Journey of a civic techie
by Rachel Stone
Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I grew up on government. I'll now admit, government in Washington, D.C. is a mixed bag, but all it ever instilled in my upbringing was that government could help all your neighbors on a massive scale. It remains for me an ever-beckoning service opportunity. I'll be bold enough to call it a calling.
That calling brought me to BYU's Political Science Department in 2013. I studied the ideals of democracy that America made fresh and that feel timeless, but the execution of our democracy felt stale and difficult. Why isn't our rendering of democracy more seamless, with all our 21st century magic? The following summer, I juggled two pivotal internships: a research gig with a team eyeing investments in next-generation government frameworks, and a startup website to help folks better follow news about their various representatives. Ultimately, both endeavors fell through, but they got me hooked on a path I'm still paving.
I returned to BYU with a singular vision. If I was to be involved in government in the 21st century, I had to know and deliver citizen-centered technology. Since then, I've been a fully-branded civic techie.
I nearly failed my first computer science class. Then I passed a few. I traveled for civic hack-a-thons and wrote papers on how jealous I am of Estonia. First, Provo City was kind enough to let me practice what I preached. Mayor John Curtis' administration already understood the meaning of modernizing government. Then, some Obama administration vets taught me their ways. Lately, I've enjoyed experiences at the U.S. State Department and Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development. Now, I manage the performance measurements of Utah's two dozen state agencies from within the Governor's Office of Management and Budget.
It's easy to stay busy as a civic techie.
In 2018, I rebooted Salt Lake City's Code for America brigade that had become a little too quiet after several active years. In 2019, we've re-established ourselves as Code for Utah to include Silicon Slopes statewide and empower communities beyond our well-resourced urban center. This year, I seek that Utah's growing tech sector symbolizes more equitable Utah communities. I take serious cues from what we've witnessed in the Bay Area and Seattle. Please join us as Code for Utah grows to understand these layered challenges and builds 21st century solutions to address them.