Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Paola Verhaert


Personal Description

Paola joined the Digital Inclusion & Citizen Engagement (DICE) unit in July 2022, where she researches policies and strategies to tackle digital inequalities. In addition to her role at imec-SMIT, Paola acts as a senior advisor on data responsibility and privacy for the International Privacy Coordination Office of Médecins Sans Frontières.

Prior to joining imec-SMIT, Paola conducted action-oriented research related to responsible data practices for civil society, digital rights and justice-centered approaches to the use of technology and data. While working at The Engine Room, she collaborated with organisations such as Oxfam GB, Open Tech Fund, Ford Foundation and Open Society Justice Initiative. Working with Médecins Sans Frontières, she led the development and implementation of policies and processes related to responsible records and data management in field projects.

Paola has an interdisciplinary background, and loves combining qualitative, quantitative, participatory and design research methods. She studied contemporary history and philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, specialising in international labour solidarity networks during the Cold War period. Additionally, she completed the advanced Msc in Digital Humanities at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. She graduated with a thesis investigating the design of data physicalisation tools for teaching critical data literacy.

In 2021, Paola was selected for The Coaching Fellowship, a leadership development program for high-potential women leaders in the social impact sector. In 2022, she received the Vocatio grant, under the patronage of the Bernheim Foundation.