Introducing the Code for America 2021 Summit Content Committee

Our content committee has worked diligently to design an all-virtual Summit, packed with relevant and exciting speakers and breakout sessions

2021 has been remarkable in many ways—and it will also mark the first year that the Code for America Summit goes all-virtual. We all have a tough memory of cancelling last year’s Summit, originally set for March 2020—just one week out, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to adjust our plans—but that makes us all the more excited to be hosting a fully virtual event in 2021 with the theme “designing an equitable government together.”

We did have to make a few changes to accommodate this year’s setting, though. Rather than an in-person event lasting three full days, costing $500-1,000 to attend per person, we have shifted to a streamlined, two-day virtual event with ticket prices currently at $50. We have simplified the pricing and the overall format of Summit, and hope this allows for greater accessibility and flexibility for attendees.

Our content committee

One thing that didn’t change about Summit this year was our commitment to a democratic, inclusive process for curating the conference content. We have always relied on leaders from our community to curate the content for Summit track sessions, and this year was no exception. This year’s volunteer content committee includes:

Headshots of all the members of the content committee against a purple background
  • Co-chairs:
  • Track leads:
    • Design + Delivery: Cyd Harrell, Independent Civic Design Consultant
    • Operations + Management: Don Castellucci, Chief of Staff, Tech Talent Project
    • Civic Innovation + Data: Tyrek Shepard, Member of the National Advisory Council, Code for America Brigade Network
    • Tech + Policy: Amy J Wilson, Founder and CEO, Empathy for Change
  • Advisors:
    • Simone Sequeira, Lead Product Manager, Code for America
    • Dan Hon, Founder and Principal, Very Little Gravitas

We are so grateful for the hard work done by this body and are excited to share some of what went into the development of the sessions.

Our process

We put out a call for proposals in February 2021. With the intention of having a simple and easy submission process, we did not require a detailed submission of all materials; rather, we asked for a short proposal with a title, description, and panelists. We received a total of 225 submissions across the four tracks: 90 in Design + Delivery, 46 in Operations + Systems, 50 in Civic Tech + Data, and 39 in Tech + Policy.

Our team combed through all submissions, filtering out those that were too advanced or narrow for our Summit audience, or those not aligned with the theme of “designing an equitable government together.” Then, the track leads, with guidance and input from the advisors and co-chairs, worked through three to five iterations of filtering using evaluation guidelines to curate the sessions. This was a deeply iterative process that was largely focused on ensuring that each track would showcase both the breadth and depth of content that is important for attendees, with an eye towards equity, diversity, and representation true to theme.

In some cases, we found that there were multiple submissions on the same or similar topics and worked with the submitters to combine them, with a goal of highlighting the same topic from multiple perspectives. Ultimately we narrowed down to a final slate of around 20-25 sessions. With so many quality submissions, this was an incredibly difficult process!


We believe deeply in equitable representation and hope to move the events industry in government and technology towards better practices on this axis. We hope to model this commitment and hold ourselves accountable as well, and in this spirit are sharing the preliminary statistics of the roughly 75 presenters.

  • Race/ethnicity (self-reported, optional)
    • 40% white
    • 18% Asian American or Pacific Islander
    • 14% Black or African American
    • 10% Hispanic or Latinx
    • 7% two or more
    • 11% declined to answer
  • Gender (self-reported, optional)
    • 56% female
    • 32% male
    • 12% other, non-binary, or declined to report

Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing more about each track, including highlights of what the content committee found special about each of the sessions. Please keep an eye on the Summit breakout sessions site as we continue to update with confirmed sessions!

And thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal for our all-virtual Summit—we appreciate your enthusiasm for our flagship event and your shared commitment to our vision of a government that works for everyone.

Still haven’t signed up for Summit yet? Don’t worry! Tickets for the 2021 Code for America Summit are on sale through May 13, with tickets for pre-Summit workshops available until May 4. Register for Summit and workshops today.

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