This is now a legacy site and could be not up to date. Please move to the new IGF Website at

You are here

Speakers bios

Mr. Thomas Gass

Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in UN DESA

Mr. Thomas Gass is the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Mr. Gass will replace Thomas Stelzer, to whom the Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs are grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the Organization. Mr. Gass brings with him wide-ranging experience in bilateral and multilateral development cooperation.  Since August 2009, he has served as Head of the Mission of Switzerland to Nepal (Ambassador and Country Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation).

For more information:


H. E. Tifatul Sembiring

Minister of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), Republic of Indonesia

Mr. Tifatul Sembiring (born Bukitinggi, West Sumatra, 28 September 1961) is an Indonesian politician. He was the chairman of the moderate and Islamic Prosperous Justice Party and still as Minister of Communication and Information in the Second United Indonesia Cabinet. He has a degree in computer engineering from the Information and Computing Management School (Indonesian:Sekolah Tinggi Ilmu Manajemen Informatika dan Komputer), Jakarta, and was active in a number of Indonesian Islamic organisations from his student days, such as PII, the Indonesian Student's Association

For more information:


Mr. Hamadoun Touré

Secretary-General, International Telecommunications Union (ITU)


Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) since January 2007, was re-elected for a second four-year term in October 2010. As Secretary-General, Dr Touré is committed to ITU’s mission of connecting the world, and to helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals through harnessing the unique potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). A long-standing champion of ICTs as a driver of social and economic development, Dr Touré previously served as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) from 1998-2006. In this role he placed considerable emphasis on implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), launching projects based on partnerships with international organizations, governments, the private sector and civil society. Prior to joining ITU, Dr Touré built a solid career in the satellite industry, serving as managing engineer at the Sulymanbougou II earth station in Mali before joining Intelsat’s Assistance and Development Programme in 1985. He was appointed Intelsat’s Group Director for Africa and the Middle East in 1994, earning a reputation as an energetic leader through his commitment to projects such as AFROSAT, AFSAT, PANAFTEL and RASCOM. In 1996 he joined ICO Global Communications as African Regional General Manager, spearheading ICO’s activities across the African region. A national of Mali, Dr Touré holds a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications of Leningrad, and a PhD from the University of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics of Moscow. He is married with four children and two grandchildren, and is proficient in four official ITU languages: English, French, Russian and Spanish.

For more information:

H.E. Elmir Valizada
Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technologies (MCIT), Republic of Azerbaijan


Elmir Valizada was born in the city of  Mingechevir, Azerbaijan on 25 December. Up to now during his activity, Mr. Valizada was directly engaged in introduction of information technologies, creation of information systems and maintenance as well as questions concerning this field. He headed the work carried out for the first time in the republic concerning translation of software into Azerbaijani. Mr. Valizada has participated and made speeches at conferences both in our country and abroad many times.

For more information:

H.E. Paulo Bernardo Silva
Minister of Communications, Federative Republic of Brazil

Paulo Bernardo Silva was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 10, 1952. He began his professional career as an employee at Bank of Brazil (Banco do Brasil). In 2002 he was elected to his third term and was appointed to key positions in Congress. He was, again, chosen vice-leader of the party and president of the Economic Joint Committee. In March 2005 Mr. Silva took a leave of absence from the House of Representatives to serve as Minister of Planning, Budget and Management. On  January 1st, 2011, he was appointed Minister of Communications by the president Dilma Rousseff.

For more information:

Ms. Nnenna Nwakanma

Civil Society, Africa Regional Coordinator, World Wide Web Foundation


Nnenna Nwakanma is an FLOSS activist, community organizer, development adviser and development consultant originally from Ivory Coast in Africa. She is the co-founder of The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, which she also co-chairs. She was elected as a board member of the Open Source Initiative in April 2007. She also co-founded The Africa Network of Information Society Actors, and the African Civil Society for the Information Society, which she serves on. She is also a Vice President of the Digital solidarity fund. Previously, she served as the Information Officer for Africa of the Helen Keller Foundation. Nwakanma has spoken at numerous conferences on Open Source and Free Software and other topics including O'Reilly's OSCON , the Free and Open Source Developers European Meeting (FOSDEM) and Yale University's Access to Knowledge Conference , the The Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, The Open World Forum. In the framework of her Consultancy platform (, she offers development advisory and consultancy services to governments, development organisations, donors, non-governmental agencies and business. Fluent in English and French and a handful of African languages; originally from Nigeria, having lived in at least 5 different African countries, she normally introduces herself as 'African'.


For more information:








Mr. Alan Marcus

Senior Director, Head of IT& Telecommunication Industries, World Economic Forum (WEF)

Alan Marcus had his BSc in Computer Science and Computer Engineering, Rutgers University, New Jersey and graduated diploma in Telecommunications Engineering, University of California, Berkeley. He is now still with his Executive Education programmes, Harvard Business School, Massachusetts and Graduated from School of Business, Stanford University, California. Mr. Marcus was in senior management positions in engineering, marketing, and market development in Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe and Middle East, Cisco Systems in 1993-2004. He was the Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Symbol Technologies. Expertise: Internet and information technologies, network architecture, mobile technologies, and market and business development in 2005 – 2007.

For more information:

H.E. Mr. Masahiro Yoshizaki
Vice‐Minister for Policy Coordination
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan

H.E. Mr. Masahiro
Yoshizaki is the Vice‐Minister for Policy Coordination of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan.
2009 Vice‐President, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology
2010 Director‐General of the Kanto Bureau of Telecommunications, MIC
2011 Director‐General for Policy Coordination, Minister’s Secretariat, MIC
2012 Director‐General of the Information and Communications bureau
2013 Vice‐Minister for Policy Coordination(InternationalAffairs)(incumbent)

For more information:


Mr. Fadi Chehadé
President and CEO, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN)

Fadi Chehadé is the current President and CEO of ICANN. He was originally set to take over from the Interim CEO Akram Atallah on October 1, 2012, but he started the position two weeks early, on September 14. Mr. Chehadé's first introduction to an ICANN crowd came in June 2012 at ICANN 44 in Prague, Czech Republic, where he introduced himself in a speech during the Opening Ceremony. Mr. Chehadé replaced former CEO Rod Beckstrom. Mr. Chehadé has more than 25 years of experience in founding and leading progressive Internet businesses. He served most recently as the CEO of Vocado (October 2010 - October 2012), a firm providing cloud-based software to the administrations of educational institutions. Prior, he was the CEO of CoreObjects Software (April 2009 – August 2010), a leader in new product software development services for both large and growing companies. In his time there, he oversaw the company's growth to more than 400 employees and its acquisition by Symphony Service.

For more information:


Mr. Jānis Kārkliņš
Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO

Before assuming duties as the Assistant Director General of Communication and Information of UNESCO, Ambassador Kārkliņš served as the Latvian Ambassador to France, Andorra, Monaco and UNESCO. He was as well the Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations in Geneva. During his stay in Geneva, he served as the First Vice-Chairman, and one year later as Chairman of the Council of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

For more informatiom:

Ambassador Danny Sepulveda

US Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy

US Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy
Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB). In this role, Ambassador Sepulveda leads and coordinates the Department’s positions on communications and information policy issues. Prior to joining the State Department in 2013, Ambassador Sepulveda served as a Senior Advisor to Senator William "Mo" Cowan of Massachusetts. From 2009 to 2012, he served as a Senior Advisor and member of Senator John Kerry’s senior management team, handling the Senator’s extensive commerce, trade, and business portfolio, which included his work as chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.

For more information:





Ms. Sabine Verheyen

Member of European Parlement


Sabine Verheyen was born in1964. North Rhine-Westphalia/Aachen. Architecture Studies, FH Aachen. Since 1999 Mayor of Aachen. Since 1994 Member of Aachen City Council. Since 2001 Bureau Member CDU North-Rhine-Westfalia. Since 2002 Member of the regional board of the CDU Association for Local Affairs. Since 1999 Member of Euregio Council. MEP since 2009.

Organization experience:

Member - Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats)

Member - Culture and Education

Member - South Africa

Member - Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands

Member - European Parliament

Substitute - Iran

Substitute - Internal Market and Consumer Protection


For more information:


Mr. Shadi Abou-Zahra

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Lead, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)


Shadi Abou-Zahra works with the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) as Activity Lead of the WAI International Program Office, which includes groups that are responsible for education and outreach, coordination with research, general discussion on web accessibility, coordination with the WAI Technical Activity, and WAI liaisons with other organizations including standards organizations and disability groups. Shadi coordinates WAI outreach in Europe, accessibility evaluation techniques, and international standards promotion and harmonization activities. He is the scientific coordinator of the WAI-ACT Project (IST 287725), chairs the Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group (ERT WG), is the staff contact of the Research and Development Working Group (RDWG), and participates in the Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG). Shadi previously also participated as key staff in the WAI-AGE Project (IST 035015) and WAI-TIES Project (IST 038471).


For more information:



Ms. Lynn St. Amour
President and CEO, Internet Society (ISOC)

Lynn St.Amour is President/CEO of the Internet Society (ISOC). A graduate of the University of Vermont, St. Amour began her career in information technology with the General Electric Corporation.She joined ISOC in 1998 as Executive Director of its Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) division, and has been responsible for ISOC's international expansion. She became ISOC's global Executive Director and COO in 1999 and held that position until her appointment as President and CEO in February of 2001. She divides her time between ISOC's offices in Reston, Virginia, and Geneva, Switzerland.

For more information:


Ms. Christine Arida

Regional National IGF, Director for Telecom Services Planning at the National Telecom Regulatory Authority of Egypt and Head of the Arab IGF Secretariat


Christine Arida is Director for Telecom Planning and Services at the Egyptian National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) since March 2006. She has been working for the government of Egypt for almost 19 years on public policies related to the development of Internet services. From 2001 to 2006 she worked for the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, where she has been involved in a number of national projects: the Free Internet Initiative (January 2002), the PC for Every Home Initiative (December 2002), and the Broadband Initiative (May 2004). Ms. Arida started her career at the Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center as a network engineer in charge of domain name registrations and Internet access, and was among the team who first introduced the Internet in Egypt. Ms. Arida has been a member of the Internet Governance Forum Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (IGF MAG) since 2007. She serves as Egypt's representative to the Arab Working Group for Domain Names and Internet Issues and was the former chair of the Arabic Internet Names Consortium (AINC). Ms. Arida is a founding member of AfriNIC and has worked on establishing the “AfriNIC Mirror Center for Technical operation” in Cairo as well as establishing the first Regional Resolution Server in Egypt in cooperation with VeriSign. Mrs. Arida holds a B.Sc. degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, Egypt.


For more information:





H.E. Neelie Kroes
Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner for the Digital Agenda

Neelie Kroes was born 1941 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where she also attended school and helped to build her family's transport business. She studied economics at Erasmus University, before working there for six years as an Assistant Professor. Since 2004, Mrs. Kroes has worked for the European Commission, as one of the 27 Commissioners working to maintain a peaceful and prosperous Europe. From 2004 to 2009, she was Competition Commissioner, responsible for ensuring a level playing field for business in Europe, and fair prices and wide choice for consumers.In 2010, she became Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe.

For more information:

Mr. Jari Arkko

Chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

Jari Arkko is an Expert on Internet Architecture with Ericsson Research in Jorvas, Finland. At the IETF, he served six years as one of the Internet Area Directors in the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) and one year as a member of the IAB. From March 2013 he is serving as the General Area Director and IETF Chair. Jari has published 36 RFCs, including specifications for Mobile IPv6, EAP-AKA, Diameter, SEND, and various IPv6 related documents. He has previously served as a chair of three IETF working groups. Jari has also served in the Technical Advisory Board for the IP Smart Objects Alliance (IPSO) and works in a number of research projects at Ericsson.

For more information:

Mr. Joseph Alhadeff

Chair ICC’s Digital Economy Comission


Joseph Alhadeff is the Vice President for Global Public Policy and Chief Privacy Officer for Oracle Corporation, one of the world's leading suppliers of information management software. Mr. Alhadeff is responsible for coordinating and managing Oracle's global privacy and public policy issues. In addition to his role at Oracle, Mr. Alhadeff serves a prominent role in several influential international organizations dedicated to Internet policy, security and privacy. Mr. Alhadeff serves as the BIAC Chair to the OECD ICCP Committee, head of industry delegation to the OECD Security Steering Group, and Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Commission on the Digital Economy. In the US, Mr. Alhadeff chairs the US-Malaysia Business Council, the Information Technology Committee for the US India Business Council and Government Affairs Committee for the Software and Information Industry Association. He serves as Vice Chair of the ICT Policy Committee of the US Council for International Business, Co-chairs the IT Committee of the US-ASEAN Business Council and is an ABAC Board member.

For more information:


Mr. Edward Vaizey
Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, United Kingdom

Ed Vaizey was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries in May 2010. Mr. Vaizey is the Conservative MP for Wantage and Didcot. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford. Mr. Vaizey was Shadow Minister for the Arts from 2006 to 2010. After university he worked as a political researcher, before training and practising as a barrister. From 1996 to 2004 he was director of a public relations company. In 2004 he became a political speech writer.

For more information:

Mr. Jovan Kurbalija

Jovan Kurbalija is the founding director of DiploFoundation. His professional and academic background is in diplomacy, international law and ICT. In 1992 he left the Yugoslav diplomatic service and established the Unit for IT and Diplomacy at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies in Malta. The main function of the Unit was to provide training, research and software development in the field of IT and diplomacy.

For more information:

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411