Board of Directors

Board of Directors


Advisory Council

Audit Committee


Board of Directors

Ben AdidaBen Adida
Started: December 2013
Ben Adida is director of engineering at Clever. His passion is using technology to empower people. Ben has done extensive work in identity & online payments, secure voting, personal health records, and the broader Web. He has developed free software for 15 years and Web software for 18 years. Previously, Ben was director of engineering at Mozilla and research faculty at Harvard Medical School. He was CC’s CTO at the time of CC’s 2002 launch. Ben received his Ph.D. at MIT in the Cryptography and Information Security group.back to top
Renata AvilaRenata Avila
Started: December 2013
Renata Avila is a Guatemalan Human Rights and Intellectual Property Lawyer, and an advocate for freedom of expression, privacy, access to information and indigenous rights. Renata is the country lead of Creative Commons Guatemala and a member of the Web Index Science Council. She is currently leading the “Web We Want” campaign, which aims to create a positive, human rights agenda for internet users.back to top
Paul BrestPaul Brest, Chair
Started: December 2012
Paul Brest is emeritus professor and former dean of Stanford Law School, having recently returned from a twelve-year stint as President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Together with Professor Deborah Hensler, he is developing the law and public policy laboratory at the Law School, and he is a faculty co-director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.Paul received an A.B. from Swarthmore College in 1962 and an LL.B from Harvard Law School in 1965. He served as law clerk to Judge Bailey Aldrich and Supreme Court Justice John M. Harlan, and practiced with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., in Jackson, Mississippi, doing civil rights litigation.In 1969, he joined the faculty of Stanford Law School, where he was the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law. His research and teaching focused on constitutional law, including articles on constitutional interpretation, race discrimination, and affirmative action. From 1987 to 1999, he served as the dean of Stanford Law School where he spearheaded the expansion of the School’s curriculum in business, environmental law, high technology, and negotiation, and led a $115 million capital campaign.Paul is co-author of Money Well Spent: A Strategic Guide to Smart Philanthropy (Bloomberg Press, 2008); Problem Solving, Decision Making, and Professional Judgment (Oxford University Press, 2010); and Processes of Constitutional Decision Making: Cases And Materials (Aspen Publishers, 2006).back to top
Dorothy GordonDorothy Gordon
Started: December 2013
Dorothy Gordon is the Director-General of Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), which specializes in information and communications technology (ICT) training, consulting, research, and advocacy for Africa. She is deeply committed to growing Africa’s technology capability to innovate and manage solutions to address the continent’s needs. Her current interests center around innovation ecosystems, digital content creation, intellectual property regimes, mobile apps development, open source technologies, and women in ICT.back to top
Paul Keller Paul Keller
Started: December 2013
Paul Keller is vice-chair of Kennisland, an Amsterdam-based think-tank focused on innovation in the knowledge economy. Paul is public project lead for Creative Commons Netherlands and a leading expert on open licensing systems in the cultural heritage sector. From 2009 to 2013, Paul has been Creative Commons’ Collecting Societies Liaison. In this role, he has been instrumental in negotiating pioneering cooperations between Creative Commons and various collective rights management organisations. Paul also serves as a board member for Dutch Culture that aims to strengthen the Dutch arts, culture and heritage sector by promoting international collaboration.back to top
Ryan MerkleyRyan Merkley, CEO
Started: June 2014
Ryan Merkley is Chief Executive Officer of Creative Commons. He joined the organization to focus on defining a new strategy and to establish long-term sustainability for CC. Today, Creative Commons is implementing its renewed strategy to build a vibrant, usable commons powered by collaboration and gratitude. Since 2014, CC nearly tripled the number of individual donors, and the commons grew to over 1.1 billion licensed works.

Prior to joining CC, Ryan was Chief Operating Officer of Mozilla, makers of the world’s most recognizable open-source software project and internet browser, Firefox. Ryan previously worked as Director of Corporate Communications for the City of Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games, and was a Senior Advisor to Mayor David Miller in Toronto, where he led the Mayor’s budget policy and initiated Toronto’s Open Data project.

Ryan is an experienced campaigner and advocate for social causes, and has advised political campaigns on the local and national levels. Ryan is an avid cyclist and an amateur barista. He lives in Toronto with his daughter.

Twitter: @ryanmerkley

Photo: Rannie Turingan / CC0

* Ryan works through 0941176 B.C. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Creative Commons whose sole activity is to provide services to CC. 0941176 B.C. Ltd. is operated separately from our CC Canada affiliate.

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Johnathan NightingaleJohnathan Nightingale
Started: December 2015
Johnathan Nightingale is the Chief Product Officer at Hubba, and was formerly the head of Firefox for Mozilla. He was among the first to graduate from the University of Toronto’s Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence program in 2001. In his role at Mozilla he was responsible for the engineering, product management, marketing, and design of the Firefox web browser on desktop and mobile platforms; a suite of products developed by a global community, used by over 400 million people worldwide, and localized into more than 80 languages. He has been an invited expert to the UK’s House of Lords on issues of surveillance and tracking, sat for 3 years on the W3C’s usable security working group, and has spoken often at industry conferences on issues of technology and security. He is an avid photographer, a Wikipedian, author of the ubiquitous Linux command line tool, “beep”, and a proud parent in a house full of Minecraft.
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Diane PetersDiane Peters, General Counsel/Corporate Secretary
Started: May 2008
As General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for CC, Diane oversees the organization’s legal strategy, affairs and projects. She serves on the board of the Software Freedom Law Center. Prior to joining CC, she served as general counsel for Open Source Development Labs (now, the Linux Foundation), and thereafter was legal counsel to Mozilla. She is experienced at providing strategic advice and leadership on an array of IP issues impacting communities and the technology industry, including open source projects, FOSS licensing, and IP reform efforts and policy. She is based in Portland, Oregon.back to top
Thomas RubinThomas Rubin
Started: December 2013
Thomas C. Rubin is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School and Special Counsel at the law firm Quinn Emanuel. For many years, he was Chief Intellectual Property Strategy Counsel at Microsoft, where he led product development and global policy related to copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. He has testified about orphan works before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and addressed issues at the intersection of content and technology before government, NGO, academic, and industry forums throughout the world. A fervent supporter of Creative Commons since its inception – including by driving the creation of CC license add-ins for Microsoft Office documents and CC license filters for Bing image search – Tom has taught seminars at Harvard, Stanford and Yale and been a longtime fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.back to top
Kate SpelmanKate Spelman
Started: December 2015
Kate Spelman, partner at K&L Gates, represents many of the players in the content distribution ecosystem: author, university, nonprofit, publisher, and technology developer both nationally and internationally. She serves on several copyright task forces and advisory committees, among them the American Bar Association Intellectual Property Section Task Force on Copyright Reform; American Law Institute Restatement of Copyright; and the American Intellectual Property Law Association Amicus Committee. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison and the University of Michigan, Kate also has further education in technology and engineering from the University of California Berkeley.back to top
Chris SprigmanChris Sprigman
Started: December 2013
Chris Sprigman is a professor at the New York University School of Law and the Co-Director of the NYU Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy. He teaches intellectual property law, antitrust law, competition policy and comparative constitutional law. His scholarship focuses on how legal rules affect innovation and the deployment of new technologies.back to top
Christopher ThorneChristopher Thorne
Started: December 2013
Christopher Thorne is the executive chairman of Broadline Principle Capital, a multi-sector growth equity investment firm. As an early pioneer in China’s private equity industry, he received Private Equity International’s Asia Deal of the Year award for a China transaction he led in 2007. Chris oversees investments with niche category-leading companies in healthcare, technology, consumer packaged goods, advanced materials, and financial services. A McKinsey & Company alum, Chris received his MBA, JD, and AB degrees from Harvard University.back to top
Jongsoo YoonJongsoo Yoon
Started: December 2013
Jongsoo (Jay) Yoon is serving as a presiding judge at the Seoul Northern District Court. He graduated from the Seoul National University College of Law and received a master’s degree in law from the University of Seoul. He is especially interested in social and legal issues related to intellectual property rights, personal information, internet governance and IT, and most of his thesis work was related to these issues. He also plays leading roles in various volunteer works in and out of Korea as the Project Lead of Creative Commons Korea, a nonprofit organization which spreads the idea of Creative Commons in Korea.back to top

Advisory Council

John AbeleJohn Abele
Started: December 2013
John Abele, founding chairman, retired, of Boston Scientific Corporation, is a pioneer and leader in the disruptive field of less-invasive medicine. For more than four decades, he has devoted himself to innovation in healthcare, business, and solving social problems through collaboration. John holds numerous patents and has published and lectured extensively on how new technology is invented, developed, and introduced to society. Major interests include science and education for children. John is the founder of The Kingbridge Centre and Institute whose mission is to research, develop, and teach improved methods for interactive conferencing, problem solving, conflict resolution, and strategic planning.back to top


Hal AbelsonHal Abelson
Started: December 2001
Hal Abelson is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and a fellow of IEEE. He is winner of several major teaching awards at MIT, as well as the IEEE’s Booth Education Award, cited for his contributions to the teaching of undergraduate computer science.Abelson has a longstanding interest in using computation as a conceptual framework in teaching. He directed the first implementation of the Logo computer language for the Apple Computer, which made programming for children widely available on personal computers beginning in 1981. Together with Gerald Sussman, Abelson developed MIT’s introductory computer science subject, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, a subject organized around the notion that a computer language is primarily a formal medium for expressing ideas about methodology, rather than just a way to get a computer to perform operations. This work, through a popular computer science textbook and video lectures has had a world-wide impact on university computer-science education. Abelson is a founding director of the Free Software Foundation and Public Knowledge, as well as a a founding director of Creative Commons. At MIT, Abelson is is co-director of MIT’s Council on Educational Technology, which oversees the Institute’s strategic educational technology planning.back to top


Michael CarrollMichael Carroll
Started: December 2001
Michael W. Carroll is a Visiting Professor of Law at the American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. Starting in September 2009, Professor Carroll will permanently join the American University faculty and be the Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property. His teaching and scholarly interests focus on intellectual property and the law of the Internet. Professor Carroll has been a member of the Creative Commons Board since 2001, and he is a member of the subset of Directors who advise Science Commons and ccLearn.Prior to entering law teaching, Professor Carroll was an attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, where his practice focused on intellectual property and Internet-related issues. He also served as a law clerk to Judge Judith W. Rogers of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Joyce Hens Green of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Carroll received his A.B. with general honors from the University of Chicago and his J.D. magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center.Before attending law school, Carroll worked as a journalist, a high school teacher in Zimbabwe, and a program officer for democracy and governance projects in Africa.back to top


Cathy CasserlyCatherine Casserly
Started: March 2014
Catherine Casserly is a former CEO of Creative Commons. She is passionate about how openness and global knowledge sharing can promote learning. An early architect of the open educational resources (OER) field, she managed investments totaling more than $100M for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Cathy spearheaded work in the areas of transparency and technology as Vice President of Innovation and Open Networks at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. She is a founding board member of the Digital Public Library of America and Peer-2-Peer University. Cathy earned her Ph.D. in the economics of education from Stanford University.back to top


Brian FitzgeraldBrian Fitzgerald
Started: December 2013
Brian Fitzgerald is Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. He holds postgraduate qualifications in law from Oxford University and Harvard University and is acknowledged as a leading scholar in the areas of Intellectual Property and Internet Law. From 1998-2002 he was Head of the School of Law and Justice at Southern Cross University in New South Wales, Australia and from January 2002 to January 2007 was appointed as Head of the School of Law at QUT in Brisbane, Australia. Brian is currently a specialist Research Professor at QUT and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation.Since 2004, Brian has been Project Lead of Creative Commons Australia. His work on applying CC licenses to government information and on Open Access to Knowledge is internationally recognized. His research team is made up of scholars from all over the world, particularly from developing and emerging economies. Brian has a strong commitment to the creative and technology communities and in 2010 established a legal clinic that provides free legal advice for local artists and start-ups that cannot afford to pay for legal services.back to top


Sue GardnerSue Gardner
Started: December 2013
Sue Gardner has been described as the librarian to the world and the Mother Teresa of the Internet. In 2012, Forbes magazine named her the world’s 70th most powerful woman, and in 2009 she was voted by Huffington Post readers as their media game-changer of the year. Sue is the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the global nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, the world’s fifth-most-popular website. Before that, she was a journalist for 17 years, mostly with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where in her last position she ran CBC.CA, Canada’s most popular news site. Her work is motivated by the desire to ensure that everyone in the world has free and easy access to the information they want and need.back to top


Spencer HymanSpencer Hyman
Started: December 2013
Spencer Hyman is an entrepreneur and investor in internet technology, media and consumer products. He is currently launching, a service that brings the world’s best chocolate bars to your door. Prior to this, he founded and was CEO of Artfinder, COO of, and was general manager of technology products for Amazon in Europe, where he launched Amazon’s Software, Video games, Electronics and Toy stores. Before moving into high tech, Spencer set up Hasbro’s operations in Japan and was also Assistant Factory Manager for Hasbro Thailand.back to top


Joi ItoJoi Ito
Started: December 2013
Joichi Ito is the Director of the MIT Media Lab. He is an advisory council member of Creative Commons, on the Board of the MacArthur Foundation, on the Board of Trustees of The Knight Foundation, and co-founder and board member of Digital Garage an Internet company in Japan. He is on board of a number of non-profit organizations including The Mozilla Foundation and WITNESS. He is a member of the IT Strategic Headquarters of the Japanese Cabinet. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage and Infoseek Japan and was an early stage investor in TwitterSix ApartWikiaFlickrLast.fmKongregateFotonauts/FotopediaKickstarterPathPinwheel and other Internet companies. He is the Guild Custodian of the World of Warcraft guild, We Know ( He is a PADI IDC Staff Instructor, an Emergency First Responder Instructor and a Divers Alert Network (DAN) Instructor Trainer.Ito was named by Businessweek as one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Web in 2008. In 2011, Ito was chosen by Nikkei Business as one of the 100 most influential people for the future of Japan and by Foreign Poicy Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers”. In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute in recognition of his role as one of the world’s leading advocates of Internet freedom.back to top


Lawrence LessigLawrence Lessig, Emeritus
Started: December 2013
Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.Lessig serves on the Board of Creative Commons, MAPLight, Brave New Film Foundation, The American Academy, Berlin, AXA Research Fund and, and on the the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries.Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.back to top
Spencer HymanMohamed Nanabhay
Started: December 2013
Mohamed Nanabhay was the Head of Online at Al Jazeera English, where he led the team that produced the award winning coverage of the Arab revolutions in 2011. During his tenure, the website was recognised by the Online News Association for general excellence in online journalism. Mohamed was named a Creative Commons Pioneer by BusinessWeek, serves on the boards of directors of the Media Development Investment Fund and Global Voices Online, and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Informed Societies. He studied computer science at the University of the Witwatersrand and has a Masters degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge.back to top


Laurie RacineLaurie Racine
Started: March 2006
Laurie Racine is co-founder and President of dotSUB, a young technology company that has developed a free, browser based tool for subtitling films from one language into any other language. Racine holds the position of Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center of the Annenberg School of Communications, University of Southern California. She is Chair of the board of Teachers Without Borders and serves on the board of directors of National Video Resources. Until she closed the foundation in January of 2006, Racine served as President of the Center for the Public Domain, a private foundation endowed by the founders of Red Hat, Inc. During her tenure, she co-founded Public Knowledge, a Washington, D.C. based public interest group that is working to sustain a vibrant information commons. She serves as Chair of the Board. Racine was the first managing director of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and then served as President of Doc Arts for six years, the non-profit corporation that produces the festival. Before starting the Center for the Public Domain, Racine was the Director of the Health Sector Management Program at the Fuqua School of Business of Duke University. She has spent many years as a strategist and consultant for non-profit and for-profit enterprises.back to top


Eric SaltzmanEric Saltzman
Started: December 2001
A 1972 graduate of Harvard Law School, Eric F. Saltzman began his career as a criminal defense attorney in Seattle’s and Boston’s public defender offices. While teaching in Harvard Law School’s Criminal Trial Advocacy program, Saltzman took up filmmaking at MIT’s renowned Film Section and re-created trials as teaching tools. Moving from re-creation to verite, Saltzman introduced cameras into actual courtrooms with The Shooting of Big Man: Anatomy of a Criminal Case (a two hour special on ABC News in 1979, now available for Creative Commons license here). For CBS News, he produced and directed Miami: The Trial That Sparked the Riots, an investigation of a police homicide, its cover-up, and the ultimate trial of the police officers. These and other films have won Emmy and ABA Silver Gavel awards, among others. In the mid-1980s, Saltzman moved into the film business and began acquiring and licensing libraries of classic motion picture and television rights for emerging media such as cable, microwave and satellite transmission. In 2000-2002, Saltzman was executive director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is a member of the bars of Washington State and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and on the boards of not-for-profits in the area of race and poverty and the extension of Internet services to the human rights and legal services sectors. He lives with his wife and two boys in Cambridge, Massachusetts.back to top


Annette ThomasAnnette Thomas
Started: December 2013
Annette Thomas is CEO of Macmillan Publishers Ltd, a company operating in over 70 countries, with interests in scientific, educational and consumer fiction and non- fiction publishing, spanning the range from traditional textbooks and journals to new media tools and services.Annette joined Macmillan in 1993 as the cell biology editor for Nature magazine. She held a number of editorial and publishing roles within Nature Publishing Group (NPG), including Publisher of the ground-breaking Nature Reviews series, before being appointed Managing Director in October 2000. During the seven years of her leadership, NPG established itself as a major scholarly publisher, extending the reach and influence of the Nature brand in science and medicine and developing an enviable reputation for innovation, particularly in the digital space. In 2007, Annette was awarded the Kim Scott Walwyn prize, set up in 2004 to celebrate outstanding achievements by women in publishing. She was appointed CEO of Macmillan in October 2007. Annette is a member of the Board of Directors of the Verlagsgruppe von Holtzbrinck (Macmillan’s parent company) and a Governor of the Stephen Perse Foundation (Perse School for Girls), Cambridge, UK.Annette received a B.S. in Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences from Harvard University and a Ph. D. in Cell Biology from Yale University.back to top


Molly Shaffer Van HouwelingMolly Van Houweling
Started: July 2002
Formerly the Executive Director of Creative Commons and a fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet & Society, Molly Van Houweling is Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. Van Houweling graduated in June 1998 from Harvard Law School, where she was Articles Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology. Following graduation, Ms. Van Houweling was a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, and one of the first staff members at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). She then served as a law clerk to Judge Michael Boudin, of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court.back to top


Jimmy WalesJimmy Wales
Started: December 2013
The co-founder of the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit corporation which operates Wikipedia and several other wiki projects. Wales is also founder of the for-profit company Wikia, Inc. (legally unrelated to Wikimedia).back to top


Esther WojcickiEsther Wojcicki, Vice Chair
Started: June 2008
Esther Wojcicki has been teaching Journalism and English at Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, California for the past 25 years, where she has been the driving force behind the development of its award-winning journalism program. It is now the largest high school journalism program in the U.S involving 400 students. All the publications can be found at which is the school publication website. In the spring of 2008, she was recognized for inspiration and excellence in scholastic journalism advising by the National Scholastic Press Association. She has won multiple awards throughout the years. A couple of others included the 1990 Northern California Journalism teacher of the year in 1990 and California State Teacher Credentialing Commission Teacher of the Year in 2002. In 2009, she was awarded the Gold Key Award by Columbia University Scholastic Press for outstanding contributions to student journalism. She served on the University of California Office of the President Curriculum Committee where she helped revise the beginning and advanced journalism curriculum for the state of California. In 2005–6 she worked as the Google educational consultant and helped design the Google Teacher Outreach program, which includes the website and the Google Teacher Academy. She holds a B.A. degree from UC Berkeley in English and Political Science, a general secondary teaching credential from UC Berkeley, a graduate degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Berkeley, an advanced degree in French and French History from the Sorbonne, Paris, a Secondary School Administrative Credential from San Jose State University, and a M.A. in Educational Technology from San Jose State University. She has also worked as a professional journalist for multiple publications and now blogs regularly for HuffingtonPost and HotChalk.back to top