I still remember my first trip to Boston’s City Hall. You can’t help but be struck by the impressive amounts of concrete that form the building. People use a variety of adjectives to describe it: cold, impersonal, intimidating. In fact, the concrete even came up in my first meeting with Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s CIO. To my surprise, though, he felt the building was misunderstood — with the right exterior lighting people might see it instead as impressive and even beautiful. Huh, “beautiful”. What a lovely and unexpected adjective for government.
Exposing the beauty and simplicity in government became a rallying cry and a perfect metaphor for the work we’ve done on the Digital Team.
Our mission is to build digital experiences that are designed around the needs of our constituents. These tools will be beautiful, welcoming, and highly useful.
We’ve done a lot of important work in the last two and a half years… built an incredibly talented team, overhauled boston.gov, established citywide brand standards, improved and created new digital services, and maintained a culture relentlessly focused on end users. Despite how far we’ve come, in many ways the work has only just begun.
We’ve invested in building a solid launching pad, and only now are we getting launch rockets off it. It’s a truly exciting time to be in civic tech, especially in Boston.
I’ve been reflecting on this and the work we’ve done as I bid farewell to City Hall. I won’t be far — this summer I’ll be moving to Philadelphia where my husband has been commuting to/from. I also won’t be leaving the civic tech community. Inspired by the talented people I’ve worked with and lessons we’ve learned in Boston, I’ll be working to scale what we (and others) have learned to other cities. More to come on that later this year.
For now, I’m passing the baton to whoever joins as Boston’s next Chief Digital Officer. You’ve got an incredible journey ahead, and a killer team to do it with.