Where Civic Tech Gets Inspired & Rejuvenated

Posted on March 21, 2019

Jason Hibbets

This guest blog is by ELGL member Jason Hibbets and is part of ELGL’s partnership with Code for America to support and promote the 2019 #CfASummit! Learn more and register today.

Inspiration, hope, and progress. These are the thoughts that come to mind when I think of Code for America Summit. I’m inspired by the stories, many successful, some still a work in progress–these stories are highlighted on the main stage as well as in other parts of the conference.

Hope, because some of the changes we’re trying to make take longer than we want, but there are change agents in attendance that are leading the way and sharing their story.

Each year I attend summit I see the needle move. Whether that’s user-centered design, a tidal shift in how we approach government services, or how the brigade community can come together to spur action and change their local communities.

Change is happening and the Code for America Summit is a place where all of us, government agents, brigade members, supporters, and many others can come together to witness the latest in how government is improving their quality of service, becoming more efficient, and proving why being more user-friendly should be the default.

Code for America is more than just an organization, it’s a catalyst in a larger movement. Code for America Summit is more than just an event–it’s more like a family reunion.

It’s where I return each year to recharge by civic tech batteries, learn, and network with other leaders shaping the civic tech movement.

With that said, I’d like to share a few highlights from past summits.

At my first summit in 2012, I distinctly remember a life changing moment. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Start-up and Code for America board member, was on stage with Tim O’Reilly.

The topic they were talking about was hacking on code and culture and failure as validating learning. My biggest takeaway was discovering the lean movement. I downloaded the book and read most of it on the plane ride home. It changed how I approach my work and how I lead my team.

The biggest change I made was to incorporate feedback loops. This was a critical difference in how I transformed my workstyle and my team. I shifted my team habits to making data-driven decisions and sharing information and insights to create those feedback loops.

We hold weekly health-check meetings and constantly examine our processes and assumptions. In addition to that, we experiment with new ideas and evaluate how those experiments went. We’ll conduct start, stop, and continue sessions to help us understand what to tackle next or what didn’t work so we can move on.

At my most recent summit in 2018, I attended one of the best breakout sessions I’ve ever been too. Literally. And I attend to 10-15 conferences a year. Some amazing folks from the City of San Jose talked about how Agile helps non-technical teams get things done. The room was packed, standing room (and sitting room) only. And the lessons they shared where invaluable. You can read more about the session and how government workers at the City of San Jose adopted Agile methods to boost efficiency and productivity. I walked away motivated and inspired. This one session was worth the trip from the east coast.

I spend most of time working with the open source community. I have a great opportunity to attend several conferences a year. My personal passion is with civic tech, and I’m thankful my employer supports my passion.

Ever since I got involved with the Code for America community, the summit has been a highlight of my conference experiences. I think when you attend, you’ll find the same inspiration, hope, and progress that I’ve seen over the last seven years.

This is why I attend Code for America Summit.

Amazing people sharing how they are changing government. Changing how people think about government. Gaining insights from change agents who are the forefront of impacting change, shifting the status quo.

Inspiring all of us to get involved and do our part. Are you doing your part to advance civic tech?

More ELGL guest blogs about #CfASummit:

ELGL is a proud partner with Code for America on the #CfASummit. Learn more:

It’s up to us to design better government! Join members from local, state, and federal governments, technologists, and entrepreneurs and walk away feeling energized, with the right tools in your pocket to help improve government in the digital age. Join us on May 29-31 in Oakland, CA at the Oakland Marriott City Center. RSVP and join us at #CfASummit!


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