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Alec Ross On The State Department's Global Tech Efforts
Photograph by Douglas Sonders

Alec Ross
Senior Adviser for Innovation, Office of the Secretary of State
Washington, D.C.

Ross, 39, heads the State Department’s initiative to work with technologists in the private sector.

"WE HAVE TO LEVERAGE technology in service of our diplomatic and development goals. One of our tactics is sending abroad delegations of innovators who have a deeply ingrained can-do mind-set. In Russia, we worked with technologists to develop a program to better track human trafficking. In Mexico, where the focus is drug cartels, we are months away from an anonymous tip line. When members of our technology delegations travel, they aren't going to sip tea at a mahogany table and sign documents codifying agreements. They roll up their sleeves, get mud on their shoes, and really experience and engage in a local community. I'm surprised at how much people want to help. Right now, the challenge is how we can meet the demand for participation."

A version of this article appeared in the May 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.