The brain-and-heart-trust

At a Chinese restaurant last weekend, my fortune cookie read: You are a deep thinker and a good problem solver.

I was flattered by my cookie’s opinion, but the thought that sprang to mind was that the fortune was an excellent description of the Code for America board.

Many non-profit boards serve primarily a governance function, making sure we’re on mission, financially stable, and not doing anything too crazy. Ours certainly does that, but their real value is they way they help us think through our strategy, align our activities with the impact we want to have, and solve problems. It’s really more of brain-and-heart-trust pointed at the engines of Code for America, and for that I’m hugely grateful.

Our board is also a continually evolving heart-and-brain-trust, and last month it evolved again, though always within that crucial framework. Our most recent meeting included an enormous thank you to “the Andrews,” whose service to Code for America can’t be understated. Andrew Greenhill was one of the founding board members of Code for America – in fact, one of the organization’s founders – and after three years of using his dozen years of experience in Tucson, Ariz. government to speak on behalf of municipal staff on the board, he moves to work with our Peer Network team to strengthen that program and a much-valued seat on our advisory board. If you don’t know what I mean about Andrew being a founder, read about that fateful beer we shared in an old blog post here.

Andrew McLaughlin was also around at the beginning, encouraging me to pursue the crazy notion of a “peace corps for geeks” as he headed off to D.C. to be part of Obama’s transition team, and then to work with Aneesh Chopra as the first Deputy CTO of the United States (along with Beth Noveck). When he came out of service, we scooped him up not only as a board member but also as an interim director for Civic Commons, and now he’s playing an active role in our international coordination efforts. Neither he nor Greenhill is leaving the organization, as we need both of them too much. But this moment of transition is a good time to thank them for all they’ve done for the organization and for the movement, and all they will continue to do.

It’s also time to say a big thank you and welcome back to someone with equally deep roots in the organization: Tim O’Reilly. Most people familiar with Code for America know that Tim O’Reilly’s work on government as a platform was, along with Andrew Greenhill’s insights about cities, the inspiration for the entire project. On the occasion of his return to the board of directors, I’m reminded of his response to an email I sent in July 2009 about our idea for a “Teach for America for code.” He wrote back, “This is a great idea. Could we have it ready by Gov 2.0?” (Our second Gov 2.0 Summit was just three months away then.) His clarity and urgency have imprinted on the organization from that moment, and he’s given so much to make it happen, and brought so many others to the cause. We are so glad to have him in the brain-and-heart-trust of the board of directors.

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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