Today New America announces its first class of Public Interest Technology Fellows. Fellows will come to New America from across private and public-sector organizations, including Facebook, Google, and the United States Digital Service at the White House. Together, they will work to influence demand for technology expertise among public interest organizations by building concrete examples that show the transformative impact of bringing technologists onto their teams. The goal of the initiative is to build a long-term, robust infrastructure that allows advocates, service providers, and leaders to harness the power of technology in serving communities.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America, offered her vision for the new initiative and its team: “The Public Interest Tech Team is looking to build an ecosystem for the field of public interest technology, much in the same way that the country created the field of public interest law a generation ago. The 2017 cohort has a real opportunity to connect technologists with local leaders who are doing some of the nation’s most important work, community by community.”
The team is being supported by five-year commitments from the Ford Foundation and Reid Hoffman. “Technology is a crucial frontier in the battle to ensure opportunity for all,” said Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. “I’m thrilled for Ford to team up with Reid Hoffman to support New America’s Public Interest Tech Team in building a field that could define the future of mobility.”
Leading the hub’s permanent team is Cecilia Muñoz, New America’s Vice President for Policy and Technology, and the former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Barack Obama. The Initiative also welcomes Director of Strategy Vivian Graubard, a founding member of the United States Digital Service and a former Senior Advisor to United States Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.
Muñoz emphasized importance of the Public Interest Tech team’s work to the future of NGOs, noting “I’m convinced that data and technology will be the future of how we in the public interest community do our work, and we intend to start by putting technologists in the room with people trying to solve big problems.” Graubard added, “What we’re seeking to illustrate here is the power that comes from a fully resourced and inclusive team informing every aspect of a process as it is being built, rather than after it breaks down. This requires ongoing collaboration, adaptation, and collective learning throughout institutions. The practice of only reaching out to an engineer when a system breaks down is a paradigm that we intend to shift.”
The inaugural team of fellows joining Muñoz and Graubard will focus on three primary areas: immigration, foster care systems, and the intersection of criminal justice and mental health services. The 2017 cohort arrives with experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The fellows include:
Alan Davidson: Former Director of Digital Economy at the U.S. Commerce Department, he is working to expand the pipeline of engineers and builders pursuing technology for social good.
Dipayan Ghosh: Former Privacy & Public Policy Advisor at Facebook, he is focusing on the intersection of big data, privacy, and civil rights.
Lauren Greenawalt: Former Urban Fellow at the NYC Mayor's Office of Operations, she is using data and technology to divert individuals with mental illness away from jail and toward community based health services.
Sara Hudson: Formerly at the Department of Justice, she is focusing on immigration, criminal justice, and foster care.
Jeremiah Lindemann: Geospatial professional with Esri, he is mapping the opioid epidemic and assisting local government make use of their own data.
Andrew Lovett-Barron: Former Product Designer at the US Digital Service and IDEO, he is focusing on the design of sustainable public interest ventures.
Marina Stone Martin: Former Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, she is focusing on improving foster care outcomes through collaboration and technology implementation.
Raphael Majma: Former Director of the Department of State Digital Service, he is focusing on immigration issues.
Kristina Peters: Former K-12 Open Education Fellow at U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology, she is focusing on Open Educational Resources with New America's Education Policy program.
Denice Ross: Former White House Senior Advisor, co-founder Police Data Initiative, she is focusing on place-based networks as a way to amplify local innovations and accelerate national progress.
Sonia Sarkar: Chief Policy and Engagement Officer at the Baltimore City Health Department, she is focusing on leveraging technology to connect clinical care and community services for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries.
Hana Schank: Former Director at the Department of Homeland Security Digital Service, she is focusing on researching successes and failures of past digital services efforts in the public sector, distilling lessons learned, and sharing stories of ongoing efforts.
Michelle Thompson: An Associate Professor at the University of New Orleans in the Department of Planning & Urban Studies, she’ll be focusing on the intersection of financial inclusion and civic participation.
Lindsay Tyson: Former software engineer at Google and HealthCare.gov, she is focusing on immigration, criminal justice, and foster care.
Clarence Wardell III: Current Director of Repurpose for Results at Results for America and former member of the U. S. Digital Service at the Obama White House, he will be focusing on building sustainable models of engagement between technologists and civil rights and social justice organizations.
For more information about Public Interest Technology at New America, please visit: https://www.newamerica.org/public-interest-technology/