Our 2022 Year in Review

Published on Feb 7, 2023 by Derek Eder, Sean Watland and Michael Chladek

Chi Hack Night

Ahead of our fourth annual Member Meeting and Board Elections on Feb 7, 2023, we’re publishing our 2022 year in review to share with our Members and our community (that’s you!).

As we look ahead to 2023, we also look back at what we did in 2022. Here we go …

For those newer to Chi Hack Night, this is the eighth “year in review” that we have done. Take a look at our year-in-review posts from 2021, 2020, 2019, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014 to follow along how we got here.

In that tradition, here are the high-level statistics for Chi Hack Night in 2022:

And with that, let’s dive in.

We had 34 presentations, 11 in-person!

All 34 Chi Hack Night presentations from 2022
All 34 Chi Hack Night presentations from 2022

Below is every presentation from 2022, organized by topic. You can also watch all 34 of them in one YouTube playlist.

Presentations by category

Climate change and environment



Government technology and data


Nonprofit tech



Chi Hack Night celebrations

List of organizations represented

In these presentations, we heard from individuals from an array of organization types, including local government, journalism, academia, nonprofits, and business:


  • Cook County Assessor’s Office
  • Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison
  • Cook County President’s Office
  • Former Inspector General for Chicago
  • Office of the Mayor, City of Chicago


  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois
  • Virginia Tech


  • Block Club Chicago
  • City Bureau
  • CityCast Chicago
  • Injustice Watch
  • South Side Weekly
  • WBEZ


  • Code for America
  • Elevate
  • United Congregation of Metro East
  • P33 Chicago
  • Chicago Tool Library
  • ChiCommons
  • Open Referral


  • Clean Power Lake County
  • Commuters Take Action
  • Folded Map
  • Sierra Club Illinois
  • Sunrise Movement


  • The Accelerate Group
  • Chicago CartoGraphics
  • Chicago Digital Access Alliance Inc
  • Design Trust Chicago
  • Preservation Futures

We held our third board elections

From top left, 2022 elected and appointed seats: Michael Chladek, Sean Watland, Eric Sherman, Cameron Sow and Laurie Merrell.
From top left, 2022 elected and appointed seats: Michael Chladek, Sean Watland, Eric Sherman, Cameron Sow and Laurie Merrell.

On Feb 22nd, we held our third election for our Board of Directors. We were amazed at the turnout. Of our 57 official Members, 26 attended virtually to cast their votes.

There were three members chosen by Chi Hack Night Members based on popular vote and two appointed by the current Board of Directors with majority Membership approval. All board members serve 2 year terms.

The elected members of the Board were: Michael Chladek, Eric Sherman, and Sean Watland. The appointed Board members approved by the Membership were Cameron Sow and Laurie Merrell. After the election, the Board still had one vacancy and in August, we appointed Shriya Jalukar as our 11th Board member.

Before the upcoming election in 2023, we’d like to give a special thank you to Samantha Evans and Steve Luker! They will not be seeking another term on the Board at Chi Hack Night, but will certainly be missed! Thank you for all you’ve done for the Chi Hack Night Community!

March 2022 Community Feedback Session

Responses from the March 15, 2022 community feedback session
Responses from the March 15, 2022 community feedback session

On March 15th, Chi Hack Night hosted a community feedback session to gather how folks are feeling about their communities while still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, how are folks feeling about Chi Hack Night, and what changes they might like to see in the coming months.

Similar to the results we saw in prior feedback sessions, feedback contained a mix of optimism and anxiety about the future. Many comments centered on the challenges and opportunities of online, hybrid, and in-person events, with a variety of opinions expressed but seeming general consensus that Chi Hack Night should plan to continue with hybrid offerings.

This community feedback session was more inwardly focused than our mostly post-election session last year, with a primary emphasis on Chi Hack Night operations during the current phase of the pandemic.

While there was some ambivalence about how well Chi Hack Night has achieved hybrid programming thus far, there was a strong and shared interest in figuring out how to continually improve and how to ensure that Chi Hack Night remains an inclusive and accessible space for Chicagoans to get involved in civic technology through the pandemic and beyond.

We held our 500th episode

Co-hosts Derek Eder and Emily Drevets at CHN 500
Co-hosts Derek Eder and Emily Drevets at CHN 500

July 12, 2022 marked the 500th episode of Chi Hack Night. That’s 10 years!

For this very special in-person hack night we featured 7 lightning talks answering the question ‘how has Chi Hack Night impacted you or your organization?’ You can watch each of them here:

  1. Eric Sherman - How I Chi Hacked My Life
  2. Kyla Williams Tate - Civic Leadership Springboard (pre-recorded)
  3. Derek Eder - Decarb My State
  4. Emily Drevets-Larson - Start where you are
  5. Michael Chladek - Chicago Media Justice
  6. Laurie Merrell - The #jobs Channel & Me: How CHN facilitated my career switch into (civic) tech
  7. Nick Lucius - From Lawyer to Chicago’s CTO (pre-recorded)

There was also:

  • tacos!
  • cupcakes!
  • a photo booth!
  • friends!
  • and, of course, civic hacking fun for all!

Chi Hack Night current and former board members at the CHN 500 photo booth
Chi Hack Night current and former board members at the CHN 500 photo booth

New board committee structures

In 2022, the Board adopted new committee structures to better align with the core functions of Chi Hack Night. At the start of this year, the Board had 9 committees (yes, we realize that was way too many!). Each board member was generally a part of 3 to 4.

After we revised our organization’s OKRs, or goals, we asked the question: do our current committees align with our OKRs? After some consideration, we decided they did not and there were more than we needed.

The Board, led by Sean Watland, reorganized our committees into more manageable groupings that aligned with our organization’s key goals.
The Board, led by Sean Watland, reorganized our committees into more manageable groupings that aligned with our organization’s key goals.

In August 2022, the Board decided to pare down our committees into just 3:

  1. Event Ops
  2. Membership & Volunteers
  3. Communications & Promotion

Updates to our membership process

As you may know, Chi Hack Night is a Membership based non-profit. The membership votes on our Board of Directors and our bylaws.

In December of 2022, we held a special member meeting where members voted on two proposed changes to Chi Hack Night’s bylaws to make the renewal process more straightforward. We had 18 members attend, who unanimously approved the two amendments.

Members will now need to renew their membership on an annual basis and the specific qualifications required for membership were removed from the bylaws themselves in order to allow greater flexibility to explore other models of what membership qualifications may look like in our remote / in-person hybrid future.


Chi Hack Night continues to remain financially stable and is in a good position to cover a potential increase in in-person events for 2023. The return of in-person events in 2022 meant increased expenses compared to 2021, although expenses remained substantially lower than they were pre-pandemic.

In 2022, we received donations from several individuals throughout the year (thank you to those who donated!) and saw the return of organizations providing sponsorship donations to Chi Hack Night (thank you, Open Tech Strategies and DataMade!).

With the return of in-person events, the main expenses for 2022 included professionally recording and editing the in-person presentations as well as providing food at such events. We also saw an increase in presenters taking advantage of Chi Hack Night’s honorarium for speakers.

Cash on Hand Beginning of 2022 $ 30,426.44
Individual Donations 1,490.00
Sponsorship Donations 12,500.00
Total Income $ 13,990.00
Advertising & Marketing 5,923.38
ASL Interpreter 875.00
Event Supplies 331.17
Food for In-Person Chi Hack Night 5,084.71
Legal & Professional Services 200.00
Office Supplies & Software 1,078.86
PayPal Fees 64.29
Speaker Honorarium 2,200.00
Taxes & Licenses 29.00
Total Expenses $ 15,786.41
Net Operating Income $ –1,796.41
Cash on Hand End of 2022 $ 28,630.03

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

In 2020, the Chi Hack Night board set out to create and measure Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) for our organization. After establishing our OKRs, we assigned each of them to the relevant committee and tracked and measured the progress at our regular board meetings. In July 2022, a group of Board Members met and set our OKRs for 2022. As we set these new OKRs in the middle of the year, we will not fully measure them until Summer 2023.

From our 2021 OKRs, we tried to organize our OKRs around core functions of what it takes to keep Chi Hack Night running. We settled on 4 Objectives:

  1. Run the Event
  2. Sustain the Event
  3. Promote the Event
  4. Ensure attendees get value from the Event

While we are not on track to hit all of our OKRs, we feel proud of the work we have accomplished over this past year. As always, we will continue to grow and improve as a board with each year.

Below are each of our OKRs and how we are tracking towards hitting them.

Progress Key

Whether we will achieve this by Summer 2023

ON TRACK we will likely achieve this key result
IN PROGRESS we can still achieve this key result, but it will take some extra effort
NOT ON TRACK we will likely not achieve this key result

Objective 1 - Run the event

Produce a live, weekly civic engagement event that meaningfully includes diverse speakers and attendees

ON TRACK Key Result 1.1: Run Chi Hack Night every week, excluding planned holiday weeks

ON TRACK Key Result 1.2: Ensure each presenter represents at least one of Chi Hack Night’s values

ON TRACK Key Result 1.3: Measure and track the diversity of the Chi Hack Night membership, presenters and co-hosts

ON TRACK Key Result 1.4: Ensure that at least 30% of presenters are persons of color and at least 50% of presenters fill out the demographic survey

ON TRACK Key Result 1.5: Ensure that at least 50% of co-hosts are from underrepresented groups in tech

NOT ON TRACK Key Result 1.6: Measure the satisfaction of participants that attend our hybrid and online events to make them more inclusive and engaging

Objective 2 - Sustain the event

Build & maintain a sustainable infrastructure for weekly operations engaging volunteers and expanding our organization’s capacity

ON TRACK Key Result 2.1: Each quarter, each volunteer role has been performed by at least two different people

NOT ON TRACK Key Result 2.2: Recruit and onboard one new non-board co-host, greeter, “Welcome to CHN” host for operational functions at Chi Hack Night per quarter

ON TRACK Key Result 2.3: Create a clear Membership application and renewal process that accounts for our remote environment

Objective 3 - Promote the event

Promote and share Chi Hack Night presentations, events, and projects to a wider audience

IN PROGRESS Key Result 3.1: Create metrics for how successfully we are promoting the event

IN PROGRESS Key Result 3.2: Draft a strategy for growing the attendance of our events

Objective 4 - Ensure attendees get value from the event

Offer valuable opportunities for attendees to learn about and get involved in our civic tech community

IN PROGRESS Key Result 4.1: Host “Welcome to Chi Hack Night” session each week to engage new attendees and help make it routine so more people can run it

ON TRACK Key Result 4.2: Each quarter, ensure a learning breakout group is hosted on digital skills (development, implementation, data, cryptography), civic literacy (how government works and how to participate), or media literacy (data journalism, visualization)

IN PROGRESS Key Result 4.3: Twice a year, facilitate a community feedback session with members of our community and share the results back in a blog post

Thus concludes our 2022 recap. Thanks for reading it. Here’s to a great 2023 for Chicago’s civic tech community! See you Tuesday!

About the author

Derek Eder, Sean Watland and Michael Chladek

Derek Eder, Sean Watland and Michael Chladek