What’s your background?
I’m a software engineer born and raised in New York City. Before working at USDS I was a software consultant/contractor for various tech startups in NYC.
What inspired you to join USDS?
One day I was on Hacker News and saw this post and then I read the Fast Company article and thought this looks really cool and I would love to be a part of it. I applied immediately after reading the article and a few months later, I was here helping to make a difference. I would also say that during the interview process I realized that I definitely wanted to join. You get to hear all of the good work everyone is doing that’s not in the news and it’s so inspiring you just want to start doing it already, but you know, I didn’t even have the job yet.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Besides having to relocate with my wife and son to D.C., I think the biggest challenge was learning all the acronyms that are used in government. You can sit in a meeting and it can sound like no one is speaking English. Once you learn it, though, everything gets a lot easier.
How does your work make an impact?
Since joining USDS in March 2016, I have been at several different agencies and all of the work there I felt has made an impact. I started at Social Security Administration, where we were tasked with trying to make disability claims processing more efficient and easier. After that, I went to Department of Education, where we helped students get out of debt and default. Then it was off to Small Business Administration, where we helped make it easier for small disadvantaged businesses to get access to government contracts. Now I am at FEMA, where we are helping to make the disaster grants process a lot better. At all of these places, the work we did has a huge impact on the lives of many people.
What do you want to do after USDS?
I will probably do more civic tech. I really like the feeling that the work I do makes a difference. It’s not about how can we maximize digital ad space or make conversion rates better, but how we can use technology to really make a difference in someone’s life.
What will you miss most about USDS when you leave?
The work, the people, and being able to solve problems on a federal level. No matter where you are in the federal government, you have the chance to impact the lives of millions of people and that is an amazing feeling that’s hard to replicate.
“Despite the challenges that arise on any given day, I wouldn’t trade this job for anything, especially in this moment.”
“My friends here inspire me. When the work demands 110% from us, we lean on each other until we get “all the things” done.”
“And my resolve to contribute to the movement was only strengthened when I heard about how USDS works, their values, and the awesome things they had delivered.”
“I was a little concerned about whether I could make a difference in three months, but after my experience here, I wholeheartedly recommend that you should consider doing it for as long or short a duration as you can.”
“Making sure we can improve, design, and iterate on a printed piece of paper, while explaining policy in a more human-centered way was a challenge I wasn’t expecting.”
“I’ve been involved with so many things I am proud of, but probably the most meaningful contribution is making the civil service stronger.”
“There is definitely a need for more women of color to speak tech and government at the same time. I believe in changing the status quo, and more importantly, empowering good people with the right tools, especially in government.”