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Roles within a Brigade

Code for America has found that Brigades with a diverse team of leaders are more sustainable and more effective than groups with just one leader. To help support Brigades in building out a core leadership team, we put together some ideas for roles you may want to fill in your Brigade as it grows and takes on more projects and activities.

Code for America provides support and training for at the national level for Captains, Storytellers, Community Organizers, and Delivery Leads.

BRIGADE LEADERS

Brigades are led by Brigade Captains or Co-Captains.

A Code for America Brigade Captain is a volunteer who starts and/or leads a local Brigade community. They commit to developing a sustainable civic technology community in collaboration with local government and community partners, championing Brigade activities in their city, and building out a core leadership team.

MUNICIPAL PARTNERS

Municipal Partners are a local Brigade’s civic innovation champions within government. Municipal Partners collaborate with and participate in their local Brigade. They make introductions between the Brigade and city workers, help Brigades navigate city processes, collaborate on events, and develop a civic innovation practice that spans the government and local community.

Municipal Partners can participate in the Code for America Peer Network.

CORE TEAM MEMBERS

Core Team Members are important to a Brigade to diversify and distribute responsibilities in order to be more sustainable and more effective as a unit. Core Team Members work with the Leaders/Captains to lead specific areas of their local Brigade.

Code for America’s Brigade Program provides programming for the following three Core Team Members:

Delivery Lead

The Delivery Lead is the point for projects in the Brigade. The Delivery Lead should have a working knowledge of all the projects being hacked on at a given time in the Brigade, understand the needs of those projects, and help members find projects and projects find members. The Delivery Lead’s areas of focus include:

  • Active knowledge of all projects being worked on in local Brigade
  • Understands needs of those projects
  • Connects new members to projects
  • Works with project teams and project leads on project planning and accessing resources
  • Understands the priorities and needs of the city
  • Funnels relevant CfA Fellowship and Brigades apps to Brigade members for redeployment opportunities

See here for more information on the Delivery Lead.

Community Organizer

The Community Organizer is responsible for recruiting and welcoming new members to the Brigade and helping them get oriented. They are the point of contact for members who have questions about how to get started, what to do next, or how to help locally.

This Community Organizer should know about upcoming member events, be available to attend hack nights to assist with member questions, and create a welcoming environment. This position doesn’t necessarily require technical knowledge.

The Community Organizer’s focuses on building and maintaining community. This includes:

  • Recruiting new members
  • Onboarding new members
  • Empowering new members to use skills in Brigade structure
  • Managing Google group
  • Managing Meetup
  • Helping members move up the ladder of engagement
  • Keeping track of membership

See here for more information on the Community Organizer.

Storyteller

The Storyteller owns the communication streams for their local Brigade. They will focus on telling the stories of the Brigade’s impact in their community. This includes writing blog posts, coordinating with local press, connecting with local media, and working with the CfA Communications team to share stories nationally.

The Storyteller’s areas of focus include:

  • Ownership of content, marketing, and social media
    • Social media including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr
    • Website
    • Blog
    • Other content (video, photos, etc.)
    • Local press

See here for more information on the Storyteller.

OTHER ROLES

In addition to the Core Team Members, local Brigades have added other leadership roles to their team based on their group’s focus and priorities.

Brigade Evangelists

A Brigade Evangelist is a Brigade member who is a cheerleader and representative of the civic hacker movement. A Brigade Evangelist upholds the values of the Brigade and will report back to the Leader/s or Captain/s about interesting opportunities or contacts. Often this brigade member can be found representing their local brigade at government meetings, other meetups, and community functions.

This role requires personality, adaptability, and great communication skills. Technical proficiency is not a requirement, but having the ability to weigh ideas that use technology is.

Community Data Wrangler / Data Evangelists

A community data wrangler is a talented data librarian. They work with the community and local officials to ensure the wider availability of data. In some cases this includes the implementation of a community built data portal.

This role requires some depth of technology experience and understanding of data sets. Ideally, this person has the bandwidth to answer emailed questions and attend Brigade meetings on a regular basis.

Community Data Wrangler Examples:

Hampton Roads Open Datasets

Scribe / Documentor

A Scribe is someone who takes notes at Brigade events; helps keeps track of city council minutes and public hearings and reports back at hacknights; helps write training materials; keeps local wikis up to date; and/or writes software documentation.

This role requires strength in written communication and time to email and call local media.

Developer Evangelists

A developer evangelist acts as a mentor to other Brigade members and/or out of Brigade network individuals working on Brigade created products. Sometimes this person takes on a role as a repo manager. Developer evangelists are common throughout technical communities and play the same role within a Brigade. Their primary role makes new Brigade members feel welcomed and provide mentoring/coaching. As you can imagine, this role requires technical experience, time, and patience.

Policy Evangelists

A policy evangelist acts as a mentor to other Brigade members and helps educate the public and officials on open government, open data, and on the civic hacking practice. Within our communities, Law and Policy are “code” for physical space. Software is code for the digital space.

Policy evangelists are dedicated to understanding their municipal policy on Open Government, Open data, et. al. In some cases cases, this role is spread out to small working group to share notes on policy opportunities and have discussions with government agencies. This role requires patience, a really good networker, and a dash of political savviness.

Policy Evangelist Examples:

Austin, Texas

BetaNYC and the NYC Transparency Working Group

Event Organizer//Meeting Runner

One of the most important roles is being an event organizer. Events enable the Brigade to exist. Several Brigades have found it helpful to have Brigade members rotate event logistics. It is not that you need someone to do everything in organizing an event, i.e. planning partnerships and programing. You need someone who can book space, arrange equipment, refreshments, set up, configure registration, etc…

This role requires the skills reserved for a party planner.

Other roles that are being developed:

  • Trainer: someone who can help train and facilitate education across your brigade.
  • Member support: someone who can be a single point of contact to help bring people into your brigade and walk them through a ladder of participation.
  • Governmental Liaison: this is someone who can or has “walk through walls.” not a naysayer, but someone who can translate internal government language and ideology into a conversation. Sometimes these people are within government, but may not have the permission to speak on the record.

  • Non-profit / Community group Liaison: this is someone who can or has “walk a mile in the shoes of others.” not a naysayer, but someone who can translate the work and values of non-profit or community groups into a conversation.

Other Core Team Member Formats:

Another method of breaking out leadership roles is to form breakout groups by subject matter (Civic Hacking 101/Orientation, Safety and Justice, Education, ect) led by one or two people each. For an example of this, check out #ChiHackNight.

Questions? Comments? Send them to brigade-info@codeforamerica.orgor hit us up at #cfabrigade__.