Digital Sanctuary: Engineering Tools and Models for Racial Justice

Digital Sanctuary: Engineering Tools and Models for Racial Justice

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Friday, Aug. 3 10:00 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Friday, Aug. 3 11:15 AM (Eastern)

As racial justice techies and campaigners, we have been talking about the problematic values that underpin the internet ecosystem, developing new advocacy models for racial justice, and defining our own narratives. We need to strategize to overcome algorithmic bias, problems with digital security, and how for-profit tech increases inequality and contributes to injustice. This panel will dig deeply into legacy online campaigning and how old organizing models are being replaced by grassroots tech solutions; how voter suppression in the digital age is inextricably tied to our fight for Net Neutrality; how we can transform campaigning by integrating digital security at every step; and how we are building new toolkits for digital sanctuary.


Mariana Ruiz Firmat


I’m a co-founder and the Executive Director of the Kairos Fellowship-a program building the next generation of campaigning leaders and technologists of color. I’ve been organizing for longer than I can remember. I came up in California working to end gender based violence against migrant farmworkers and their children before moving to NYC where I was a union organizer for 5 years. In 2010 I made the leap from grassroots organizing to online campaigning and worked at MoveOn. After leaving MoveOn, I went to Presente where I was Managing Director leading strategic campaigns. After years in digital campaigning and witnessing more and more black and brown leaders get pushed out of digital organizing because of structural racism, I co-founded the Kairos Fellowship. I am lucky to build with and support the incredible talent that makes up the Kairos network.


Bex Hurwitz

Bex Hong Hurwitz is an enthusiastic breaker and maker of technology for social justice. Bex believes in the transformative power of people coming together to affect change. They see holistic security as one of many super powers social justice movements have to care for each other, be more sustainable and stand stronger against injustice. Bex is part of queer and Korean-American-Adoptee movements in the U.S. and they find inspiration and wisdom in working alongside others with the deep understanding that our liberation is linked. They hold a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2003) and an MA from University of California Berkeley in Information Science (2010) and were a 2017-2018 Fellow with Data and Society, and a 2017 Fellow with the Open Technology Fund.

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Cayden Mak


Cayden Mak is Executive Director at 18 Million Rising, organizing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and their allies online. As part of 18MR’s founding staff, they were an integral part of developing the organization’s vision, voice, analysis, and playbook. In their previous role as Chief Technology Officer, they were the driving force and product manager behind community-centered design for civic tech project VoterVOX, a community-designed matching tool to help find personalized volunteer translation assistance for limited English proficient voters.

Their organizing history also includes cofounding grassroots media startups (, cofounding a statewide student organizing network (New York Students Rising), serving as a union officer and staff organizer (CWA 1104, Education Division), and contributing to organizing the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI.

In addition to their day job, they serve as the chair of the advisory board for the Kairos Fellowship, and enjoy powerlifting and Magic: the Gathering.

Other sessions: New Tools Showcase hosted by New Media Ventures and Netroots Nation, Fighting Nazis on the Internet: Free Speech in the Age of Hatemobs

my website