Public Knowledge Names Kimmelman CEO

Gene Kimmelman, a former Justice Department official and public interest media advocate, succeeds Gigi Sohn as head of the nonprofit consumer advocacy group.

Media watchdog Public Knowledge today appointed Gene Kimmelman its new president and chief executive officer. He succeeds Gigi Sohn, who left Public Knowledge in November to join the FCC as Chairman Tom Wheeler’s special counsel for external affairs.

Kimmelman brings a lifetime of experience as a public interest advocate, antitrust expert and leader in the communications and technology advocacy community. After almost 30 years as a public interest advocate, Kimmelman joined the Department of Justice’s antitrust division as chief counsel. Since leaving Justice, Kimmelman has been serving as the director of the Internet Freedom and Human Rights project at the New America Foundation.

Public Knowledge said: “Policy conversations in the world of copyright, Internet policy, patent reform, and telecommunications are at an all-time high. As Public Knowledge goes into 2014 with a new president, it will continue its commitment to its fundamental policy issues. Public Knowledge will be a strong advocate and watchdog for the public interest as the nation’s largest service providers modernize the communications infrastructure. As the country nears crucial decisions on cellphone unlocking, fair use, and digital first sale, Public Knowledge will be there to serve as a voice for consumers. With major Senate decisions on the brink concerning patent reform, Public Knowledge will bring the voices and stories of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and consumers to Capitol Hill. And as new technologies are introduced and the net neutrality battle continues, Public Knowledge will stand for the rights and sentiments of the public interest.”

One of Kimmelman’s primary goals as the new president of Public Knowledge, the group said, will be to work with members of the civil rights, technology and public interest communities to create a policy center geared towards training the next generation of thought leaders in technology and telecommunications policy.

“I hope to extend the skillful and effective work of Public Knowledge to promote innovation, creativity, competition and protect peoples’ rights to meet their needs in the exploding digital marketplace,” Kimmelman said. “Simultaneously, I am bringing together a wide array of public interest and human rights groups to coordinate policy and train the next generation of advocates.” The Policy Strategy Center would be implemented by several non-governmental organizations to decide on tactics, tools, and strategies to promote human rights principles, fairness, and access to technology in the digital economy.

Public Knowledge board member and former FCC Chairman Michael Copps said: “Gene Kimmelman’s selection as president and CEO of Public Knowledge ought to reignite the flame of every reformer’s commitment to the public interest. Whatever Gene does, he does with incredible intelligence, wonderful good judgment, and experience that few can match. As a Public Knowledge board member, I am just plain delighted.”


Immediately prior to joining the Department of Justice, Kimmelman was VP for federal and international affairs at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. He took a six-month leave of absence during 2008, to serve as acting director general of Consumers International, a federation of more than 200 consumer organizations from over 100 countries (of which Consumers Union is a member) based in London.

Prior to joining CU, Kimmelman spent two years as chief counsel and staff director for the Antitrust Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Prior to that, he was legislative director for the Consumer Federation of America where, during his 10-year tenure, he directed CFA’s legislative, regulatory, and judicial intervention program, including being the lead consumer litigator in the U.S v. AT&T case. Kimmelman began his career as a consumer advocate and staff attorney for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch.

Kimmelman is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Brown University. He studied in Denmark as a Fulbright Fellow at Copenhagen University’s graduate program on the public sector. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia and was the recipient of the University’s Fortsman Fellowship in 1980.

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