Over the past two months, I along with several other innovation leaders, helped support the Virginia Deputy Secretary of Technology Tony Fung, plan the Governor Terry McAuliffe’s second annual Datathon.
The focus was finding ways to improve driving Workforce Development across the state by using technology, data, and creativity. There were 16 teams that came from across the Commonwealth of Virginia to participate. These included high school students, businesses, and colleges. Each brought their own skillset, passion, and expertise. This is an example of a 21st century government at work in Richmond. People donating their time to improve how the unemployed find jobs, develop skills, and for leaders to strategically invest resources to improve those searching for jobs find meaningful employment. Truly a remarkable event.
I was one of the mentors for the teams, providing subject matter expertise, advice and direction, as well as ideating concepts further. I had the honor of helping a team from Deep Run High School work on developing a report that analyzes the current jobs that are available with the skills and experience needed to fill the positions. This data was combined with job application information to assess the gaps their ability to be hired. Whether applicants needed more job experience, specific skills such as computer science or technical skills, to specific educational degrees, the students were making a report that showed the trend of these skills gaps on a monthly level. Incredible insight tool only made possible through open data, technology, and creativity.
The 2016 Datathon shows how to drive change in government, by combining many efforts and initiatives that have been the foundation of my career.
1. I’m all about open data driving transparency! Making data available online through an open data portal is only the beginning of creating a 21st century government. It is through events such as the Governor’s 2016 Datathon, that brings together residents, students, and businesses to truly make government data come to life. Every team found gaps in the data being collected, identified needs for creating data standards, and finding ways to make things work better.
2. Innovation starts in School. As a founding board member of CodeVirginia, that is driving computer science education as a requirement for public schools, seeing area students passionately driving a project with open data, technology, and computer science is exactly what we are trying to do. A key goal is to prepare the next generation of students in Richmond for the 21st century workforce. Not only were these students products and examples of the value of computer science being required in public schools, they were driving a project that validates and proves the value of computer science in the new Virginia economy. We need to drive making all Richmond public school students exposed to learning computer science education as it will expand their ability and desire to learn and prepare them for great careers that have openings all over the region.
3. Fixing Government takes Collaboration. Making government work for the people takes vision, strategy, and openness. The Virginia Datathon was exactly that. Tony Fung and the State of Virginia’s Workforce leadership knew that the data and information available wasn’t perfect, but also knew that the only way to improve it, the only way to make it better, was to get people using it. The goal is to work collaboratively, collectively, and strategically to achieve an outcome, in this case, improving how today’s workforce finds gainful employment. Fixing Government takes collaboration, transparency, and action.
I will bring these values and benefits to City Council. I have the experience in making City Hall work in the 21st century. This vision and leadership is evidenced through my implementing SeeClickFix, bringing NextDoor in partnership with Richmond Police to Richmond, driving transparency through creating the 2015 COVITS award-winning Open Data Portal, to countless other projects. I have made government work, and in each case, progress was accomplished through perseverance and collaboration.
Each project worked because it brought “we the people” into government. Each project worked because it created communication and cooperation with transparency and openness. Each project worked because they put in your hands, the data and information needed to make City Hall work.
This is how I intend to drive to make City Hall work. By driving transparency of government services, bringing together the people needed to drive change, and through having a 21st century vision and strategy for government. The First District’s needs and expectations of having good government are possible, but we need a leader with the experience to make City Hall work, a leader with the passion and commitment to make change happen, and a leader with the vision to improve government through public engagement.
I will make City Hall work for the First District.