Allen Gunn - Biography

Allen Gunn, Executive Director of AspirationAllen Gunn is Executive Director of Aspiration ( in San Francisco, USA, and works to help NGOs, activists, foundations and software developers make more effective use of technology for social change.

Gunner has worked in numerous technology environments from NGO to Silicon Valley start-up to college faculty to large corporation, serving in senior management, engineering, teaching and volunteer roles. He is an experienced facilitator with a passion for designing collaborative open learning processes, and he believes in melding hard work with serious fun.

The common thread that connects all facets of Gunner's work is a focus on open approaches to capacity building and knowledge sharing in social change efforts. Aspiration prioritizes work that supports and contributes to open communities of practice who create technology and content that benefit nonprofit and foundation efforts. The organization has designed and facilitated almost 600 extremely open learning and knowledge sharing events, in over 50 countries across the globe, predicated on a philosophy of active participation that puts each participant “in control of their own destiny”, in contrast to approaches that place audiences in passive listening roles. Aspiration publishes all licensed work products, including software tools, books, papers and training materials, under open licenses; for published documents and media, the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike, and for software the GNU General Public License whenever possible.

Gunner is an active facilitator, contributor, advisor, and/or partner in a number of projects and communities, including Electronic Frontier Foundation, Digital Freedom Fund, OpenStreetMap US, The Tor Project, OpenReferral, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Open Architecture Collaborative, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, Simply Secure, and Mozilla.

He is a board member of The Ruckus Society, Global Exchange, and Peer 2 Peer University, and also serves in formal advisory roles with SAFETAG, Electronic Frontier Foundation Security Education Companion, CorpWatch, LocalizED, Ranking Digital Rights, The Center for Tech Cultivation, DATA Uruguay,, Social Movement Technologies, The Engine Room, The Everett Program, United for Iran, and The Rosetta Foundation. He is a former board member of Idealware and US Treks/Internet Treks.

Gunner is also a guest lecturer and former faculty member in Computer Science at Foothill College in California, and served on the Computer Science faculty at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia early in his career. Prior to his role at Aspiration, he served as Chief Tech Organizer for The Ruckus Society, and prior to that he was co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Pensare, an eLearning dotgone. He has served as senior software engineer at firms including Novell, NetManage, and a number of startups, and has shepherded large software projects through all stages of development, from inception, design, engineering, and testing to deployment, support and marketing, in environments ranging from start-up to large corporation to nonprofit.

Gunner and the Aspiration team have been an incredible inspiration and resource for us at OpenNews. Their guidance and feedback have shaped everything from how support relationship building amongst cohorts to planning goal-oriented meetings where participants leave with a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of purpose.

Erika Owens, OpenNews
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