Staff / Board / Advisors

Seasteading Institute team

Our mission is to further the long term-growth of the seasteading movement. Our current focus is to enable the first seasteads by researching critical engineering, legal and business challenges, increasing public awareness, and building a core seasteading community.

The Seasteading Institute was founded in 2008 by activist, software engineer and political economic theorist Patri Friedman, grandson of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, and technology entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Peter Thiel.

Staff

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Randolph Hencken

Executive Director

Randy earned his MA in communication and his BS in business administration from San Diego State University. From 2008 to 2011, he was the Director of Communication and Marketing for the non-profit research organization MAPS, which conducts clinical research investigating combinations of psychotherapy and novel drugs to treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and death anxiety. From 2006 to 2008, while writing a quantitative thesis, he taught communication courses to undergraduates at SDSU. Prior to returning to university, from 2001 to 2004, he was the program director at the Ibogaine Association, an alternative drug-treatment center in Mexico. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an international organization advocating for drug policy reforms based on science and compassion. Randy is thrilled to be a part of the seasteading movement and to focus his activism toward creating innovative political systems, governments, and societies.

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Joe Quirk

Communications Director, Author, Seavangelist

Joe Quirk is a science writer, novelist, and memoir ghostwriter, with a national bestseller in each category. He co-authored a book with Patri Friedman, Why Seastead? How Floating Nations Will Liberate Humanity, which will be published by Simon and Schuster in 2016. He has consulted for Pixar, who volunteered to illustrate his presentation for college students. As a storyteller, Joe is excited to show readers why solutions to global problems are coming not from arguments, but experiments, and how joining the seasteading community is their opportunity to discover those solutions. May the best ideas win.

Board of Trustees

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Patri Friedman

Chairman of the Board

Patri received a BS in math from Harvey Mudd College, an MS in computer science from Stanford University, and an MBA from Cardean University. While in school he experimented with technology startups, ran a small consulting business, and co-founded two intentional communities. In 2004 he joined Google to work as a software engineer. In 2008 he left Google and founded The Seasteading Institute with seed funding from PayPal founder Peter Thiel. Patri is on the board of Humanity+ and co-created Breakthrough Philanthropy. He is also a prolific writer on political theory and philosophy. Patri comes from a line of great revolutionary thinkers, his grandfather Milton Friedman was the 1976 Nobel Laureate in economics, and his father David Friedman is a well-known political theorist and festival founder. Patri lives with his partner Brit and his two children Iselle and Tovar in Berkeley, California.

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Susanna Dokupil

Susanna Dokupil is the Vice Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party and the founder of Documenting the American Dream, a video project that teaches core values by telling inspirational stories. She previously served as Special Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, as an Assistant Solicitor General in the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, as well as two years in private practice.

Ms. Dokupil frequently comments on public policy, often on issues related to religious liberty and judicial nominations. She has authored over 75 articles and op-eds for such publications as National Review Online, The Washington Times, The Houston Chronicle, The American Enterprise, Above the Law, The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, The Texas Review of Law & Politics, The Cato Supreme Court Review, The Journal of Church & State, and The Encyclopedia of Religious Freedom.

She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Jerry E. Smith, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Prior to law school, Ms. Dokupil received her B.A., magna cum laude, in the University Scholars program and her M.A. in Church-State Studies from Baylor University.

Ms. Dokupil currently serves as a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Tenth Amendment Action, a member of the board of advisers of The Texas Review of Law & Politics, and on the governing board of the Houston Symphony. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations at George Washington University. Ms. Dokupil resides in Houston, Texas with her twin boys, David and Benjamin, her daughter Annabelle, and her son Jonathan.

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James R. Von Ehr II

Founder and Chairman of Zyvex Technologies, Zyvex Labs, and Zycraft

Recognized as a leader within the nanotechnology industry, he founded the Texas Nanotechnology Initiative and the Feynman Grand Prize in Nanotechnology. His significant gifts established the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) NanoTech Institute, the James Von Ehr Distinguished Chair of Science and Technology at UTD, held by the late Nobel Laureate Alan MacDiarmid, and the James Von Ehr Scholars program at Michigan State University (MSU).

Von Ehr was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in June 2003. He has also been named Distinguished Alumni of MSU and UTD, and received MSU’s Claud Erickson Award, their highest engineering honor. In 2004 he received the Richardson Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Leadership Award, and in 2008, was named Richardson’s Citizen of the Year. A more detailed bio can be found here.

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Jonathan Cain

President of the Thiel Foundation

Jonathan is co-founder of the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, which identifies and supports the tech visionaries of tomorrow. He also serves as a principal at Clarium and sits on the boards of the SENS Foundation, a nonprofit that works to develop, promote, and ensure widespread access to regenerative medicine solutions to the disabilities and diseases of aging, as well as The Seasteading Institute. Before joining the Thiel Foundation and Clarium, Jonathan served as speechwriter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He lives with his wife, Robyn, in San Francisco.

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James O’Neill

Partner, Mithril Capital Management

Jim is a partner at Mithril Capital Management.  He serves on the boards of the SENS Foundation, The Seasteading Institute, and the Thiel Foundation, which promotes science and liberty across the globe and opposes violence in all its forms. He co-founded the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, which identifies and supports the tech visionaries oftomorrow in fields as diverse as robotics, biotech, space, communications, energy, and transportation. Before joining Mithril, he ran the Thiel Foundation and was a managing director of Clarium.  Previously, he was the principal associate deputy secretary of health and human services. He lives in Mill Valley with his wife, Lien, and their three children.

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Michael Gibson

VP Grants, Thiel Foundation

Michael Gibson is vice president for grants at the Thiel Foundation and a principal at Thiel Capital. For nearly five years working for Peter Thiel, he has contributed research to Peter’s global macro hedge fund, helped raise hundreds of millions in capital for a venture capital vehicle, assisted in teaching a course at Stanford Law School on sovereignty and technological change, and helped run the Thiel Fellowship. Before his academic apostasy, he was working towards a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Oxford. He has written on innovation and technology for MIT’s Technology Review, the Atlantic, and Forbes.

Board of Advisors

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Cal Abel

Nuclear Engineer

Cal Abel is a Nuclear and Radiological Engineering PhD candidate at Georgia Institute of Technology. Cal has a Masters and Bachelors of science degree in nuclear engineering and a Bachelor of Naval Science from the University of Wisconsin Madison. He served 10-years in the navy working on submarines with responsibilities ranging from directing the quality assurance program to being the chief engineer. As the engineer officer, he was responsible for the operation and maintenance of all engineering support systems, including habitability, atmosphere control, the propulsion plant, all electrical and hydraulic systems, and the reactor plant. He was also the ship’s maintenance officer responsible for ensuring that all preventive and corrective maintenance onboard the ship was properly executed.

“I am very excited to bring my experience to The Seasteading Institute. Not only does seasteading give us an opportunity to experiment with governance, it provides us a platform to develop new technologies to better serve and advance humanity. These aspects along with the technical challenges of long-term at sea operations are why I’m involved.”

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John Guido

Business Engineer

John has spent the last 20 years in the development and application of emerging technologies in the food manufacturing and production agriculture arenas, with practical experience in industrial-scale raw product acquisition, processing, packaging and distribution. Working with some of the largest food and agricultural companies in the world, he brings a wealth of knowledge and relationships with the mission of helping build a globally integrated, economically viable and environmentally restorative aquaculture based food production system.

In discovering the Seasteading community, John found the perfect venue to couple his love affair with the ocean with his passion for entrepreneurship. The big “ahha” moment happened during the summer of 2014 while listening to a presentation by Joe Quirk sharing The Eight Great Moral Imperatives. Waking up to the realism of seasteading and aquaculture being able to help solve some of the world’s toughest problems, while increasing harmony and prosperity, he quickly became an evangelist for restorative blue green living.

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Guillaume Ardoise

Offshore Engineer

Guillaume has over 10 years of international experience with research, technology and business development in the offshore industry. He has most recently played a central role in the development of the marine renewables activities for SBM Offshore, a leader in the design, supply, and offshore installation of systems for the exploration, installation, production, storage, and export of oil and gas. Based in France, Guillaume specializes in wave, tidal and ocean thermal energy conversion, he holds a Masters in Engineering from U.C. Berkeley in Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering. Guillaume has joined the board of Engineering to fulfill one of his goals: Contribute to the emergence of global sustainability through the development and the integration of offshore solutions in world class projects.

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Doug Bandow

Legal Scholar

Doug is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. He is a former associate at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Institute for Policy Innovation, and Heritage Foundation, and served as a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

He writes a weekly column for Forbes online. Previously a columnist for antiwar.com, a nationally syndicated columnist with Copley News Service, and editor of the monthly political magazine Inquiry, he has been widely published in such periodicals as TimeNewsweek, and Fortune, as well as leading newspapers including the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and Washington Post. He also contributes widely on the web, writing regularly for National Interest online, the Huffington Post, the American Spectator online, the Daily Caller, and other online publications. He has written several books, including Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire (Xulon Press), The Politics of Plunder: Misgovernment in Washington (Transaction), and Beyond Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics (Crossway).

He received his B.S. in Economics from Florida State University in 1976 and his J.D. from Stanford University in 1979. He is a member of the California and Washington, D.C. bars.

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Jorge Schmidt

Lawyer

Most of Jorge’s work is in complex civil litigation. He has represented clients in a wide range of matters, including securities class actions, antitrust, and intellectual property claims before the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Tenth and Eleventh Circuits, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, in federal and state trial courts across the country, and in arbitral tribunals.

These representations include the prosecution and defense of direct and indirect purchaser class actions, of complex multiparty class action and opt-out litigation under state and federal securities laws, and the prosecution of actions for breach of contract, business torts, and trade secret violations.

Representative cases include In re Qwest; Genesco v. The Finish Line; Federated Department Stores v. Federated Department Stores Insurance; In re Fresh Del Monte Pineapples Antitrust Litigation; and In re Marine Hose Antitrust Litigation.

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O.Shane Balloun

Lawyer

O.Shane Balloun is a lawyer in Western Washington, practicing at his firm, Balloun Law Professional Corporation. His areas of practice include admiralty and maritime law, high-tech business law, property law, litigation, and other civil matters.

O.Shane attended Cornell University as Dean’s Scholar and graduated with an A.B. in Mathematics. After college, he worked in high tech in Silicon Valley, enjoying a stint in the hard disk drive industry before beginning work at Google. After Google, O.Shane earned his J.D. with honor from the University of Wyoming, graduating in the top 3% of his class. He also holds an LL.M. (Master of Laws) in Admiralty from Tulane University Law School, where he graduated with distinction.

He has published legal articles concerning the intersection of seasteading and American criminal law enforcement in admiralty as well as how the Tenth Amendment supports various states’ firearms freedom acts. He is licensed to practice in California and Washington; further, he is admitted to practice in all federal courts in California, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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Mort Taylor

Lawyer

Mort Taylor is a partner in the law firm of Leitman, Siegal, Payne & Campbell, P.C., located in Birmingham, Alabama, where he has practiced law for over 14 years. His personal background includes extensive experience in the energy business, as his family has been involved in the coal and natural gas industries for over 80 years. Following college, Mort earned his law degree, but has continued to remain actively involved in the energy business, while also practicing law. In his legal profession, Mort represents plaintiffs and defendants in commercial and business disputes of every nature. His practice includes mineral rights disputes, regulatory and legal procedures for the extraction of coal, oil and natural gas, construction litigation, business torts, contract disputes, real estate disputes and shareholders’ rights. Mort has extensive experience as a courtroom advocate and litigator having tried numerous cases in both federal and state courts and before all the major arbitration panels.

Honorary Mentions

Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale

Board of Trustees (2008-2011)

Joe Lonsdale is Founder and Managing Partner at Formation 8. He currently serves on the boards of Addepar (Chairman), OpenGov (Chairman), Oscar, Radius and Wish. Prior to Formation 8, Joe founded Addepar, a leading wealth management technology platform. Prior to Addepar, Joe founded Palantir Technologies, a multi-billion dollar software company which develops information systems used by government and financial organizations around the world. Previously, Joe joined Clarium Capital as an early executive, and was a key player in growing Clarium into a $5-billion AUM global macro hedge fund. Prior to Clarium Capital, Joe worked with the financial arm of PayPal while he was still a student at Stanford. Joe received a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University. He often lectures and writes on entrepreneurship and technology.

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John Chisholm

Board of Trustees (2009-2014)

In 1992, Mr. Chisholm founded and served as CEO & Chairman of Decisive Technology, publisher of the first desktop and client-server software for conducting surveys through email and the web. Decisive Technology became the leading desktop application for online surveys and is now a part of Google. In 1997, he founded CustomerSat, where he served as CEO & Chairman for a decade until its acquisition by MarketTools in early 2008. He also chairs the MIT Club of Northern California (a non-profit organization serving over 10,000 alumni), is a trustee of the Santa Fe Institute, is a member of the MIT Corporation Development Committee, and volunteers with MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service to help young entrepreneurs start their own businesses. Mr. Chisholm received degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Brad Taylor
Brad Taylor

Research Associate (2008-2011)

Brad was a research associate at The Seasteading Institute. He has an MA in political science and is currently working on an economics PhD focused on competitive government and institutional evolution.

Charlie Deist
Charlie Deist

Staff Writer (2012-2014); Ambassador (current)

Charlie received his bachelor’s degree in economics from UC Berkeley in 2011, and worked for The Seasteading Institute from 2011 to 2014. He discovered seasteading while facilitating a seminar on Milton Friedman through the DeCal program (Democratic Education at Cal), and quickly began to see government as an industry sorely lacking competition, imagination, and experimentation. This perspective allowed Charlie to put aside his disagreements with peers on controversial political issues, and work toward solutions that everybody wants but nobody gets — prioritizing seasteading technology as the lever for this change.

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Baoguang Zhai

Research Associate (2012), Ambassador (current)

Baoguang Zhai is a sophomore at Tufts University. He is originally from Beijing, China. In high school, he was a short film producer, a soccer player and coach, and an environmental engineer. He also co-founded Co-ng.com, a niche-focused social network for Chinese students abroad and the most well-known platform for organizations and internship providers. He learned about seasteading in the summer of 2011, and has since then created a development plan for the ocean industry and designed an ocean-based algae energy cultivation system. He is currently involved in Project OASIS, an initiative from The Seasteading Institute to investigate ocean algae for seastead integrated solutions and stimulate future ocean algae ventures. He is convinced that seasteading has the potential to explore the ocean, generate new civilizations, and disrupt international politics, and will work on it until the vision is realized.

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Ricardo Radulovich

Senior Aquaculture Specialist

Originally an agricultural water scientist (Ph.D. University of California, Davis), 12 years ago Ricardo turned marine farmer convinced that the sea holds the solution to increasing food and water problems. He is also a professor of water science at the College of Engineering, University of Costa Rica and has held several other appointments, including Visiting Professor at Cornell University, Regional Coordinator for a U.N. project in 8 countries and Dean at the Panamerican Agricultural College in Honduras. Author of over 70 publications, he has received funding from USAID, The World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his work. He is currently emphasizing cultivation of seaweeds and their use mainly as human food, adding other sea farming elements for an integrated sustainable approach to colonizing the oceans.