A Fond Farewell

                                         Our 2017 Delta.NYC volunteers meeting for the first time. 

                                        Our 2017 Delta.NYC volunteers meeting for the first time. 

After two very productive years, I'm moving on as Founding Executive Director of Civic Hall Labs. While my last official day is Friday, December 15th, I will remain a member of the civic tech community at Civic Hall.

My sweet spot is turning ideas into successfully launched enterprises. I’ve done that with Civic Hall Labs and laid the foundation for the next stage of growth. 

In August 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry, Founder and Cofounder of Civic Hall. They shared their vision to start a non-profit innovation arm of Civic Hall. Several elements of their vision resonated with my work founding and running Impact Hub Los Angeles and co-founding the Civic Innovation Lab with the City of Los Angeles and Microsoft.

We set out to build a trusted nonprofit intermediary that could provide a safe place for nonprofits and government agencies to collaborate and pilot new solutions leveraging today’s digital tools. And we wanted to help others do the same. It required recruiting a diverse team that could work across sectors and creating a team culture that encouraged trying new things. 

I’m extremely proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. Over the last two years, we’ve pioneered several new programs from scratch, and begun to explore how stakeholder engagement and systems-based thinking can be utilized in tech product development; and how to bring technical and nontechnical folks together to effectively collaborate. Through these approaches we seek to ensure civic tech is more inclusive and has the real impact of creating equitable community outcomes.

Specifically, we’ve launched a Health Lab focused on creating a healthy public, one where all communities have civic agency, feel heard and connected to the whole, and have equitable access to public resources. Through our Pro Bono Tech program, Delta.nyc, we have pioneered a new approach to closing the digital divide within the nonprofit sector while bringing meaningful volunteer opportunities to digital professionals. And we delivered the eighth year of the NYC BigApps Competition in partnership with NYCEDC, the most successful year yet for the competition, with more than 900 workshop attendees, 500 registered participants, 1 million+ impressions, and 150 applications submitted.

                                                          Elizabeth speaking at NYC BigApps Event.

                                                         Elizabeth speaking at NYC BigApps Event.

We’ve also developed our first-ever civic ideas accelerator, CivicXcel, with a custom-built curriculum combining the best of design-thinking, lean-startup, and product development. And at the same time, Labs has officially launched our $1.6 million ReferNYC pilot with funding from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, CJII, and in partnership with the CUNY Institute for State and Local Government (ISLG) and many soon-to-be announced agencies. The cross-sector pilot is prototyping a federated open data exchange with the potential to transform the health and human services data landscape in NYC and beyond. Stay tuned for more updates by joining our mailing list here.

Here are the last two years by the numbers:

  • Raised $5.4 million;
  • Developed 25 sponsor and funder relationships; 
  • Partnered with 110 NYC nonprofits and civic ventures;
  • Recruited over 195 digital professionals volunteered their time and skill through our programs;
  • Accelerated 22 projects and startups;
  • Engaged 1200 people through our in-person workshops and ideation sessions; and
  • Received over 500 job applications and hired 13 staff.

I'm proud of what we’ve built and the nerve that we’ve struck in our unique approach to civic tech! I want to thank a few of our early supporters namely The Omidyar Network, The Ford Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Microsoft’s Cities Team.

I also want to thank Andrew and Micah and the rest of the board for supporting me and trusting my leadership in establishing this organization over the last two years. As we move through this transition, Micah is stepping into the role of interim executive director, and I am looking forward to staying in touch with the wonderful partners and individuals who made the last two years so great! 

Onward and upward. 

-Elizabeth Stewart

Founding Executive Director, Civic Hall Labs