At the forefront of Shauna Dillavou’s work is the interaction between privacy and what it means to be a woman online.
The Iowa native has always loved the puzzles that coding represents. Now at 35, the U Street resident is using her open source knowledge to help vulnerable communities as the executive director of CommunityRED.
Dillavou’s tech career was jump-started while she was in China for the Boren Fellowship.
“I really got to explore technology as I use it today. There I was using circumvention technologies without really knowing it,” Dillavou said over email. “I didn’t care what a proxy or VPN was, I just wanted to watch Lost and read my Gmail.”
"We customize security strategies for voiceless and vulnerable communities."
Back in the states, Dillavou’s intelligence career had her gathering information and metadata from social channels while simultaneously training federal law enforcement. The skills she gained from these experiences coupled with a desire to do good in the world led her to start CommunityRED.
“CommunityRED [is] a pathway to free speech, human rights, and democracy,” explained Dillavou. “We customize security strategies for voiceless and vulnerable communities in closed and closing societies through trauma-sensitive and human-centered training, tools, and research.”
The company is also completely led by women.
“Women are not getting off of the internet any time soon,” said Dillavou. “I wonder how the surveillance, lack of privacy and lack of security women face every day will change.”
Recently, Dillavou has developed a “personal security” training to aid women who have to confront the uglier side of the internet: doxxing, online hate, online misogyny and other threats women face online daily. She’s working hard to ensure every woman has the right to exist online without fear.
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