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Global Game Jam names new executive director Maria Burns Ortiz

Nonprofit Global Game Jam (GGJ) announced Maria Burns Ortiz has been confirmed as the organization's new executive director, and director of partnerships Charly Harboard is leaving the group.

Danielle Riendeau, Editor-in-Chief

May 16, 2024

2 Min Read
Maria Burns Ortiz headshot
via Global Game Jam

Nonprofit Global Game Jam (GGJ) announced Maria Burns Ortiz has been confirmed as the organization's new executive director. Director of partnerships Charly Harboard is leaving the group, after serving as the interim leader since former executive director Tim Cullings stepped down in February.

Burns Ortiz comes to the group with plenty of accolades: she was a co-founder and CEO at 7 Generation Games, has extensive experience in the educational game space, and has taught at universities such as Tufts and Emerson College in Boston, and the Loft Literary Center.

“I deeply believe in the transformative power of video games and that game development should be accessible to anyone anywhere,” Burns Ortiz said. “It is an honor to lead Global Game Jam, an organization that embodies that mission. I look forward to working with our talented team and connecting with our committed network of volunteers to support our passionate community of Jammers around the world and take GGJ to the next level.”

Harboard is leaving after two years with GGJ.

"I was lucky enough to work for GGJ for almost two years," Harbord said. "In that time, I had the pleasure of having amazing people as colleagues and really feeling the sense of community that GGJ stands for. I’ve been humbled by how many amazing successful people in the industry made their very first game in GGJ. It truly is the starting ground and any investment in GGJ is an investment in the future of gaming."

Global Game Jam's history and direction

Global Gam Jam has been around since 2008, with the first GGJ event in winter of 2009. It's since grown into a sizable nonprofit organization that hosts the Global Game Jam itself, which this past year boasted nearly 35,000 jammers represented across 102 countries (and the first jam site in Antartica).

It also hosts the youth-oriented GGJ Next, and the organization partners with and hosts smaller jams throughout the year to "help promote cultural connection and the exploration of game education."

About the Author(s)

Danielle Riendeau

Editor-in-Chief, GameDeveloper.com

Danielle is the editor-in-chief of Game Developer, with previous editorial posts at Fanbyte, VICE, and Polygon. She’s also a lecturer in game design at the Berklee College of Music, and a hobbyist game developer in her spare time.

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