“Our government is only who shows up. That’s all it is.” These words were shared on Saturday evening by former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith in her welcome to the newest class of White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. Smith expressed her hope and excitement for further ingenuity in government, as these bright minds begin their assignments.
On this fall evening, the 5th Round of PIFs gathered at the home of Coach Kathy Kemper for a Jeffersonian Dinner, where they were welcomed by the Institute for Education and others in the Tech in Gov movement. Guests celebrated with champagne on the patio before Coach gave the official welcome. Those in attendance included Acting Executive Director of the PIF Program Ben Willman, third U.S. CTO and founder of Shift7 Megan Smith, and Technology Transformation Services Commissioner and Academy-Award winner Rob Cook.
Former U.S. CTO and PIF Program Co-founder Todd Park, although not present in person, wrote a letter congratulating the fellows on “the awesomeness that [they] will unleash.” Megan Smith reminded the fellows of their place in the fabric of American history and the chance they have to make a long-lasting impact if they work together. Each new PIF was pinned, commemorating the beginning of their tours.
The guests then divided into three groups to discuss the selected questions for our Jeffersonian dinner: “Reflecting back on your life, can you think of a person or an event that led you to want to make public service part of your life?” and “Imagine it is 10 years from now and you are telling someone about your PIF experience. What would make this a year you would look back upon fondly?” This facilitation provided the new fellows with a space to get to know one another beyond their government assignments and understand how each other’s individual experiences steered them in the direction of public service. With backgrounds ranging from first-generation to sixth-generation American, it is without question that the new PIFs will provide a diverse and refreshing perspective as they tackle some of the most pressing issues of today. In her address, Smith stated that “this is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it will also be one of the most rewarding.” We look forward to watching the progress the PIFs make over the next year. Welcome Round 5 PIFs!
Contributed by Nathalia Penton, Tech in Gov Deputy Program Director