Steering Committee Election 2023 - Candidates

Decentralized Identity Foundation


Steven McCown (Anonyome)

Brent Zundel (Gen)

Ankur Banerjee (CHEQD)

Heather Vescent

Catherine Nabbala (Finema)

Yodahe Zemichael (Ethiopian Digital ID Program)

Steven McCown

Salt lake City, Utah, USA
Steve McCown

Steve McCown is a Chief Architect at Anonyome Labs where he conducts R&D for decentralized identity, privacy, and cryptographic projects. Recently, McCown was appointed by Governor Cox of Utah to the state’s Personal Privacy Oversight Commission to help develop standards for protecting personal data on state IT systems. McCown also serves as a Co-Chair of the DID Communication working group at the Decentralized Identity Foundation in order to develop more secure and private communications. During his career, McCown has invented several patented mobile payment and security technologies and in 2008 launched a mobile payment system enabling customers to tap their phones on NFC-compatible credit card terminals for purchasing. While at the Idaho National Laboratory (U.S. Dept. of Energy), he performed security vulnerability discovery for computing systems and mobile devices. He also created a method for standard cellphones to detect ionizing radiation (from ‘dirty bombs’) and phone home to alert first responders. While serving as a U.S. Air Force officer, he led virtual reality research and built post-mission analysis systems for the AWACS aircraft. McCown has earned B.S. & M.S. degrees in Computer Science from Brigham Young University, holds Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE) certifications, and is an inventor on 29 patents.

brent Zundel

American Fork, Utah, USA
Brent Zundel

Brent has been involved with DIF for several years. He has worked on Presentation Exchange in C&C WG, chaired the Applied Crypto WG, and served on the SC and TSC. He also chairs the VCWG and DID WG at W3C. He works at Gen as their Principal Cryptography Engineer .

Ankur Banerjee

London, UK
Amkur Banerjee

I am the CTO/co-founder at Cheqd, an open source decentralised identity startup and I’ve been working on decentralised identity projects since 2017 in a range of industry sectors, such as government/law enforcement, healthcare, financial services, travel etc. Prior to founding Cheqd in 2021, I worked in biometrics & digital identity at Accenture, a global consulting company (2017-2019); IDWorks, a digital identity startup (2020); and R3, an enterprise blockchain scale-up behind the Corda blockchain framework (2020-2021). I believe this range of experience in different types of companies - startups, scale-ups, and mid-large enterprises/government - gives me unique insight on the needs and wants of Decentralised Identity Foundation’s membership base. I’m familiar with doing this within the context of open source, as one of the key architects behind Hyperledger Bevel; and now on the Cheqd network where I architected ideas such as DID-Linked Resources. If decentralised identity is to become commonplace, it needs to be easy to use and build for everyone who is NOT a member of DIF. Therefore, if elected to the DIF Steering Committee, I’d be interested in improving developer relationships (“DevRel”) with experts as well as newcomers to decentralised identity. I’m passionate about mentoring people new to product management and engineering, especially if they come from disadvantaged/overlooked backgrounds, and I have been deeply involved in organising hackathons, mentoring programmes, startup incubators etc for towards this goal. I’d love to bring some of these playbooks and implement them among DIF’s audience.

Heather Vescent

Los Angeles, CA. USA
Heather Vescent

Heather Vescent is a digital identity and security industry thought leader and futurist with over a decade of experience delivering strategic intelligence insights to governments, corporations, entrepreneurs and the public. As Founder, President of The Purple Tornado, Heather has demonstrated expertise in a range of fields including trends in the future of digital identity, cybersecurity, economies, augmented intelligence, IoT, and humanity. She previously held the role of Executive Director and President of IDPro where she increased IAM certification sales 300% and increased total membership revenue 143% over a year. In addition, she doubled new corporate members and helped generate $70K for a strategic partner. Previously she has created and managed a scalable partner co-marketing program, executing 30+ deliverables across 20 partners over a 12 month period. As co-chair of the W3C Credentials Community group she defined the community strategy with a focus on diversity & inclusion. She also helped build and launch more than 50 Internet products at over 30 startups from 1996 to 2005. Vescent’s research has been covered in the New York Times, CNN, American Banker, CNBC, Fox and the Atlantic. She has authored three books: The Secrets of Spies, The Cyber Attack Survival Manual and The Comprehensive Guide to Self Sovereign Identity. Her work has won multiple awards from the Association of Professional Futurists. Why DIF & What I bring to the steering committee role I've been involved in decentralized identity since before DIF was founded. (I was at the RWOT where it was announced.) From the earliest days of discussion about blockchain for identity at IIW in 2013, I have been passionate about technology innovations that support private, yet sharable identity data. My interest in being a steering committee member is to share my leadership experience to help DIF grow as an organization as well as support education and evangelization outside the of the core DIF community. From my time as President and Executive Director of IDPro, I know there is increasing interest from enterprise organizations in decentralized identity and verifiable credentials - yet there is limited overlap between this enterprise community and DIF community. I would work to bridge this gap, which will result in broader enterprise adoption of decentralized identity technology and participation in decentralized identity communities. In addition to my leadership skills, I have demonstrated results delivering research, short films, documentaries, no-fluff marketing and sales enablement materials, and revenue strategies. I am an energetic, pragmatic, respectful and no BS leader. I am focused on achievable results that consider a broad perspective of views and values while ideally minimizing unintended consequences. I have held leadership positions at the APF, W3C, RWOT and IDPro. I bring a unique perspective of strategy and practical execution. I have decades of experience with the long path of emerging technology adoption. My full CV is here. Thank you for your consideration.

Catherine Nabbala

Bangkok, Thailand
Catherine Nabbala

Hosting DIF-APAC and setting up DIF-Africa Special Interest Groups not only offered me a platform to build my communication and organizational skills, but also led to a strong relationship with the community. It is with this attachment that I am inspired to represent Asia-Pacific and Africa at large in a more active role on the DIF Steering Committee. My aim is to voice the concerns of the community and fully represent these two regions of the world. This shall not only reinstate DIF’s ability to nurture diversity in geographical distribution and culture but also offer a sense of enrichment. ▪ I am a highly self-motivated individual who will not stop atanything until the responsibility at hand isdone. ▪ I come along with excellent management and capacity building skills, exceptional ability to multi-task, compelling leadership skills, and high tolerance to stress. I am a flexible team player and, above all, very self-driven.

Yodahe Zemichael

Ethiopian Digital ID
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Yodahe Zemichael

Yodahe A. Zemichael is the Deputy DG of Information Network Security Administration and he also leads the Ethiopian Digital ID Initiattive. He is also a Board Director at EthioTelecom. Previously, he was a Senior Technical Advisor at the office of the Prime Minister and has fifteen years of advisory and technical experience in various public and private sector roles including Ministry of Innovation and Technology as well as at the German Development Cooperation (GIZ). Yodahe is a Mandela Washington fellow and holds a Master’s degree in Mechatronics from Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mecanique et des Microtechniques, France and a Master’s in Micro-fabrication from University of Oviedo, Spain. He received his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Hawassa University in Ethiopia.