Hundreds of digital leaders celebrate the Tech in Gov community

Hundreds of digital leaders gathered on August 5th, at the historic Congressional Country Club to celebrate the Tech in Gov community at the 5th Annual IFE Innovation Cookout. Four years ago, the event had about 30 attendees and was hosted on the Great Lawn; for the 5th anniversary the historic club’s Ballroom was the perfect venue to host over 300 guests. Leaders from the White House, Capitol Hill, United States Digital Service, Presidential Innovation Fellows, Defense Innovation Unit, USPTO, entrepreneurs, and also friends, family, children, and grandparents were all in the room.

Graduating Class of The White House Presidential Innovation Fellows: J. Alex Dalessio; Stephen Winchell; PIF Executive Director, Joshua Di Frances; Acting Administrator of US Digital Service, Matt Cutts; IFE Innovation Steward, Dr. Amy Geng, IFE Digital Innovation Ambassador; Devika Patil; PIFs Clara Tsao, Mike Rossetti, Gil Alterovitz, Zach Goldfine; and 2nd US CTO, Todd Park

As guests started to arrive, the hosts of the evening, Todd Park, Dr. Amy Geng, Matt Cutts, and Coach Kathy Kemper, together with Team IFE, gave them a warm welcome and invited them to try Congressional Country Club’s signature drink, the Sea Breeze cocktail, while enjoying the verdant view from the Ballroom terrace. Because the evening’s highlight was the Presidential Innovation Fellows Graduation, a tradition of the Innovation Cookout, guests were seated at tables festively decorated with American flags and red and blue Tech in Gov cups, emblazoned with Todd Park’s popular slogan: “Compounded Awesomeness.” Also on the tables were exclusive copies of the first issue of IFE Magazine, which encapsulates IFE’s activity for the first half of this year.

The ceremony kicked off with Coach Kathy Kemper’s remarks, introducing the hosts: 

"Welcome to the 5th, yes 5th, Annual Institute for Education Tech in Gov Cookout at this gorgeous historic Congressional Country Club. Let’s give a big round of applause for our hosts, founder of the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows and 2nd USCTO, Todd Park, IFE Innovation Steward, Dr. Amy Geng, and Director of the US Digital Service, Matt Cutts. IFE’s mission is to harness the power of data, innovation, soft diplomacy, and technology. And look at all of you bad asses, the poster children of the Tech in Gov mission! Thank you all for your service.""

Dr. Amy Geng thanked IFE for leading the way in Tech in Gov, by reminding the audience of the first PIF ceremony in front of around 30 people, and contrasting it with four years later: ten times more people! Special guests introduced included 3rd USCTO, Megan Smith, Special Assistant to the President for Innovation Policy and Initiatives, Matt Lira, Deputy USCTO, Michael Kratsios, and Director of USPTO, Andrei Iancu. IFE Digital Ambassador, Devika Patil, then introduced the diplomats in attendance: H.E Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Ambassador of Singapore, together with his wife Gouri, H.E. Grigor Hovhannissian, Ambassador of Armenia, and his wife Victoria, and H.E. László Szabó, Ambassador of Hungary, with his spouse Ivonn.

Todd Park, 2nd USCTO and Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Devoted Health, shared these remarks on IFE’s achievements in the Tech in Gov movement:

"IFE is uniquely positioned to convene this kind of event, because of Coach Kathy Kemper. She is IFE, incarnated. She is this incredible force for good, for love, that brings everyone together and infuses so much energy in everyone. She is the honorary mayor of the Tech-and-Innovation-in-Government movement. I cannot imagine anyone else who would be better at bringing the whole family together."

As Co-Founder of the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program in 2012, Todd pledged for everyone in the room: 

"I think what is truly magical about this community is that we are family, and we are united by the love of humanity and by the belief that the power of innovation can do good. We are family and will help each other and support each other and give each other energy and love...And with that love, this is something that cannot be stopped. So, as an American, to all of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Joshua Di Frances, Director of the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows, joined the stage and announced the White House Presidential Fellows Round 5 graduates: J. Alex Dalessio, Zach Goldfine, Gil Alterovitz, Clara Tsao, Mike Rossetti, and Stephen Winchell. All former PIFs stood and were given a round of applause. Coach Kathy Kemper then invited four people to come up and receive special awards in honor of their service: Gil Alterovitz, IFE Award for Outstanding Diplomatic Engagement, Clara Tsao, High Impact PIF Award, and Distinguished Service Award to J. Alex Dalessio. Finally, Coach Kemper and Todd Park presented Matt Lira with the Change Agent Award amid emotional hugs and congratulations.

A game-changing moment came in the evening when Coach Kemper announced that every donation for CS@SC, the computer science coding camp co-founded by IFE in collaboration with the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering, would be double-matched, by Todd Park and Amy Geng, and by Matt Cutts. Hands were raised throughout the ballroom by people eager to support a summer camp for underprivileged children.

This year, in CS@SC’s fourth season, IFE is proud to announce that we have reached the huge milestone of educating over 2000 students in computer science. With the additional funds raised, summer camp attendees will be able to advance their computer science skills during the school year by participating in a weekly program to be held on USC’s campus. And with IFE’s leadership, CS@SC will expand both the number of students served, as well as course offerings to include robotics, web programming, and more levels of the existing programming classes.

Thanks to DJ and Devika Patil, R. David and Joanne Ke Edelman, and John Paul and Brittany Farmer for their leadership donations, to Todd, Amy, and Matt for matching funds, and to the many others who gave so incredibly generously, IFE raised over $100,000, making it possible to scale CS@SC. These are record-setting donations and a watershed moment in IFE’s history. Thank you to all who gave!

After enjoying the delicious cookout buffet, guests and children alike had fun playing Corn Hole on the terrace outside the Ballroom, with a magical sunset-lit landscape as a stunning backdrop. Tech in Gov is embraced by all, and Congressional Country Club and the Fifth Annual IFE Innovation Cookout was the place to celebrate this movement.

SPOTTED: DJ Patil, Megan Smith, Jennifer Anastasoff, Andrei Iancu, Dr. R. David Edelman, Ross Dakin, Devika Patil, Joshua Marcuse, Kristen Honey, Count and Countess Bernard de Hemptinne, Ambassadors from Singapore, Armenia, and Hungary, Angela Colter, Haley van Dyck, Geoff Mulligan, Jackie Kazil, Erren Lester, Kate McCall-Kiley, Nayan Jain, Michael Kratsios, Stephanie J. Neill, Kristina Kelly.

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