Meet the team

We’re a diverse, passionate group of nomads. As a team we have expertise in everything from information activism to responsible data to inclusive facilitation.

Julia Keseru
Executive Director
[PGP key]

Julia is an activist with an incurable crush on civil society and humanity at large. Coming from the Hungarian transparency community, she has been an advocate for government openness with a special focus on corruption and a passion for finding out what motivates people on the individual level. Prior to joining the Engine Room, Julia was leading the international work of the Sunlight Foundation. She regularly speaks and writes about the challenges and potential of using technology for social change activism, and when she doesn’t geek out about work, she loves watching her daughter play.

Julia leads on fundraising, strategy and organisational development.

Zara Rahman
Deputy Director
[PGP key]

Zara is a researcher, writer and linguist who is interested in the intersection of power, technology and social justice. Her past work included campaigning for an access to information law in Spain, investigating the impact of open data in the extractive industries in the Middle East, and supporting data literacy efforts with civil society and journalists across the world with School of Data. She was a 2016/17 fellow at Data & Society, and is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at digitalHKS at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Zara oversees team-wide programmatic implementation, designs and implements programmatic strategies and supports the Executive Director.


Anneke Victorica
People Lead
[PGP key]

Anneke is a lawyer-turned-human resources aficionado who loves women’s rights and tango. Prior to moving to Barcelona where she is based, she worked at international civil society organizations on issues of human rights, transparency and accountability, and judicial corruption. She is now developing and improving systems and policies around hiring, development,  compensation and benefits, and the team’s overall well-being.

Anneke acts as People Lead, managing relationships within The Engine Room to ensure the organisation is a happy, healthy and effective place to work.


Anca Matioc
Latin America Regional Lead
[PGP key]

Anca has worked in the open government and civic tech space as a community organizer with civil society groups around the world. She has spent the last four years at Chilean NGO Ciudadano Inteligente where she directed the regional open data initiative Desarrollando America Latina and co-founded AbreLatAm, the Latin American open data un-conference. Anca is interested in community organizing, in strengthening the technical – and political – capacity of civil society groups, and donor trends in the space.

Anca manages The Engine Room’s Matchbox projects across Latin America. 

Ciudad de Mexico

Nonso Jideofor
Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Lead
[PGP key]

Nonso enjoys listening to conversations with a good dose of history and philosophy, but also strategic thinking. Before joining The Engine Room, he worked with Caerus Associates, Herock Nigeria and recently Reboot on ICT4D, open government, open data, public health, media development and public sector governance initiatives. He is passionate about rigorous design and evaluation of social change initiatives, and brings that passion to The Engine Room. Prior to working in international development he worked as a geologist and started several small businesses in technology and education.

Nonso manages The Engine Room’s Matchbox projects in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.


Elissa Williams
Operations Lead
[PGP key]

Elissa is an eager organizer, problem solver, and process implementation expert. She has a keen eye for finding the most efficient and human way to tackle any challenge. Before joining the Engine Room, she taught everything from college-level political science in Ecuador to math for kindergarteners. You can often find Elissa playing Risk with her family, rink-side watching her son play hockey, or at the horse stables with her daughter.

Elissa manages day-to-day operations of project contracts, logistics and contractors, and oversees financial upkeep and billing.


Lesedi Bewlay
Light Touch Support Coordinator
[PGP key]

Lesedi has a background in computer science and non-governmental organizations and has a strong interest in social change. He is also interested in data science, platform development and working with passionate people. Previously, Lesedi co-founded Positive Innovations for the Next Generation, an N.G.O. which focuses on youth, health and technology and more recently he founded Tau Technology with the aim to create innovative, scalable and sustainable technology solutions in resource limited settings. At the Engine Room Lesedi continues his exploration of ways in which tech can help kickstart or improve projects and processes and ultimately change people’s lives.

Lesedi coordinates the Light Touch Support Program. This program provides pro-bono expertise, advice and recommendations to organizations who need help with various aspects of their projects or internal processes.


Paola Mosso
Tech Team Lead
[PGP key]

Paola is a feminist Chilean journalist who promotes responsible and effective engagement with tech and data. Through the years, she has worked at Poderomedia Foundation, leading the organization’s training program for Latin American journalists, designers and developers, and she coordinated the community behind the Influence Mapping project, an international group supporting activists to map power networks. She supports the tech and data initiatives of emerging and well-established organisations that fight for social justice, and works closely with with sexual & reproductive rights activists.

Paola oversees The Engine Room’s organisational security portfolio, designing and managing security support to partners and helping the team implement healthy internal security practices, and supports partners on their data and technology projects.


Laura Guzmán
Engagement Team Lead
[PGP key]

Laura is a curious learner and communicator fascinated by technology, international development and grammar rules. Before joining The Engine Room, Laura worked as a consultant to mission-driven organisations, as the Editorial Director of a social enterprise in India, and as program coordinator at the Information Program of Open Society Foundations. You can usually find Laura running around outside, exploring the nooks and crannies of New Orleans or adopting new hobbies.

Laura leads the engagement team at The Engine Room, finding the best ways to distill and share our research, creating new ways of building knowledge externally and managing our communications channels.

New Orleans

Paola Verhaert
Knowledge Coordinator
[PGP key]

Paola is a Belgian-Peruvian historian, writer and creative coder. Paola joined The Engine Room in 2016, after having worked as a journalist, as a researcher at various universities and as a UX designer at Amnesty International. In her spare time, she plays rugby, supports local trade unions with documentation and annoys her friends with NBA trivia.

Paola is the organisation’s librarian and archivist, guiding the team towards a more strategic, intentional and collaborative production of knowledge.


Black and white photo of Sara Baker

Sara Baker
Research & Learning Team Lead
[PGP key]

Sara is a feminist activist and writer with a background in gender and technology, digital movement building,and advocacy. Previously, she worked for the Association for Progressive Communications as the global coordinator of Take Back the Tech!, a collaborative campaign to address online gender-based violence and for the YWCA as the director of women’s advocacy. Sara is interested in how individuals and organisations use digital technology to create change in their communities, and she loves the power of stories.

Sara manages the Research & Learning team, leads research projects on responsible data, oversees organisational and programmatic impact and learning, and supports staff on strategic advocacy.


Madeleine Maxwell
Research Manager
[PGP key]

Madeleine is a London-based researcher interested in those moments when people, social justice and technology meet. She has worked with interdisciplinary design and research teams in the UK, on projects ranging from building financial resilience amongst low income single parents, to public engagement with health data sharing in the National Health Service. Current obsessions include learning to fix her own bike and reading short stories.

Madeleine designs, manages and conducts research across a range of Engine Room projects.


Sivu Siwisa
Project Coordinator
[PGP key]

Sivu is a social justice activist with a huge appetite for communications, advocacy, digital media, movement building, working with feminist frameworks and organising. Previously, Sivu worked with ActionAid South Africa, Pan Africa International Gay & Lesbian Association, Gender Dynamix, Healthy Living Alliance and Oxfam South Africa as a communications manager, advocacy strategist and campaigns consultant, among others. Besides movement building and campaigns organising, Sivu enjoys hiking, cycling and re-reading Audre Lorde.

Sivu coordinates our project on digital identity and collaborates across the team on other projects, providing direct support to partners.


Helen Kilbey
Project Manager
[PGP key]

Helen is an editor and content developer who likes making complex subjects accessible to a wider audience. In recent years she has worked on a variety of materials related to the internet, data and society, including guides, learning resources and curricula, and she has also facilitated workshops and trainings. In her off hours, Helen likes to be outside – preferably near trees or water – or settled into a chair with a cup of coffee and a good book.

At The Engine Room, Helen manages research projects and supports the organisation’s engagement work.


Nthabiseng Mokoena
Regional Support Team Lead
[PGP key]

Nthabiseng is a social justice activist who likes organising, community systems strengthening, monitoring and evaluation, digital media and all things human rights. Previously, Nthabiseng worked with the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), focusing on health, human rights and legal reform in Southern and East Africa. In their spare time, Nthabiseng enjoys long hikes and reading African fiction.

Nthabi manages The Engine Room’s regional direct support projects.


Barbara Paes
Project Assistant
[PGP key]

Barbara is a Brazilian activist and researcher who is interested in exploring how technology and data can help us achieve social justice. She has worked defending the right to public information and transparency, advocating for open government, supporting women’s rights and mobilizing against racism and online abuse. Barbara co-founded Minas Programam, an initiative designed to share knowledge about technology with girls and women from Sao Paulo. She enjoys running and reading books that instigate new thoughts.

At The Engine Room, Barbara contributes to partner support work and engagement projects.

Sao Paolo