Karen M. Sandler is an attorney and the executive director of Software Freedom Conservancy, a 501c3 nonprofit organization focused on ethical technology. As a patient deeply concerned with the technology in her own body, Karen is known as a cyborg lawyer for her advocacy for free software as a life-or-death issue, particularly in relation to the software on medical devices. She co-organizes Outreachy, the award-winning outreach program for people who face under-representation, systemic bias, or discrimination in tech. She is an adjunct Lecturer-In-Law of Columbia Law School and a visiting scholar at University of California Santa Cruz. Prior to joining Software Freedom Conservancy, Karen was the executive director of the GNOME Foundation. Before that, she was the general counsel of the Software Freedom Law Center. She began her career as a lawyer at Clifford Chance and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Karen received her law degree from Columbia Law School where she was a James Kent Scholar and co-founder of the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review. She also holds a bachelor of science in engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Sandler has won awards for her work on behalf of software freedom, including the O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2011. She received an honorary doctorate from KU Leuven in 2023.


Karen Sandler