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Meet Kelsey Finch, Policy Counsel at a DC think tank

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Kelsey Finch to discuss her career path and her work at the Future of Privacy Forum.  Kelsey serves as Policy Counsel for this DC think tank. I enjoyed learning about Kelsey’s groundbreaking research.

Could you provide a brief summary of your professional background?

I studied law at Yeshiva University (Cardozo) School of Law in New York City. I chose to attend Cardozo because of their intellectual property law program. While in law school, I ended up enrolling in privacy courses.  I also authored articles about the privacy field. After law school, I obtained a fellowship in its inaugural year at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) headquartered in New Hampshire.  I worked as a fellow for a year and then I transitioned to working as privacy counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum in DC where I am now.

How did you become involved in the privacy field?

Law school classes and the fellowship at the IAPP were integral in helping me broaden my knowledge and to understand how the privacy field functions.

Within the privacy field, what are the areas that you focus on?

I am privacy counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank based in DC.   My projects include the Internet of Things, wearables, and a de-identification project.

What skills are important to be successful in the privacy field?

A successful privacy professional is able to communicate effectively.  For example, a privacy professional might need to communicate with regulators or might need to obtain buy-in for the proposed privacy program at a corporation. Additionally, it is important for a successful privacy professional to either have a solid understanding of technology or to surround herself with individuals who understand technology.  Last, a successful privacy professional is also cognizant that the notion of privacy is extremely subjective.

What aspects of the privacy field do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy that the field of privacy is everywhere yet it is unknown.  I also enjoy that privacy is fast-moving and evolving quickly.

What aspects of the privacy field do you find most challenging?

It is challenging that there are generally no definitions in the privacy field.  Additionally, since there are no definitions, there is a lack of certainty and one can have the same debate about a certain aspect of privacy for years.

The privacy field is growing rapidly. How do you envision the privacy field evolving during the next few years?

The privacy field will grow bringing in a wide range of professionals from a variety of disciplines and will not simply encompass attorneys and technologists.  Professionals such as school administrators and human resources professionals will become more involved the privacy field going forward.  Also, the privacy field will be more diverse.  There will be more women involved in the privacy field in the coming years.

Do you have any suggestions that could help someone enter the privacy field?

I suggest joining organizations such as the International Association of Privacy Professionals, attending conferences and showing a general interest in the privacy field.  I also recommend reaching out to privacy professionals in the field.  Last, I recommend finding a niche within the field, anticipate a need and become an expert in that sub-field.

Is there anything that I did not mention that would be helpful for our readers to know about the privacy field?

I encourage everyone to learn about privacy.  It is a topic that will touch your life either personally or professionally at some time in the future.  The privacy community is a welcoming group.

Kelsey Finch is Policy Counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum. Her projects at FPF include consumer wellness and wearables, big data, de-identification standards and privacy by design. Before coming to FPF, Kelsey was an inaugural Westin Fellow at the IAPP, where she produced practical research on a range of privacy topics and edited the FTC Privacy Casebook. She is a graduate of Smith College and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, with a concentration in Intellectual Property & Information Law.

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