Rouven Heck Welcomes Clare Nelson as New Executive Director of DIF

· 2 min read
Rouven Heck Welcomes Clare Nelson as New Executive Director of DIF

Dear DIF community,

After my 3.5 years as the voluntary Executive Director of DIF, I am excited to announce my successor Clare Nelson who has joined as full time ED as of Feb 1st, 2023.

In reflecting on our progress and development over the last few years, I am incredibly proud of the evolution & growth we’ve achieved.

DIF working groups have delivered various well received specifications like SideTree, DIDComm v2 and Presentation Exchange. We’ve incubated DIDAuth which grew to become a joint effort at the OpenID foundation. Many of the other working groups are making great progress around core elements in the technology stack like decentralized storage & wallet security.

Membership has grown from around 80 members to over 350 companies and more than 100 individual contributors. DIF has established itself as one of the leading organizations in the broader (decentralized) identity ecosystem and established strong connections with partner organizations like ToIP, W3C, OpenID Foundation, Hyperledger, etc. - and in various cases, established cross-ecosystem collaborations like the DIF facilitated cross-community Interoperability Group.

Motivated by DIF’s goal to increase global access, education & collaboration, we established virtual events, regional working groups, and special interest groups. In doing so, we educated hundreds of new people about what’s going on in our industry, established a more permanent exchange amongst organizations in the APAC region including a Japanese-speaking chapter, and created industry-specific working groups around verticals like Banking & Finance, IoT and Hospitality & Travel.

DIF as an organization has also evolved significantly. Working groups are largely empowered to operate independently. A technical steering committee (TSC) has been introduced to ensure strong communication & collaboration across these working groups. The overall strategic direction & leadership is provided by the Steering Committee, whose seats are now filled by members based on a yearly election process voted by all membership organizations, rather than based on financial contributions to DIF. DIF has introduced a free membership tier to increase inclusivity for members around the world, and has grown the supporting team from none to three members, whilst becoming a financially stable & sustainable organization.

As DIF continues to grow and the ecosystem matures, the need for a dedicated Executive Director to bring the organization to the next level has become clear. Over the last months of interviews, we found an excellent candidate for the role. Clare brings a lot of experience in leading organizations, a strong technical background as well as industry experience. I am excited to work with Clare as I continue in my role as a DIF steering committee member. Stay tuned for a welcome message from Clare in her own words.

To sum up: It has been an honor to serve as the ED of DIF. I am inspired by all we have achieved together, and the positive impact our community can have in the world. I look forward to working with Clare, and all of you, in realizing the very best of these possibilities.

Rouven Heck

Executive Director at DIF 2019-2023