Heather Leson

Heather Leson

Global Community Builder, Technologist

Toronto, Canada Area

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Heather Leson's Overview

  • Community Engagement Director at Open Knowledge Foundation
  • Board Member at Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
  • Consultant at TextonTechs
  • Director of Community Engagement at Ushahidi
  • Mozilla Foundation, Consultant at Mozilla Corporation
  • Toronto Location Lead (Volunteer) at Random Hacks of Kindness
  • CrisisCommons (Volunteer) at CrisisCommons.org
  • Community Manager, Consultant at Crisis Commons
  • Co-organizer (Volunteer) at Toronto Girl Geek Dinner
  • Communications Lead at Tucows
  • Internet Provisioning Order Manager/Process Specialist at MTS Allstream
  • Customer Master Set-up Specialist/Property Administrator at Imperial Oil Limited (Exxon Mobil)
  • Program Specialist at Zurich Assist (Zurich Insurance)
  • Database Clerk at Department of Defence
  • Library Clerk at Cote St. Luc Public Library
  • Part-time Library Clerk at Carleton University Library

500+ connections


Heather Leson's Summary

I activate global open source communities to create, make, train, and implement great technology/social entrepreneurship projects. With over 15 years career experience, I offer excellence in community management, technical incident management, software life-cycle development, customer care, and Internet communications. As an elected board member for Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, I focus on fundraising and community engagement.

Some of my expertise includes training staff/communities, delivering complex projects, running global digital and in person workshops/events, public speaking, building partnerships, and creating concise documentation. As a technical communicator, I collaborate with customers(users), technical teams, and management to build a common language.

Some previous public speaking events:
IEEE Humanitarian Technology Conference (Montreal QC: May 2014)
Go Open Data Keynote (Toronto ON: May 2014)
OSCON: Become a Digital Humanitarian (Portland, USA: July 2013)
Speak Up Global (Transparency International) (Berlin, Germany: March 2013)
DFAIT Canadian Government and Digital volunteer Simulation (Ottawa, ON: March 2013)
Google Big Tent (Sendai, Japan: July 2012)
TedxSilkRoad (Istanbul,Turkey: April 2012)
UN Human Rights Council, Ambassador’s Retreat (San Francisco, USA: February 2012)

(See full list: http://textontechs.com/portfolio/)

Heather Leson's Experience

Community Engagement Director

Open Knowledge Foundation

Nonprofit; 11-50 employees; Information Technology and Services industry

September 2013Present (1 year 1 month) global

Deliver program management and special projects focused on Community Development

Create community content and reports focused on success and opportunities. This includes: storytelling, sharing, community measurement and documentation to support fundraising efforts

Develop, coordinate and implement strategic community plan with the Community Team, supporting growth across the various groups (including Local Groups, Working Groups and Open Knowledge Foundation Central), including community metrics and program management

Develop strategy in consultation with other team members and lead execution in a collaborative fashion across the community team

Board Member

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

March 2013Present (1 year 7 months)

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team [H.O.T.] is a initiative to apply the principles of open source and open data sharing towards humanitarian response and economic development. In the same way that the OpenStreetMap data bridges the missing information, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team [HOT] acts as a bridge between the traditional Humanitarian Responders and the OpenStreetMap Community. HOT works both remotely and physically in countries to assist the collection of geographic data, usage of that information and training others in OpenStreetMap.

My role on the board is to assist with fundraising and communications. Re-elected for 2014.



August 2010Present (4 years 2 months)

Writing, crowdsourcing, event organizing, crisis communications, new media and technology strategy

Mentor, Volunteer

Random Hacks of Kindness

Partnership; 11-50 employees; Information Technology and Services industry

June 2010Present (4 years 4 months) globally

Random Hacks of Kindness is a global hackathon. Our mission is to make the world a better place through a global community of innovation developing practical open technology.


Director of Community Engagement


Nonprofit; 11-50 employees; Internet industry

July 2011September 2013 (2 years 3 months) Global

Lead community engagement, liaise between the user community and the technical team, collaborate with deployment partners, manage special events, write reports and create communications content.

Mozilla Foundation, Consultant

Mozilla Corporation

Privately Held; 501-1000 employees; Computer Software industry

March 2011June 2011 (4 months) Toronto Canada

Research, create, and manage the implementation of a customer care module for the Mozilla Foundation.

Toronto Location Lead (Volunteer)

Random Hacks of Kindness

Partnership; 11-50 employees; Information Technology and Services industry

June 2010June 2011 (1 year 1 month)

I've had the pleasure to lead three RHoK events:

RHoK Sydney June 2010
RHoK Toronto December 2010
RHoK Toronto June 2011
I was involved as support for a number of subsequent RHOK events.

CrisisCommons (Volunteer)


Nonprofit; 1-10 employees; Internet industry

January 2010April 2011 (1 year 4 months)

CrisisCommons is a global network of volunteers who use creative problem solving and open technologies to help people and communities in times and places of crisis. (www.crisiscommons.org).

•Canadian founder, Toronto City Coordinator (CrisisCamp)
•Managed multiple software development and social media projects
•Mentored new members and City Leads for Crisis Camps in multiple countries
•Built partnerships with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): Canadian Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders
•Represented Crisis Commons in Australia for Random Hacks of Kindness (www.rhok.org) in June 2010 and organized Canada's first RHoK event in December 2010
*Former Community Working Group Co-Lead March 2010 - March 2011

Community Manager, Consultant

Crisis Commons

Nonprofit; 1-10 employees; Internet industry

October 2010December 2010 (3 months)

•Researched and wrote content for the successful CrisisCommons.org Sloan Foundation Grant. (short term contract)
•Community management including mentoring new volunteers, blogging and social media outreach.

Co-organizer (Volunteer)

Toronto Girl Geek Dinner

September 2009September 2010 (1 year 1 month)

The Toronto Girl Geek Dinners is a community of technologists, social media knowledge workers, developers, marketers and PR communicators who meet approximately once a month to share dinner and engage with a speaker on varied topics from Security, Media, Personal Branding, Community Management, Entrepreneurship and more.

•Arrange speakers, conduct social media promotion, and co-host

Communications Lead


Public Company; 51-200 employees; TCX; Internet industry

March 2007August 2010 (3 years 6 months)

Managed and documented incidents, change requests, emergencies, war room activities, and maintenance window communications (24/7 on-call for www.status.opensrs.com) for Domains, Email and SSL services. Delivered all customer-facing and internal communications by negotiating technical information and priorities between technical teams and management for major emergencies, including code releases, vendor and upstream provider issues, hardware and software issues, and DDoS attacks.

•Implemented a crisis communications plan for incident and escalation management including a software-as-service dashboard.
•Created technical team videos.
•Wrote public-facing company blog posts providing the customers with technical knowledge and improving the company’s market position as an Internet industry leader (www.opensrs.com/blog)

Internet Provisioning Order Manager/Process Specialist

MTS Allstream

Public Company; 1001-5000 employees; MBT (TSX); Telecommunications industry

20002007 (7 years)

Managed Internet requests with customers, technicians, sales and various vendors in order to provide on-time delivery of complex IP Networking installations, for example OC3, ADSL, and DS1/DS3.

•Documented internal processes for various software applications.
•Trained staff on the Internet request processes for multiple products and services.

Customer Master Set-up Specialist/Property Administrator

Imperial Oil Limited (Exxon Mobil)

July 1998November 2000 (2 years 5 months)

Created SAP customer master accounts, contracts, documentation and training for oil and property divisions.

•Documented internal SAP R/3 processes for two unique company divisions (distribution and property)
•Promoted twice in one calendar year

Program Specialist

Zurich Assist (Zurich Insurance)

July 1997April 1998 (10 months)

Zurich Assist was a premium insurance division offering high quality customer service for basic insurance and emergency assistance. I received inbound and outbound calls for residential, life and business insurance.

*Provided emergency assistance during the ice storm (1998). This included faxing claims, taking calls from distraught people and documenting their requests for assistance.

Database Clerk

Department of Defence

Government Agency; 10,001+ employees; Military industry

May 1996September 1996 (5 months)

Conducted library and database clerk duties for the Defence Research and Development Canada - Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (DCIEM)

•Designed, created and implemented a library database of scientific journal excerpts using Filemaker Pro.

Library Clerk

Cote St. Luc Public Library

November 1994August 1995 (10 months)

Delivered customer service at the circulation desk, audio-visual department.The library was fairly unique as it served as a community center open 365 days of the year from 10am to 10pm.

Part-time Library Clerk

Carleton University Library

September 1992June 1994 (1 year 10 months)

*Delivered customer service: circulation desk, organized books and helped researchers.

Heather Leson's Projects

  • Emergency Hacklab Wiki

    • October 2013 to Present
    Team Members: Heather Leson, Thomas Salmon

    The Emergency Hacklab Wiki came out of collaboration led by Jess Klein of Mozilla and Heather Leson of OKF at Mozfest 2013 in London. This wiki was created to help explain and open up the basic framework being created by RockAway Help http://rockawayhelp.com to help people give recognition via OpenBadges during times of emergency. The project has a repo on Github here https://github.com/rockawayhelp/emergencybadges

Heather Leson's Volunteer Experience & Causes

  • Volunteer Interests

    • Causes I care about:

      • Arts and Culture
      • Civil Rights and Social Action
      • Disaster and Humanitarian Relief
      • Economic Empowerment
      • Environment
      • Human Rights
      • Politics
      • Poverty Alleviation
      • Science and Technology

Heather Leson's Skills & Expertise

  1. Community Engagement
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Entrepreneurship
  4. Event Planning
  5. Training
  6. Leadership
  7. Social Entrepreneurship
  8. Program Management
  9. Blogging
  10. Social Media
  11. Public Speaking
  12. Project Management
  13. Fundraising
  14. Technical Documentation
  15. Event Management
  16. International Development
  17. Public Relations
  18. Internet Governance
  19. Community Management
  20. Strategic Partnerships
  21. Relationship Management
  22. Volunteer Management
  23. Social Networking
  24. International Relations
  25. Wordpress
  26. Research
  27. Management
  28. New Media
  29. Hands-on Training
  30. Internal Communications
  31. Strategy
  32. Community Development
  33. Emergency Management
  34. User Experience
  35. Policy
  36. Marketing
  37. Web Design
  38. Grant Writing
  39. Proposal Writing
  40. Crisis Communications
  41. Strategic Communications
  42. Editing
  43. Nonprofits
  44. Policy Analysis
  45. Content Management
  46. Media Relations
  47. Corporate Communications
  48. Web Content Management
  49. Government
  50. Usability

View All (50) Skills View Fewer Skills

Heather Leson's Education

University of Oxford

Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute Certificate, Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute


The annual summer institute brings together young scholars and regulators to discuss important recent trends in technology, international politics and development and its influence on media policy. Participants come from around the world; countries represented at previous summer institute include Thailand, Kenya, China, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Jordan, Italy and Bosnia, among others.

Activities and Societies: The Programme for Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford and the Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania are pleased to host the 14th annual Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute, to be held from Monday, June 18 to Friday, June 29, 2012 at the University of Oxford.

Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology

Diploma, Library and Information Technician


Activities and Societies: Internships at Tory Tory DesLaurier and Binnington and the Ontario College of Art and Design

Carleton University

Bachelor of Arts, Combined Honours, Political Science and History


Activities and Societies: Sock 'n' Buskin Theater Club, Ukrainian Students Club

Heather Leson's Additional Information


arts, entertaining, cycling, event planning, gadgets, gardening, reading, spoken word, and yoga

Groups and Associations:

NonCommercial Users Constituency (ICANN) (Member), Crisismappers Network, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (Member, Board), Standby Task Force (Member), OpenStreetMap, Random Hacks of Kindness, Toronto Girl Geek Dinners, Ignite! Toronto, Toronto Podcamp

Honors and Awards:

Cited as one of the Top 10 Canadian Crowdsourcing Experts (2014)

Recognized at a Technical Communications Leader (2010):

For interviews and other media see: http://textontechs.com/portfolio/

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) V3 Foundation Certified, October 2008

Contact Heather for:

  • career opportunities
  • new ventures
  • expertise requests
  • reference requests
  • getting back in touch

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