What’s your background?
Before joining USDS, I worked with state, provincial, and federal governments in the U.S. and Canada on sustainable shipping regulations and ocean observing systems. I’ve also worked on a campaign to end illegal fishing globally, and conducted environmental chemistry research aimed at measuring human impacts on coastal ecosystems.
What inspired you to join USDS?
I was inspired to join USDS because technology can do more than entertain and amaze us. Combined with good government, it can be a force for good in people’s lives.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I’m constantly reminded that “better,” isn’t always better for everyone. We’re dealing with huge systems of systems, with lots of actors, misaligned incentives and complicated feedback loops that operate on longer timescales than political cycles. So, sometimes what might seem like an obvious and needed change is met with fierce resistance. It’s our job to take a step back, deeply empathize, and do our best to create a path when the blockers seem irrational to us from our original viewpoint.
How does your work make an impact?
USDS shows what’s possible in a tangible way. Strategy papers have their place, but working software tells a story about providing better service to people that’s hard to ignore.
What do you want to do after USDS?
Continue to work with dedicated, brilliant people trying to make a dent in the universe.
What will you miss most about USDS when you leave?
The people, by far. USDSers are some of the smartest, kindest, most generous, hard-working, fun-loving people I have ever met. Bar none.
“I have many avenues to create impact at USDS, which is what keeps it interesting and fulfilling.”
“It is a rare, one of a kind opportunity. It is the ability to work at the highest level of government in the United States to impact people at a scale that is unrivaled.”
“But when you serve at USDS, you wake up every day, serve your country, and have the opportunity to change the lives of millions of Americans.”
“I think that President Obama instilled in all of his staff the sense to do what is right, not always what is easy.”
“I love that USDS is intentional about selecting projects and is dedicated to helping underrepresented communities, such as veterans and immigrants.”
“USDS’ value is in delivery and building capacity. We’re able to work on projects to take an idea to implementation, and guide teams on best practices for how to continue this momentum even after we’re gone.”
“Honestly, it was a leap of faith more than informed decision. I packed my things and moved to DC knowing no one in the city. Turns out it was a fantastic decision.”
“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.”