A Conversation on Leadership, Technology & Innovation in a Time of Transition

  • event Event date: February 18, 2021
  • schedule Event time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am Pacific Time
  • devices Virtual Event

With the COVID-19’s continued devastating effects on our health and our economy, it’s clear that the pandemic will remain an enormous challenge well into 2021. And as we’ve been called to grapple with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, we are also called to combat the systemic racism that has permeated America’s history and present. We are facing multiple crises, and are challenged with the question of how to build a more equitable government that can deliver positive outcomes to those who need them most.

Whether it is the crash of unemployment websites across the country, the difficulties and inequalities small businesses face in accessing loans, or the distribution of vaccines, COVID-19 has laid bare very real structural and technical gaps in our government institutions that are affecting the government’s ability to deliver services. With the inauguration of President Biden just a few weeks ago, we can expect many policy proposals to try to address these shortcomings.

Government can be a force for good, but we must ensure that access to and delivery of government services is equitable. In this virtual conversation, you’ll hear from a panel of technologists and public servants on what a new administration can do to effectively and equitably implement policy, the importance of bringing technical leadership in from the start, and other ways we can build a government that meets the needs of the public in the digital age.


Cass is an experienced public servant whose expertise sits at the intersection of technology, operations, and policy. She has spent the past 15 years helping to ensure that big ideas get implemented in a way that drives innovation, improves the lives of those accessing services, and builds a positive culture in the workplace.

Most recently, Cass served as an appointee of Vermont Governor Phil Scott. As Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) she focused on strengthening operational performance and improving success in the delivery of large scale information technology (IT) projects.

Amanda has had a unique and diverse career starting out in the financial industry, moving to education as a teacher in her small hometown community, and finally spending the majority of her career in public service. She has served as the Chief of Operations at the California Department of Justice overseeing 1,000 public servants and an $850M budget, National Political Director for Secretary Clinton managing the political and outreach strategy for the 2016 Presidential Campaign, and as a Chief of Staff in the United States Senate during one of the most productive periods in our country's history. She was named one of the most influential staffers by Roll Call and received a number of awards as the first Latina chief of staff in the history of the U.S. Senate. In addition to her policy work, she has also run for Congressional office in 2014 and Governor in 2018 believing that empowering others is at the heart of public service. She has degrees from Stanford University and Harvard Business School and serves on several non-profit boards.
John serves as an advisor to the Walton Family Foundation and is a visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He previously served in the White House where he led the reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program and coordinated the emergency programs established during the 2008 credit crisis to stabilize $200 billion of student loans. He also served as the Deputy Policy Director to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Director of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. In 2009 he co-founded the strategic advisory firm Whiteboard Advisors working with investors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropies. John also worked with Governor Tom Ridge in a CIO function for a $7 billion agency and supported economic development policies along with several trade missions. John is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network and an alumnus of the American Council on Germany Young Leaders Program. He serves on advisory boards for the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work, the George W. Bush Institute, TechStars, and the Center for Democracy and Technology.e George W. Bush Institute, Center for Democracy and Technology, and Kenzie Academy.
Ryan Ko is the Chief of Staff at Code for America. He spent seven years at McKinsey & Company leading teams that supported state governments on large IT megaprojects (with a focus on Integrated Eligibility Systems and Medicaid Management Information Systems), counseled technology firms on strategy and operations, advised non-profit institutions on a variety of education and edtech topics, and published in-depth research on the future of work and automation. Ryan moonlights as a progressive activist, with campaign experience at national, state, and local levels, and is a member of TechEquity Collaborative's Housing Committee. He holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from MIT. A lifelong Bay Area native, Ryan enjoys rooting for Bay Area sports teams and can be found playing basketball, poker, chess, or watching reruns of The West Wing.
Betsy Cooper is the founding Executive Director of the Aspen Tech Policy Hub. Previously, she was the founding Executive Director of the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity and was a policy and legal counselor at the Department of Homeland Security. Betsy has a D.Phil from the University of Oxford and graduated from Yale Law School. In her spare time, she likes to run experiments to see if her digital devices are listening to her.