2020 GÉANT Community Award – Multiple celebrations



Despite the cancellation of TNC20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GÉANT Community decided to go ahead with the celebrations for its prestigious award. On June 11, GÉANT hosted the 2020 Community Award in an online event open to its global community. 


Claudio Allocchio, Chair of the GÉANT Community Committee said: “At times like these it is even more significant to celebrate our unique community through the outstanding work carried out by some of its members.”


This year’s award panel selected three nominees, Ann Harding (SWITCH) and Leif Johansson (SUNET) in the category ‘impactful contributors to the GÉANT project or wider community activities over a sustained period of time’ and Niels van Dijk (SURF) in the category ‘outstanding contributions to the project or community which have immediately led to significant and recognisable new ideas, developments or improvements over the last 12 months’.


Ann Harding was honoured for her work in the Trust and Identity field specifically for overseeing the growth of two services that are synonymous with GÉANT: eduroam and eduGAIN. In particular, her professionalism, determination and engaging manner were unanimously recognised as key to the ongoing success of such services.



Ann commented: “I’m really completely overwhelmed to receive this award. My time spent organising, advocating and fighting for our shared work over the last decade and more has been a real highlight in my life. I am grateful to those of you I have worked with who let me help carry your dreams. Thinking big, being open to others and allowing them to be part of a shared ambition is a real asset of this community. I am privileged to have experienced moments of joy but also of shared frustration and sadness with you over the years. Strong community ties are forged in adversity as much as with shared successes and this is reflected in the solidarity we find in our current times.”


About Ann

Ann was a student of English and History whose e-mail didn’t work. Learning what was behind a broken email system was one of the steps on a journey that took her to study computers and to become Network Operations Manager at HEAnet. A change of country and NREN to SWITCH found her moving away from the packets and fibres into ten intense, amazing years of GÉANT Activity Leadership for Multi-domain Services and then Trust and Identity. She now leads the Infrastructure and Platform team at SWITCH and continues to believe in a moral imperative that NRENs must do good in what we do and how we do it.


Leif Johansson received the award for contributing with a considerable number of improvements in Trust and Identity and other technologies for the R&E networking community. In particular, the panel recognised Leif’s rare talent to understand a concept not only from a technical standpoint, but also to identify the legal and political aspects of its deployment along with its roll-out potential.


Leif said: “I am very proud and happy to have been selected for this award. Any success I might have is because I have the privilege to work with a team of exceptional people at SUNET and GÉANT. My deepest thanks to them and to all the GÉANT family.”


About Leif

Leif has a PhLic in Mathematics from Stockholm University and has been working for SUNET since 2008. His

focus has been digital and federated identity and he is part of the SUNET leadership team and currently heads the infrastructure services group.


Niels van Dijk was awarded for his innovative ideas that led to improved or new services for the GÉANT Community. It was recognised that Niels’ creativity has been instrumental in the initiation of a number of new activities in groups such as REFEDS and the GÉANT Project, as well as within SURF. His passion and knowledge are a great asset to the community.


Niels said: “It has been my great pleasure to work with all the people in the GÉANT community in the past years. GÉANT brings together amazing minds, highly skilled people and the opportunity to actually make their ideas reality, all in an open and collaborative community. This is a unique and wonderful capability which we should foster and support. By acting locally, but always with a global mindset, joint collaboration of the NREN community will deliver impact that reaches far beyond our national borders.”


About Niels

Niels is a Technical Product Manager in the Trust and Security department at SURF. In this role he is responsible for the development and innovation of SURF’s authentication and authorisation services. His focus is on enabling crossborder collaboration for research. He has been involved in many innovation

and service development projects, both nationally and internationally. Combining over ten years of expertise in AAI with business development and privacy & data protection skills, he is able to deliver

a holistic approach to the development of innovative services. When not at work, Niels enjoys the company of his wife and two boys, sings in a choir, and likes to tinker with all kinds of hardware.


More about the Community Award 

With the Community Award, GÉANT honours people who have contributed significant ideas, time and expertise to the development of the research and education networking community’s collaborative achievements. This year’s panel of judges comprised Christian Grimm, chair of the GÉANT Board, Claudio Allocchio, chair of the GÉANT Community Committee, Valter Nordh, member of the GÉANT Board, Sabine Jaume-Rajaonia chair of TNC20 Programme Committee and Erik Huizer, CEO of GÉANT.