Cecilia Muñoz: “We have to think bigger than we have been thinking”

Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President for Public Interest Technology and Local Initiatives at New America

Cecilia Muñoz is a self-professed “policy nerd.” She spent 20 years at the Nation’s largest Hispanic policy and advocacy organization, eight years in the Obama White House, and now leads a public interest technology team at New America . She’s spent the past 30 years thinking about policy that relates to inequality, creating economic opportunities, and addressing disparities that affect vulnerable populations.

In the digital age, we can use data to dive deep and gain a better understanding of these issues. But to effect real change, we need to think bigger than bringing tech solutions to policy problems. We need to bring technologists into all levels of government, so digital practices and concerns are built into policy decisions from the beginning. We need technologists to apply user-centered design to policy, and put citizens and their needs at the center of the policy making process.

“It’s not just that technology needs to be applied to solving our problems. Technologists need to be directed at solving our public problems.”

To do that, we’ll need a movement. A movement that exposes policy makers to what’s possible in the digital age, and works together to tackle the enormous challenges of our time. Code for America, New America, and others are working to bring the technological talent that often ends up at corporations to public interest work where they can address some of the biggest problems that assail us. Because if a “policy nerd” like Cecilia can see herself as a technologist, technologists should feel empowered to see themselves as policy makers.

“We have to be deliberate about building a field. We have to be deliberate about exposing policymakers to what’s possible.”

To view Cecilia’s Summit mainstage presentation in full, watch the video below.

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