By Kathy Kemper | Posted: Huffington Post
President Obama sure gets one thing exactly right, promoting, celebrating, and encouraging public sector innovation. So the Institute for Education did the same, applauding over one hundred of our country’s brightest and most badass minds gathered for a summer cookout at historic Congressional Country on The Great Lawn overlooking the 18th hole of the world-renowned Blue Course.
Coach Kathy Kemper, IFE Founder & CEO, Dr. Amy Geng, IFE Innovation Steward, and John Paul Farmer, IFE Emerging Tech Roundtable Founder welcomed Ambassadors from Bulgaria, Monaco, the Philippines, and Singapore; Megan Smith, USCTO; Todd Park, former USCTO; Aneesh Chopra, first USCTO; Michelle Lee, USPTO; DJ Patil, US Chief Data Scientist; Anjun Muckherjee, Treasury Adviser; and family and friends. Picture Silicon Valley superheroes meet Washington elite in Shangri-La. Throw in golf cart rides through the majestic fairways and frolicking in grandiose swimming pools, and you’ve got yourself a spot-on description of the party.
The high-spirited celebration took place in honor of the double helix of compounded awesomeness Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIFs). John Paul Farmer and Todd Park founded the PIF program in 2012 to attract top innovators into government, capable of revolutionizing topics at the convergence of technology, policy, and process. They are the baddest of the badasses, as Todd Park would say.The fellowship acts as a pipeline, funneling innovation and tech talent into a seemingly prehistoric Washington. The idea is that better digital tools will upgrade government services to improve user-friendliness, facilitate service delivery, and save time and taxpayer money. Rebuilding the digital infrastructure of Washington could make government-citizen relations more intimate and less intimidating. It might even transform American’s attitudes about government as a whole. PIFs not only foster a new culture of technology, but are also at the forefront of reforming our nation’s attitude towards government, too.The festivities recognized these accomplishments by honoring Round 1 and 2 PIFs, decorating Round 3 PIFs with IFE medals of distinction, and pinning the Class of 2015 PIFs. Amy Geng presented special awards to PIF Round 1 Ryan Panchadsaram, PIF Round 2 Jackie Kazil, and PIF Round 3 Julia Winn for their outstanding participation, stewardship, and “compounded awesomeness” in all things IFE. Dr. Jeffrey Miller, professor of computer science at USC, also presented the fantastic Coach Kemper with two USC Summer Coding Camp plaques, honoring IFE’s partnership with USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering is offering a free summer coding camp, which urges underrepresented youth in the Los Angeles area to learn computer science. This is just one of IFE’s contributions to conquering the lack of Diversity in Tech.
The awards ceremony was filled with laughter, encouragement, and pride in the PIF tours of duty. PIFs high-fived and hugged each other regardless of round placement or project affiliation. There is no better phrase than the time old cliché ” one big happy family ” to characterize the group. The evening’s energy was contagious and inspiring, leaving partygoers exhausted yet fulfilled by the end of the night.