Mark Surman

Mark Surman
Born (1969-02-20) February 20, 1969
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma mater University of Toronto
Occupation Executive director of the Mozilla Foundation
Spouse(s) Tonya Surman
Children Tristan Surman (16) Ethan Surman (14)

Mark Surman is the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation.[1] He supports the notions of web literacy (the skills and competencies needed for reading, writing, and participating on the web) and Open Philanthropy (which advocates the transparency of the operations of nonprofit organizations toward the public).

Surman is a board member of the Toronto Arts Foundation[2] and an advisor to Peer to Peer University.[3]

Education and early employment

Surman received his bachelor's degree in the history of community media from the University of Toronto in 1994.

In 1998, Surman co-founded and became president of the Commons Group, providing advice on networks, technology, and social change.[4]

From 2005 to 2008, Surman was the managing director of[5] Created by Canada's International Development Research Centre, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and Microsoft, worked to network the global telecentre community, and improve their sustainability.[6]

The Shuttleworth Foundation, which provides funding for people engaged in social change,[7] awarded Surman one of its inaugural fellowship in 2007. There he helped advance thinking about how to apply open source approaches to philanthropy.[8]

Mozilla Foundation

In August 2008, Surman became the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, an independent non-profit that was launched on July 15, 2003 as America Online shut down the Netscape browser division and drastically scaled back its involvement with the Mozilla project.[9]

As executive director, Surman oversaw the launch of Drumbeat,[10] a "global community of people who steward the open web, explaining and protecting the internet as a critical public resource," by supporting projects and local events that gathers creative people "around big ideas, solving problems and building the open web." [11]

In 2012 Surman launched Mozilla’s Maker Party.[12] In those events, volunteers associated with the Mozilla Foundation teach web-literacy classes, focusing on tools, projects, and community.[13]

In 2013, foundation volunteers conducted 1,700 teaching events in 331 cities.[14] At the White House's first-ever Maker's Faire in 2014, hosted by President Barack Obama, Surman and Mozilla announced that Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National 4-H Council, and the Association of Science and Technology Centers would partner with Mozilla for the 2014 Maker Parties.[15]

In 2015 the Mozilla Foundation and Surman started expanding this work by launching Mozilla Learning Networks in 500 cities. These networks design, deliver and spread web literacy curriculum and teaching tools.[16]


In 2005, Prentice Hall published his book "Commonspace: Beyond Virtual Community."[17] And "From the Ground Up: The Evolution of the Telecentre Movement" was published by in 2006.[18]

Surman also has written opinion editorials for the Washington Post,[19],[20] Globe and Mail,[21] Chronicle of Philanthropy,[22] MIT's Innovations,[23] and Fast Company.[24]

Surman has been interviewed by NPR Morning Edition,[25] The Irish Times,[26] CBC,[27] and other outlets.

Personal life

Surman was born in Toronto, Ontario. He currently resides in Toronto with his two sons, Ethan and Tristan Surman.


  1. "Mark Surman - Open philanthropy". Shuttleworth Foundation. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  2. "Board of Directors". Toronto Arts Foundation. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  3. "Org". Peer 2 Peer University. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  4. "Mozilla's Webmaker is providing a new tool for users to read, write and participate on the Web". Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  5. "Mozilla Press Center: Mark Surman". Mozilla. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  6. "Connecting ICTs to Development: The IDRC Experience". IRDC. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  7. "We are the Shuttleworth Foundation". The Shuttleworth Foundation. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  8. "Welcome to the 7th Annual Seneca Free Software and Open Source Symposium". Seneca College. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  9. Anderssen, Mark. "100 Most Influential People in the World: Scientists & Thinkers". Time. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  10. Cameron Parkins. "Mark Surman from the Mozilla Foundation". Creative Commons. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  11. "Drumbeat Workshop and Consultancy Bureau by and with Henrik Moltke & Mark Surman". Transmediale. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  12. "Mozilla's Webmaker is providing a new tool for users to read, write and participate on the Web". TechChange. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  13. Gilbertson, Scott. "Mozilla Aims to Build a Better Web with 'Webmakers' Project". Wired. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  14. Reilly, Richard Byrne. "Web 101: Mozilla's next act teaches people how to use the Internet — for free". VentureBeat. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  15. "FACT SHEET: President Obama to Host First-Ever White House Maker Faire". The White House. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  16. "Mozilla Press Center: Mark Surman". Mozilla Foundation. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  17. "Commonspace: Beyond Virtual Community". Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  18. "IRDC Research Results". IRDC. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  19. Surman, Mark (October 7, 2015). "Smartphone users in emerging markets deserve better than a watered-down Internet". Washington Post. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  20. Surman, Mark (February 18, 2016). "Mozilla chief: FBI snooping at Apple 'back door' makes you less safe". CNN. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  21. Surman, Mark (December 18, 2013). "What did you learn out of school today?". Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  22. Ibargüen, Alberto; Surman, Mark & Walker, Darren (February 11, 2015). "Philanthropy Must Jump-Start a Digital Revolution for the Common Good". Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  23. Surman, Mark; Gardner, Corina, & Ascher, David (December 31, 2014). "Local Content, Smartphones, and Digital Inclusion". Innovations. 9: 63–74. doi:10.1162/inov_a_00217. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  24. Davidson, Cathy & Surman, Mark (August 8, 2012). "Why Web Literacy Should Be Part of Every Education". Fast Company. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  25. "Mozilla Foundation Backs Apple In Encryption Case With Federal Government". Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  26. "Mozilla chief: Public need to become involved in encryption debate". Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  27. "Mark Surman argues for encryption". Retrieved April 28, 2016.
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