- Center for the Digital Future - http://www.digitalcenter.org -

Senior Fellows

Senior Fellows are advisors to the Center — renowned experts on key trends in digital marketing, entertainment, business strategy, technology, and policy-making who keep the research staff and fellows abreast of emerging issues that industry and government leaders face in the digital realm. Senior Fellows also provide critical input on research initiatives, cultivate new corporate partnerships for the Center, and participate in the Center’s various conferences and events.

Frederick R. Berger

Fred Berger is a media historian, scholar, and nationally-recognized educator with research interests in film history, media effects, media ethics, and service learning.  Berger was the architect of the Digital Media and Journalism program at Saint Joseph’s College (Indiana), and is a frequent speaker on media convergence, screenwriting, and Hollywood history.

Berger was associated with The Media Workshops Foundation based at UCLA as a visiting faculty member and later as program director, where he oversaw the administration of workshops for high school and college students interested in careers in the media.  He is a member of the Broadcast Education Association and past member of the board of directors of the Indiana Broadcasters Association.  He has been a radio sportscaster of football, basketball and baseball for more than 30 years.

Phil Burgess

Phil Burgess serves as a consultant to Telstra Corporation and advisor to the CEO.  Burgess recently returned to The Annapolis Institute to resume research, writing, and speaking on issues related to technology and society. At the Center for the Digital Future, he addresses the impact of the Internet and advanced communications technologies on consumer behavior, business practices, and community development in the U.S. and around the globe.

Previously, Burgess was group managing director for public policy and communications at Telstra, where he was responsible for public policy, regulatory affairs, government relations, media relations, corporate communications, and the Telstra Foundation.

Burgess has written extensively on emerging patterns of work in the United States, coining the term “lone eagles” to describe the growing number of entrepreneurs and freelance professionals who can live and work anyplace, primarily because of advances in telecommunications technologies.

Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy

Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy served as Australian federal minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy from December 2007 to June 2013.  Conroy was deputy leader of the government in the senate, and was appointed minister assisting the prime minister for digital productivity in September 2010. In February 2013, he was elected leader of the government in the senate, a position he held until June 2013.

Senator Conroy held a broad range of responsibilities, including the National Broadband Network, the largest nation-building infrastructure project in Australian history, and the enabling foundation for Australia’s digital economy. Other responsibilities included Australia’s digital television switchover; Australia’s national broadcasters, the ABC and SBS; media policy; community broadcasting; e-security and cyber-safety; radio frequency spectrum; and the Australia Post.

Senator Conroy was appointed a founding commissioner of the International Telecommunications Union Broadband Commission.

J. Scott Dinsdale

J. Scott Dinsdale is managing director and Asia Pacific media practice lead of Accenture Australia.

Dinsdale has been a digital technology and media pioneer for over 25 years. An accomplished entrepreneur and musician, Dinsdale’s career includes executive leadership roles at Sony, Bertelsmann, the MPAA, and Merrill Lynch. Scott is a member of the faculty of The Australian Film, Television & Radio School (Sydney).

Michael Gilbert

A Senior Fellow since 2004, Michael Gilbert is involved in many of the Center’s activities. He participates in focus group discussions and in the design, review, and presentation of the Center’s research programs, with special emphasis on family and social issues.

Gilbert speaks regularly on gender and technology, and authored an award-winning book, The Disposable Male: Sex, Love and Money—Your World through Darwin’s Eyes [1], which explores the continuing relevance of deep-seated biological and evolutionary forces in today’s sophisticated digital domains. He has been widely featured on national media and op-ed pages, most recently Newsday and The Christian Science Monitor.

After completing his formal education with an MBA at Harvard, Gilbert combined university lecturing with a career in real estate, investment banking, and the entertainment industry before returning to academic roots and his current focus on the social implications of today’s revolutionary digital technologies. Over the years he has also participated in entertainment industry activities in conjunction with Fox, MGM/UA and Sony Pictures.

Gilbert has served as a director of several public companies and is currently on the advisory boards of the Foundation for Male Studies and c3VisionLab, the Global Arts and Media Node of The Millennium Project. He served on the adjunct faculty at Concordia University (in Montreal), and has guest-lectured at USC, the Anderson School at UCLA and the California State University system.

Robert Hess

Robert Hess is the founding principal of the Strategics Group, a Santa Monica, California management consulting firm specializing in organizational strategy execution and performance management.

Prior to founding The Strategics Group, his post-military business career included positions as vice president of business development in the Washington, DC office of Aerospatiale, Inc., and Director of Strategic Planning and Partner Relations at the Center for Digital Innovation at UCLA.

During his military career, Hess commanded ground and air units in the Republic of Vietnam and West Germany, served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as an exchange officer in the Department of State.  He has also served as an outside director of a privately held aviation services company.

Jane Kagon

Jane Kagon, J.D., is an international consultant and producer who has been a pioneer on globalization and digital technology issues in work that focuses on the nexus between entertainment and education.

Kagon brings her expertise to the non-profit world as executive director of RFK-LA (Legacy in Action), which honors the memory and social justice vision of Robert F. Kennedy by engaging young people in using digital media for social change.

Kagon previously held a position at UCLA as Director of UCLA Extension’s Department of Entertainment Studies and Performing Arts. In addition, Kagon co-created the Digital Hollywood University Project and designed the online Masters Degree in Media and Communications Psychology for Touro University, New York.

Kagon chaired the American Cinematheque’s Entertainment Industry Council and co-chaired the California State Bar’s Public Affairs Committee.

Harlan Lebo

Harlan Lebo is a non-fiction author, communications consultant, and writer on the sciences, humanities, social issues, and digital technology. In addition to a three-decade career in journalism and corporate communications, Lebo has worked with the Center for the Digital Future since its inception, advising the Center team on strategies for media, digital projects, and program priorities; and developing all of the Center’s publications.

Lebo has created communications programs, publications, and online material about discoveries and achievements in the sciences and the liberal arts.  As a non-fiction author, Lebo has written four books on the making of three America’s finest films: Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker’s Journey, which was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2016; and The Godfather Legacy (Simon & Schuster), Casablanca: Behind the Scenes (Simon & Schuster), and Citizen Kane: The 50th Anniversary Album (Doubleday).


Jonathan Perelman

Jonathan Perelman serves as Head of Digital Ventures at ICM Partners, where he leads the talent and literary agency in identifying new business opportunities and investment within technology and new media sectors.

Prior to ICM Partners, Perelman served as Vice President of Motion Pictures at BuzzFeed, where he led strategy, operations, business development, and partnership. He helped the company grow into one of the top video producers on the Internet, with 1.5 billion monthly views and releasing 75 original pieces a week.  Perelman created more than 20 syndication and content partnerships with leading global media companies.  He also served as the Vice President of Agency Strategy and Industry Development at BuzzFeed. Prior to that, Perelman spent six years at Google.

Perelman serves as a board member to a number of start-ups and is also on the Board of Directors of The American Advertising Federation (AAF). Perelman is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the future of media and entertainment, and several foreign policy think tanks.

Tom Plate

Tom Plate is an internationally-syndicated Asia columnist. He is the Distinguished Scholar of Asian and Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and the award-winning author of the bestselling “Giants of Asia” series. Plate is a board member of the Pacific Century Institute, the Princeton Club of New York, the Century Association of New York, and the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He is also currently a visiting professor at the United Arab Emirates University.

Plate has taught at Princeton, at UCLA’s Anderson School, the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, California Polytechnic State University at Pomona, The Getty Museum and Trust in Los Angeles, the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, the LKY School of Public Policy in Singapore, Kyoto University in Japan, and Melbourne University in Australia.

Plate is the author of six books and has been an editor or writer at Time, Newsday, New York Magazine, CBS and The Daily Mail of London.  From 1989-1995 he was editor of the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times.

Umberto Sulpasso

Umberto Sulpasso is a management advisor and author whose main interest is the digital economy.  Sulpasso’s book, Darwinomics, first presented the idea that knowledge is the chief engine of modern digital society, but the quantitative impact of knowledge on a nation’s wealth is not measured.  FICCI , the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, entrusted Sulpasso to head two teams, research and communication, that included top government members from the Ministry of Planning and Central Statistics, to apply his model to make India the first country to calculate its Gross Domestic Knowledge Product.

Sulpasso is also the co-author of Know Global: More Knowledge for All.  He founded the International Multimedia University, which produced more than 50 digital classes with UCLA.  He has taught at universities worldwide, and directed the editing team for a six-volume encyclopedia of management.

Mathew Tombers

Mathew Tombers is a media strategist, consultant, and business advisor who works at the crossroads of content, branding, advertising, technology, and facilitating across multiple platforms for Fortune 500 and start-up firms.

Tombers is a media trend forecaster and executive producer, with credits for more than 150 hours of television programming, including the Peabody Award-winning “Off to War.”  He is the founder and Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., a boutique media consulting company that specializes in digital and linear media engagements and offers business development expertise to emerging and established media firms.

In his work for client Odyssey Networks, Mat launched a mobile app, Call on Faith, which is currently the sixth most popular non-biblical spiritual app, as well as numerous websites and a Roku channel. For Discovery International, he assessed programming, advertising sales and marketing areas to provide comprehensive solutions to reverse the popular Animal Planet’s advertising sales underperformance.