Who We Are

Mission

People’s Tech Project helps social movements develop a positive vision of how technology can contribute to the logic of a liberatory world, rather than serve as the linchpin of an economic system that puts profit over people and planet.

Drawing from years of experience organizing at the intersection of technology, race and inequality, we support community groups fighting for social and tech justice to win a future where technology helps build dignity, justice, and liberation, rather than exacerbating oppression and harm in the hands of big corporations and the state.

Vision

We envision a full transformation of society and our economy, into a world where every person has a fully developed and dignified life, with healing for people and the planet. The full liberation of people and the planet is our north star.

We envision a strong and coherent social movement ecosystem that is armed with the analysis to anticipate and understand how technology oppresses people, and incorporates that analysis into their fights to win human liberation over the long term.

We envision a technology justice sector that is grounded in the material needs and leadership of impacted communities and their organizations, and works in step with social movements to successfully and proactively win power away from the tech sector as one crucial part of their collective work.

Read more about our vision for a world where technology builds dignity, justice and liberation—and how we’ll get there.

Values

People-centered, not tech-centered.

Technology should be a tool people use to build towards a future of dignity and liberation. Communities should set the vision for how tech can support that future instead of taking from it.

Accountable to our communities.

Directly-impacted people are the experts in their lives and in the solutions to the challenges they face. They determine what is possible and lead the work to get there.

One part of a global movement.

Tech justice is one necessary part of a future where people and the planet are free and thriving. We can and must integrate it into the growing global struggle for justice.

Transformative change is possible.

We can win the world we envision. We must transcend pessimism and despair to concretely imagine a liberated future and build the strategy to win it.

Our History

In 2022, the People’s Tech team came together under Movement Alliance Project, where former policy organizers Devren Washington and Jenessa Irvine, communications coordinator Shari Bolar-Martray, and longtime policy director Hannah Sassaman dug deeply into questions of race, technology, and inequality. 

These wins helped individuals and families in meaningful ways—but the victories weren’t big enough or lasting enough to truly rein in Comcast’s power or halt the march of dangerous digital incarceration tools. We realized that as movement groups work to tear down current oppressive systems and policies, these groups must constantly reorient themselves to take on the quickly evolving technologies that continually reiterate the same oppression. To be truly armed to win, we must build a concrete assessment of how technology aggravates the core issues on which people’s organizations fight, and the movement for tech justice must shift to be more directly accountable to people’s organizing in the United States.

Our Team

Hannah Sassaman

Executive Director

Devren Washington

Organizing Director

Jenessa Irvine

Managing Director

Shari Bolar-Martray

Communications Coordinator

Advisory Board

Our advisory board holds deep expertise across many fields, from community organizing to tech accountability to movement building. We lean on our wonderful board members for strategic advice, assessment of local and national conditions, connecting and broadening our network, and organizational development.

Brandi Collins-Dexter

Brandi Collins-Dexter is the former Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change, where she oversaw the media, culture, and economic justice departments. She led a number of successful corporate accountability campaigns ranging from getting R. Kelly dropped from RCA to pressuring financial companies to pull funding from over 100 hate groups. She has testified in front of Congress on issues related to race, technology and corporate accountability. Brandi is a regular commentator in the media on racial justice and was named a 2017 “person to watch” by The Hill and one of the 100 most influential African Americans by The Root in 2019. She holds a B.A. in history from Agnes Scott College, and a J.D. from University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. She is a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. Her book, Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future, explores the fragile alliance between Black voters and the Democratic party through a pop culture lens. Brandi comes from a long line of South Side Chicagoans and currently lives in Baltimore with her husband David and their cat, Ella.

Eric Braxton

Eric Braxton is Philadelphia-based organizer and strategist with a deep commitment to supporting the leadership of young people in social movements. He currently serves as the Senior Advisor at the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO). Eric’s involvement in youth organizing began at the age of 19 when he helped found the Philadelphia Student Union, which continues to organize public high school students for educational justice today. He has been involved with FCYO since 2001 as a grantee, board member, program officer, executive and co-executive director. Over this time, Eric has developed a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing youth- led organizations across the country. At FCYO, Eric has raised significant new resources for youth organizing groups and helped numerous funders develop programs in line with their goals. He has also played a key role in building infrastructure to support young people in increasing power, building strategic alliances, and creating transformative change. He has lived his entire life in West Philadelphia where he can often be found playing music with his son. 

Harlan Yu

Harlan is the Executive Director and co-founder of Upturn. Based in Washington D.C., Upturn advances equity and justice in the design, governance, and use of technology. Through research and advocacy, Upturn drives policy change by investigating specific ways that technology and automation shape people’s rights and opportunities, in areas such as policing, housing, employment, and public benefits. Harlan has extensive experience working at the intersection of technology and policy, having previously held roles at Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Harlan holds a PhD in computer science from Princeton University, and a BS in electrical engineering and computer science from UC Berkeley.

Jeff Ordower

Jeff Ordower has been an organizer for over 25 years, starting out as a queer activist in college, spending over 15 years with various positions at ACORN, and then helping to start a successor organization in Missouri (MORE). Ordower has worked to support some of the most important movements in the last decade, including being on the core committee for Occupy Homes and the Home Defenders League, as well as MORE undergirding the Ferguson Uprising with legal support. Ordower currently supports organizing efforts for renewable energy workers and rideshare drivers. The other piece of Ordower’s work is to continue to think about and sometimes experiment with the role of mass direct action within the movement, where he enjoys the privilege oft traveling and organizing in a variety of locations, and learning from others. Like dozens of other organizers, Ordower is a recent transplant to Philadelphia where he enjoys being close to family and is loving the food scene.

Malik Neal

Malik Neal is strategist, organizer, and organization builder focused on harnessing community power to advance racial and social justice. He is the co-founder and former executive director of the Philadelphia Bail Fund, a community-based revolving bail fund organizing to end cash bail in Philadelphia. He led the Fund through a period of substantial growth and impact, helping to dramatically increase its donor base; grow its staff team; and expand its advocacy and organizing efforts. The work of Malik and PBF has been featured in numerous publications, including The Atlantic, NPR, and the Intercept. His writings have also appeared in outlets and journals such as the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Crime and Delinquency.   

Malik serves as board chair of Ready, Willing, and Able Philadelphia and a member of the Defender Association’s policy advisory group. He also serves as a member of the City of Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Community Advisory Committee.

Noah T. Winer

Noah is an organizer, facilitator, and coach at Dragonfly Partners, supporting movement leaders to get “unstuck” and work through strategic, organizational or interpersonal challenges.
He believes underlying organizational structures often lead us to succeed wildly or fail miserably. He asks incisive questions to get leaders looking at their work in new ways. Noah was a founding campaign strategist at MoveOn. He directed the digital campaign team at Greenpeace India. He has organized with other white people to uproot white supremacy, with other cisgender men to end heteropatriarchy, with other Jews for Palestinian and Jewish liberation, and in a cross-class, multiracial organization for health care as a human right. He was raised on a solar homestead on Penobscot land (rural Maine) in a family passionate about transforming the world. He lives on Lenape land (Philadelphia) with his partner and two kids.

Shanee Garner

Shanee Garner is the Founding Executive Director of Lift Every Voice Philly, a parent organizing group that brings Black parents together to build power and lead multiracial campaigns to achieve racial and economic justice in Philly schools and citywide. Shanee has 15 years of experience organizing communities to take what’s theirs by building coalitions that are too big to fail. Before founding Lift Every Voice Philly, Shanee served as Director of Policy and Legislation for Councilmember Helen Gym, organizing Philadelphians to pass historic housing, labor, and youth justice laws. She was previously Director of Education Policy for Public Citizens for Children and Youth (now Children First) where she led statewide education funding work.  She is also a former neighborhood high school teacher and got her organizing start in Kensington working with faith communities. Shanee believes in people and their power to build a more just world, and is a proud West Philly High graduate (Go Speedboys).

Steven Renderos

Steven Renderos (he/him) is the Executive Director of MediaJustice, a national racial justice organization that advances the media and technology rights of people of color. As MediaJustice’s long time Campaign Director, he won campaigns that lowered the cost of prison phone calls nationwide, secured the nation’s strongest Net Neutrality rules, and got Trump kicked off of Twitter and Facebook. A native of Los Angeles, Steven grew up in an immigrant household at the height of anti-immigrant fervor in California. The propaganda campaign that fueled the passage of Proposition 187 in the mid-90s motivated Steven to seek out a career to challenge media bias and democratize communications for communities at the margins.

Steve Williams

Steve Williams is a Black organizer and educator. Steve currently works on the staff of LeftRoots, a national organization dedicated to increasing social movement leftists’ individual and collective capacity to formulate, evaluate and carry out a strategy to build twenty-first century socialism. He learned the craft of organizing with the Philadelphia Union of the Homeless and the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness in the early 1990s. Trips to South Africa and Cuba during that period forged his Steve’s commitment to connecting day-to-day work to a larger vision of liberation.

From 1997 to 2012, Steve served as Executive Director of POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights), a community-based organization of low-income and working-class tenants, transit riders and workers— an organization he co-founded. After leaving POWER, Steve teamed up with NTanya Lee to interview more than 150 organizers and activists across the country as a part of the Ear to the Ground project.

In addition to his professional organizing experiences, Steve has been an active volunteer in various local, national and international social movements through his involvement with the World Social Forum process, Grassroots Global Justice, Left Wing Football Club and Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM). Steve lives in San Francisco with his partner and their 12-year old son.