Introducing the Engagement Commons Advisory Board

Several weeks ago, we launched the beta version of Engagement Commons, a collaboratively-built catalog of technology for civic engagement. The response we’ve received from the community since the launch has been heartening. It’s clear that Engagement Commons is addressing an important problem, and its mission — to help city officials and civic leaders discover new apps to engage their citizens — resonates widely.

But we’re not done yet. We’re still in beta, and work remains to make Engagement Commons the most useful, usable, and comprehensive tool it can be.

That’s why we are convening the Engagement Commons Advisory Board: a group of engagement-focused civic leaders whose feedback will make this tool more useful for local government officials across the country. We’re turning to our core audience to find out what’s working, what’s not, and how we can improve.

The board will be chaired by chaired by Jeff Friedman, manager of civic innovation and participation for Mayor Nutter’s office in Philadelphia. Jeff brings almost fifteen years experience driving innovative practices within the City of Philadelphia, and extensive expertise at the intersection of technology, civic engagement, and governance.

“This is an important project — with budget cuts and tremendous challenges facing our cities, it’s more critical than ever that we communicate and connect with our citizens in an transparent way. And to do so, cities have to embrace new approaches to engagement,” commented Jeff. “Engagement Commons has the potential to help make that happen, and the feedback from this advisory board will be instrumental in realizing that potential.”

Jeff will be joined by nine other government leaders with a demonstrated commitment to innovation in citizen engagement, representing a wide range of backgrounds and municipalities. These include Zoe Pagonis, communications and new media manager for State of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Jay Nath, chief innovation officer for the City of San Francisco.

“As public servants, it’s our responsibility to use the best available tools and technology to connect with our citizens and provide information about critical resources,” said Zoe. “Governor Martin O’Malley and the State of Maryland are constantly looking for new ways to engage and we look forward to working with the Engagement Commons to collaborate and continue to innovate.”

In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking to our advisory board to give feedback and guidance on the project, and share their own stories about tech for civic engagement. Long term, we hope they will serve as ambassadors to the greater government community to increase the reach and effectiveness of Engagement Commons.

Jay Nath said, “The Engagement Commons is a smart way to improve cross-city collaboration and begin solving shared challenges. Having an Advisory Board comprised of fellow civic leaders will be important to help shape the Commons and ensure that we’re addressing real issues and creating sustainable solutions.”

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming the Engagement Commons Advisory board. We’re honored to be working with some of the most dedicated and forward-thinking individuals in the space, and we can’t wait to see what Engagement Commons can be with their help.

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