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Dr Heather Leson
Qatar Computing Research Institute


Heather Leson is an award-winning program manager and community builder for global open source projects. As the Program Manager, Social Innovation for the Qatar Computing Research Institute, Qatar Foundation she creates projects and programmes for social innovation and humanitarian use.

Specializing in strategic planning, community engagement, and fundraising, Heather is the President of the Board of Directors for Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and a Board Member for PeaceGeeks. She demonstrates mentorship and leadership as an ambassador and adviser for numerous social technology start-ups including School of Data, Jump2Spot and Invstg8net. She is a member of the Standby Task Force and Non-Commercial User Constituency, ICANN. Organisations she leads in include the Crisis Mappers Network, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, Open Knowledge Foundation (School of Data), Ushahidi, Random Hacks of Kindness, Mozilla and more. Recognised as a digital humanitarian leader, Crowdsourcing Week cited her as one of the Top 10 Canadian Experts. Heather curates numerous civil society, open source and technology workshops and is a frequent public speaker including such events as IEEE Humanitarian Technology Conference, Google Big Tent, UN Human Rights Council, World Bank, OSCON, World Humanitarian Youth Summit, TedxSilkRoad, UNSpider and various Canadian government events.

Heather has over 15 years of experience in technical incident management, software life-cycle development, customer care, and Internet communications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Combined Political Science and History from Carleton University in Canada's capital city of Ottawa, and a Library and Information Technician diploma from Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto. Leadership programmes that Heather has participated include Personal Democracy Forum Google Fellow and a certificate for the Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute (2012). Recently, she was awarded the People's Choice Award from for her writing about Digital Humanitarians.