#555 Online: Civic Tech Jobs Panel
Christopher Whitaker (he/him), Digital Service Expert, United States Digital Service
Jean Cochrane (she/her), Senior Data Scientist, Cook County Assessor’s Office
Mjumbe Poe (he/him), Lecturer, Master of Urban Spatial Analytics Program at University of Pennsylvania and Software Engineer, Jarvus Innovations
Nikki Lee (she/her), Director of Product, New Practice Lab at New America
Four civic technology practitioners will share their reflections on their careers and the evolution of the field. With backgrounds spanning government, nonprofits, universities, and private companies, the panelists have a breadth of experience and perspectives to share with the CHi Hack Night audience.
Digital Service Expert, United States Digital Service
Christopher Whitaker is a bureaucracy hacker and product manager for the United States Digital Service. Previously, Whitaker led product at the Defense Digital Service with a focus on crisis response and cybersecurity. Whitaker also helped to organize a volunteer network of local civic tech organizations. He currently teaches civic technology and data storytelling at Columbia College Chicago. Whitaker is a U.S. Army veteran having served in Iraq as a mechanized infantryman and has a Master’s of Public Administration.
Senior Data Scientist, Cook County Assessor’s Office
Jean got her start in civic tech as a developer at DataMade, where she built websites and ETL pipelines to help journalists, nonprofits, and local governments tell stories with data. She took a few years away from civic tech to work for a remittance company before moving over to the Assessor’s Office, where she helps write software to estimate the value of over a million homes in Cook County. Born and raised in Hyde Park, she lives in Rogers Park and tries to swim in the lake as often as possible.
Lecturer, Master of Urban Spatial Analytics Program at University of Pennsylvania and Software Engineer, Jarvus Innovations
Mjumbe Poe is a lecturer in the MUSA program at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches students to build scalable systems to help people make decisions with geospatial data, and an engineering consultant at Jarvus Innovations.
Mjumbe uses technology to build the capacity of individuals and communities to shape their cities, their neighborhoods, and their own lives. He has been developing civic technology since 2010. Under the banner of his consulting firm, Poe Public, he has consulted with cities such as Cambridge, MA and New York, NY on technology to support their participatory budgeting processes. Additionally, he serves as co-founder and CTO of Stepwise, a company dedicated to leveraging open data to help people make smarter, more impactful investments in the built environment. Prior to joining Stepwise in 2016, Mjumbe served as a Digital Services Architect at the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation. In 2012, he started at OpenPlans, where he helped to build tools that encouraged city residents to get involved in planning for the future of their cities.
The perspective of technology as a means for social empowerment guides Mjumbe’s professional and extracurricular development. In 2011, he was an inaugural Code for America Fellow, and in 2017 he was awarded a Technology and Democracy fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School. Additionally, Mjumbe volunteers with Coded by Kids as an instructor and a board member, and he is a member of the planning committee for the biannual International Conference on Appropriate Technology.
Director of Product, New Practice Lab at New America
Nikki Lee is a product manager and product coach who works at the intersection of technology and public good.
Prior to joining New America, Lee worked at Jarvus Innovations on the California Integrated Travel project, supporting data engineering, web development, and strategy teams working to make transit more effective and equitable for Californians. Before that, she worked at 18F for 6 years. She spent the bulk of her time at 18F working on Medicaid IT system modernization, including both consulting on legacy system modernization at the state level and partnering with staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to evolve how they fund and oversee state technology projects. She also helped found 18F’s public benefits portfolio, led multiple rounds of hiring, and developed and ran accessibility trainings for staff across 18F and Technology Transformation Services (TTS).
Before joining the federal government, Lee worked at Microsoft building digital pen experiences for Windows. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Olin College and a master’s degree in human centered design and engineering from the University of Washington.
Although Lee did not grow up in Seattle, she is a longtime resident and a founding trustee of the Seattle chapter of the Awesome Foundation. In her free time, she likes to ride her bicycle, play video games, and throw a baseball around with her friends. She also enjoys hanging out with her cat.
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