Alexander B. Howard is a writer, digital governance expert, and open government advocate based in Washington, DC. He is the director of the Digital Democracy Project at the Demand Progress Educational Fund, a nonprofit focused on improving democratic governance through smart use of technology, and the co-director of the Advisory Committee on Transparency. He is on the advisory committee of the FWD50 digital government conference.
Howard has appeared on-air as an analyst for All Things Considered, Marketplace, MSNBC, WHYY, WNYC’s On the Media, WAMU, Federal News Radio, Al Jazeera English, and America, Washington Post TV, WJLA and a guest on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, and has been quoted by the Washington Post, CNN, New York Times, & dozens of print, broadcast, radio and digital publications. Howard has been honored twice by The Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington’s “TechTitans,” which recognized him as a “respected trend-spotter and chronicler of government’s use of new media,” and one of the world’s most influential people on digital government by Apolitical.
Howard joined the Sunlight Foundation as a senior analyst in 2016, where he led nonprofit’s federal transparency work, inheriting a broad portfolio of issues that covered the gamut of digital government, open government data, press freedom, net neutrality, social media, identity and privacy. At the end of 2016, Howard was promoted to be deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, where he wore a dozen different hats after being appointed to help lead the “restartup” of one of the world’s preeminent nonpartisan open government nonprofits during the presidential transition and the first sixteen months of the Trump administration. The projects that Howard created and nurtured at Sunlight ranged from building on its legacy as a transparency watchdog to tracking Trump’s conflicts of interest and reporting on the ongoing corruption of the presidency to the Web Integrity Project.
He started and led numerous initiatives, from civic engagement to strategic advocacy, transitioned and archived legacy projects, and moved the nonprofit’s headquarters, hired new staff, and developed new funding sources and strategic alliances. He edited and published watchdog journalism that held the Trump White House accountable. He managed and grew Sunlight’s social media accounts, speaking truth to power at @SunFoundation, engaging a global audience, debunking disinformation, and advocating for the passage of legislative and regulatory reforms. He acted as a nonpartisan source of analysis for media, nonprofits, regulators, and other governments around the world, delivering keynote speeches in national capitols from Europe to South America. He worked in coalitions on open government reform efforts in cities, states and nations around the world, including the successful passage of the FOIA Improvement Act in 2016 and the OPEN Government Data Act in 2018.
While at Sunlight, he helped draft the Honest Ads Act, which would mandate that online political ads be more transparent, and created a new coalition to push for its passage. The bill’s framework been adopted, adapted and enacted in New York State, endorsed by Facebook and Twitter, and used as a standard for digital transparency by those tech companies and Google, Snapchat, and others.
Before joining Sunlight, Howard was the first senior editor for technology and society at the Huffington Post. From 2013 and 2015, he was a columnist at TechRepublic and a contributor to TechPresident, among other fine publications. He has contributed to Science Magazine, MIT’s Tech Review, WIRED, the National Journal, PBS Mediashift, The Daily Beast, NextGov, Forbes, Buzzfeed, Slate, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Govfresh, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, TechPresident, CBS News’ What’s Trending, Govloop, Governing People, and the Association for Computer Manufacturing, amongst others.
In 2014, he held fellowships at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School and the Networked Transparency Policy Project in the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He published research on the art and science of data journalism, with special focus on the relationship between open government data and media organizations.
In 2013, Howard founded E-PluribusUnum.org, which became widely read as a top blog on government information technology, cited and respected in open government and press freedom communities around the world, from the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the National Archives of the United Kingdom.
From 2010 to 2013, he was the Washington Correspondent for Radar at O’Reilly Media, where he researched, reported on, and covered emerging technology and global open movements, including open government, open science, open source software, open data, and open journalism.
Prior to joining O’Reilly, he was the associate editor of SearchCompliance.com and WhatIs.com at TechTarget, where he wrote about how the laws and regulations that affect information technology are changing, spanning the issues of online identity, data protection, risk management, electronic privacy and IT security, and the broader topics of online culture and enterprise technology.
Over the course of his career, Howard has served as a master of ceremonies, keynote speaker, moderator and panelist at numerous conferences in Washington and beyond, including the International Monetary Fund, Web 2.0 Summit and Expo, Gov 2.0 Summit and Expo, Social Media Week, DC Week, SXSWi, Strata, GOSCON, AMP Summit, Tech@State, CAR/IRE, the State of the Net, and the Open Government Partnership’s annual summits in Brasilia and Mexico City. In 2011, he was Visiting Faculty at the Poynter Institute.
Howard also delivered remarks or moderated discussions at Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, The Wilson Center, New York Law School, Alfred University, The Mona School of Business at the University of The West Indies, The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), The U.S. National Archives, NIST, The Club de Madrid, The Cato Institute, The New America Foundation, The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the U.S. Social Security Administration.
Howard was an unpaid member of the Government of Canada’s independent advisory panel on open government from 2012-2015.
Howard graduated from Colby College in 1998 with a B.A. in Biology and Sociology. He resides in the District of Columbia with his family. You are welcome to connect through Mastodon, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Instagram, or on his personal blog.
Please send ideas, tips and requests for comment, moderation, or speaking to 410-849-9808 or email.
15 responses to “About”
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An anecdote: I can (and have) gotten totally amazing jobs by talking with people in the trenches (usually engineers) who were either facing a cliff or had fallen off one. What Johnson said about execution focussing the mind? Well, principled practitioners respond that way to calamity. My point: I get around HR.
HR don’t like me. I didn’t like them in the 60s (high-school … I had long hair, was playing bass and building stereos, doing lights for theatre &tc) or the 70s (maximally hi-tech, NORAD/SAC and such) and on and on. The next generation? I didn’t like their parents (reciprocated) and I don’t like them (reciprocated).
Principled practioners … as close as we can get to bushido. (The samurai is hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Zen master? Other way ’round.) When you compromise enough to get power (dominant paradigm, n’est-ce pas?) … well, ask Obama. So far as I can tell the politician’s brand of authentic integrity is keeping relatively honest count of how many scalps he’s taken.
You, sir … I think the litmus test is approachability. “Even the fool has his story”, says the Desiderata. You … the absence of arrogance … speaks volumes, that does.
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I love your header picture. Wish I could have been the one who knew how to take it!
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I agree, that header looks great. How did you take it?
Thank you. It’s from the tunnel under the National Gallery of Art in DC; I put the camera right up in the art installation on the wall.
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