ODI, ride or die

My badge for the state office building in Oakland, my hub.

This past Friday I finished my last day on easily the greatest job I’ve had so far in my long, strange and oftentimes charmed career.

I started at ODI, initially as a contractor, when it was still called the Office of Digital Innovation. I joined the team working on California’s statewide Covid site (covid19.ca.gov) as its new product manager, met my boss (then-director of products and programs Angie Quirarte, who has continued to be a coach, mentor and guide for me since), and was instantly hooked on public service.

After a year and a half with the state, in August of 2022 I was appointed by Governor Newsom to the staff of ODI (which is now the Office of Data and Innovation) and subsequently worked on or led a number of key projects there, including abortion.ca.gov, designsystem.webstandards.ca.gov, the ODI website itself (innovation.ca.gov), and just this past month the newly launched Innovation Hub (hub.innovation.ca.gov).

home page of the Innovation Hub with the headline "Tips and tools for working better" a button reading "Learn how to use the Hub" and a Featured resources section labeled "Plain language equity toolkit."
I’m super proud of the team that build the Innovation Hub, which has a brilliant future

Those are just the websites. We’ve also been working hard spreading innovative practices, launching a training program (CalAcademy), researching ways to make it easier for state workers to develop modern web services and ways to streamline how large IT projects and planned, approved, and guided toward successful outcomes.

The project I am proudest of is the Benefits Recommender, which helps people who aren’t receiving all the benefits they are entitled to find their way across the complex maze of state websites.

A preview of the Benefits Recommender with links to the earned income tax credit, cash aid for infant nutrition, and help for covering water bills.
After a California resident applies for a benefit such as disability insurance, we show them other programs they may be eligible for.

The culture at ODI is one in which we’ve been able to bring our full selves to work together, to make space for each other to express our full range of feelings as needed, to support and enable each other, and to feel a sense of belonging with a group of people who share a passion for the potential of helping the public sector serve people better.

Christian, researcher Sarah Letson, designer Erica Stivison, and data deputy Jason Lally in the ODI office in Oakland, peeking out of the Evidence Room.
Shenanigans on my last day in the office, one step ahead of the RTO posse.

So now I join a growing ODI diaspora and I am committed to bringing what I learned in California government to my next role (more on that soon).

My state phone before turning it in, with a shot of my home office workspace as its background
My state laptop with stickers celebreating the ODI Discovery Team, Technologists for Public Good, and the ODI Covid19 team.