Overcoming challenges on internet policy making: #ICANN58 coaching experience

21/04/2017 § Deixe um comentário

Team LAC 1st – Renata, Alexis, Antonella and Malisa

Internet policy making processes change everyday. Their importance, however, only increases. The internet policy making arena at ICANN, encompassing all things related to DNS (Domain Name System), are an incredibly complicated labyrinth for someone to roam through alone. Having a support system which can help guide you through the maze and daze of everyday is crucial, and this is what I realized in my second experience of being a coach in the ICANN Fellowship Program.

ICANN Fellowship Program – A beyond dreams experience

A researcher’s carreer is very far from basking in light of wisdom under a shiny sun, while reading your pile of favorite books. One gets to run from one university to the other, teach 14h a day sometimes, write until your fingers fall off, do lots of unpaid jobs to some very unworthy people, all that while fighting your government not to cut off everybody’s grants and solving the rain of ethical dilemmas that always pour once a day.

That is why I grew to learn and cherish opportunities which help someone showcase a work, a project or even a dream which they wouldn’t do if it wasn’t for that one chance. I’ve had opportunities outside of ICANN (fellowships, travel support etc.), I’ve received my more than fair share of denials (reasons: not too bright, not too powerful/connected, not too published, not too centrally located, not too young, not too old). But I will have to say: to me, ICANN fellowship is not only a dream opportunity, but now a beyond dreams experience.

A dream can be seen as a projection of your future right? Well, if it depends on the dreams of the team of fellows which I had the opportunity to know this time, it is much more than that. Dreams are powerful tools that you use to change reality. This is what Antonella Perini, Alexis Anteliz and Malisa Richards taught me. A lesson I should have learned with my amazing 1st team of fellows, but I guess I was only now ready for it. So this is my report on their story and how they changed their own reality.

Antonella Perini: The challenge of rethinking the Global South in any geography

Research in civil society is growing stronger and diving deeper into issues in internet governance than many universities. In fact, how a civil society researcher acts is how Argentina researcher Antonella Perini dealt with her challenges at ICANN58.

To become involved in internet policy making a lot of preparation is required and that can come not only from readings but by actually giving input to processes and talking to actors within these activities. Having been awarded a civil society travel support fellowship to the IGF, Antonella Perini already had known in IGF many civil society actors within ICANN and spent time at ICANN and NCUC booths. This knowledge helped her incredibly in dialoguing about internet policy making in ICANN. Next step was identifying who could give her a global view on internet policy making, which she could adapt to her activity. Hence, her dialogue in a mentoring session with Avri Doria taught me more perhaps than I could ever teach her, and it was a fantastic experience in the possibilities of internet policy making in ICANN.

Alexis Anteliz: The challenge of overcoming cultural barriers and contextualizing efforts

Any country in the world can be involved in internet policy making. Alexis Anteliz overcame great barriers in his own country to be able to do that. Venezuela does not emit passports in the same rate it did in the past among many other changes in the country. Travel arrangements are a huge part of making the fellowship successful since with US transit and other document demands it would be much harder for a venezuelan participant to be in Europe.

After overcoming local barriers, Alexis still had other cultural and linguistic barriers to surpass. Already knowledgeable of ICANN, LACRALO was his first port of action, in a events co-sponsored by ICANN a long time ago. This time, Martin Silva Valent presented GNSO in a mentoring session and actions LAC community can work from inside it, which gave Alexis a very interesting perspective into the future of ICANN and was a lesson for me too.

Malisa Richards: The challenge of a journey into realizing full potential

If there was ever a reason why opportunities like the fellowship program exist is that of bringing to the light people, countries, and even whole regions of the world which wouldn’t otherwise get to be known if it wasn’t for the push given by the program. This was in Malisa Richards report and I fully agree. It was only because of the potential she already had of an educator, a social entrepreneur and an academic that she could take advantage of the many facets of the policy making work at ICANN.

The moment which I remember most of this journey was the conversation with Joan Kerr, who presented GNSO policy making from this multifaceted perspective and Malisa could then see the steps she could follow on the ICANN58 meeting. This moment proved that realizing one’s own potential is key into using your abilities and knowledge to interact in spaces so complex such as the multitrack, multiwork ICANN meetings.

Onsite and online continuous challenges

During ICANN58, it was like being in a hurricane. We met several times to exchange experiences, check schedules, discuss parallel meetings and yet, none of it seemed to be enough. There was always something else to cover, more information to know or other meetings to go. Even so, we did realize how much was accomplished, the interconnection of knowledge of other internet policy making arenas such as IGF and ICANN into the work of ICANN.

It was an amazing journey which hasn’t ended yet. All 3 fellows are engaged in spaces in ICANN and being part of policy discussions, leadership selections and even opportunities of new fellowships. The freedom to choose where one wants to act in the internet policy making debates and to represent their region, their country and their goals is exhilirating and I’m happy it seemed they got a taste for that too.

I’m very grateful for this experience, for the guidance of the fellowship team Siranush Vardanyan and Janice Douma Lange, who I admire deeply for keeping such a wonderful program running. And for all the community veterans who were so kind to talk to us. But most of all, to my fellows team, LAC 1st, the ones I’ll never take for granted. Thanks!

Blog with coaching experience materials

Community veterans on mentoring sessions – Thank you!

Our gratitude to the community pioneers who talked to us:
Dev Anand Teelucksingh
Maritza Aguero
Martin Valent
Avri Doria

Our schedules (a work always in progress)





Fellowship reports:


Alexis Anteliz:

Malisa Richards


ICANN57 Hyderabad Report: A bridge between experience and and a new world of learning

23/12/2016 § Deixe um comentário

The amazing Team JPL – Lucas Moura, Monica Pilar, coach and James Bidal

For ICANN, 2016 had been a remarkable year so far. IANA Transition completed, new CEO, major changes which happened in such a coordinate and tranquil way that the community could only thrive as maximum as possible. This was also the year where I had my first fellowship coach experience. This report is an attempt to give a snapshot of this amazing moment and also indicate some pathways for those who aim to learn, work and interact with the DNS marketplace, the internet governance area and, broadening even more perspective, the digital economy in itself.

Being a coach is a privilege but also a huge responsibility. ICANN opens its doors to varied community of professionals from different stakeholder groups. These professionals will have a chance to get to know, collaborate and even critique spaces such as SOs (Supporting Organizations), ACs (Advisory Councils). Among the parts of these spaces they’ll navigate in, CCWGs (Cross Community Working Groups), thematic workspaces which provide a deep dive into themes related to a more broader spectrum of IG such as privacy, corporate accountability, human rights and much more.

The fellowship coach is assigned a team of fellows, professionals who are invited by ICANN to get the know the community. Both coach and fellows are given travel support but the amount of time and the depth of investment in work put out to impart knowledge is the major trade-off here. Going to an ICANN meeting is about getting knowledge in bulk which compares to a PhD research or to a decade of work in a tech company. The overwhelming amount of info available is catalyzed by coach, with an incredible support system from the fellowship framework of colleagues, coordinators, community leaders contribution, staff and so on. There are many unsung heroes behind fellowship and coaching and getting all their voices is the way I’m going to try and remember my own journey. So I’m going to do this as a reminder of a few actions and hints which I though were invaluable.

1) Design of the fellowship program – Sessions
It is great that the program has the fellowship sessions, an introductory overview, as greatly designed by Janice Douma Lange. Many 1st time fellows are lured to other spaces but both coach and fellows have to be strong and recommend attendance in those, as they are immensely valuable.

2) Coaching experience – a collective support
The coaching program is aimed at facilitating the exchange of experiences between fellows who already have done the program with new fellows, the mentees. After the team of mentees is assigned, coaches also exchange experiences among themselves on how to best mentor them. Siranush Vardanyan, fellowship coordinator, orchestrated perfectly the group of coaches to share experiences and build collectively guiding documents, which were extremely helpful.

3) Before, during and after meeting – All jotted down in the calendar
There is a calendar of expected deliverables and actions to be done during the fellowship program. This can be adapted by team and coaches but having had it all jotted down in the calendar helped our team get moving. We established a few previous online meetings to ICANN57 and had staff support to try and schedule others during meeting attendance. This helped greatly to anticipate what mentees would need and how could they build their way on ICANN57.

4) The J in team JPL – James Bidal, fellow from South Sudan
As a mentee from a newly formed country, James Bidal had a huge task ahead of him: to bring in to his region views of internet governance which could engage the population. He did it so calmly and bravely, learning about spaces where civil society could interact within ICANN, such as At-Large, NCSG and NCUC. He participated in outreach sessions and got a panorama of the topics. In ccTLD debates, he put forward the need for a .SS domain for this new nation, referencing ICANNWiki entry on that (https://icannwiki.com/.SS). I believe James Bidal can only have more conquests from continuing to engage in ICANN and I hope he continues in he regional meetings such as ICANN60 in Johannesburg.

5) The P in team JPL – Monica Gastelú Pilar Céspedes, fellow from Bolivia

Monica Pilar came to the fellowship program with many experiences from her home country in the intersection of civil society and governments. She build herself a varied agenda in ICANN57 with attendance to civil society spaces and observed a little the work of the GAC. A multilingual and multicultural internet is one of her fights and she made that clear bringing the LAC perspective in ICANN debates. Pilar also was careful to observe the intersection of the domain names industry with the growth of internet in Global South and felt motivated to continue engaging in internet governance themes and to enhance Bolivia presence in these debates.

6) The L in team JPL – Lucas Moura, from Brazil

To differentiate between wisdom and experience can be tough to a new fellow, especially when they already have done other projects in internet governance. It wasn’t so for Lucas Moura. After successfully completing the NextGen program, Lucas became a fellow and had the wisdom to differentiate himself among other newcomers in ICANN building long-lasting, sustainable paths for engagement. He did face to face side meetings with community leaders in civil society and security areas, showed openness and interest in their advice and planned further works on it. A long term work in the domain names industry depends on learning from experience and Lucas really put himself out there for this, which was very interesting to see happening.

Conclusion: Seek and succeed to do it all over again, continuouly

So to sum up my first coaching experience in ICANN, I can only think of one phrase: seek and succeed to do it all over again, continuosly. ICANN presents a world of knowledge and the domain names industry is increasingly in need of inventiveness and boldness. So I plan to apply again to be a coach and I’m certainly I’ll learn much more and find the paths which can keep me and other fellows engaged, doing policy work and helping build this great community. I’m thankful and humbled to be able to always learn.

Report: #ICANN53, the learning experience of internet governance

21/07/2015 § Deixe um comentário

From June 21 to 25th I’ve attended the ICANN53 Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. ICANN meetings are the premier forum for discussions about internet governance as this is a theme that all countries should pay attention to, engage their citizens and find institutions and government organizations to participate in. It is important to learn about internet governance in order to understand the world we’re in. This report aims to address this theme as well as document some of the whole #ICANN53 learning experience.

* Pre-Meeting Experience

Before arriving to Buenos Aires, I had already expectations about the debate on internet governance (IG), especially in Latin America. When I participated in events about internet governance (EGI.br and NETMundial) and online research (OpenCon2014) IG and the potential of the internet for knowledge and national sovereignty were already an important theme. Currently, along with some of my colleagues from EGI.br 2014 I am researching and writing about this. During those events, I was inspired by the work of many who participated in ICANN, including Fadi Chehade (CEO) and Daniel Fink (Stakeholder Engagement in Brazil) and Leon Sanchez (CCWG ICANN and OpenCon committee).

So with a great interest for research I asked to arrive a few days earlier to ICANN’s travel team (on my own) and it was a good decision since the next days would be fully packed of activities, debates and information. Plus, arriving a bit earlier gave me a chance to see some of the sessions with Latin American participants like Olga Cavalli (SSIG), Nacho Estrada (Nic.ar) and ICANN’s Rodrigo de La Parra and Rodrigo Saucedo among others.

ICANN provided me with all the information I needed for the event and the support from the program director, Janice Douma Lange, and my coach, Farzaneh Badii, was amazing.

My expectations were to try and find groups within ICANN that I could participate on and figure out how to contribute to policy on internet governance and helping choose those who watch out for the internet for all the rest of us. I’m glad to say that all those expectations were met.

* Meeting Experience


Fadi Chehade, Alberto Soto and Marilia Maciel, some inspiring people I’ve met.

My meeting experience was beyond immersion as I felt completely submerged in this complex policy, technology and security internet matrix world. I was informed that it’s recent that ICANN started the coaching program and I must say that this was a great idea since one constantly needs guidance in such a complex experience.

We started the day with the fellowship session at 6:45am and ended way later than 8pm since there were intersessional activities and talks that could go on very late. However, I felt that intersessional activities were great in order to decompress and process the good deal of information. This was also a time when I’d often meet my coach on the corridors of the event and ask her questions and guidance about the next session to go to.

* Sessions and activities

Day 2 - Lusophones, KFSR team and more

Lusophones,  Argentina-Brazil, KFSR + Janice and more

Day 1 – 21st June – This was a day packed with information since the fellows stayed all day in the newcomer session. We were greeted by Fadi Chehade, ICANN CEO, and at the end of the day we had an opportunity to talk in smaller groups with regional leaders for the At-Large. I spoke then with Alberto Soto of LACRALO and he answered me some doubts about joining the constituency, At-Large Structures and how they could relate to research groups and universities and LACRALO’s action in the region. This was a fantastic opportunity and it was great to hear him.

Day 2 – 22nd June – As the first day, this started with a fellowship morning session. Then there was the welcome ceremony. After that, we could choose our sessions and I went to LAC Space as an update on ICANN’s actions in the region was given in this session and being a part of some of them I was very interested in how the actions were and where they were going. As a journalist, I could also participate on Steve Crocker, Fadi Chehade, Akram Atallah and Rodrigo de La Parra press conference, there I learned that over 1400 people were joining the meeting, an accomplishment for internet governance in Latin America. At the end of that day there was another session about the Challenges after NETMundial for the region and I was glad to see how the Brazilian team that participated on it was rebuilding and rethinking new paths for IT Governance in LAC, including Vanda Scartezini, Daniel Fink and João Caribé. Last but not least we had the first Lusophone meetup at an ICANN meeting where Portuguese speakers from all over the world joined for pictures in the lobby of the venue.

Day 3 – 23rd June – This was filled of some of the greatest learning moments in this meeting. I followed the activities of the NCSG, starting with the NCUC session and went on the others that followed. Until the afternoon when there was another fellowship session very informative as usual. The NCUC is the constituency I am engaged on and its various working groups such as the human rights one bring up issues that are sensitive to those in academia and I hope to be able to contribute to it when I can.

Day 4 – 24th June – At-Large was my focus on this day. I have already known many practices of this constituency following the works of Vanda Scartezini and Sylvia Herlein (very experiencied in ICANN meetings) and I had previous meetings with Maureen Hilyard and Siranush set up by my great coach Farzaneh Badii. I am interested in getting to know more ALSs and bringing some of my research groups and civil society organizations into the At-Large fold. The end of the day was the LACRALO Showcase with Latin Americans dressed in their regional costumes and this was both inspiring and an ice-breaker for all of us who were getting to know ICANN and planning to be involved more. Also, as an individual member of NCUC now, I had a meeting with Rafik Dammak kindly arranged by coach João Caribé and I was glad to learn more about the many ways I can participate and help on NCUC.

Day 5 – 25th June – I could never express fully the experience of participating in this collective day of the ICANN Meeting as this goes beyond a learning experience to a true life achievement. One can actually feel as being part of those who are shaping the future of the internet as it is possible to interviene in the Public Forum and in the Public Board Meeting. A special moment was the session about the CEO Succession Process. Fadi Chehade had spoken in the fellowship first session that he hoped a woman would be the next CEO. Being involved in gender politics since 1998, I hope this is also a result here and I am following closely the process.

The busy sessions, the city skyline and even more moments of LACRALO showcase

The busy sessions, the city skyline and even more moments of LACRALO showcase

Other days and moments – There were so many other moments outside regular sessions and days of the meeting (as I arrived earlier and left later). But mostly, the bonding experience of the fellowship, the idea of joint projects are some of the best memories I have and commitments I hope to follow on.

* Anticipated Next Steps Based on this Fellowship

As even before this ICANN meeting, I am subscribed to many ICANN lists, mainly At-Large and NCUC. I’ve also sent a request to join NCUC via the membership form on the website and I’m following the lists.

I realize it takes a while to fully understand the works the constituencies are doing and to become a member one must engage in a working group and contribute in some way to shaping documents or collaborating on the discussions of decisions which are to be made. I have concentrated more on reading, in order to fully understand the panorama of IG, however, I plan to send in comments soon as there are many issues left to be pursued and demanded by civil society, specially when it comes to education about IG.

I believe participating in ICANN events and following the constituency you’re more inclined to participate on should be a concern for all those who want to be involved in shaping the future of the internet. I will be planning on participating on other ICANN meetings and regional events as long as it’s possible. It is our right and our duty to be informed about these decisions and to contribute on them.

Preview of my certificate:

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