Detailed Biography

(Please shorten as appropriate if used in speech introductions or conference programs. Or use my short biography.)

Steven Clift is an online strategist and public speaker focused on the use of the Internet in democracy, governance, and community. For the last two decades he has worked to fundamentally improve democracy and citizen participation through the use of the Internet.  He seeks to change the world one byte at a time.

One of world’s leading experts on e-democracy, he is actively networking people around the world determined to make a difference with this new media. A frequent media commentator, Steven Clift speaks publicly with meaning, energy and enthusiasm while providing accessible and useful information.  He has presented hundreds of times across over thirty countries.

Through Democracies Online, he shares knowledge and practical advice directly to thousands of subscribers on his DO-WIRE e-mail announcement list.  His web site contains dozens of original articles and presentations, including his E-Democracy E-Book.  Behind the scenes, he supports peer-to-peer online networks for parliamentary online leaders, civic online consultation facilitators and others.

In 2002, Steven received the Minneapolis Award. In 2001 and again in 2003, he was listed among “The 25 Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics” by Politics Online and in January, 2000 he was selected as one of Minnesota’s 100 rising stars of the decade by Minneapolis St. Paul magazine.

From 1998 through 2001 he advised the Markle Foundation’s Web White & Blue online election information partnership.  In 2000, Web White & Blue organized a major online presidential debate.  He provides advice to foundations, governments, civic groups and others on an ongoing basis.

He volunteers as Board Chair of Minnesota E-Democracy.  E-Democracy is a non-profit organization that hosts some of Internet’s most highly regarded citizen discussions on state and community affairs.  In 1994, E-Democracy created the world’s first election-oriented web site and online candidate debates.

For three years until September 1997, he coordinated the State of Minnesota’s government portal effort and served as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Government Information Access Council in 1997.  He served as Co-Editor for the G8 Democracy and Government Online Services Publication that was released January 1999.

After a session working in the Minnesota Legislature, he attended graduate school at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.  He worked for their Center for Democracy and Citizenship from 1991 to 1993 and built his online experience with the launch of the online Public Policy Network in 1993.  As a graduate intern in the U.S. House in 1993 he was among the first users of their e-mail gateway to the Internet.  He graduated from Winona State University, a state college in his hometown, with a B.A. in Political Science in 1990.

A fourth generation Minnesotan born in 1969, he was raised in the Twin Cities and the Mississippi River town of Winona, Minnesota.  When not speaking abroad, he works out of his home in Minneapolis.  Married to Laurel Clift (formerly Waldoch), a fellow E-Democracy volunteer, he has come to realize that his hopes and dreams related to the information age have wildly exceeded his expectations. Laurel and Steven have two young children.

Older Short Biography

Steven Clift is an online innovator focused on the use of the Internet in democracy, governance, and community. For almost two decades he has worked to fundamentally improve democracy, community building, and citizen participation through social media online. He is the founder and executive director of and serial social entrepreneur recognized as an Ashoka Fellow. created the world’s first election information website in 1994 in Minnesota. Today the effort he leads builds inclusive and effective online participation at the neighborhood level in three countries including the Knight Foundation-funded inclusive community engagement online project working in low income, high immigrant neighborhoods in St. Paul. He has spoken across 30 countries from Iceland and Libya to Mongolia and Kenya on government and citizen use of the Internet to improve democracy and build community. Steven Clift is married with two small children and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can follow Steven via and @democracy on Twitter.