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Executive director succession: setting the stage for EngageMedia’s next era

EngageMedia Executive Director Andrew Lowenthal at the film and social change panel discussion, Press Pause Luang Prabang in December 2018.


In 2022, I will transition from my role as executive director and move to the board. Below I outline some of my thinking as we move through this important transition in EngageMedia’s leadership.

To find out more about the role and to apply, visit the Executive Director job opportunity post.


The Australian summer of 2005 was energetic and optimistic. The era of web 2.0 was still buoyant with the founding ideas of the internet – an agora for ideas, debate, discussion, and a space for a wide variety of opinions and initiatives.

It is from this era that EngageMedia was born. Not naive, but wide-eyed and pragmatic. The web wove novel threads, creating new topographies and possibilities. For EngageMedia, those threads could shift the understanding of our place in the Asia-Pacific, change the conversation, and chart new paths to advance human rights, environmental sustainability, and freedom of expression.

Much has been achieved over those nearly 17 years since EngageMedia’s founding. Many new challenges have also emerged. COVID-19 has presented still more challenges to digital rights, as governments and companies threaten privacy and free expression, and authoritarianism of all stripes increasingly shapes the world.

While criticism of corporate social media is now mainstream, for EngageMedia it was part of our foundation. We believed that free media must be built on free and open-source software and set out to build a video platform that embodied those values.

Today, EngageMedia focuses on three core programs that still embody the values of our foundation in 2005: digital rights, open and secure technology, and video for change. Our strong emphasis on civil liberties continues, now increasingly threatened and diminished across the Asia-Pacific.

EngageMedia is now in a great position to chart the next chapter of our mission. Our funding and reserves are strong, as are our programs and systems. We have an incredible core team of 26 people, a diverse network of consultants, and good governance overseen by the strong expertise of our Board. Collectively, we number more than 40 and work distributedly across 10 countries.

I am incredibly proud of our team and the work it has done. We have implemented more than 100 projects in more than 20 countries – from West Papua, to Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, even Mexico and Italy. We have founded multiple networks, conducted hundreds of trainings, and launched more than a dozen research initiatives.

Sustaining this activity and momentum, including maintaining a high level of quality in our work, has been crucial to our success. But organisational renewal is equally critical to sustaining and growing more initiatives. New leadership, new approaches, new possibilities.

I have learnt a huge amount leading EngageMedia, and I consider myself extremely lucky that my days have been filled with wonderful people from all over the world.

I will continue supporting the organisation from the board and look forward to watching it grow and evolve to meet the many big challenges ahead.

2 thoughts on “Executive director succession: setting the stage for EngageMedia’s next era”

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