Civic Hall was a community before it was ever a space.

When a Civic Hall member said the above quote, they were referring to our community, which is made up of incredible members with moving stories, impressive journeys, and inspiring hope to help build a better society. Read on to learn more about our members and their work!


Marci Lobel-Esrig, Founder and General Counsel of SilverBills

March 09, 2020

“The NYC Department of Aging’s bill payment model — which dated back to the 1970’s and 1980’s — had flaws, and we innovated a new way to solve that problem!”

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Sean Ansanelli, Founder of MakeItHappen.City.

February 23, 2020

“I don’t want small policy changes, I want a completely new political and economic system. At the same time, I want to build things.”

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Megan Marrelli, Program Manager of Meedan

February 06, 2020

“[Working on Patriot Act] taught me a lot about different information priorities. Strong journalism is inherently nuanced and complicated. “Funny” is inherently reductive. There was an interesting tension of priorities. I saw that the success of the show relied on this tension.”

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Ana Maria González Forero, Co-founder of FEM

January 24, 2020

“Why are opportunities so unequal? Why do the people who need the most, get the least? This was the curiosity behind the idea to create an org to enable equality. That was the beginning of everything. What could FEM accomplish in a lifetime that could be both sustainable and affect women’s and children’s lives?”

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James Fitzgerald, Deputy Director of New York Veterans Alliance

January 10, 2020

“I see the necessity of the Mission. I see the potential behind breaking that barrier down. And that service comes in all shapes and sizes.”

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Taj Haider, Senior Development Director at Civic Hall

December 12, 2019

“There is a large prison near my town—the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility—which is a big employer in the community. To this day, it still carries out the Death Penalty. When I was nine years old, I heard on the news that someone was being put to death that very day. I remember begging my mother to take me to protest it. Looking back, that was one of my first sparks for advocacy and civic engagement.”

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Columbia University's SIPA Challenge Grant Teams

December 02, 2019

The SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge is an annual competition of the School of International and Public Affairs created to inspire students to develop innovative uses of digital technology and data to address global policy problems.

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Joshua Lamel, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at InSight Public Affairs

November 18, 2019

“I had a civic-minded upbringing. My parents always talked about politics around the dinner table, and things that could make the world a better place. Even at a young age, I had an empathetic mind; that’s something my parents fostered in me.” 

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Adam Greene, CEO and founder of Klaatch

October 31, 2019

“I have a very strong belief that tech is a means, not an end. What do I mean by that? I don’t believe most people can make relationships through that world, but they can support relationships very effectively that begun outside of it.”

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Taylor Ourada, Principal Consultant at Ourete

October 18, 2019

“Some clients ask me, “What if, at the end of data analysis, we find that our program doesn’t work as well as we thought it did?” “I tell them, well, at least you know then, and you can do something productive with that information.

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Cathy Richards, Co-founder of Pueblo CoLab

October 03, 2019

“Stay open — to new ideas, friendships, opportunities, and conversations.”

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Emily Reid, Vice President of Open Learning at AI4ALL

September 19, 2019

“We need to be more careful about how we use technology and what we use it for.”

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Tenzin Kyisarh, Marketing Associate at Civic Hall

September 05, 2019

“I have had the best of both worlds – I can do the American side, my Tibetan self. But since most of my upbringing took place in developing countries, I tend to think about what happens to the weakest stakeholders.”

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Kate Downey, Co-founder and Creative Director of Caveat

August 26, 2019

“You put everything into what you’re doing – months of rehearsing, practicing scales, memorize lines. When you’re working on a play you put everything into it – then you rest, and you cry. And then you start a new project. That became the pattern of my life. And I love the community – the social aspect of it.”

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Shana Holmes, Senior Operations Manager and Communications Advisor at Analyst Institute

August 19, 2019

“How do we bridge the gap between the research and how we talk about it?”

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Jonathan Spooner, Founder at Stacks + Joules

August 19, 2019

“Instead of focusing on all the suburbs, what about the ur-ban pocket of digital natives who are hungry & would love to work? Instead of looking for “A” students, we focus on the C+/B-’s, gems who can be engaged & given direction.”

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Hart Hooton, Founder and President of Marketechnique

August 19, 2019

“Stay focused on bringing sunlight and a great product to the civic tech community.”

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Bonnie Osinski, Fundraising Consultant

July 15, 2019

“While my father worked for the Catholic League for Poland, managing the American postwar relief, buying people out of camps, we discovered that he was also a spy! He was given two death sentences under Stalin, narrowly escaping.”

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Florent Joly, Civic Hacker

June 18, 2019

“In Helsinki a politician asked me, ‘Wait. You keep mentioning the Cloud. What is the Cloud?’ These are people who vote for extremely complex legal frameworks! European Parliament has a training schedule for members of Parliament – digital tools – but that’s Level Zero. EdTech is booming; we need some sort of EdTech for the public sector.”

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Clàudia Prat, Journalist/Producer/Filmmaker

June 06, 2019

“From social movements I learned how my role as a journalist was not only about “giving voice,” but actually uplifting and empowering communities through my understanding of tech and storytelling.”

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Alex Evis, Digital Rights Activist and Researcher

June 03, 2019

“We deserve to know the price before and after – whether it’s that of a banana or a t-shirt.”

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Jess Riegel, co-founder of Motivote

May 21, 2019

“There is a disconnect for my generation. We possess strong political opinions, but this doesn’t translate to voting. How do we bridge the gap between intention and action?”

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Vanessa Ortiz, Microsoft Civic Tech Fellow

April 22, 2019

“As I worked with students, I learned that I have a passion to plant a seed and watch it grow. It impacted me seeing how much I enjoy positivity in others. I decided to double major with math and computer science, and keep it going.”

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Amina Yamusah, CTO of Bloc Software

April 08, 2019

“While I love that the progressive movement is extremely data-driven, it does not focus on its most reliable coalition – voters of color and youth voters. We need to put pressure on the movement to come up with tangible benchmarks and protocols when it comes to POC outreach.”

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Chris Bolman, Founder of Brightest

March 25, 2019

“I want to build technology that has heart – tech that’s inclusive, has empathy, and can serve as a canvas or catalyst for others to build movements or pursue what inspires them.”

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Shelby Switzer, founder of Civic Unrest

March 11, 2019

“I learned that as you’re building tech to benefit underserved and generally vulnerable populations that you have to be extremely ethical and conscious of how that software and tech, including the data its collecting, factor into whether those people are being helped or exploited.”

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Beverly Leon, Civic Tech Fellow of Microsoft Cities NYC

February 25, 2019

“The ultimate vision — the high level dream — is that every middle and high school student has access to this platform, can explore it, and have ownership over their own civic identity.”

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Eboné Bishop

February 04, 2019

“I returned to the U.S. at a time when our failure to acknowledge and address various forms of marginalization and violence against PoC and LGBTQ people were the top news stories. This remains the case. Now more than ever, I’ve committed myself to exploring the intersection of culture, civic engagement and corporate governance and strategy.”

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Julio Corredor, CEO of Zooterra

January 28, 2019

“The more I’ve experienced the amazing beauty of nature, the more I want to do this work. From Angel Falls in Venezuela, to Orangutans in Borneo, I’ve seen what we can lose. Everyone should be able to experience this.”

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David Barnum

January 22, 2019

“We wanted to build an organization where you’re not competing, but pulling together, maintain a sense of freedom that comes with the pirate life. We have people all over the place — in Omaha, Montana, Maine — and are able to collaborate effectively. Creative production is a mix of individual contribution and collaboration.”

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Jed Miller, Digital Strategist

January 14, 2019

“Anyone trying to use story to advocate, persuade, or disrupt, is engaged in a collaborative act. If you are not, you are not engaged in an authentic story and are possibly doing something worse — telling the story about someone from a community you don’t understand, in a way that serves your purpose, and just might even endanger them.”

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John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology & Civic Innovation for Microsoft New York

January 07, 2019

“I had this vision, ‘When you’re young you do things, you volunteer. It’s only when you’re done with your career, when you’ve achieved something, that you then step into government.’ And I realized that was totally wrong.”

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Katie Simpson, Women's March Global Head of Operations

December 17, 2018

“I am always down to analyze an idea or a system. I love connecting with others and making them feel welcome. I throw a kickass dinner party.”

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Victoria Gaytan, Global Americans Program Manager

December 10, 2018

“Global Americans conducts research and analysis on Latin American affairs — democracy, human rights, social inclusion, and most importantly, foreign policy and its relationship between the U.S. and the western hemisphere. We’re looking at “The Wall,” NAFTA renegotiations, the rising conflict in Nicaragua, the escalating crisis in Venezuela…”

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Shaneka Ramdeen, Civic Hall Director of Culture & Events

December 03, 2018

“I don’t want to see Woke Work thought of as “the black events for POC” at Civic Hall. I don’t want to increase segregation; I want it to be integrated. I want members to attend and learn from each other and be part of the conversation. Without that, we’ll never grow.”

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Andy Saldaña, Executive Director of the NY Tech Alliance

November 26, 2018

“The very first time I walked into a tech event in New York, I was petrified. I thought, ‘I don’t fit here. I don’t belong here. I’m gonna quit.’ I went to an event just last week — I won’t say which one. It was so poorly curated and homogeneous that all of those feelings rushed back. Here I am six years later and I’m still, ‘What am I doing here?’ How am I helping as many people who are like me not feel like that? That’s what I feel our mission is.”

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Bitsy Bentley, Artist/Activist

November 19, 2018

“It’s my hope that the skills I’ve honed doing for-profit research have great things to contribute to civic engagement and helping our leaders understand what we need from them. Market research was about helping companies understand what the needs are of our customers. So, what is civic engagement, what is civic research? Helping our public officials understand what the needs are of our citizens.”

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Aaron Travis, Creative Director for SapientRazorfish

November 15, 2018

“Cambridge Analytica is what pulled me in full force [to civics]. I had to learn about everything – a deep dive into Constitutional history, leading up to how we got here. The ultimate test of freedom of speech; our values as a country, which we’ve taken them for granted. In the process I was forced to reconsider my belief that all speech is a net positive.”

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Nushin Rashidian, Journalist-Entrepreneur

October 29, 2018

“Our interest began with the contradiction of the laws. At the time, I didn’t even know the social justice component. I was fascinated that, at the time, California was threatening to pass legalization and what confusion that would bring.”

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Erycka Montoya, Acting Director of Community for The Movement Cooperative

October 22, 2018

“We have to remember we’re all part of a system. We’re all nodes. We each affect each other one way or another. We forget that. It’s why our healthcare system is seeing a surge in interest in wellness. We need to start seeing ourselves as part of a collective and how… my bounty can be your gain as well.”

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Curtis Davis, Senior Marketing Associate, Civic Hall

October 15, 2018

“Growing up in a single-parent, impoverished household as a gay youth, I experienced a lot of adversity and dance really helped me get energy out. It was just ME and the dance floor; nothing else was going on — an escape for that energy.”

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Jake Porway, Founder, Datakind

October 09, 2018

“We have about 20,000 or so volunteers involved/interested in the movement, but the challenge with any volunteer org is having enough work for those who raise their hands.”

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Jason Van Anden, Founder and CEO of Quadrant 2

October 01, 2018

“With art, I viewed it as a gift from one person to another in a passive way. So I pursued art to contribute to that ecosystem.”

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Marya Stark, Social Entrepreneur

September 24, 2018

“This year we flipped the legislatures of New Mexico and Nevada, and would have picked up Virginia but for a coin toss.”

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Danielle Hamilton, Senior Membership and Welcome Desk Associate, Civic Hall

September 17, 2018

“Civic Hall is a workspace, but it’s also a community, and it can be so much more. When I come here, this is the group of people who have my back and support me. We can work together to not just make Civic Hall a better place, but NYC, even the world.”

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Austin Lee, founder of bettercorp

September 10, 2018

“My parents grew up during the Korean War. As young children they had no resources and food was scarce. The only thing available to them was education. It was a ladder out.”

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Josh Frankel, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Whysaurus

September 04, 2018

“Join our community of folks who want to reclaim online argument and build The Library of The Best Arguments. We won’t answer every question. But by arguing, we’ll get closer.”

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Miki Noguchi

August 27, 2018

“The power of CH is in its community. Now it’s time to turn the dial up on that potential and let us see what that kind of light can accomplish when it’s got full [insert preferred renewable energy source] behind it.”

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Henry Bruce, Director of Product at Microfinance Information Exchange

August 20, 2018

“The real world for us is the Enterprise, the business, not the consumer. There are lots of people gathering demand-side analysis, but few are focusing on information for the supply side, the institutions.”

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Mazin Sidahmed, Co-founder and Senior Reporter, Documented

August 13, 2018

“Too often journalists are writing to a New York Times audience. But if you walk through immigrant-heavy areas you won’t find a Times. That to me is a failure to serve and we don’t want to fall into that trap. We need to figure out a way to reach them.”

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Josh Dean, Co-Founder of

July 30, 2018

“Many people in government like to say that, ‘It takes a village to get someone off the street.’ That isn’t true. It takes an apartment to bring someone off the street. When they say it takes dozens to convince someone to get off the street, that’s actually more about the bureaucracy.”

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Bessie Schwarz

July 23, 2018

“My eyes opened to this profound thing that is the natural world. Even if we hold it as precious, you can’t just appreciate it. Valuable things are not necessarily guaranteed; they’re often threatened. Seeing the environmental degradation all around me, I realized that we have to fight for things we love.”

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Hosan Lee, Ceo and Co-Founder

July 16, 2018

“For me, empathy is a developable skill set that enables people to take each other’s perspective and begin the process of listening to each other. That is just the beginning. It’s not an aspirational value goal like l-o-v-e, it’s very different than that. It’s very functional and tangible.”

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Marta Milkowska, CEO & Co-Founder,

July 09, 2018

“Technology can’t solve everything but, if used well, can scale up impact.”

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Fiona Teng, Director of Marketing and Storytelling, Civic Hall

July 02, 2018

“I believe in leadership that listens and self-reflects, marketing that cares about its audiences, and civic tech communities that strive for equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

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Justin Cohen, writer, activist, storyteller, and nonprofit executive

June 25, 2018

“Feeding people is radical. Things that are sort of quotidian are radical. Giving money to poor people is radical. Letting poor people control their own destinies is radical. Changing the power dynamic is radical.”

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Yejin Lee, Director of Organizational Design, Civic Hall

June 18, 2018

“I identify as a “defensive pessimist” and so I plan for the worst as a way to mitigate anxiety and in order not to experience the worst. What does it mean on the front-end to thoughtfully design — to so deeply understand the way that homophobia, racism, transphobia, racism, & sexism operate — as to anticipate how tech might be used in this way, and to prevent it from happening?”

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Ken Miles, Social Impact Entrepreneur

June 11, 2018

“How do you create awareness and a conversation in a way that reduces stigma, provides adequate resources, as well as a holistic perspective? How do we get well?”

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Tricia Davies, Founder and CEO of The Public Good

June 04, 2018

“Our work is always informed by social goals and involves the client as thought partners. Each project is unique but based on a standard framework of rigorous research, stakeholder involvement and financial realities.”

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Bill Lukashok, Co-founder of the Madison Square Park Conservancy

May 21, 2018

“I’m endlessly fascinated by the notion of change in the City and gentrification. And I think very long and hard how in the world gentrification can be more of a force for good without negative repercussions. I don’t have the answer for that yet.”

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Aneta Molenda, Digital Campaigner and Strategist, OUR

May 14, 2018

“I love that everyone in the Cohort is doing vastly different things. Pooling the knowledge together of everyone in the room. You can bounce ideas without judgment. This is a safe space where we can grapple with challenges.”

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Susana Martinez-Restrepo, Director of Research and Development, "CoreWoman Institute"

May 07, 2018

“It doesn’t really fit our culture. The measurements come from India and Bangladesh. It doesn’t really apply to South American women. We are empowered and disempowered in different ways in South America.”

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Jay Cassano, Reporter at Sludge

April 30, 2018

“And, in the age of regurgitated/”aggregated” news, I’ve developed an allergy to writing anything that’s not fiercely original. If I’m not contributing anything new and worthwhile to the public discourse I really don’t see why I should write it (or you should read it!)”

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Brittany Spatz, Director of Program Partnerships at Educational Alliance

April 23, 2018

“If LinkedIn were human and cared about your personal passions and the legacy you want to leave behind, it would be me.”

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Elizabeth Ferrao, Co-founder of the NYC chapter of Women Who Code

April 16, 2018

“Code should not only be well documented, but it should also withstand scrutiny by multiple parties who don’t see your code in the same way. Code that is the product of a diverse group of people is code that will stand up stronger.”

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Elana Levin, Co-founder Organizing 2.0

April 09, 2018

“Social media means we don’t have to beg corporate media for coverage anymore. We can create a situation where the media had to cover us. By making it a trend and creating powerful images in cities, a media that didn’t want to cover Black Lives Matter has to cover police violence for clicks, or they’ll look like fools.”

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Evita Turquoise Robinson, founder and CEO of NOMADNESS

April 02, 2018

“I think what the tribe instills is a support system that fosters courage and permission to live out loud. And live the way that you want to even if it’s unorthodox. When Tribe is everywhere, it gives you the confidence to go anywhere.”

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Ivelyse Andino, CEO and Founder of Radical Health

March 26, 2018

“Community coming together can change what we know is health. That means that the solution we want to see and the change we want to see resides in lived experience. And within those, directly in our communities.”

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Brian L Williams, Co-founder of BREAUX Capital

March 19, 2018

“How can we engage our demographic, in our way, using our cultural competencies and nuances, and the way we move? How can we employ information that might be hard to read, or just disconnected from our personal identity? How do we create a culture where you can reimagine your position and your participation within the system?”

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Benj Singer, Communications Director for Clean Missouri

March 14, 2018

“Most nonprofits and political campaigns really fail to articulate a theory of change that takes a vision of changing the world and a strategy to get there. And making it clear how we can do that.”

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Vishal Disawar, Co-founder of Grove AI

March 05, 2018

“We [Vishal and co-founder Bernard] both got into this after the 2016 elections. We wanted to give Democrats the tools they needed to reach people at scale, and to have meaningful conversations in order to get people involved with the Resistance and elections to elect more Democrats and pass more progressive laws, in 2017, 2018, and beyond.”

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Tamika T Taylor, Founder of "Part of the Conversation"

February 26, 2018

“My intention is to shine a spotlight, to give people a voice.”

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Keith Kirkland, CEO and co-founder of WearWorks

February 20, 2018

“Movement is still taught the way music used to be listened to before the invention of the phonograph. I was trying to develop a way to allow movement learning to enter the digital economy and I thought communicating information with touch (haptics) could transform the industry. There was just one problem, there was no haptic language!”

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Lynn Harris, Founder of Gold Comedy

February 12, 2018

“From social movements I learned how my role as a journalist was not only about “giving voice,” but actually uplifting and empowering communities through my understanding of tech and storytelling.”

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Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Engagement Collaborator for the Civic Hall @ Union Square project

February 05, 2018

“My focus is on finding the best ways to solve persistent human problems. I’ve done this inside government and now I am doing it outside!”

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Joanne Heyman, Founder of Heyman Partners

January 29, 2018

“When I come into contact someone with complementary skills to mine, I can contemplate putting together a team for larger projects I can’t otherwise do on my own.”

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Gabrielle Tang, Director of Operations for rhize

January 22, 2018

“When you are liberated, I am liberated, too. Our liberations are connected. Your fight is important. Your fight is my fight.”

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Aaron Carr, Founder and Executive Director of Housing Rights Initiative

January 08, 2018

“Without public data and technology, Housing Rights Initiative wouldn’t exist. Landlords are required to register a plethora of information with various city agencies. Therefore, every irregularity and illegality is a matter of public record. The government isn’t looking, but we can.”

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Meli Glenn, COO of Klaatch

December 18, 2017

“I believe in the communal way of living. I’ve always had a sense — you live together, you die together.”

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Kurt Opprecht, Founder of The Threat to Freedom Index

December 11, 2017

“Not only are folks at Civic Hall doing great things for the world, but they are willing to take a moment to hear about what I’m doing, offer thoughts and advice, and to share the nuts and bolts of what their projects are.”

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Emily Baum, Managing Director of Reboot Democracy

December 04, 2017

“I’m someone who likes to have their brain stretched. To think in many different worlds and see how it makes everything more interesting.”

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Martin Fogelman

November 27, 2017

“There has always been a missing link to Conscious Capitalism. We believe that the proof is in the data.”

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Sherry Hakimi, Founder of GenEquality

November 20, 2017

“We talk about women running, amplifying their voices. But we don’t tell men to support women candidates. They should donate to women. Knock on doors and GOTV. Even manage a woman’s campaign.”

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DK Holland, co-founder of Inquiring Minds USA

November 13, 2017

“We have to start with kids. Because the problem is, if we don’t start really young, these kids will never know how to be citizens.”

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Schuyler Duveen, Lead Developer at

November 06, 2017

“Citizens should be able to hold their elected officials accountable and there should be that path all the way to law. I think that we can make it happen.”

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Sarah Weaver, Director of the Sarah Weaver Ensemble and founder of NowNet Arts, Inc.

October 30, 2017

“I was happy to learn online about the social tech focus of Civic Hall and felt this would be a good match for the work. I was also excited to become part of a larger community working with social tech.”

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Wendell Potter, Founder of

October 23, 2017

“We’ve got to do something. The future of investigative reporting and accountability journalism has to be nonprofit. But we can’t expect foundations to sustain it forever. can make a difference.”

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Edna Ishayik, Director of Civic Engagement Initiatives at Civic Nation

October 02, 2017

“It took me three years to process, and I realized that we had created a system that recruits people who are megalomaniacs, but cripplingly insecure. When people begin to lose faith in leaders, they begin to disengage from the political process. And these even more flawed leaders, who are then under less scrutiny, try to get away with more. It’s a cosmic downward spiral.”

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Josh Nussbaum, Civic Hall Organizer-in-Residence

September 25, 2017

“When you look at the evidence we have regarding the efficacy of various campaign tactics, the results are somewhat bleak. A soon-to-be-released meta-analysis of internal and external studies of the persuasive effect of campaign tactics on candidate choice found a net effect of zero.”

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Sanda Balaban, Founder of YVote and Program Director for Civics Unplugged

September 18, 2017

“There’s a reason why people aren’t civically engaged. In Mexico everybody goes to vote. It’s a deeply installed habit! For example, there are special ballots for kids there. It’s like celebrating your birthday, or brushing your teeth.”

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Steve Rosenbaum, filmmaker, curator, archivist, photographer, blogger, author, and founder of five companies

September 11, 2017

“What scares me where we are today… 4chan and Reddit — I look and I see a technology let loose that amplifies anger. Think deeply about a way to use technology to create meaningful, rational, balanced and thoughtfully engaging conversations that aren’t just folks throwing rocks at one another.”

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Keith Zendler, Founder and CEO of PeopleMovers, founder of RecycleMax, Inc.

September 05, 2017

“Our API will soon allow third-party civic tech, organizational and personal growth apps to seamlessly interconnect, creating a comprehensive ecosystem for making things better.”

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Jackson Bird, Director of Wizard Muggle Relations at the Harry Potter Alliance

August 28, 2017

“My core passion is for inclusive, responsible media representation. It’s what we’re exposed to in the media that drives our culture’s narratives and, fortunately, new media is allowing all sorts of methods for people to take control of their own narratives.”

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Kei Williams, Civic Hall Organizer in Residence

August 21, 2017

“Is your action creating community, or doing peaceful disruption? If it’s not doing both, you need to rethink your action plan.”

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Kathryn Velvel Jones, Co-leader of the Collective Agency (RMC)

August 14, 2017

“RSC meets every week, all two hundred plus of us. The best people I’ve ever worked with in my entire life. The most generous, the most creative; working for something bigger than themselves.”

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Alex Pitkin, COO and Product Owner of FrontlineSMS

August 07, 2017

“Having worked in the U.S. on projects for both FrontlineSMS and Delib, I appreciate that when it comes to community engagement, rulemaking, social impact and designing for local, that the US is more like 50 different countries. I’d like to share related war stories and develop partnerships where we can help each other.”

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Michel Biezunski, Founder of Infoloom

July 31, 2017

“The fact that there are people who can help at the local level is very powerful. I am alive because of people like that.”

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Alexis Grenell, Co-founder of Pythia Public

July 24, 2017

“You really can’t be successful without the three pillars of politics, policy, and press, which is what we uniquely combine and bring them together. Oftentimes we figure out the problem we want to solve, we think about the solution, and we go find the client. It’s a backwards business model.”

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Dave Ambrose, Co-founder of Art Not War

July 17, 2017

“Re-evaluate the worth of your content in terms of authenticity. And ask yourselves, “Why do you want to use video? What type of media might serve you best? Sometimes the best impact is not through media, but creative action like a protest or a concert.”

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