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Be the Change You Want to See

Code for America is an amazing organization.

It’s filled with people that are passionate about civic innovation and open government. For the past two years, as an active community member first and as a staff member second, I have had the pleasure and distinct privilege to work with the amazing people at Code for America, and it has made me a better advocate for the things I care about: civic engagement, open data, and technology-driven innovation in government.

Just as important as the people is the model: it’s a partnership. Code for America brings together talented coders and designers that dedicate a year of their lives to work with municipal governments to incite change and help foster new thinking about the challenges facing cities.

What kind of change? It’s more than just technology, it’s about culture and institutions — it’s about rewiring cities to be more innovative in the long term. One way we are seeing that happen is through the creation of new roles and jobs inside city hall that are focused on leveraging technology better (New Urban Mechanics, Chief Innovation Officers, etc), and in fact, it is one of the ways we measure the success of the CfA fellowship.

picture of Philadelphia City HallThis is one of the reasons I’m excited to now take the lessons I have learned at Code for America, and the renewed sense of purpose that I gained by being surrounded by so many amazing people, to take on a new challenge — the first-ever Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia has always been close to my heart — I have many friends there (both inside and outside city government) who have helped grow the civic hacking culture in the city into one of the most robust and active in the world.

The city has a deep pool of talent in its ever growing technology community, and it is ripe with great ideas and great energy that can drive civic innovation to new heights.

The leadership and vision of Mayor Michael Nutter and his Administration in establishing a comprehensive open data policy and placing an emphasis on civic engagement, collaboration with citizens, and government transparency is truly inspiring. I’m honored and humbled to be joining his Administration to help realize this vision that I believe will be a model for cities across the nation.

Philadelphia has always been a close partner of Code for America. I’ve seen up close and personal the impact that the city’s partnership with Code for America has created, and the growth in the city’s civic hacking culture closely tracks their participation in the CfA Fellowship program — Philadelphia is the only city to partner with Code for America two years in a row. I look forward to continuing to advance the city’s and Code for America’s shared vision now inside City Hall.

Though I’m off on a new path, working to advance the change I am passionate about, I’m really not going far. I’ll always be a part of Code for America.