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A4AI Welcomes New Advisory Council Members

We’re excited to introduce you to the newest representatives to the A4AI Advisory Council: Belinda Exelby (GSMA); Njideka Harry (Youth for Technology Foundation); Smeeta Hirani (World Pulse); Johan Hellström (Sida); Paul Rowney (AfICTA & MyDigitalBridge Foundation); and Dr. Renee Wittemyer (Intel). Elected by A4AI members in late 2016, these new members will serve a two-year term as part of the Advisory Council, where they’ll provide oversight and strategic direction to A4AI.


The A4AI Advisory Council — which includes equal representation from the public sector and academia, civil society and foundations, and the private sector — helps to review and set annual objectives and plans, approve formal A4AI policy positions, and members serve as ambassadors of A4AI, promoting our mission and advocating for the policy reforms needed to enable affordable internet. The newly elected representatives will participate in their first meeting with the rest of the Advisory Council in February 2017 in Washington, DC. As part of this meeting, the A4AI team will present our 2017-2018 plans for review and approval.


A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge noted: “We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with the committed leaders who served on the Advisory Council throughout A4AI’s first few years. As the council evolves, new members will bring fresh perspective to our work — A4AI will benefit greatly from their expertise and leadership, and we look forward to working with them.”


Read on to learn more about the newest members of the A4AI Advisory Council:


Left to Right: Belinda Exelby, Njideka Harry, Johan Hellstrom, Smeeta Hirani, Paul Rowney, Dr. Renee Wittemyer.

Left to Right: Belinda Exelby, Njideka Harry, Johan Hellstrom, Smeeta Hirani, Paul Rowney, Dr. Renee Wittemyer.


Belinda Exelby; Head of International Relations, Public Policy, GSMA


Belinda Exelby leads relationships with international inter-governmental institutions, including the ITU, World Bank, and OECD. Belinda is also responsible for the GSMA’s Capacity Building programme, which works with more than 20 institutional partners to deliver face-to-face and online training courses for telecoms and ICT regulators worldwide. Belinda is a Director of the US Telecommunications Training Institute and the UK Telecommunications Academy.


Njideka Harry; President & CEO, Youth for Technology Foundation


Njideka Harry serves as a consultant to several social enterprises, for-profit businesses with a social mission, and international agencies on matters related to technology for development, entrepreneurship, girls’/women’s welfare, and economic empowerment. Njideka is the President & CEO of Youth for Technology Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2000 with the mission to use technology to transform the lives of youth and women in developing countries.


Smeeta Hirani, Director of Strategic Partnerships, World Pulse


Smeeta Hirani spent 20+ years in the high-tech and mobile industry, most recently at Microsoft, before making the shift to the nonprofit sector, with a particular focus on the intersection of technology and women’s empowerment. Now at World Pulse, Smeeta works to increase the organization’s global reach and impact by cultivating relationships with key stakeholders and ensuring World Pulse’s work and mission is influential in global forums and coalitions. She joined the A4AI Advisory Council in August 2016 and will continue to serve on the council, with World Pulse’s re-election for a second term.


Johan Hellström; Program Manager Specialist, Sida


Johan Hellström has worked on digital development in various ways for more than a decade, including setting up physical telecentres and conducting research on ICT-enabled election monitoring. At Sida, Johan currently focuses on improved access to open and secure ICT. He is also finishing his PhD at Stockholm University, where he is specialising on mobile-facilitated participation and crowdsourcing, with a regional focus in East Africa.


Paul Rowney; Board Member, AfICTA & Technical Director, MyDigitalBridge Foundation


Paul Rowney is a social entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in ICTs, including with the United Nations, in the private sector, and now through civil society with the MyDigitalBridge Foundation. Paul brings experience leading various technology ventures in Southern and Eastern Africa, and has worked on areas such as ICT education, electronic voting, and the deployment of a TV White Space pilot to connect rural communities.


Dr. Renee Wittemyer; Director of Government Strategy, Intel


Dr. Renee Wittemyer has worked at the intersection of ICTs and development for 14 years as a researcher at Microsoft Research Labs and Intel Research Labs, and as the Director of Social Innovation at Intel. She has conducted research on areas such as gender and the internet gap, connectivity and access, e-governance, public-private partnerships, and financial inclusion. She is currently the Director of Government Strategy at Intel.


If you have any questions about the Advisory Council, A4AI membership, or working with the Alliance, you can reach out to Karolle Rabarison, A4AI’s Membership Coordinator:

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