Presidential Innovation Fellows- Meet the Fellows

Presidential Innovation Fellows- Meet the Fellows

The whole idea of the fellows program is to
bring amazing innovators, entrepreneurs, incredibly talented folks, change agents from outside
government into government for a six to twelve month tours of duty working with our best
innovators on game changing products. I actually didn’t think I was ever going
to be selected as a fellow I thought maybe I would be invited to join a conference call
every once and awhile. I thought they were looking for, you know, consultants with thirty
years of experience and people who knew the government inside and out. And the fact that
they picked me and a lot of my fellow fellows, who just are tech savvy entrepreneurs who
really wanted to make a difference, I think it shows they really do want to make a difference.
I got the chance to work with some really great people and there are so many different
initiatives going on in government that we were able to tap into that are really really
great. I think one of the biggest takeaways was is
that, you know with government you have impact on this massive scale, right, but it’s also
very hard to move I gigantic ship and so folks like ourselves are able to come in from the
private sector, where we move very fast, but sometimes it may not have that massive scale,
and so there is this beautiful melding of the two worlds, right. We were able to try
to move this big ship as fast as possible in a direction and it was quite powerful.
The most compelling moments for me have been seeing not just the fellows, but everybody,
I have been based at the Department of Veteran Affairs and everybody’s level of dedication
and purpose in work, that’s been presently surprising it has been the farthest thing
from what I have expected from the popular conceptions of what government is like and
really folks are trying to do the right thing for the right reasons.
Maybe you’re not the kind of person who would go into the Army, the Navy, the Air
Force or Marines, but you can still serve in this way and you can make a meaningful
difference. Not only immediately, but for everybody and a chance like that, you don’t
pass up. We are creating a fuel for entrepreneurs.
The open data project is, literally, giving resources that are otherwise untapped to companies
that actually need this stuff but can’t find it, can’t get it. I was an entrepreneur,
I was working in the energy sector; I never heard of half the things that I’m now celebrating
and marketing to companies that are growing all across America.
You have to be a person full of ideas, but also be able to execute on them too. So if
you’re an engineer, a developer; you’re perfect. If you’re a designer, a marketing…you
know, a thinker; you’re perfect as well too. I think there are going to be a lot of
opportunities in this next fellowship for different kinds of talented folks to show
their strengths. Seeing the kind of change they bring to Government,
it’s been one of the greatest privileges in my life to work with them.

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