IFE Celebrates Innovation

On August 9, the Institute for Education celebrated public sector innovation at the historic Congressional Country Club. Over one hundred of our country’s brightest and most badass minds gathered for a summer cookout 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.

Front row, Rohini Chopra, first USCTO Aneesh Chopra, USCTO Megan Smith, Coach Kathy Kemper, IFE Founder & CEO, Dep. USCTO and round 1 PIF, Ryan Panchadsaram, round 2 PIF, Karl Mehta, Jackie Kazil, IFE Innovation Steward, Dr. Amy Geng, PIF co-founder, John Paul Farmer, AriannaeGallagher, PIF round 3, Lea Shanley, former USCTO and PIF co-founder, Todd Park.

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 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 in 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.

Congressional Country Club was founded in 1924 with the mandate of providing Members of Congress, the Administration, and businessmen with a social meeting ground in which they could recreate and cultivate trust and friendship. The talent, brilliance, deep friendship and fun Congressional witnessed last weekend would have made the founders proud.

With the PIFs, innovation leadership like Megan Smith, Todd Park, Michelle Lee, and Chief D.J. Patil the future for our country, invention and creativity looks awesome!

Contributed by IFE Innovation Fellows Brandon Kline and Christina Kemper Valentine. Photo credit IFE Intern Xavier Rivera.

VIEW: Event Photos

LEARN MOREMeet the Presidential Innovation Fellows  | # PIF executive Order Obama Makes the Presidential Innovation Fellow Permanent | White House Recruits Tech Troops to Serve Government ‘Tour of Duty’  – “The tech folks haven’t always had a welcome seat at the table”

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