Sam Gregory, Executive Director
Sam Gregory is an award-winning human rights advocate, technologist, and innovative leader with over 25 years’ experience at the intersections of video, technology, civic participation, and media practices. As the Executive Director of WITNESS, Sam leads the organization’s five-year strategic plan to “Fortify the Truth” and champions our global team of activists and partners who support millions of people using video and technology globally to defend and protect human rights.
Sam previously directed WITNESS’ programs, strategy, and innovation, supporting its global teams and partners to achieve lasting human rights impact. In 20+ years of service to the organization, he has successfully led WITNESS through a series of strategic shifts alongside major growth in staff and budget.
Sam is an internationally recognized expert on smartphone witnessing, including in social media, citizen journalism and live-streaming contexts. He is a trusted authority on new forms of mis/disinformation such as deepfakes as well as innovations in preserving trust, authenticity, and evidence in an era of increasing audiovisual communication. In 2018, he initiated “Prepare, Don’t Panic” the first global effort to ensure policies, technologies, and infrastructure built to respond to deepfakes and generative AI reflect and are inclusive of globally diverse perspectives.
An experienced trainer and facilitator, Sam has led workshops around the globe, worked with community-based human rights groups on campaigns in Asia and Latin America, and taught the first class at Harvard on human rights advocacy via participatory media from 2010-18. Sam was the lead editor of Video for Change: A Guide for Advocacy and Activism. He helped co-found the global field-building Video for Change network and collaborated with colleagues to initiate WITNESS’ work on the emerging field of citizen media as evidence. Sam has co-produced a wide range of advocacy videos with WITNESS partners and supported more than 20 impact campaigns that have screened at the UN, US Congress, and UK Parliament, and which have secured advocacy goals in multiple countries and policy contexts.
Sam has co-created pioneering approaches for how technology can better serve activists including the curation of civilian witnessing efforts through the YouTube Human Rights Channel and, later, the WITNESS Media Lab, and the award-winning ObscuraCam and ProofMode projects with the Guardian Project. These efforts have contributed to impactful outcomes such as the introduction of a ‘visual anonymity and blurring’ function on YouTube and the development of responsible standards for media authenticity at the C2PA.
Sam has served on the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court, co-chaired the Partnership on AI’s Expert Group on AI and the Media, and recently co-chaired the Threats and Harms Taskforce within the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA). Among his other fellowships and affiliations are Rockefeller Bellagio Resident, IFTF Future for Good Fellow, Young Global Leader of WEF, and Knight News Challenge winner.
Sam has written for WIRED and The Hill and in a range of academic journals, and been interviewed by the BBC, The New York Times, MIT Tech Review, and The Economist, among other media. A frequent keynote speaker, he has spoken at the White House and Davos.
Sam holds an MA in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, attending as a Kennedy Memorial Scholar, and a BA from the University of Oxford. He speaks Spanish and English and tweets at @samgregory.