

    Hack the Hood

    Susan Mernit co-founded Oakland Local, a news hub for Oakland, CA and Live Work Oakland, a tech & business innovation news site, before focusing on Hack the Hood. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and a circuit rider for The Knight Foundation’s Community Information Challenge program. In her corporate life, she was VP of Network Development at Netscape and America Online, and Senior Director of Product and Revenue Optimization at Yahoo!. She was the founder of a TechStars 2008 start up before moving to Oakland, CA from Silicon Valley, and has a long career as a blogger.

  • Willow Brugh

    Vulpine Blue

    Willow Brugh, known as willowbl00, works with digital tools to enable coordination between response agencies and emergent response groups in areas affected by fast and slow crisis. She studies citizen engagement and combining distributed and centralized decision making structures at the Center for Civic Media at MIT’s Media Lab. Previously she’s been a Professor of Practice at Brown University, an affiliate at the New England Complex Systems Institute, and a fellow at Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

  • Zakiya Harris

    Hack the Hood

    Zakiya Harris is a Cultural Architect, Artist and Educator working at the intersections of entrepreneurship, 21st century education and creative transformation. Zakiya is a co-founder of nationally recognized projects Impact Hub Oakland, Grind for the Green, Hack The Hood, Earthseed Consulting, and a Fellow of Green For All and Bold Food. Zakiya Harris is the Co-Founder and Chief Education Officer at Hack the Hood, an award-winning non-profit that introduces low-income youth of color to careers in tech by hiring and training them to build websites for real small businesses in their own communities. As the programming strategist for Impact Hub Oakland, she facilitates support and scholarships to mission driven entrepreneurs dedicated to accelerating possibilities for a better world. Zakiya also recently served as Director of the Bay Area Hive Learning Network, a regional laboratory that brings together educators, technologists and mentors to design innovative, connected educational experiences for youth. In addition, she is retained as a consultant by a diverse set of leaders managing programs where culturally relevant education and cross sector collaboration are seen as assets. Applying her performing arts talents as a dancer, vocalist and actor, Zakiya has taught culturally and creatively-driven classes to students ages 2 to 62.

  • Zara Rahman

    The Engine Room

    I’m Zara - feminist, researcher and writer. I’m a Fellow at Data & Society Research Institute, where I’m looking at the skills and roles needed to successfully implement technology and data projects among human rights defenders and activists. I’m also Research Lead at The Engine Room, where I carry out research to support our work in strengthening the effective use of technology and data in social change and advocacy, and lead our Responsible Data programme looking at the ethical implications of using data in new ways. I write about digital policy and technology in Bangladesh for Global Voices.