Maybe it's end-of-year nostalgia, or maybe it's all the LinkedIn feed employment updates plus awareness of changes at my own company, anyway, I got to thinking this week about my initial explorations into the community of government transparency and digital reform known as "Gov 2.0" or "open government."
I got involved in Gov 2.0 in 2008 as a municipal government employee after wondering whether some of the digital engagement strategies of the Barack Obama presidential campaign could be applied to civic engagement in a more formal context, and found a small but welcoming community first on LinkedIn, then on GovLoop.com and Twitter. I went on to become group manager for the LinkedIn Government 2.0 community, to start the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast, and to make a (highly unsuccessful) run for U.S. Congress. During that campaign, I met Jim Gilliam, a civic technology entrepreneur, and, in 2011, I joined Jim and his co-founder Jesse Haff at NationBuilder.
NationBuilder, a community organizing system, now has 80 employees and provides a web platform for thousands of politicians and elected officials, and a growing number of cities and agencies. I recently met a new intern on our data team who has quite a local (NationBuilder is based in downtown Los Angeles) reputation in the open government community, and when she added me to a couple of her community Twitter lists, it struck me that I know fewer of the names and faces of today's Gov 2.0.
For a more up-to-date view of the Gov 2.0 community, check out these Twitter lists:
Over the past two and a half years, as NationBuilder has experienced tremendous growth, I've scaled back many of my open government activities, such that it sometimes feels like another lifetime when I used to interview community stalwarts and newcomers on a regular basis along with pals Steve Ressler and Steve Lunceford (more on them soon!) for our 45-minute podcast. I also tweet dramatically less – in 2009 I was averaging 60 tweets a day!
It's not like I jumped straight from government and community to industry: in 2011, I continued organizing CityCamp San Francisco events, nurtured the brand new "SF Technology Democrats" political club that I had co-founded, and in 2012 helped lead an organizing effort to pass open data legislation in California (we failed, narrowly). But, Jim ably convinced me that focusing my efforts on growing our company would bear the most fruit, and I left the Tech Dems, turned my beloved Gov 2.0 Radio over to Allison Hornery and John Wells of Sydney, and hunkered down to the task of turning a mission-driven startup into a world-changing company.
The vision really began to turn tangible this year – we closed a new round of funding led by the Omidyar Network this summer, and just last week formed a team of organizers focused on local government (if you’d like to get in touch, hit up Lead Organizer Steve Ferguson at email@example.com).
A lot has happened in five years! And in that vein, this weekend I dug up one of my very first community listings, a Dec. 26, 2008, blog post recommending Gov 2.0 folks to follow on Twitter, and did my best to catch up with their career shifts over the past half decade. The "where are they now" below is hardly exhaustive. In December 2008, I was just learning the parameters of and people in the community, and many of my closest friends in the movement I would meet later. I'll also not do justice to the expansive accomplishments of these folks since I first found them – their papers, speeches, and programmatic victories. Most of the "now" summaries are drawn from LinkedIn, and I know how much of my own recent trajectory is incomplete there. This list is also very U.S.-centric, as it was only as my own involvement in this community grew through 2009-2011 that I met more of its global leaders.
However, it is a pleasure to revisit these names and faces, and hopefully even to introduce some of them to today's Gov 2.0 dreamers and doers. I've broken down the list into broad industry categories and am including a few personal notes to help round out the list. Each of these folks – through personal example and advocacy and achievement – has made significant contributions to advancing principles of openness, transparency and efficiency in government information technology.
Federal Government and Defense
John Hale, @johnhale
- Then – Program Manager, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
- Now – Chief of Enterprise Applications at the Defense Information Systems Agency
Helen Mosher, @helenmosher
Many of the strongest voices of the early Gov 2.0 movement came out of defense – Helen is a communicator for the defense-oriented global nonprofit AFCEA
- Then – New Media Editor at SIGNAL Magazine
- Now – Director of Online Production and Digital Media Manager at SIGNAL Magazine
Jeffrey Levy, @levyj413
Jeffrey was one of the leading doers and philosophers of early Gov 2.0 and provided foundational resources well before if was even a thing. When I met Jeffrey, he had just started his current role.
- Then – Director of Web Communications at the EPA
- Now – Director of Web Communications at the EPA
Casey Coleman, @caseycoleman
Casey's job title alone doesn't do justice to the impact she's made on the field of government IT. The GSA is one of the largest and most innovative federal agencies, and Casey is like our movement's Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Meyer.
- Then – CIO of the GSA (since 2007)
- Now – CIO of the GSA
Software, Marketing and Community
Jack Holt, @jack_holt
- Then – Senior Strategist for Emerging Media at the Department of Defense
- Now – Social media for government educator at Georgetown; Director for Policy Analysis at Blue Ridge Information Systems (a federal contractor)
Steve Radick, @sradick
Steve's early contributions to Gov 2.0 in the federal government are considerable – since moving into consumer-oriented agency work, his "Social Media Strategery" blog remains a great resource for communicators.
- Then – Lead Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton
- Now – Vice President for Public Relations, Cramer-Krasselt
Lewis Shepherd, @lewisshepherd
- Then – CTO, Institute for Advanced Technology in Government, Microsoft
- Now – Director, Institute for Advanced Technology in Government, Microsoft
Steve Lunceford, @dslunceford
I first met Steve when he reached out to me on Twitter after I slammed BearingPoint on Twitter for some of its defense contracts. A former telecom media manager, Steve in 2009 joined me as one of the co-founders of Gov 2.0 Radio. Earlier this year, Steve's Deloitte colleague Bill Eggers, author of the 2004 "Government 2.0," launched the community marketing campaign for his latest book, "Solution Revolution," with my company's software.
- Then – founder of GovTwit (ended Dec. 2012); director of global communications for BearingPoint
- Now – Specialist Leader at Deloitte Digital for Social Business
Peter Corbett, @corbett3000
Peter is a global showman for open government and – along with his digital agency – is well known in DC for his massive meet-ups and industry events.
- Then – CEO of iStrategyLabs
- Now – CEO of iStrategyLabs
Mark Drapeau, @cheeky_geeky
True to his Twitter name, Mark was, in my era, one of the most outspoken and audacious members of the Gov 2.0 community. For much of the past five years, he was focused on innovation and engagement programs in the Public Sector division of Microsoft
- Then – research fellow at the Department of Defense
- Now – Director of Strategy and Insights, Atlantic Media
Cara Posey, @caraposey
- Then – chief of communications, Ohio Department of Commerce
- Now – marketing and communications professor; consultant and CMO of ExpertFile
Mark Oehlert, @moehlert
- Then – Learning Innovation Evangelist, Defense Acquisition University (inside the DOD)
- Now – Customer Success Director at Socialtext
Meghan Harvey, @meghan1018
Meghan and I met on Twitter but lived less than 10 miles apart, and she volunteered on my Congressional campaign. When I met Meghan, she was just beginning to write for Politics Unlocked at the start of a new career as a media consultant and freelancer.
- Then – day care owner
- Now – social media and customer care manager and blogger for outlets including SheHeroes, Life360 and MOMocrats
Andrea Baker, @immunity
Andrea, one of the folks on this list I've been privileged to meet in person, says on her LinkedIn profile that she's retired from government and contracting. She's now an actress and filmmaker, and continues to do agency digital work as well.
- Then – Director of Enterprise 2.0 for Navstar, Inc.
- Now – CMO for Prosense Productions; project manager for Ann Bevans Collective
Mark Faul, @citymark
Mark's "now” just makes me happy. His work on vegan food products and healthy lifestyle events and services recently turned into a full-time role as a restaurant proprietor.
- Then - Program manager, e-media, City of Ottawa
- Now - owner of SimplyRaw Express, a health food restaurant in Ottawa
Chris Dorobek, @cdorobek
The voice of Gov 2.0 (I could only pretend at Gov 2.0 Radio), Chris now runs his own government-focused media company and has been a frequent contributor to GovLoop audio projects. In another transition that brings me a smile, Chris' most notable transition in the past several years has been to fatherhood.
- Then – Federal News Radio co-anchor
- Now – Founder and editor at DorobekINSIDER.com
Alan W. Silberberg, @ideagov
I have Alan to thank for my first IRL meeting with Jim Gilliam, at the inaugural Gov 2.0 LA event at BlankSpaces in 2010.
- Then – Founder, You2Gov (a political social media startup)
- Now – Founder of Gov 2.0 LA (events) and Digijaks (a cybersecurity consultancy)
Andrew Krzmarzick, @krazykriz
- Then – Senior Project Manager, Business Development, Graduate School USDA
- Now – Director of Community Engagement at GovLoop
Steve Ressler, @govloop
Steve not only helped me run Gov 2.0 Radio for its first year, he introduced me to the movement with GovLoop, which began as a small Ning-based community that had less than 1,000 people in 2008. He's grown GovLoop to more than 100,000 members with 14 employees. In 2009, GovLoop was acquired by GovDelivery, where Steve founded a consulting division. Steve had early Gov 2.0's most prominent "exit" and has continued his role as a chief steward of the community.
- Then – IT program manager at Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Now – President and Founder at GovLoop
The next three leaders weren't on my 2008 list, but this retrospective wouldn't be complete without them. Each has made incredible contributions to the Gov 2.0 community and continues to do so.
Kevin Curry, @kmcurry
Kevin founded CityCamp, a global unconference series that helped build bridges between industries within Gov 2.0 and grow relationships internationally – CityCamps have been key community infrastructure for the movement and have been held in eight countries. One of my most recent speaking events was CityCamp North Carolina.
- Then – Chief Scientist, Bridgeborn
- Now – Program Director, Code for America Brigade; Chief Scientist, Bridgeborn
Luke Fretwell, @govfresh
Just about the time I was spinning up Gov 2.0 Radio, Luke was working on a social media aggregation project called "GovFresh." We sat on the steps of my government office at 1390 Market St. discussing ideas together in 2009. GovFresh went on to become a tightly edited blog and the open government movement's most trusted and consistent publication. Luke and I organized a number of SF-area civic tech meetups, and he's become one of my closest friends. For much of the past few years, Luke ran digital media and events with FedScoop. I'm excited to see what he does next.
- Then – Digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur focused on sustainability
- Now – GovFresh founder and editor, open data industry consultant
Alex Howard, @digiphile
Alex is the scribe of Gov 2.0 (although he might argue with me calling the movement that). For most of the past few years, he was the Gov 2.0 reporter and Washington correspondent for O'Reilly Media. His long-form reporting on open government is incredible, and he has been a frequent contributor to GovFresh, as well as chronicling the community and its milestones on his own blog. Alex is also the community's most well-known and followed voice on Twitter.
- Then – Associate Editor, SearchCompliance.com
- Now – Fellow, Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Zach Tumin, @zachtumin
- Then – Harvard Kennedy School, Leadership for a Networked World Program
- Now – Harvard Kennedy School, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; recently published "Collaborate or Perish! Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World" with Random House and William J. Bratton
State and Local Government
Marilyn Clark, @marlinex
- Then – online communications and services manager, CalPERS
- Now – User Experience Director, CalPERS
David Fletcher, @dfletcher
When I tell folks that Utah is one of the best examples of efficient government IT in the world, it's David I'm praising. Under his leadership, Utah pulled off one of the most successful data center consolidations in government, and the new Utah.gov set the bar for public websites with its beautiful design and search-oriented architecture.
- Then – CTO of Utah
- Now – CTO of Utah
Bob Ashley, @bashley
If you don't follow Bob on Twitter, you're missing out. His folksy and informative tweets made him an early example of how effective use of social media can create community just as powerfully as IRL interactions.
- Then – Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Berwick
- Now – CAO, City of Summerside, Prince Edward Island
David Tallan, @david_tallan
- Then – manager, web portfolio, Government of Ontario
- Now – Senior Manager, Enterprise Web Development, Government of Ontario
Pam Broviak, @pbroviak
Pam has long been a digital reformer in local government, and is an advocate of the application of virtual worlds to public works projects. I first met her IRL in Edmonton, Alberta, at a conference organized by another Second Life enthusiast and innovator, City CIO Chris J. Moore.
- Then – City Engineer and Director of Public Works for the City of LaSalle
- Now – City Engineer, Geneva, Illinois
Bill Greeves, @bgreeves
Like Jeffrey Levy, Bill was providing Gov 2.0 infrastructure before anyone was calling it that. His MuniGov 2.0 community has been a foundational resource for local government employees looking to reform communications and IT.
- Then – co-founder of MuniGov 2.0, CIO for County of Roanoke
- Now – CIO of Wake County
Please use the comments to share what I've missed in the recent careers of these fine folks, and to add your own "where are they now?" stories from the past five years of Gov 2.0. Happy holidays, and best wishes for the next half decade of innovation in civic IT.