Introducing the Code for America 2023 Summit Content Committee

Our content committee works hard to ensure that Summit lightning talks and breakout sessions tell inspiring stories from diverse perspectives

The months leading up to Summit are always some of the busiest and most exciting of the year here at Code for America. Tons of labor goes into putting on an event like this—one that’s designed to be the annual meeting place for people who want to use technology and innovation to improve government. During this year’s event, held over two days in Washington, D.C., we’re excited to showcase experimental learnings, discuss innovative approaches to big challenges, and hold space for community connection. Together, we’ll show what’s possible in a changing world.

Meet the content committee

The Content Committee has one of the hardest jobs at Summit: evaluating all the incredible submissions for breakout sessions and lightning talks. They work together to build a Summit filled with content that’s representative of diverse perspectives and inclusive of all the many interests of our community members. Every year, we select a variety of leaders and experts for this task from across our ecosystem and staff. This year’s Content Committee includes: 

  • Aimee Chabot, Knowledge Manager, Code for America
  • Aleena Khan, Outreach and Program Manager, TechCongress
  • Greg Jordan-Detamore, Associate Director, Human-Centered Government at Code for America
  • James O’Brien, CX Lead, Seam Social Labs
  • Jordan Watts, Director of Design, Fearless
  • Jovan M Hackley, Communications Practice Director, Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns University
  • Kirsten Wyatt, Fellow, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University
  • Lapedra Tolson, Founder and Principal, Friends From The City
  • Marlena Medford, Director of Communications, Code for America
  • Octavia Abell, Co-Founder and CEO, Govern for America
  • Rachel Dodell, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Coding it Forward
  • Sung Kim, former Associate Director, Network Communities of Practice at Code for America

We are so grateful to the people on this committee who have dedicated their time to making Summit accessible, engaging, and empowering for all who attend.

Meet Content Committee member Lapedra Tolson, who participated in the Black History Month edition of our Leading the Field interview series, which features people who are making change in government. 

Our review process

The annual Call for Proposals ran from November 9 through November 18 of last year. We received almost 250 proposals for breakout sessions from just shy of 500 presenters, and for the first time this year, we opened a call for lightning talks and received more than 50 submissions. The Content Committee read through all submissions and evaluated them to see how well they fit the 2023 Summit theme, their alignment with Code for America’s principles of a Human-Centered Government, and their possibility to draw a broad swath of audiences at Summit, from federal/state/local government to technical/non-technical attendees.

We’re excited to showcase 14 selected lightning talks this year. The 24 selected breakout sessions are spread out over our four tracks: 

  • Operations + Management
  • People Power + Community
  • Policy + Administration
  • Service Design + Delivery

More breakout sessions and lightning talks may be added as Summit nears. Evaluating so many excellent submissions was a difficult task, and the limited space at our in-person event means that we didn’t have room for many more proposals that would have made for engaging sessions. We’re grateful to everyone who submitted a proposal—the sheer volume of ideas proves this community is growing and ready to tackle big challenges.

Demographic statistics

At Code for America, we believe that a diverse set of perspectives is needed in order to improve government and its relationship with the people it serves. To that end, we want to be a model for a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—especially when it comes to Summit and the people who help make this event come to life. We’re sharing the statistics of who makes up our content committee, and the demographics of those who are presenting lightning talks or breakout sessions.

Content committee 

  • Race/ethnicity 
    • 50% identify as BIPOC
    • 41.7% identify as white
    • 8.3% identify as two or more races
  • Gender
    • 66.7% identify as women
    • 25% identify as men
    • 8.3% identify as nonbinary/another gender

Selected lightning talk presenters

  • Race/ethnicity 
    • 28.4% identify as BIPOC
    • 57.1% identify as white
    • 14.2% other / prefer not to answer
  • Gender
    • 64.2% identify as women
    • 35.7% identify as men

Selected breakout session presenters

  • Race/ethnicity 
    • 43.2% identify as BIPOC
    • 37.7% identify as white
    • 7.6% identify as two or more races
    • 11.3% other / prefer not to answer
  • Gender
    • 69.8% identify as women
    • 28.3% identify as men
    • 1.9% prefer not to answer

In the lead-up to Summit we’ll be sharing more about our speakers, breakout session tracks, and opportunities for connection at our flagship event. Summit is all about community, and we’re excited to welcome you into it. 

Still haven’t gotten your ticket to Summit? Join us in Washington D.C. from May 16-17 for two days of inspiration and connection as we show what’s possible in a changing world. Register for Summit today!

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