Overview

This year for the National Advisory Council election, the four regional representatives are up for election. Brigade members will vote for their region's representative for a two year term on the National Advisory Council.

The National Advisory Council helps guide Code for America’s volunteer program. All candidates were asked to answer four free-response questions. Learn about the people running for NAC through their answers below.

Map of Brigade Regions

Michelle Jones

Code for Indianapolis

I am a third year doctoral student who came to Code for America through the 2019 C4A Fellowship. I am with the Code for Indianapolis brigade that has developed a re-entry resource app for formerly incarcerated people in the state of Indiana.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

working with groups and my brigade that are interested in using my lived experience of incarceration to help inform projects and public policies that impact formerly incarcerated people.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

The challenges marginalized populations face with navigating portals and other technological apparatuses that are confusing and challenging for formerly incarcerated people

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

I am not sure of the time commitment, so I can't exactly answer that other than to say that I make time for everything I care about.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

We definitely need help in this area. As a relaunched brigade, there is so much we don't know. We'd love to have more site visits to help us create the infrastructure to be like Open Austin one day.

Ryan Koch

Code for Chicago

Civic involvement is at the core of who I am. Along my path I've served in the US Army, run for public office, successfully lobbied for computer science education reform, co-founded Code for Chicago, founded Civic Tech Chat, and have built software for the government.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

The public policy space is one that I imagine we'll find ourselves ever more interested in participating in as the community matures. There have been and continue to be initiatives to bring the expertise civic technologists can bring to bear into those spaces, those efforts ideally will not just continue, but grow in size and scope. This is important, because many of the issues that our society must face are those that cannot be solved by technology alone. As a community of civic minded folks this is an area we cannot and will not ignore.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

On boarding and retention of folks participating in brigades is something I think could use continued attention. Being able to bring new folks into the fold in a way that is low friction and then being able to engage them in a way that promotes continued interest is not an easy set of tasks. I can't say I know of an easy solution to these challenges, but I do believe that the network and NAC can collaborate for incremental gains.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

I believe the proper thing to do here is to nudge and mentor others within the brigade who have an interest in its future to step up and lead. Sharing the load with such folks not only helps balance the time expenditure, but allows folks of varying perspectives to influence the organization.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

One of the things we try to do at the brigade is take the idea of 'meeting folks where they're at' to heart. Folks make an effort to get out to our partners meetings in different parts of the city. That sort of gesture not only increases trust in the organizational relationship, but builds interpersonal bridges where they might not occur, which brings the idea of the brigade to places it might not have made it to otherwise.

In the same spirit, the NAC can seek to make connections in support of these aims. At our brigade, an introduction made by folks at CFA national turned into a continued relationship with an emerging community non-profit. We are a network after all, it would seem natural to use the connections we have both within and without.

Janet Michaelis

Code for Dayton

Lifelong technophile & organizer w/eclectic experience: entrepreneur (SF Pet Hospital) emergency med/disaster researcher, house rehabber, Scout leader, patients’ rights activist & Open Data advocate. Brigade Cpt. & Midwest NAC rep. Work as RN in urban ER. Also, a Boomer - OK?😉

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

advocating for the immediate development of a comprehensive, collaborative, and transparent model of where Brigades fit in the overall CfA organization, including financially.

It’s conventional wisdom that businesses must eventually “mature” & shed many traits that drove their initial success, but CfA is not a conventional business. Its founding vision includes grassroots advocacy, exposure of structural injustices, & disruption of malign status quo systems (“Hack for Change!) That ethos spawned projects by scrappy Brigade volunteers, some which became viable, scalable products for CfA. Conventional businesses don’t include crucial interdependence on the presence and activities of a national network of highly skilled & mission-motivated VOLUNTEERS, whose continued participation depends 100% on affinity & mutually satisfying working relationships. Mgmt models, designed for employees, if applied to manage Brigades, are a poor fit. We need a biz model that encompasses our uniqueness!

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

COMMUNICATION! There’s a lot of it going on, but we constantly get feedback from Brigades and from each other that we’ve missed some important information. We’ve got a scattered array of platforms and wide range of personal communication preferences, some of which require dev-level technical understanding to use. As a “tech organization,” it’s natural to make assumptions about the ubiquity and ease of use of some platforms (e.g. GitHub) but that has inadvertently excluded some “otherly-savvy” members. This is far from a unique problem, yet we’ve not made enough headway in solving it. It might be time for outside professional help - maybe a Brigade + NAC + Network Team workshop session at Summit with a communications consultant? We can do better.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

I've been on NAC for for the past two years. I work part time and have limited family obligations (ie no grandchildren - yet) Code fot Dayton is a small, but established organization. I'm practiced at fitting a lot into a 24 hr day.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

Thankfully Dayton OH has, in the last 2 years, dropped off the top 25 list of most segregated cities in America, but it is still deeply divided. Our Brigade holds our meetings downtown - the most integrated part of the city. Even so, we’ve found we draw a more diverse range of volunteers when the Meetup focus is specifically relevant, like when we worked with the City to design an online response to a KKK Rally. We promoted our *LotLinker app to organizations in distressed and immigrant neighborhoods, where churches and other small scale nonprofits used it to help people ineligible for bank loans become homeowners. (e.g. people with felony convictions) Thanks to the Census workers at Congress, we’ve been able to join the Mayor’s Complete Count Committee, where we will work directly with local hard-to-count communities. It’s helpful when CfA’s collaborations at the national level can be instrumental in getting us connected with the local efforts, such as the 2020 Census.

Jason Anton

Code for Baltimore

I am the current Tech Lead for Code for Baltimore. I have been a developer/DevOps/full-stack engineer for over 12 years and have been involved with civic tech in various ways throughout that time. I am passionate about fixing problems that affect us all.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

Removing technical barriers. Too often tech in any form can be an intimidating barrier for social interaction or progress. Code for America, by its nature, is a technical organization with a lot of brilliant technical people. A major obstacle of any organization like ours is hearing the voices that aren't technical. In my time with Code for Baltimore, it has been a priority for our brigade to welcome non-technical, and technical people of all levels, to the table so that our solutions can solve problems in a way that benefits everyone. I would help CfA mature by working to make CfA more open socially, and technologically. This can include initiatives like defining detailed workflows for contribution to various types of contributors.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

Many brigades may be solving similar problems to each other, but there isn't a lot of collaboration between brigades. The NAC could help solve this issue by being more communicative with the brigades, and by being the connective tissue between them. If the brigades communicate more, it is very possible that more open solutions could be developed that can benefit many brigades at the same time. The solutions could also be enhanced through research on perspectives one brigade alone may not have had. Communication and flexibility are key, and the NAC can facilitate that.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

We have a policy at Code for Baltimore that anyone should be able to hand off their work to anyone else within the brigade at any time in a way that no time is lost in the handoff. We fully document our projects and perform regular code reviews and process reviews internally so all members and leaders are fully aware of and familiar with any work being done at any time. This is key to balance in that I can contribute to Code for Baltimore but handoff any work that is at risk of delay due to other responsibilities. That works both ways, and when there is a need at Code for Baltimore I can step in and help without missing a step. We are building a solid team with a team-first culture at CfB and it is only because of that great team that I think I can help out at the national level without losing steam locally.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

A major help would be to document processes that work towards these efforts and publish information in support of those processes. This is already being done to a large extent by the NAC, however, we can continue to move that initiative forward. The NAC can more closely collaborate with brigades in different cities to track each brigade's methods for inclusiveness, track what works, and make suggestions to other brigades as asked (or otherwise document in a shared repository). As I mentioned before the NAC can work as connective tissue to share lessons learned and different perspectives between brigades. By connecting everyone together our collective mindset gets more diverse by definition. The NAC can make that happen!

Charlie Costanzo

Code for Philly

Hey all! My name is Charlie Costanzo. I spent the last few years in a variety of roles at Code for Philly, but recently the time was right to step down as Co-Director and transition into the less intensive but equally exciting role of Senior Advisor.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

… reinforcing the system of connections between brigades themselves, as well as Code for America.

I think we can do this by,

1. Continuing to build out the systems that facilitate cross-brigade collaboration in the name of better communication surrounding our individual work and ways in which we can work together.

2. Better communicating the current efforts of Code for America itself. They’re awesome! And our communities would love to know more, or even help out in some way if possible. This also lends itself to my next point,

3. Just putting more work into educating the members of brigades and our communities about what Code for America is, and what they’re doing. Although at CfP leadership we try to do this as much as we can, there are certainly involved members of our community that have an unclear idea of what CfA is. I think tangible things like National Day of Civic Hacking are great, should continue, and should inspire more ways to expand that awareness of CfA.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

One of the things that I’ve always been most excited for is the opportunity to more effectively harness that collective strength to more easily share in our technical and non-technical wins. To me, a large part of this means more easily redeploying projects across the many localities of the network. This is naturally something that has always been a Brigade Network interest, but it’s something that we can and will continuously be able to get better at, even with its inherent challenges.

This boosting of our collective strength is certainly something that I think Code for America should be recognized as doing more of now that the Brigade Network is becoming an even more mature organization.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

Fortunately, since recently passing the Co-Director torch and adopting my new role as a Senior Advisor at Code for Philly I’ll have plenty of time to focus on providing support to our (awesome!) new leadership team as well as take on new roles in Civic Tech. The opportunity to potentially work with the entire Brigade Network through the NAC could make this transition even more exciting!

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

I think continuing to have network-wide dialogue about our experiences and best practices is crucial. From my own experience, these three things have also helped:

First, through CfP’s goal of working with, instead of for, our community we’ve been able to expose ourselves to Philadelphians more representative of what our city actually looks like. This means finding and working with the likes of community organizers and non-profit organizations in sourcing and shaping projects or various types of events .

Second, working to constantly broadcast our strong and enforced code of conduct which reflects our core values helps. We try to make it known always and often that CfP seeks a safe and diverse place for all.

Third, when it comes to recruiting for leadership we’ve worked to be more intentional. Whether within our leadership team or at the project-level, recruiting has been increasingly less reflexive and more about casting a wide net and recognizing strengths & dedication early.

Thad Kerosky

Code for Boston

👋 Me, neuroatypical fellow from rural NE Ohio who has worked in international development & technology for a decade (in East & West Africa, the Northeast USA) & has seen 1000s of projects both succeed & struggle at doing good for people. Brigades aptly collide connection & craft

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

Organizing us. I believe both in the power of our individual craft to transform information for the better but also in coaxing institutions we have to function democratically, with humane forms, services and apps.

And not with nothing: I studied impact evaluation and tech policy for my recent policy Master’s work at Tufts University that I was only inspired to do after finding the Code for Boston niche in 2013 and couldn’t stop thinking about civic-dataology.

Over my last 6 months, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team& I worked to rewrite an open source frontend from scratch for new Tasking Manager:its 1,000s of volunteers respond to disasters worldwide with satellite imagery.

As a result of my research, I am a supporter of shifting our tech skill pool into peer (think Wikipedia,OpenStreetMap)& public institutions (all levels). Private institutions have done alright for us, but each fail people in some consistent ways that the other two do not.

If we share common ideas, let's raise em

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

As an aspiring more-than-political-hobbyism person, I was lucky to get a taste of advocacy on Capitol Hill in 2019 with the risk-friendly office of Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06). A caseworker of theirs collaborated with my Code for Boston product team each week on a Social Security intervention project (ssacalculator.org) getting to the bottom of bureaucratic oddity-turned-bad for millions of retirees like your and my parents who may've worked in state or local government. The SSA has misinformed retirees and now a better experience is available.

This kind of project was likely to happen in Boston first: but I want to use my unique experiences to help other brigades find their stride on all sorts of caseworker projects. Even from time at Code for DC: Caseworkers are near-perfect partners for brigades.

If you want to, maybe we can find our voice on better forms, services and apps with Congress, too. I take my inspiration from doing advocacy as a returned Peace Corps volunteer.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

I’ve been helping organize CfB since mid-2017 on our 10 person core team (woo for big cross-functional teams!) I have been most excited that I had led the vetting and shaping the starting conditions, goals and anti-goals for 6 of 8 of our current active projects with non-profits and gov's. They are now all mature with 5 now “shipping”.

On NAC, I will emphasize some limits of the "nonprofit" I've felt internationally, with their slippery slope to territoriality, and focus on our special capability to collaborate above that single pie mentality as volunteer organizations.

So far this year, three folks on core team have newly stepped up to help manage project intake. I haven't told them yet, but next I want to focus on qualitative impact of projects: both NAC and the other brigades are part of that. The Social Security app I product managed also launched last week.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

For thirteen consecutive months, I insisted that our all male core team of 8 expand to 9 and then 10 (our brigade was growing) and concurrently was the strongest advocate that the two new members be women of various seniority, to reflect our broader brigade demographics. We are now more accountable to our volunteers, especially as we welcome more people of diverse identity, ability, and class.

Democracy and diversity leads to healthy hack nights, and making sure that we hear and lift a variety of voices will bolster our growing community and beyond. Next, we need more people of color on our core team and I'd say "take it to 11" once we grow past 85 volunteers / week this year.

James Lockridge

Code for BTV (Burlington, VT)

Champion of collaboration and individual empowerment; advocate for fairness and transparency; mashing sectors together mightily and cozily; optimistic demander of inclusion for all; always-learning administrator; persistent, respectful changemaker, and friend to dogs.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

Building bridges with non-tech people and missions will make civic tech more effective and help it grow in wisdom and scope. We have boundaries to break down — traditions, models, and vocabularies to expand from — and that effort can start with us. Tech and innovation go together in the popular view, so we have a head start as leaders and changemakers. The future of civic tech should be one in which technology is integrated within any community-serving problem-solving/opportunity-seizing enterprise with an objective of improving the world or human condition.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

I believe that a majority of the Brigades now, and even more-so in the future, are small brigades - brigades from smaller municipalities with fewer resources to draw on in making the systemic change Code for America wants to build. I want to lend an experienced voice to the national brigade coordination effort that raises the support for and impact of the smaller brigades.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

Our co-captain Nick Floersch and the rest of the leadership team do the vast majority of the daily work in the brigade. I lend strength to the brigade leadership from almost 25 years of experience as a non-profit organizer, fundraiser, and advocate. I also bring some of the resources of other non-profits I have worked with, as well as political efficacy to our brigade in Burlington. My contributions to Code for BTV require a minimal amount of time. I have been wanting to help more lately, and when this opportunity came up, the leadership team thought I was ideally suited to this role with my background and experience.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

I fight for inclusivity and fair representation in all of my nonprofit work. While Code for BTV is situated in what is generally considered to be one of the least racially diverse states in the union, the City of Burlington has more diversity and it is growing. Burlington — and Vermont in general — tends to have a decent gender diversity that we strive to represent fairly, and differently-abled individuals are an important demographic to us as well. As a community builder I have experience working with people from all walks of life and social contexts. I want to help the brigade attract diverse citizens to volunteer, broadening our understanding of the challenges faced by the city and state, and deepen the impact of the work.

Kelli Shewmaker

Code for DC

My background is in social work, & I've worked mostly for small businesses & nonprofit organizations, with limited resources & technical expertise. I've been in DC for 11 years & have volunteered with CfDC about 7 years, almost day 1. I try to help connect teams to the community.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

I think there's an ongoing need to define what civic tech is and how to communicate that message to our volunteers and communities. We need to understand and be able to articulate volunteers in civic tech's relationship to our community partners, government, and government contractors.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

I think the brigade network is at a disadvantage due to a lack of experience and expertise in the nonprofit sector. I think bringing in some people with nonprofit management experience would be helpful. In particular, one aspect of nonprofit management where brigades struggle is in understanding how funding works. I'd like to see us, as an organization, take a leading role in getting corporate funding for operational expenses for nonprofit organizations, including brigades, but also across the entire sector.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

As a leadership team, we've been working to put some processes in place to make it easier for more, and newer, volunteers to carry some of the load, and we've been working on succession planning. We have 3 new co-captains, and I've expressed my interest in continuing in my role with Code for DC as Community Outreach Lead.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

Our best success in recruiting a diversity of volunteers has been by hosting events on various days and times to make it more convenient for people in different circumstances to be able to come to some events even if they can't come to all events. Any advice and information about best practices from the NAC & Network team would be much appreciated. We've had a lot of good ideas, but we don't have the resources to implement them. We need money in order to provide childcare during events, for example.

Tim Eccleston

Code for Nashville

I co-led the unconference portion of the 2019 Brigade Conference. I split my time running Code for Nashville and doing data consulting for healthcare and government. I am passionate about DEI, data, transparency, and direct democracy. Learn more at tim4nac.us. :)

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

I wrote in my NAC application last year that I believe the civic tech community inflicts the world with many of the same flaws and arrogance of the so called "tech" community (Silicon Valley). I still think we have some growing up to do, learning from community organizers, activists, academic researchers and other change makers. But, for the Network specifically, I would like to see us do a better job of pooling our resources and sustaining projects with community input. It seems we could do so much more if we coordinated our efforts, reduced rework, and even specialized a bit. We could be pooling resources to all help one brigade finish their next project and then pay it forward in a rotation. Or, perhaps more realistically, we could try to methodically spread our most successful projects (e.g. Court Bot, Clear My Record, GetCalFresh) one brigade at a time. If I were elected, I would love to help facilitate more partnerships between brigades to help support each others' projects.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

I think the Network's greatest problem is our awkward relationship with CfA. For example, CfA avidly endorses transparency, but they don't publish NAC election numbers. I don't think they undermine the Network on purpose - it's just hard for them as a hierarchical (non-profit) consulting company to advocate on behalf of a grassroots volunteer movement. Brigades were not part of the original CfA model, so this relationship is going to take a lot of work. But, I think the NAC can use the informal grassroots power of the Network to establish the formal powers it needs to work with CfA and advocate effectively for the Network. For example, the NAC could transparently collaborate with the Network to publicly propose a budget for the Network team so CfA might include Network representation in future budgets. Elected or not, I will continue to assume the best of intentions and work with CfA, but only to the extent that I feel works for Brigades.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

I worry that changes in CfA leadership may limit the support they give Brigades. I wasn't planning to run for NAC because I wanted to get Code for Nashville ready in case we needed to operate without CfA. We just started defining our formal membership so we can start having elections for leadership. And, I was hoping to start securing grants and contracts to help support stipends and scholarships for additional co-leads and volunteers. But, several people in other brigades encouraged me to run this year to publicly share these concerns about CfA that I hear many of us share privately. So, I decided to run and if elected, I will cut back as much as possible on Code for Nashville to advocate for Brigades in the NAC. Our leadership team feels confident they could cut back on some projects and plans for the future in order to maintain the Brigade for now. No matter what, I will continue to develop direct Brigade to Brigade relationships because I believe we need each other to thrive.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

When I joined Brigade leadership 2 years ago, I advocated for a new position of Community & Diversity Lead. I took the position to diversify our core team of 4 cis white men and improve the experience of our marginalized members. Now, our core team is smaller and through recruiting, only 1 out of 6 of our project leads is a white male. After a near Code of Conduct violation from some privileged first-timers, I conducted seven 1-hour interviews of the people involved. We started an onboarding process to help protect project groups from those disruptions and microaggressions. I am recruiting for a new position of Latinx Community Liaison to help address underrepresentation in our Brigade and city government. I am always looking for new ways to identify and counter everything from systemic issues down to my own microaggressions and privilege. But, I would love help recruiting enough leaders, volunteers, and outside feedback so that we could learn and improve without tokenizing anybody.

Shakeia Kegler

Fort Lauderdale

Shakeia Kegler is a Navy Veteran, entrepreneur and advocate for government that works for all people. She served active duty Navy for 5 years as an Aviation Ordnancemen Petty Officer 2nd Class. After service, she worked as a government contracting specialist and founded GovLia.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

I am fairly new to the civic tech space and I will say that I am proud to be apart of the growth. I will help the civic tech community mature by taking the things I have learned and sharing them with others, I will implement solutions and always focus on solutions, and I will listen to the community and the people outside the community to ensure that we are all on one accord.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

Increasing relationships between local government and brigades. While attending Brigade Congress, I noticed many of the brigades were at different levels as it relates to funding, government partnerships, and membership. We cannot expect things to be the same for all brigades, however, I think if we worked to provide a guide, or a blueprint on how to make the brigades more sustainable, it would give the teams a place to start and a path to take. Organizing how to build and run the brigades.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

I will ensure I am actively participating in both groups. Taking on task that work in conjunction with the mission of both roles and continue to advocate and fight for local improvements. Proper time management!

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

I think it truly begins with building more awareness of Code for America and to the local brigades. Finding ways to help brigades connect with the local governments, increasing community relations events and I think reaching out to more students would help increase diversity in brigades.

Whitney Lubin

Code for Miami

I’m a software engineer and 2019 Code For America Fellow from Miami, FL. I got my start in tech over 1.5 year ago via a local coding bootcamp, and from there introduced to the network, and connected to members of my brigade in the same time frame.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

I would like to help the civic tech community continue to mature by providing a safe place for new voices to enter this community. I was introduced to the network by happen-chance because someone happened to be at the same coworking space I frequented and invited me to a hack night. Sometimes it’s about the spaces we occupy, and exposure to information that makes all the difference in allowing new ideas and voices to be heard. I look forward to diving deeper into my community to find more voices that will enrich the network and the work we do.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

I believe the a key problem that the NAC should, and can help the Network solve is brigade awareness. I think the groundwork management of collaborating with local stakeholders, and hosting the hacknights is a huge responsibility for brigade leaders, and I believe the role of the NAC should be to listen to brigade leaders, and organize the information that brigade leaders provide regarding concerns, ideas, and successes. I think the NAC is more broadly positioned to make cross regional opportunities happen. For example HBCU are predominately located in the south, but any given brigade may or may not have exposure to the administration and alumni. I think the NAC can help brigade members create initiatives that foster diversity by taking the lead on broader diversity initiatives like HBCU outreach.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

I would balance the work with my local brigade and serving on the NAC by communicating as much as possible with my brigade leaders. Thankfully I know the 2 Co-captains of my brigade very well, and work with them frequently. I look forward to being an asset to them and the work that they do especially as we work to grow our brigade. I see my role as someone who will listen, and voice their observations, concerns, and solutions...if I can accomplish those 3 tasks effectively I would consider myself successful.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

Facilitating Cross brigade collaboration would be the ideal way to help increase diversity. I believe facilitating and encouraging cultural exchanges between community leaders is a way we can increase diversity and inclusiveness in the network. I also believe that with proper content strategy the NAC can help bring visibility to the voices that do this work in silos. I would love to have the networks support in creating content, and also in attending events like Women In Power Summit hosted by Black enterprise, Black tech Week, AfroTech, connecting with HBCU’s, the NAACP etc. I think increasing our visibility in the places people go to see themselves and their ideas represented is a way we can begin measuring diversity impact.

Tyrek Shepard

Code for Atlanta

Hello Network friends! I am Tyrek Shepard, a co-organizer of Code for Atlanta. I am not a technologist by education, trade, or hobby, but I do believe in better government. Years ago I learned first-hand via my local government that everyone has a voice, & I'd like to hear yours.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

Providing a welcoming and energetic environment for all that choose to support our community and movement. Many of us do not have the opportunity to engage in civic tech full-time, so it is imperative that we welcome all that are interested and willing to give what they can to our efforts. In growing as a community, that means we are continually using our collective experiences and lessons learned to make our next initiative bigger and better, but the welcoming of new talent, ideas, and solutions are needed to to remain sustainable and innovative. As our community continues to establish, we must make an effort to bridge the gap between what is existing and has been done with what there is potential to do and where we can go, within reason and ethical parameters, for our society.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

The basis of all successful relationships include a solid sense of trust and ensured accountability. It has been mentioned in the past by many Brigade members that alignment between the Brigade Network and our larger Code for America organization does not always seem to be in sync. While sentiments vary across the board, it is imperative that our Brigade Network feels secure in its relationship with Code for America. Having unique visibility and access to both the Brigade Network and Code for America, NAC has the opportunity to facilitate a stronger, more trusting, and collaborative relationship between the two. This relationship strengthening would take place in many different forms, but the basis is a listening ear and a recognition that there are actions needing to be taken to forge a tighter trust and understanding. We need reciprocated support between all parties to ensure that we can fulfill our objective of making government work for the people in the digital age.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

Code for Atlanta is fortunate to have a strong leadership team that is understanding in regards to managing multiple opportunities and priorities. Our leadership team has been cross-trained in all areas that make our Brigade functional, so that provides me with the opportunity to fulfill any need that my Brigade may have. The relevance of this is that NAC would not cause me to be a bottleneck or 'dead weight' to my local Brigade, because I am able to contribute and fulfill roles at the local level based on what is appropriate at the time and what is on my plate. Representing my Brigade at Summit & Congress, organizing activities for our conferences, to even facilitating a Hack Night by myself have all been made possible due to the flexibility of my existing leadership team. Their support has been unwavering thus far and if I am elected to served on NAC, we will continue to ensure that appropriate attention is given to all responsibilities. Huge thanks to Luigi, Yeti, Brant, and Mark!

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

Since joining Code for Atlanta as a volunteer and in becoming a member of the local leadership team, I have recognized that my value to our organization is entirely based on non-technical contributions. I do not code or design. There isn't an explicit effort to recruit volunteers without 'technical' skills. There are many talented individuals who have the potential to be amazing within our Brigades, but they need to see themselves represented and they need to know how they can be an asset. NAC and the Network team can support an inclusive environment by continuing to educate our Brigade Network regarding the value and important of working with policy experts, project managers, government workers, politicos, etc. In my personal efforts to recruit new volunteers or ease the insecurities of those who are non-technical, I am able to use my personal experience of how I found a space for myself, but broader messaging and support in that narrative is needed on a larger scale.

Michael Ubell

OpenOakland

I am a retired software developer, implementing database and transaction systems. I have been active in OpenOakland since 2014. For the last 3 years I have been part of the leadership team. My other volunteer activities are focused on gun violence prevention.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

helping Brigades sustain involved membership, successful projects and cross Brigade cooperation. The Brigade model has ignited the notion of Civic Technology for many people. Yet we hear of Brigades that do not grow, or even disappear, projects that are completed but not maintained or used. There is a huge body of experience/best practices across the Brigades, the NAC needs to do more to make sure that experience is shared with others who need it.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

Supporting new or struggling Brigades could be a focus for the NAC. Regional leadership conference calls have helped in some areas, this should be expanded. Recruiting experienced leaders who can be “on call” to help new leaders with issues. Some of this happens in SLAC but having a few people self-identified and responsive would make it better. The Network Team could direct new leaders to this group if more extensive coaching is needed.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

I have stepped back from leadership in OpenOakland and while I will support the new leaders, this will make time for NAC activities. I am leading a couple of Census 2020 projects which must complete in Q1, after that will contribute as time permits to other projects.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

There is little in the Playbook about how to build a diverse and inclusive brigade, just that brigades should attract a diverse group of people and to have a diverse team of leaders. We need to provide guidance on how to measure and achieve this. OpenOakland learned that it is not easy to just recruit a diverse leadership team. This was done, but several of the new leaders had little connection to the Brigade and did not stay long. Leadership needs to come from within the organization.

We stress our code of conduct and making a safe space for everyone at each meeting to promote diversity. We had a project team working on Diversity and Inclusion. We made some progress, particularly in outreach to other community organizations around major events. As with many volunteer projects people drifted away from the team. Our community organizers continue with outreach as time permits. We have started leadership discussions on how to measure the diversity of our meetings.

Bonnie Wolfe

Hack for LA

I joined Hack for LA in 2018, and became co-captain in 2019. I use my experience as a successful serial Tech Entrepreneur, Software/Process Engineer, Technical PM, Turnaround/M&A Consultant, Educator and Social Impact Organizer every day as brigade captain and am still learning.

The civic tech community is growing up, and I'll help it continue to mature by...

There is still a lot of fragmentation in the civic tech ecosystem. We can more effectively address our communities problems by sharing our resources and understanding where the gaps exist that can provide new opportunities for impact. Many brigades act as connectors for communities and causes, our Hack for LA leadership continues that valuable mission.

Additionally, I intend to continue my brigade’s local and national efforts to provide a welcoming environment for civic tech organizations to share their documented, replicable process for the betterment of our shared civic tech ecosystem.

And personally, I will remain a tireless evangelist for open source software, open government, and open communities.

What do you see as a key problem that the NAC should help the Network solve in the next year?

There is no brigade fundraising manual and we have no other shared documented knowledge base for what has been successful, what has not, and why.

I believe that by gathering and studying all the current and past fundraising activity artifacts of the brigades, we can identify some successful practices to codify into an instruction manual as well as identify what information/resources we are missing and make a plan for filling in those knowledge and expertise gaps.

How will you balance your work with your local Brigade with serving on the National Advisory Council?

At my first Summit, I co-led an unconference on cross-brigade collaboration. While there, we formed a twice monthly cross brigade working group called Project Index. We have been meeting for almost a year. After becoming co-captain at my brigade (2 months ago), I actually increased the amount of cross brigade collaboration I do. I co-hosted an Ask Me Anything, where I recruited MB from Boston to share with us the Census Building Tool: Fist-to-5 , and hosted two CodeforAll peer Learning sessions where I shared how using the kanban project boards on Github has transformed our project management and software production speed.

I understand the mission of the NAC is to listen to the brigades, connect them with each other, and highlight our issues and concerns to CfA in a constructive way, focusing on the improvements we can make for the next set of leaders that will stand on top of the work that we do, taking the organization even further because of the trails we blaze.

How can the NAC and the Network team support your efforts to make your brigade more diverse and inclusive? Can you speak to what work you've already done in this area?

The NAC can gather successful practices from around the network and create a living DEI manual, as well as hosting coaching sessions for brigades that have no idea how to recruit and retain the team members they need as part of a diverse and inclusive brigade.

Over the last year, we at Hack for LA have increased the gender and racial diversity on teams significantly. We focused specifically on project leadership roles but have diversified across all levels. We have 500% more female project leads, and our hack nights are well attended by people of every color, ethnicity and a wide variety of neurodiversity. We encourage teams to challenge perpetuation of exclusionary language choices (such as using Jane or John Doe, as placeholders in code or mockups instead of the names of team members e.g., Kian, Monique, Fang, Harish, and Blessing). Our teams are diverse, now we need to change the way we communicate through tech, so we better the world we work in.