Our Team

About Us

Introducing a new model for journalism is an ambitious problem to try to solve — and also an incredibly important one. To help realize our vision, we've built a global team of top engineering and design talent, along with former journalists and marketers, and always maintain a “journalism first” approach to our methodology.

CEO; Co-founder

Matthew Iles

Matthew studied journalism at Duke University before embarking on an entrepreneurial career in digital marketing and innovative business modeling. He long imagined it possible to harness both the wildly explosive power of an open discourse platform along with the financial and behavioral incentives of a global cooperative, and first wrote about the concept behind Civil in November 2016.

Beyond advocating for sustainable journalism, Matthew also believes deeply in evolutionary organizational methods over traditional command-and-control hierarchies. At Civil, Matthew and the team practice what he originally coined Synchronicity — a cascading, distributed leadership model predicated on vast common knowledge, continuous realignment and a deep appreciation for everyone's personal self-identity. He owes much of his career success to his wife and prior entrepreneurial partner Katie Iles. They live in Brooklyn with their dog Emma.

When not working on Civil, Matthew enjoys reading science fiction, cooking and playing board games with Katie, and exploring New York City's and the Hudson Valley's best restaurants and bars.

COO; Co-founder

Lillian Ruiz

Lillian has nine years experience in digital marketing, audience development and brand and business strategy. At Civil, Lillian works on the Alignment and Operations team developing strategy and tactics for large-scale project execution and resource management.

Prior to Civil, Lillian was senior director of growth and product optimization at InsideHook. There, she developed and implemented strategy to convert the email business into a full-suite digital publisher. Prior to InsideHook, Lillian launched the Girl Scouts of the USA's first social media marketing strategy, winning the company's first Overall Grand Champion and Category Champion in the Large Business division of the Social Media Leadership Awards. She also helped re-brand New York cult favorite brands Flavorwire and Flavorpill.

Lillian holds a B.A. in History from Wesleyan University. Outside of the office she is the lead singer and co-manager of probably the sickest cover band in New York City. Don't invite her to your karaoke parties.

Marketing Lead; Co-founder

Matt Coolidge

With more than a decade of experience spanning both the tech and federal sectors, Matt drives brand strategy across Civil's ecosystem, including communications and content.

Prior to Civil, Matt was a vice president at Bateman Group, an award-winning public relations firm, where he helped lead the agency's financial and developer tech practices out of its New York office. Previously, he was a marketing and communications consultant based in San Francisco, working primarily with early stage technology startups. He began his career at a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm working with non-profit science and technology organizations. He holds a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University.

In his spare time, Matt loves to ski, hike, write and travel; he once spent six months doing all four across Southeast Asia and the Middle East, which he covered on his (poorly maintained) blog.

Product Design Lead; Co-founder

Nguyet Vuong

Nguyet leads product design at Civil, including user research, interface design and product strategy. Nguyet has more than a decade of experience working as a designer and creative director across industries such as publishing, hospitality, nonprofit, and media.

Prior to Civil, Nguyet was Creative Director of Product at Atlantic 57, The Atlantic's creative agency/consultancy based out of Washington, D.C. There, she led the design and launch of digital products for the agency's mission-driven clients. Her work on The Cancer Atlas, The Cancer Society's interactive data visualization website, was nominated as a finalist of The Webby Awards, People's Choice Webby Award, and The Digiday Awards for “Best Use of Multimedia for Storytelling” in 2015. Previously, Nguyet led user experience design at Sabre Hospitality Solutions, where she was part of a team that designed the first web-based booking engine for luxury hotels and resorts, as well as other award-winning websites. Nguyet holds a B.A. from University of Maryland, College Park.

When she's not obsessing over understanding user needs, Nguyet enjoys painting watercolor portraits, training to run races, and having travel adventures like cage diving with sharks in South Africa or hiking in Peru.

Newsroom Strategy and Sustainability Lead; Co-founder

Nicole Bode

Nicole is responsible for recruiting and supporting first fleet newsrooms on the Civil platform, including helping them thrive and overcome challenges.

Nicole has spent the past 17 years as a reporter and editor in New York City, including as a founding member and Managing Editor of DNAinfo, an award-winning news site that served readers in New York and Chicago before its closure in 2017. During her tenure, the site earned awards from the Deadline Club, New York Press Club and Newswomen's Club of New York, among others. She also served as DNAinfo's first Data Visualizations Editor, and oversaw breaking news as well as day-to-day newsroom operations.

Previously, Nicole spent eight years as a reporter at the New York Daily News, where she covered criminal justice, education and local, national and international breaking news. She holds a B.A. from Columbia University and is currently an adjunct journalism professor at the New School's News and Narrative Design program.

Nicole loves drawing, comic books and illustration, as well as laughing at Peppa Pig with her husband and young son.

Engineering Lead; Co-founder

Dan Kinsley

Dan leads the Engineering team at Civil. He brings over a decade of experience growing early stage companies and building highly scalable systems.

Before Civil, Dan was building an e-commerce business accelerator at Launch and helped bring the luxury shoe brand M.Gemi to market. Prior to that he founded Surf, a streaming media aggregation company. He cut his teeth at Thinking Phone Networks (now Fuze), where he helped grow the business from 15 to more than 200 employees.

When Dan isn’t writing code, he can be found cycling, cooking or playing guitar (poorly). As a new father, he is honing his diaper changing skills and perfecting his dad Jokes.

Product Designer; Co-founder

Julia Himmel

Julia is a product designer at Civil. She brings five years of experience designing and developing for the web.

Prior to Civil, Julia worked at Berlin ed-tech startup CareerFoundry, where she took core features from research through prototyping and user testing, then built them with a small team of developers. Before that, she honed her design skills working on print projects for both new startups and companies such as Time Warner. She holds a BA from Columbia University.

A former wine professional, Julia still enjoys food and wine when she's not designing experiences for journalists and readers. She also spends her free time volunteering in local politics, reading sci-fi novels and seeing art.

Regional Lead, Latin America and Europe

Ursula O’Kuinghttons

Ursula has worked in the media industry for more than 17 years. She began her career as a journalist at the Reuters news agency, the El País newspaper and Localia TV channel in Spain, and until recently did media outreach for El País . Currently Ursula is the Regional Lead for Latin America and Europe, building news partnerships and expanding Civil's community of journalists.

Previously Ursula served as director of communications of Casa Sefarad, a cultural institution tied to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While there, she organized journalist encounters and co-produced a documentary with Sony Music Spain about Israeli and Palestinian youth in Israel. Ursula also co-directed TV programs for syndication under the aegis of Prisa Communication Group.

For the past five years Ursula has been immersed in the blockchain industry; she launched the first ‘Blockchain and journalism’ event in Madrid with the support of Hyperledger, BBVA bank and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom. Ursula discovered blockchain when she attended a meetup in Phoenix five years ago while pregnant with her son. She’s based in Madrid, Spain.


Walker Flynn

Walker is a front-end engineer at Civil. He has five years of experience working on various parts of the web development stack and two years as a product designer.

Before Civil, he was a senior front-end developer on the frameworks and infrastructure team at 1stdibs. Before that, he worked for XO Group and Evisors as a software engineer and Inch inc. as a product designer. He studied furniture design at RISD.

Outside of Civil, Walker enjoys walking. It's what he was born to do. Beyond eponymic activity, he likes drawing, climbing, and building things in his studio.

Ethereum Engineer

Nick Reynolds

Nick is an engineer at Civil focused on writing smart contracts and the tools to interact with them. Prior to Civil, Nick was a full-stack engineer at Zynga working on massively multiplayer online games. Nick was responsible for implementing server-side logic and validation as well as client side views and inputs for numerous gameplay features, as well as designing several social features. Nick has a BSE in Digital Media Design from The University of Pennsylvania.

In his free time, Nick enjoys playing games (both board and video) and traveling. He has trekked through the world’s largest cave.


Jorge Lopez

Jorge is an engineer at Civil. Before joining Civil, Jorge worked at a multitude of startups such as Bark, Refinery29, and Etsy. He was the first engineer at Refinery29 and built their first content management system. He also played an instrumental role in relaunching The New Republic under Chris Hughes.

When not pressing buttons on a keyboard, Jorge enjoys spending time at his home in Bushwick with his wife, two dogs and two cats.


Peter Ng

Peter is a Technologist-in-Residence at Civil. He has more than 15 years of experience working on a multitude of tech stacks and platforms.

Previously, Peter was working at Digg where he the led backend, data, and API engineering. Prior to Digg, he was at the New York Times for many years in where he held several roles including leading the engineering team behind the iOS app and exploring the future of media and commercializing ideas out of the NYT R&D Lab. He has also held engineering roles at Kargo and DoubleClick.

Peter holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University. Outside of the office, he enjoys guitar, karaoke, travel and time well spent with his wife and dog.


Inna Shteinbuk

Inna is a technologist-in-residence working on data science and machine learning initiatives at Civil. Prior to Civil, Inna was at Digg as a Data Scientist, where she implemented and put their first machine learning models into production. She holds an M.S. from both Cornell University and The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in Physics from CUNY.

In her free time, Inna enjoys climbing, yoga, making kimchi and kombucha, and planning for her next outdoor trip.


Jon Ferrer

Jon brings nearly 15 years of experience building products for the web to his role as a technologist-in-residence at Civil.

Before joining Civil, Jon spent 6 years working on Digg with a focus on architecting and developing intuitive, performant user interfaces. Prior to Digg, he spent six years at Major League Baseball Advanced Media, where he directed a team of UI developers in addition to individually contributing to various products and features, ranging from multimedia, live stat-tracking, and partner projects. He holds a B.S. in Management Science and Information Systems from Penn State University.

Away from his computer, Jon enjoys thinking about what he's going to cook and/or eat next — which is most likely ramen or pizza — and playing guitar way too loudly.


Sarah Ruddy

Sarah is a technologist-in-residence at Civil focusing on Front-end Engineering. She has over 10 years of experience developing for news and media organizations.

Before Civil, Sarah worked at Digg where she developed user interfaces focused on user retention. Prior to Digg she spent 5 years working at New York Magazine where she worked on various projects from strategizing and developing components for their custom CMS to helping lead the award winning data visualization and interactive team. She holds a B.S. in Digital Media from Drexel University.

In her spare time Sarah likes kickboxing. listening to way too many podcasts, and biking and eating her way around the world.


Toby Fox

Toby has been building stuff on computers for 15 years and building stuff on the internet for 8, and now builds stuff on top of a blockchain as a technologist-in-residence at Civil.

Before that, Toby spent 4 years at Digg working on social, publishing, syndication, monetization, and internet plumbing projects. He also co-created intelligent note-taking tool Headsoak, builds web apps and art projects with small freelance team Genius Toast, and worked on hardware, firmware, and software as co-founder of medical device company Avantari. Toby has an M.S. in Computer Science from Oxford University and a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College.

In reality the Toby you might meet is a high-functioning clone placed in NYC, while the original lives out of a small backpack on top of a mountain telemark skiing, self-experimenting, meditating, and coding procedurally generated interactive fiction.


Robert Okrzesik

Robert is a creative-in-residence at Civil. He brings over 10 years of knowledge creating meaningful experiences across various contexts of product design, editorial/interactive pieces, and visual systems.

Previously, Robert was leading design and setting creative direction at Digg. Prior to Digg, he was a Product Designer at Microsoft under the GroupMe team working on their mobile efforts, and at Google Creative Lab contributing to various product and marketing initiatives. He also worked at various companies such as Dow Jones and Tank Design. He holds a B.F.A. from The College of New Jersey.

Robert enjoys spending his free time tinkering on cars and bikes — essentially anything with wheels — and eating sandwiches.

Brand Marketer

Megan Libby

Megan Libby is responsible for Civil's brand marketing, events and communications. Before joining Civil, Megan was running marketing and community strategy at an EdTech blockchain startup while simultaneously completing an M.S. in Mass Communication at Boston University. She also holds a B.A. in Global Economics from UC Santa Cruz.

In her free time, Megan enjoys yoga, backcountry backpacking, backcountry cooking, travel, and running long distances.

Product Lead

Naima Jinnah

With nearly a decade of experience across technology, policy, legal and business operations, Naima has deep experience organizing and building teams in startup environments.

Previously, Naima was the COO and product lead at Digg.com (http://digg.com/) where she led product initiatives focused on revenue and editorial growth, as well as R&D and enterprise initiatives focused on automated content curation utilizing ML and NLP. She has also worked with voter education NGOs, which reinforced the existence of information blockers as a result of stale political incumbencies and social media echo-chambers. Naima holds a B.S. in Legal Studies with minors in Economics, Humanities, and Paralegal Studies from Nova Southeastern University in South Florida.

The unCivil Naima – who also periodically frets about the current state of media – enjoys stalking Street Easy listings, producing theater pieces, and doodling on all the things (especially white sneakers).


Michael Young

Michael is a technologist-in-residence at Civil and will be leading Civil Labs. He has over 20 years of experience in building products and technology for media companies.

Before joining Civil, Michael was the CTO of Digg.com, helping to lead a rebuild of the social news service. Prior to that, he was the lead Creative Technologist at The New York Times R&D Lab. At the NYT R&D lab, Michael led a group charged with prototyping new ways of consuming media across mobile, web, tv and other connected devices (cars, etc). During his time there, he authored two books, won the Yahoo! BBC London Hack Day, received a patent for "Method and System for Providing Preference Based Content to a Location Aware Mobile Device" and was awarded a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism.

Michael has a B.S. in Computer Science and Math from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. Outside of the office, he can be found hanging out with his family in Brooklyn, teaching (he is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism), cooking and drinking too much coffee.