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Packard Foundation Announces Kelly Born as Inaugural Director of its Democracy, Rights, and Governance Initiative

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation announced today that Kelly Born (she/her) will join the Foundation as the inaugural director of its Democracy, Rights, and Governance initiative. In this role, she will lead the organization’s emerging grantmaking in support of a thriving, pro-equity democracy in the United States.   

Born is an established leader in the field, bringing to the role significant leadership experience working to strengthen U.S. democracy and elections. Most recently, she served as the director of the Cyber Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, overseeing a $150M grantmaking portfolio to bolster cybersecurity and promote proactive policymaking to counter digital disinformation.  

Previously, Born was the founding director of Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center, where she focused on the global impacts of technology on democracy. Before that, in an earlier stint with the Hewlett Foundation, she helped launch and lead the foundation’s U.S. Democracy Program, leveraging grantmaking to build public trust in U.S. democracy and strengthen American electoral and governing institutions.  

“Kelly’s deep experience as a champion for a vibrant, inclusive democracy speaks for itself,” said Nancy Lindborg, President and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “She brings precisely the type of leadership necessary to launch this key initiative at a crucial moment for U.S. democracy. We are excited for Kelly to bring her expertise and passion to this essential work as we strive to create a more just and equitable world.”    

In November 2022, the Packard Foundation shared its new strategic framework, which prioritizes a focus on the deeply interconnected nature of the issues at the heart of the Foundation’s mission. The framework includes a new initiative focused on U. S. Democracy, Rights, and Governance. The Foundation considers a resilient pro-equity, multi-racial U.S. democracy to be essential, both as an accelerant to progress and a stabilizing force to ensure long lasting solutions. Rather than focusing on narrow outcomes or individual policies, this new approach represents a commitment to strengthening the American system of democracy itself as key to enabling progress on all issues.  

“We know our democracy here in the U.S. is at an inflection point,” said Born. “But this moment also presents an opportunity to begin to truly deliver on the promise of representative government. The challenges facing our system are deeply connected to the challenges impacting people’s lives across the country. A strong, vibrant, and truly inclusive democracy can be the cornerstone of a more just and equitable society – this work has the potential for profound impact, and I can’t imagine a cause more deserving of our energy.”  

Earlier in her career, Born worked as a strategy consultant with the Monitor Institute where she supported strategic planning efforts in philanthropy. She also has experience consulting with nonprofits, private sector companies, and governments in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. She currently serves on the board of the Cyber Peace Institute, which works to ensure people’s rights to security, dignity, and equity online.  

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business with a minor in economics from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in international policy studies from Stanford University.