Cyber Institute Continues Steady Growth

With the addition of two experts in the fields of law and technology, Pitt’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security continues to make progress toward its institutional goals.

Beth A. Schwanke, an attorney with a background in legislative outreach and policy research, is the institute’s new executive director. Michael J. Madison, a professor of law, the John E. Murray Faculty Scholar and the faculty director of the Innovation Practice Institute — all within the University of Pittsburgh School of Law — has been named senior scholar and academic director. The two join Founding Director David J. Hickton and Resident Scholar Kiersten E. Todt atop Pitt Cyber’s management team. 

“I am happy to welcome Beth and Michael to our team,” said Hickton, a former United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, who has extensive experience prosecuting cyber criminals. “They both bring years of experiences in the law and technology fields, and their individual expertise will be vital to our mission to become a leading voice in the national discussion on how data and technology should best be secured.”

Schwanke leads planning and development of the institute’s events, initiatives and programming. She is currently overseeing the institute’s ongoing staffing efforts. She began her career at the University during the Institute’s recent Air Force Association CyberCamp.

Prior to coming to Pitt, Schwanke served in various roles within law firms and think tanks based in Washington, D.C. She served as senior policy counsel and director of policy outreach for the Center for Global Development. She also practiced within the firm DLA Piper and served as legislative counsel for the nonprofit organization Freedom Now. Schwanke has written and provided commentary for such notable news outlets as CNN, The New York Times and NPR.

“On any given day, I hear a million brilliant ideas in my conversations with colleagues. I’m tasked with taking those ideas and helping to make them into a reality that drives forward the international and national conversations about our digital world, while benefiting the University of Pittsburgh and our communities,” said Schwanke.

Madison will build Pitt Cyber’s research program by forging relationships with Pitt faculty and researchers as well as with external organizations that operate within the intersections of the law, public policy and technology fields. It is a role that his years of research and scholarship on knowledge commons — an interdisciplinary view of information, data and content that is collectively produced and governed by a community of users — has prepared him for. Madison is co-founder of the global research network The Workshop on Governing Knowledge Commons.

Within Pitt’s School of Law, Madison specializes in intellectual property law, knowledge and information institutions, commons, and innovation and creativity. As the faculty director of the Innovation Practice Institute, he connects Pitt Law students with entrepreneurs and innovators and prepares students for careers in those realms. Madison is the coauthor of "The Law of Intellectual Property."

Of his new appointment, Madison said, “Having been a Pitt faculty member for nearly 20 years, I have built bridges and formed relationships with a broad range of faculty researchers, other professionals and organizations that are important for the growth of Pitt’s Cyber Institute. I look forward to helping this unique organization prosper.” 

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