Blogging for America

2011 CfA Fellowship Finalists

We’re pleased to announce our 2011 Code for America Fellowship Finalists. Out of a pool of over 360, these candidates stood out as the most capable, dedicated, and passionate — which wasn’t easy to do. We were so impressed by their qualifications that we wanted to show them off :) . See for yourself below.

(Note: Some of the applicants preferred not to be listed publicly for various reasons, and we respected their request, so the list below is not a complete list)

Throughout this month, we will be gathering additional information on the Finalists, ranging from LinkedIn profiles to video interviews and case problem responses, and we will use this information to take on the even more challenging task of selecting the fellows. We will be announcing the 2011 Fellows mid-October.

2011 Code for America Fellowship Finalists

Aaron Ogle
By day, Aaron is a mild-mannered software developer for Azavea in Philadelphia where he builds location-based web applications of social value for local governments, non-profits, and universities. By night, he dons a cape and fights for urban sustainability by hacking away at, a sophisticated webapp to map walkability. Regardless of costume, Aaron especially enjoys JavaScript development, GIS, and interesting ways of combining the two. Besides being a tech geek, Aaron enjoys running with Back on My Feet, reading a good book, backpacking hither and yon, a great cup of coffee, and the company of dear friends and family.

Anna Bloom
Anna Bloom wants to join Code for America to continue making creative use of technology to empower citizens and keep the public better informed. After graduating from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2010, Anna worked for YouTube to launch an innovative news project documenting the Bay Area with user-generated video. Prior to that, she regularly contributed to The New York Times Bay Area Blog and co-founded a hyper-local news site for Oakland in 2008. Anna’s career began when she left Chicago for Park City, Utah, to work as an editor for a newspaper to support her skiing habit.

Aynne Valencia
Aynne is a Design Leader who crafts the vision for next-gen products and services. Her work centers on social, devices, experiences and space mediated with computer-related devices. She possesses a unique blend of product and web design, conceptual art and advertising experience. She has designed for experimental interfaces, touch-screen, and mobile channels. She is active in the design community, teaches and presents on topics related to design. She is particularly interested in sensor-based ubiquitous and pervasive computing. Aynne is an artist, writes short horror stories, has a wicked sense of humor, frequently travels abroad & is a great vegetarian cook.

Brandon Silberstein
Brandon Silberstein is an avid writer, actor, and comedian- an odd profile to have while working in the technology sector. He graduated from Stanford with a BA in human biology and an MA in psychology, founded Stanford’s only sketch comedy group, the Robber Barons, and has worked for numerous consumer facing technology startups. Like any true Silicon Valley-ite, Brandon plays Ultimate for fun. You can read his blog at or follow him when he’s rarely on Twitter, @froginashoe.

Brian Denzer
One of the overlooked lessons of the Katrina and Deepwater Horizon disasters is that institutional failures preceded human and environmental calamaties. What was common to both, according to Code for America applicant and GIS professional Brian Denzer, was that government institutions were failing for years, fostering the conditions for historically unprecedented engineering disasters. As an advocate for using crowd-sourced application development using government data to promote more open government and more engaged citizens, Brian hopes to “catch-up” democratic institutions to the 21st century, in order to prevent future such disasters. When he isn’t making maps or advocating for government reform, Brian loves to partake in the irreverence of Mardi Gras parades and (of course) cheering on the world-champion Saints.

Brownell Chalstrom
Brownell Chalstrom is a successful software developer with executive operations experience in public and private companies, both in engineering and marketing. His current technology focus is mobile geo-aware Web applications supported by Ruby and Rails backends. He has been a leader with OpenAustin in helping Austin, TX government take advantage of new technologies. His particular strength is in product definition, positioning, and go-to-market planning and execution. He is a venture partner and has founded several companies. He was an early leader in collaborative computing as GM of Lotus Notes, and an Internet pioneer at BBN.

Chach Sikes
Chach hopes to empower citizens to have a voice & hand in building our civic technologies. She is passionate about teaching open source development practice and creating project-based learning opportunities for us all. Professionally, she is a developer & builds organizational & educational websites. Before Drupal captivated her heart, Chach designed and built web exhibits for science museums. This summer she brought technologists & community gardeners together in a learning collaborative: the Drupal Open Garden Project. This fall, artists and programmers are explaining computer programming by creating short hand-crafted animations: the Codeland Storytime Collective. She loves learning, nature, illustration, code, and creativity.

Christian Colon
Christian is web architect/developer with over 8 years of experience working in the non-profit and education sectors. He was born and raised in New York, New York. He grew up around Salsa, Merengue, Hip Hop, R&B, Pasteles, Arepas, Malta and a large Latino family. He attended the University of Oklahoma where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Information Studies. Christian spends his free time advocating social change, enjoying time with his family and friends, and honing his technical skills. He seeks to realize technology’s potential in the areas of education, social reform, and cultural awareness.

Danny Tamez
Danny Tamez is a designer, developer, tinkerer, and web enthusiast. Media Brigade is the studio name that he works under, and it’s there that he designs and produces state of the art web sites, graphic design, and new media. The studio specializes in open source software, web 2.0 applications, and social media, and is expanding into local advertising platforms. Aside from working with clients, Tamez is the Editor in Chief of Skollie Magazine, a digital lifestyle publication out of Aspen, Colorado. When he is not in front of his MacBook Pro you can find him in the mountains or on the town looking for ways to tie in the adventurous lifestyle to his profession.

Erik Michaels-Ober
Erik Michaels-Ober is a software developer and entrepreneur living in San Francisco. He founded and built 140 Proof, an ad network powered by Twitter. He also contributes to various open-source projects and just wrapped up the summer as a Ruby Summer of Code mentor. His childhood dream is to buy the Dodgers baseball team and bring them back to their rightful home in Brooklyn.

Jeremy Canfield
Jeremy loves designing and building apps that are not only intuitive and fun to use, but change the way people understand and interact with the world. Long a champion of open data and accountable government, he helped the GAO build and implement tools that make sharing information easier. Since then, he has honed his skills, graduated from University of Michigan’s Masters Program in Information and co-founded a mobile app company. Check out some of his other projects at

Joel Mahoney
Joel has been designing and developing web applications since 1999. He has served as the COO and CTO of multiple start-up companies and is a certified scrum master. He is submitting this profile from Mt. Rainier National Park, where he hopes to summit in three days’ time!

John Mertens
John is a habitual problem solver and travel junkie from a small village in Iowa.He has been programming since childhood and has developed websites for non-profits & education institutions as well as large companies & government bodies. John has spent most of his adult life living outside the U.S., but he wants to bring his wide array of experiences back home to help improve the motherland.

Judith Siegel
Judith Siegel was born in Lima, Peru, but claims Arlington, TX as her hometown. She attended college at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth where she studied Radio-TV-Film, Religion and Political Science. She discovered digital media somewhere along the way and ending up earning a Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech. She enjoys writing, reading, seeing live music, traveling and attempting to cook. She is excellent at writing Facebook status updates.

Karla Macedo
Karla is an artist at heart graphic designer by trade she earned her Bachelors at the The Art Institute of California РSan Francisco. She was born in Mexico City and has lived in California since she was three. She speaks Spanish and loves the power of communication in graphic design. She is a lover of chai, water coloring, weeping willows and the creative process as a whole. Her favorite color is the beautiful mixture of a “California Sunset.” She wishes nothing more than to give back to the state that has fueled her dreams for years.

Michael Bernstein
Michael has been a soldier, a designer, a coder, and an author. He’s lived in three US states and two countries. He’s worked for three startups, a large public agency, and as an independent consultant, and he brings creativity, diligence, a broad perspective and deep knowledge to every project. He sucks at self-promotion.

Michael Betten
Mike is an avid coder currently working as a freelance web developer. He has a degree in computer science from Boston College and is an aspiring entrepreneur. As a member of the honors program at BC he collaborated on various research projects and presented his work at the University of Warsaw in Poland. He enjoys learning new technology, or anything for that matter, and writing fast, efficient, and useful code. Mike is also a strength training aficionado and language enthusiast.

Michael Evans
Michael is a web developer from Mountain View, CA. He studied physical chemistry at UCLA. He also completed over three years of research with Professors Daniel Kivelson and Charles Knobler in UCLA’s Department of Chemistry. In 2007, he decided to switch his career path to web development. By early 2008, he became fascinated with data visualization and geovisualization. He now spends a lot of time figuring out how to make municipal data exciting and more accessible.

Michelle Koeth
Michelle is currently an intellectual property attorney and electronic musician. Prior to law school, Michelle gained experience and skill in web application development and automated control system development. As an intellectual property lawyer, she enjoys being an advocate of innovation. As an electronic musician, she enjoys bringing technology into human expression. Michelle aspires to help others understand and leverage technology to economize and enrich their lives.

Mjumbe Wa Watu Poe
Mjumbe Wa Watu Poe was born in California and has lived in Philadelphia since he was 11. His name means “representative of the people” in Kiswahili. He enjoys making things, particularly on computers. He gets excited about how technology affects humans, for better and worse. This has most recently drawn him to software projects that help people better use their neighborhoods and cities. Mjumbe has a wonderfully supportive partner, several amazing siblings, and is eternally greatful to his friends, parents, grandparents, extended family, elders and ancestors for where he is today.

Pete Fecteau
Pete Fecteau studied Digital Media Design at Kendall College of Art & Design and graduated in 2007. Pete works mainly in the interactive design and development field creating and administrating websites for a major non-profit organization. Pete has a passion for social change and has been working to make an impact in his community using his skills and talents. His latest ‚Äúoff the grid‚Äù project involves creating a giant mosaic of Dr. Martin Luther King using 4,242 Rubik’s Cubes. Pete hopes to one day create a network for people to meet together both virtually and physically for community activism.

Richard Sinn
Richard Sinn was born in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. to Korean immigrants. Growing up near the nation’s capital, coupled with his parent’s influence, piqued Richard’s interest in the workings of government and society. Technology and the social sciences have always been Richard’s hobby and passion. He eventually graduated from MIT, and has been working at Oracle ever since. Outside of work, Richard is also passionately involved in taekwondo. He was once on the US Jr. National Team and has been lucky enough to travel the world through taekwondo. Richard is a firm believer in the CfA initiative.

Ryan Resella
Ryan currently works for the City of Santa Clarita as a Senior Information Technology Analyst. Ryan manages the Application Development group which is responsible for the City’s Web site as well as implementing, developing and managing new software applications. He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelors in Computer Science from California State University, Northridge. Ryan is an avid photographer and loves to travel.

Scott Silverman
Scott is a recent graduate of Tufts University and big believer in the transformative power of media and technology. He has experience in a variety of fields—ranging from technology and communications to video and design—and has held positions with Apple, Arnold Worldwide, Macworld Magazine and The New York Times. Beyond his professional experience, Scott enjoys vegetarian cooking, adventurous bike rides, small animals, rock climbing and photography. He is currently based in New York City.

Susan Moore
Susan is a seasoned international marketing executive with over 15 years of strategic and tactical marketing experience. She has led customer satisfaction and insight projects for several market leaders including Microsoft, Eastman Chemical and Fletcher Challenge. A featured speaker at several American Marketing Association presentations, Susan is also a contributor to the books “Wake Me Up When The Data is Over” (2006) and “Mastering Customer Value Management” (2003). Susan holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and a BA from Denison University. Rain or sunshine, Susan enjoys Bicycle Sundays along Lake Washington in Seattle, WA.

Talin Salway
Talin Salway graduated from UNLV with a degree in Computer Science in 2009, and has developed web applications since then, including the co-founding of social location site He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout, and was part of a team which placed in the 2009 DefCon badge hacking contest. His other interests include robotics, playing music on piano, guitar, or violin, and studying the Japanese language.

Tyler Stalder
Tyler Stalder spends his days as a web developer, specializing in internal application development and design in the Midwest. Over the last three years this has encompassed user interface design, front-end development, business intelligence, and data visualization. He is passionate about solving problems using technology in ways that are simple, accessible, and forgiving. Tyler received his bachelor’s degree in Information, Networking, and Telecommunications from Fort Hays State University, while also co-founding two web companies. Today he volunteers with Youth Entrepreneurs of Kansas, helping students develop business skills and entrepreneurial thinking.

Vanessa Koch
Vanessa hails from the great Midwest where she spent her early years chasing butterflies and splashing paint on canvas. She carried her brushes to Pittsburgh, and after four years she graduated from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design with a degree in communication design. Her latest adventure was set in Taipei, where she co-designed a service system for Taiwanese diabetic patients. She enjoys good conversations and new destinations.

Yelena Nakhimovsky
For nearly 10 years, Yelena Nakhimovsky has been making online products more useful & easier to use. A User Experience (UX) Researcher at Google since 2006, Yelena works with designers, developers & product managers to shape and improve Google’s offerings. She’s contributed to Google Maps for Mobile, Google Mobile Ads, 1-800-GOOG-411 & early versions of Google Search for high-end phones. Taking successful Gov2.0 projects as proofs of concept, Yelena is convinced that local government efforts could be super-charged by applying UX methods, ultimately saving time, money and frustration. She’s proud & honored to be among the Code for America finalists.

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