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GovLoop Graduation to Full-Time

Today is a big day for GovLoop. I kind of feel like it is high school graduation. GovLoop has been my passion and my hobby for nearly 1.5 years. Now, I’ve found an exciting way to go full time with GovLoop so I can give this community the focus it deserves. I’ve linked up with an awesome small company called GovDelivery that works with hundreds of government entities at all levels of government in the U.S. and U.K.

By joining GovLoop and GovDelivery, I will be able to continue to lead GovLoop and will have more resources to support and improve the platform so the community can continue to grow.

I started GovLoop on Memorial Day 2008 with a simple idea – wouldn’t it be cool to have a place online where government innovators could connect and share best practices and ideas. And it wouldn’t matter if you are in DC, Alaska, or Paris. Wouldn’t matter if you are a fed or state or local; U.S., U.K., or Asia. Everyday I ran into a problem at my government agency that I knew someone in the government had dealt with and I was wondering why we weren’t connecting.

In just over a year, GovLoop grew from merely an idea to more than 18,000 members across all levels of government. During this growth, GovLoop was just a hobby. I had a 9 to 5 at DHS (with some amazingly supportive bosses) and GovLoop was my 5 to 9 (and weekends). People always asked how I had enough time to do both. The answer is I really didn’t. I spent countless hours in the coffee shop trying to keep pace with the growth which was at times overwhelming. My amazing lady had to deal with me obsessed on the computer nearly every waking moment outside of my job working on GovLoop. It just wasn’t sustainable for the long-term and I needed to find a home and resources for GovLoop, a place to give it the care and feeding it needs, to be truly transformative in improving government

Everyday I would get countless questions from members or new opportunities around the world that were fascinating and needed responses. Some were mundane but important, “I can’t get X feature working on GovLoop. How do I do it?” Others were big strategic questions, “I’m from X agency and trying to implement a social network in my department. Do you have time to tell me how you did it?” These questions are important and essential, but my bandwidth was always small and I didn’t always have the time to respond.

And honestly, GovLoop isn’t about me. It’s about the community. And the community has kept GovLoop going. I’ve had an amazing group of GovLoop Community Leaders who’ve been the linchpin – welcoming new members, writing features like Members of the Week and Project of the Week, and letting me know when there are problems on the site. And there are thousands of members contributing every day – from writing a quick blog or commenting on a discussion to reaching out to a colleague with a question. I’ve met hundreds of members in person and honestly it is the best part of the whole process. I have a whole group of new friends through GovLoop – people like Andy Krzmarzick, Adriel Hampton, Steve Lunceford. I’ve also traveled from DC to Canada to Singapore because of GovLoop.

So I’m excited to announce that I’m going full-time on GovLoop as of this week. Social network leaders have told me 20,000 members is a tipping point and as I’ve been nearing that goal, I’ve known that GovLoop needs more resources. I’ve been trying to find a way to give GovLoop the resources it deserves and to ensure that it can continue to grow and continue to connect more people and more information to improve government. People always ask me, “What’s the future of GovLoop?” My answer is, “Everyday I hear 2-3 stories of how GovLoop connected government and helped solve a problem. I would love for that number to be 10-15 examples in one year and 30-40 in two years.” I think this move will allow GovLoop to reach those goals.

GovDelivery is a terrific partner in this arrangement. For those that don’t know, GovDelivery has done some amazing work helping improve government-to-citizen communication with a web-hosted (software as a service) solution for government at all levels. Government entities have used GovDelivery to send more than one billion messages already this year. They’re known for their emailing service, but in the last year, they’ve launched capabilities that allow cross-promotion of content between agencies, put out an impressive text messaging capability, launched widget and blogging capabilities, and won the Fed 100 award for their Social Media work. More importantly, they get me, get GovLoop, and get Gov 2.0. I’m a Midwest guy and have pretty simple honest Midwestern values and I think Scott Burns and the team at GovDelivery (based in Minnesota) does as well. They truly are good people who are passionate about public sector and are at the forefront of the changes around Gov 2.0 (c’mon – we met at Gov 2.0 Camp).

So the question is always…what does that really mean for GovLoop. Honestly, it will take a little time to figure it all out but here are some initial areas of focus for me:

* I’ll continue as President, Founder, and all-around Community Leader of GovLoop
* I’ll continue to be speaking and evangelizing about the power of Gov 2.0, community, social networks, and social media in government
* I will be more responsive (Craig Newmark-style) in responding to the questions and concerns of the community
* Planning to launch more features and resources
* Planning to launch more GovLoop Meetups in local areas
* Assembling an advisory board made up of key members of the community so we have as much guidance and input as possible on how to improve
* Promoting giving back as part of the GovLoop mission and the mission of the community to build on the great work already done by the GovLoop Kiva group that has given thousands of dollars to micro-loans
* Ensuring a foundation for GovLoop. It will be around for a long-time and you don’t have to worry about it going away
* Working on ways to leverage GovDelivery’s reach and technology to promote and improve GovLoop

I’m third-generation public servant and public service is in my blood. My father and step-mother worked at IRS. My step-sister works for EPA and step-brother at VA. My sister, mother, and girlfriend are teachers and my grandfather worked for the Postal Service. I believe the public sector is tackling the most important issues facing the world from environment to health care to security and we need to ensure that we keep the great talent we already have and recruit the best and the brightest.

I’m committed to public service and it’s at the heart of the mission of GovLoop – to connect government to improve government. As GovLoop grows, I promise to stay committed to that mission and work hard to continue to connect and share that wisdom to ensure that we have a truly great government.

As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns (or send thanks to my patient girlfriend). I’m always happy to help out as well if you are working on a Gov 2.0 initiative in an agency and want to pick my brain or get thoughts based on my experience with GovLoop.

I’ll be hosting an online chat at GovLoop tomorrow from 10-11am EST. I’d love to hear your feedback, ideas for the future of GovLoop, and any questions or concerns. I’ll be there to listen, learn, and share.

Steve Ressler
@govloop
founder@govloop.com

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65 Comments

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Profile Photo Sean Hughes

Congratulations on your move to full time. I was referred to your site several weeks ago by someone who has had some incredibly connective and helpful experiences via GovLoop. As a recent new member of the site, an MPA student, and web 2.0 savvy person, I’m excited to become a part of the GovLoop community and also be part of its growth. Best of luck, Sean

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Profile Photo W. David Stephenson

Steve: was it Emerson who said “an institution is the growing shadow of one man”? Know that’s no longer the case in the 2.0 era, but it’s also true that you’ve been the guiding force and it’s so great you’ve been able to make the leap to full-time status.
Really proud of you, and GovLoop!!!

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Profile Photo Darius Roberts

I’m definitely curious to know how you’re planning to bootstrap the existing community. The three different directions i can think of are: 1) consultancy 2) platform development (non-ning?) 3) and/or building more events and improving organizational model for those events.

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Profile Photo Kevin Merritt

Congratulations, Steve. I’m glad to see you’ll have more time to focus on GovLoop. It’s also worth noting that GovDelivery is a great company. They’ve created a shared services platform for email and emergency communications for government organizations of all shapes and sizes.

This looks the combining of two great forces.

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Profile Photo Bob King

Steve – Congrats! What you did with GovLoop in your spare time was phenomenal. I look forward to seeing what will happen with full time management.

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Profile Photo Jack Bienko

Steve – Again, congrats on all your hard work to date, leadership and contributions to public service. Here’s to even more success for you and GovLoop!!!

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Profile Photo MIchelle Lyons

Congratulations, Steve!

I’m so please that you have been able to get the resources you need to continue to build on the success of govloop.

I continue to reference govloop in the UK as an example of how a professional social network can work in practice.

If you ever find yourself in London do get in touch.

Keep up the good work!

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Profile Photo James V. Pritchert

Congratulations Steve you are making a bold move and I envy you. For my part, I have been evangelizing GovLoop at every venue that I attend in the DC area. You have a terrific idea here and it will be a huge success, I just know it.

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

Thanks everyone!

Dave – indeed…the announcement is less about me but it’s about the community. How can we add a little water and feeding to GovLoop so it can connect more people to do more good in government.

Darius – Most of my ideas are in the blog and articles that will come out. But I see lots of cool opportunities – for example – could launch a premium GovLoop group on topics such as H1N1 – leverage all the .govs already signed up for H1N1 alerts on GovDelivery, me and my team will provide the community moderation to take it to the next level, and the metrics/reporting to show success.

Kevin – Agreed. GovDelivery is a great company doing some fantastic work. I’m excited to pair up.

Gwynne – I’ll keep pushing to improve public service. You do the same. And let’s find the next Kings of Leon.

Alex – Appreciate it and keep up the good work yourself of TFCN.

Bob/Jack/Laurence/Rick/Sean – Appreciate all the kind words….it means a lot.

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Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

Congratulations, Steve!!! It seems like yesterday we were sitting in Baltimore having a beverage and talking about what GovLoop could become. At the time, it had a couple thousand members…and here you/we are just a little over a year later with the community at 18,000+ members, taking another giant leap toward realizing the vision! That, to borrow one of your favorite words, is truly awesome! I couldn’t be happier for you…and for all of us who have benefited from the community.

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Profile Photo Amanda Blount

Fantastic Steve!! The participation here shows what a great idea and a lot of hard work will do! I am very excited to see all the new things you have in store for us. :-) The thought of having Govloop meetings in different areas or states is just a wonderful thought. Since we represent many areas of Government, the sharing of information and cross training would be more than just needed, it is a very valuable tool many people do not get the chance to even think about. GOVLOOP could be the leader in many areas of information sharing and networking with other agencies. This is going to be a great ride!

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Profile Photo Alan Vander Mallie

Awesome Steve! Appreciate your launching a premium group around Federal alerts such H1N1. FYI there are over 180 authoritative Federal alerts, feeds, and widgets available on Data.gov in the tools catalog. These can be used freely by both government and public groups for developing additional applications that support efforts like GovDelivery for getting the word out. There are two widgets and one feed already on Data.gov re H1N1. Be well and continue to do great things!

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Profile Photo Cindy Lou Baker

Great job Steve! I’m still really enjoying the chance to learn new things every day about what we ALL care about. Government service to our respective countries. I wish the best for you and GovLoop and if I can help in other ways, please let me know.

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Profile Photo Jeremy Ames

Congratulations Steve! You’ve poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into building this community. I think this will be a great move for you and GovLoop. I’m excited to see what’s in store for GovLoop in the coming years.

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

Ari – Thanks for the kind words. Enjoy the holidays.

Cindy – I appreciate all your awesomeness and look forward to continue doing more to make GovLoop even better.

Jeremy – Means a lot coming from someone who has built a successful community on his own (radonleaders.org)

Alan – Great info…Will check out the widgets..and continue to do great things…

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Profile Photo Robin Paoli

Steve: Excited about what this means for all of us. Thanks for your stewardship of GovLoop, for being so responsive to what and where it is (at a tipping point), and for your dedication to the public good. Congratulations on going full time and the GovDelivery partnership. I’m eager to see (and participate with) what happens next.

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Profile Photo Paul Canning

Good news. We all only have so much energy and you needed the space/time to develop this great idea.

I hope you’ll be able to fit in more working with us in the UK. I know the transatlantic and wider dialogue is one which many welcome. We have much to learn from each other.

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

Karen – my banner designer is the rockstars at Rock Creek Strategic Marketing – rockcreeksm.com. Check them out – I always give them my A+ referral and heard nothing but good things afterwards.

Paul – Would love to connect more and talk more about ways in working with U.K. I agree – let’s learn from each other and not reinvent the wheel.

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Profile Photo Marilyn Clark

Congratulations, Steve, this is terrific news! The community you started has grown into such an empowered voice, and I can only imagine it will continue the thrive. Congrats, and thanks!

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Profile Photo Amanda Blount

Hey..I had no idea where to see the online chat. I wish I could have figuered out how to find out where that was. I am sure some good ideas were discussed.

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Profile Photo Mary Davie

Steve – congratulations to you and to GovDelivery. You have done awesome, amazing things for government and those who support government and I’m sure even bigger things are to come. We are an incredible community in GovLoop and we’ll all be here right along side you continuing to grow and do good things.

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

Wow…so many great comments.

Amanda – not sure what happened with the chat. It was up top on the main screen…will have to figure out for future chats.

Marilyn – Thanks for the kind words. Keep kicking butt in Cali and hope to meet in person one of these days.

Craig – Thanks for the support. Amazing to have people like you working to improve gov’t with all your experience. I’m working on my GovLoop customer support skills

Adriel – One of my great stories of GovLoop. Met you on GovLoop and feel like I have a friend and colleague for life Let’s keep on doing more awesome things – Gov 2.0 radio style

Mary – You’ve been one of the biggest GovLoop supporters and the Acquisition 2.0 group is unbelievably awesome. You’ve got the community manager skill in your blood and are one of the funnest people in govt.

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Profile Photo Shaun

Steve – Amazing! Congratulations! While this is a milestone for you and the community, I believe this is just the beginning. Take care, buddy.

Cheers,
Shaun

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

Ed – Agreed…to the future…

Banaz – Thanks a bunch

Shaun – You rock! From YGL to GovLoop…we got to keep rocking it together

Bob – Love your blog and you are one of the best in all of this (govt IT…gov 2.0). Appreciate all your help along the way and in the future.

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Profile Photo Barry Everett

Steve, I am so proud to see you move into this exciting new level! The year has gone by lickety split, and while some things seem to lag about, GovLoop has provided the framework for real change, and remained true to the spirit of those who carry the message here. Good luck, and please remember those who started this journey way back in 2008. 😉

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Profile Photo Andrea Baker

I am sorry I was too busy to be online during the chat, but as you know I am very excited for this new path in the Steve Ressler/GovLoop adventure. You can count on me for continued support and guidance for how GovLoop should progress. Since finding out about this development, I have already been mindmapping some possible ventures to look into. Very happy for the community on this day. Hope this is a success story we can share at SxSw next Spring.

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Profile Photo Joe Flood

Congratulations! You’re living the dream as a full-time blogger. GovLoop has been a great resource and an inspiration so I wish you the best.

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

Kathleen – Really appreciate it and thanks for all the help. Looking forward to working together

Scott – You are the man! Great thought leadership and a brilliant career advice dude…Keep up the great work

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Profile Photo Sarah Ressler Wright

Steve,
I’m proud of you not only as your “public-servant-school-teacher sister” (thanks for the shout-out), but because you are embodying 21st century American awesomeness and have a great writing voice that I’m trying to develop in my seniors (we’ll talk comma usage later)! I’m currently searching for the proper CEO t-shirt-made with environmentally friendly bamboo of course- that you can wear to ‘work.’
Love you bro-Sarah

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Profile Photo Tom Crowley

Congratulations on your success and “retirement” Steve. I did the same about 14 months ago with TSP Talk, so I know just how you feel. It’s a little scary, but very exciting.

I still have our first exchange from back in Jan 08, when govloop was still an idea, and you wanted to pick my brain. You’ve come a long way.

Congrats and good luck!
Tom Crowley
TSP Talk

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Profile Photo Maxine Teller

Beautiful candor, transparency, passion, commitment. I am so excited to see two wonderful Gov 2.0+ orgs (& leaders) coming together to dive even deeper into practicing the community and better government that you preach. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Big congrats. xoxo

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Profile Photo Jeffrey Levy

Congrats, Steve. Looks like no one has any reservations, which I take as a testament to your credibility with this community! I look forward to seeing you continue to grow GovLoop as a place govies and those interested in gov’t can work together to solve problems!

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Profile Photo linda perry

Potomactechwitre reported that the community had been sold for money. JUst another loser trying to get rich from semi-private conversations.

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Profile Photo William H. Devereaux, III

I need to take on your fervancy. I haven’t been able to connect thru my City of Los Angeles network, until today. But I definitely want to learn all I can while my city battles the economic problems we have and the furlough days they are pushing us into. How’s everyone else dealing with furlough days in the Government at all the varius levels (Federal, State, County, City)?

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