What inspired you to join USDS?
Originally I was interested in USDS for personal reasons: the projects are high-impact, and working at USDS was a chance to grow professionally. But in the end it was the chance to make a difference in people’s lives that sold me on the job.
What’s your career story?
Growing up, my father was a mainframe programmer for the Army, so I was exposed to punch cards, green bar paper, and terminals at an early age. I got a business degree in college, then spent a few years playing music professionally in bands. Eventually I came around to realizing Dad had been on to something good, and switched over to software development. I’ve been doing it for almost 30 years now.
What’s your super-power?
I am super-good at noticing great ideas from teammates and advocating for them.
What do you love most about USDS?
First: I get to work with some of the smartest, most empathetic people I know. Second: I’m proud of the work we do and the impact it can have.
What was the last great book you read?
I read a lot for work. USDS doesn’t subscribe to a single technological approach – we work hard to pick solutions that make sense for each of our agency partners. So I regularly spend my reading time learning about things like running COBOL on mainframes, or cloud platforms I haven’t used before.
How did you handle the quarantine?
I bought a green fabric backdrop that helps keep a little separation between Zoom calls and my home life.
How does your work make an impact?
We are helping CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) make sure their systems and processes can keep up with the pace of change in healthcare. Medicare has been around since the 1960s, and some of the systems that support it are nearly that old too!
“Making responsible decisions about complex issues requires representation at the table where the decisions are being made.”
“I have never met such a passionate group of individuals who show up for one another to provide help on projects and emotionally support each other during difficult times.”
“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.”
“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.”
“These solutions will improve the lives millions of citizens, which is the most amazing reward you can feel ever in your career.”
“The actual project work is important, but where I see the biggest potential is in the culture change and new ways of working that we can bring to agencies.”
“I’ve been involved with so many things I am proud of, but probably the most meaningful contribution is making the civil service stronger.”