Thank you Jen


David Eaves high-fiving Jen Pahlka
Jen high-fiving David Eaves during the 2018 Digital Services Convening at Harvard University

Today, Jen Pahlka is stepping down as leader of Code for America, after 10 years. We wanted to say thank you.

I won’t bother rattling off all the facts that you can read for yourself on Jen’s Wikipedia page; suffice to say, she’s played a hugely important role in the American public sector over the last decade.

Jen was responsible, in whole or in part, for the establishing of three new and important internet-era institutions: Code for America, the United States Digital Service, and 18F. She’s set up new teams and got them working, at both local city level and national level, to solve problems for millions of American citizens. Few people can say they’ve made that sort of impact at that sort of scale; Jen wouldn’t say it either, she’s far too modest.

This video (just one and a half minutes long) tells you a lot about Jen and how she thinks:

Anyone who has met Jen will know that she combines inspiring, strong leadership with friendly warmth and a contagious sense of fun. No wonder she’s been able to make such a difference, and encourage so many people to do the same.

So much of Jen’s work is public, but we have also seen the work she does behind the scenes for the worldwide government digital movement. Here’s just one example: when we were starting the Government Digital Service in the UK, Jen was relentless in her support, and spent her own time and money to come over to the UK to support the new team and its work. She went to great lengths to embed our approach in the US system, very successfully. All this was a mark of her greatest characteristic: generosity.

This post is a public “thank you” for Jen, but it’s not “goodbye”. We’re sure she will continue to be an influential voice in the USA and around the world, encouraging political and civil service leaders to take bold steps and trust small teams of technologists who’re keen to make a difference.

 

One thought on “Thank you Jen

  1. This is a perfect thank you from someone who I know Jen feels she owes a great debt to. It always seems to be those who have contributed so much themselves who have the generosity and take the time to thank others. You two have played off each other like a championship sports team, with assists and goals going back and forth along with the joy of the game.

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