Colin M. Maclay is the next Executive Director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab.
USC Annenberg / Brett Van Ort

Dean Ernest J. Wilson III on changes at the Annenberg Innovation Lab

I am delighted today to announce a wonderful new chapter in the life of the Annenberg Innovation Lab. For the last six years, Jon Taplin has worked tirelessly to create one of the preeminent “think and do” tanks, focused on the intersections of media, culture, and society. 

The Lab has been a rich source of ideas and research on the global transition from an information economy to an imagination economy, creating a vision for a new media and entertainment ecosystem and working with a wide range of strategic partners to accelerate its arrival. The evidence of this good work is the number and quality of those world-class partners.

As director, Jon supported such efforts as Henry Jenkins’ Project New Media Literacies, Erin Reilly’s Leveraging Fan Engagement Projects, Gabe Kahn’s Athena News Project, and François Bar and his team’s Twitter Analysis Projects.

In early 2015, Jon shared his plans with me for retirement, and we began a search for the next leader – someone who would be able to build upon the groundbreaking successes of the last six years. We conducted an extensive international search across multiple sectors to find the right person. And so it is with enormous pleasure that I announce the selection of Colin M. Maclay as the next Executive Director of the Lab. 

Colin brings tremendous breadth and depth, working at the intersections of the academy, nonprofits, government and the private sector.  Colin currently serves as the founding director of the Digital Initiative at the Harvard Business School, an innovative effort to understand and shape the digital transformation of business and society through a dynamic mix of collaborative research, teaching and engagement with the practice. He helped to build, scale and make sustainable Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, including its transition to a university-wide center, embrace of interdisciplinary methods and significantly expanded team and resources. 

Dr. Maclay’s dissertation explored global, multi-stakeholder partnerships among companies and nonprofits in the high-tech sector. He is a true internationalist, conducting research in the global entertainment industries in India and Africa, and informing technology policy in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He has taught courses on the intersection of technology and democracy, and he has developed a wide range of symposia, conferences and workshops at Harvard and around the world. Throughout, he has reveled in connecting diverse people and ideas to track and influence the interaction of technology and society.

Colin holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin (BA), Harvard (MPP) and Northeastern University (PhD). Besides his role as Executive Director of the lab, he will serve as a research faculty member at USC Annenberg.

We are confident Colin will bring creativity and a core focus on technology, strategy and society through his work with industry, while expanding the Lab’s engagement with civic and nonprofit communities.

Colin Maclay said, “I could not be more honored or excited to join the team at the Annenberg Innovation Lab and USC. The Lab has done groundbreaking work, developed vibrant relationships and established itself as a leading thinker and doer. Looking forward, I’m eager to engage the amazing faculty and students from Annenberg and across USC, and to foster new collaborations in Los Angeles and globally.  As all of us grapple with the endless implications of new technologies for media and communications, business and life, I’m committed to building the Lab’s tremendous capacity to apply rigorous scholarship to real-world issues in ways that help people, organizations and institutions to engage and improve the dynamic world that we all inhabit.”

Jon will remain on the board of the Lab as Director Emeritus.