Nabiha Syed, Mozilla Foundation's incoming Executive Director
Nabiha Syed, Mozilla Foundation's incoming Executive Director
Public interest tech advocate will harness collective power to deepen Mozilla’s focus on trustworthy AI


(WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 2024) -- Today, Mozilla Foundation is proud to announce Nabiha Syed — media executive, lawyer, and champion of public interest technology — as its Executive Director. Syed joins Mozilla from The Markup, where she was chief executive officer.

As technology companies, civil society, and governments race to keep up with the rapid pace of AI innovation, Syed will lead Mozilla’s advocacy and philanthropy programs to serve the public interest. Mozilla, with Syed’s leadership, will carry forward the Foundation’s nuanced, practical perspective to help steer society away from the real risks and toward the benefits of AI.

“Nabiha has an exceptional understanding of how technology, humanity and broader society intersect — and how to engage with the complicated challenges and opportunities at that intersection,” said Mark Surman, Mozilla Foundation President. “Nabiha will make Mozilla a stronger, bigger, and more impactful organization, at a time when the internet needs it most.”

Syed is known for her mission-driven leadership, focused on increasing transparency into the most powerful institutions in society. She comes to Mozilla after leading The Markup, an award-winning publication that challenges technology to serve the public good, from its launch through its successful acquisition in 2024. The Markup drove Congressional debates, inspired watershed litigation, and won multiple prestigious awards including Fast Company’s “Most Innovative,” along with the Edward R. Murrow, National Press Club, and Scripps Howard prizes.

"The through-line of my career has been grappling with how technology can uplift or stifle human agency,” said Nabiha Syed, incoming Mozilla Foundation Executive Director. “After all, the technology we have now was once just someone’s imagination. We can dream, build, and demand technology that serves all of us, not just the powerful few. Mozilla is the perfect place to make that happen.”

We can dream, build, and demand technology that serves all of us, not just the powerful few. Mozilla is the perfect place to make that happen.

Nabiha Syed, incoming Mozilla Foundation Executive Director

As Executive Director, Syed will oversee a staff of more than 100 full-time employees and an annual budget of $30 million. She joins Mozilla at a time of growth and ambitious leadership: Mozilla is rapidly expanding its investment in building a movement for trustworthy AI through grantmaking, campaigning, and research. The Mozilla portfolio has also grown to include a venture capital arm and a commercial AI R+D lab.

Prior to The Markup, Syed was a highly acclaimed media lawyer. Syed’s legal career spanned private practice, the New York Times First Amendment Fellowship, and leading BuzzFeed’s libel and newsgathering matters, including the successful defense of the Steele Dossier litigations. She sits on the board of the Scott Trust, the $1B+ British company that owns The Guardian newspaper, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, Upturn, the New Press, and serves as an advisor to ex/ante, the first venture fund dedicated to agentic tech.

Syed is widely sought after for her views on technology and media law, and has briefed two sitting presidents on free speech matters as well as diverse audiences including the World Economic Forum, annual investor meetings, Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia, where she is a lecturer.

She has been recognized with numerous awards, including as a 40 Under 40 Rising Star by the New York Law Journal, Crain’s New York Business 40 under 40 award, a Rising Star award from the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press. Syed was selected to be on the National Commission for US-China Relations, and was recognized by Forbes as one of the best emerging free speech lawyers.

Syed holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, an M.St from the University of Oxford where she was a Marshall Scholar, and a B.A from Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her two young boys.

Also read:

Why I’m Joining Mozilla as Executive Director, by Nabiha Syed

Growing Our Movement — and Growing Mozilla — to Shape the AI Era, by Mark Surman