Engineering Matters: An Interview with Team D4AD’s Lead Engineer Anne LoVerso

By Xavier Hughes — Senior Innovation Fellow with the New Jersey State Office of Innovation

Over the past several months, the D4AD team has been hard at work in developing a “smart disclosure” tool based on an expanded set of open educational and training data. Although the tool will be available for anyone to use, it is being designed with and for disadvantaged populations in mind. The tool will operate on its own and be linked to New Jersey Career Network, the larger set of digital tools being developed for New Jersey residents anywhere along their respective employment journeys.

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Today, we discuss the importance of the tool, and critical nature of the work with Anne LoVerso — an invaluable member of our technology team.

Xavier Hughes: Tell us a little about yourself, and what your role in the project is.

Anne LoVerso: My name is Anne LoVerso, and I’m currently the lead engineer on the D4AD project — I turn designs, feature stories, and coffee into code. My role is to contribute to the team’s strategic direction from a technical feasibility standpoint, and to deliver value for users by writing high-quality software. I use the process of test-driven development to write automated tests that maintain clean code, which in turn, enables us to make rapid changes and additions to the code, and continue shipping value for users as fast as possible. My role is closely integrated with the design & product side of the work — without the human context that user-centered design practices brings, code written by engineers would be meaningless. So I am grounded in the larger team and our work to understand our users and their needs. As a little about me — I have a stuffed penguin named Syl who helps me code, and my favorite coding snack is 100%-cacao dark chocolate.

Xavier Hughes: What have you learned while working on D4AD and how has it changed your perception of workforce/labor.

Anne LoVerso: While working on D4AD, I’ve had the opportunity to be interviewing and discussing labor and training topics with New Jersey jobseekers and career counselors. I’ve gained a lot of empathy for the stress and anxiety of being unemployed, and the uncertainty and difficulty around the job-seeking process. I believe now, more so than ever, in the importance of structures and systems in society to aid and support vulnerable people as they face these challenges, especially in unprecedented times like the current COVID-19 crisis. As a society, we need to rethink our strategy for helping people gain meaningful employment — which is why I believe the training opportunities and career support we’re working on will be a stepping stone towards changing the way that people and governments approach labor issues.

Xavier Hughes: How do you see D4AD impacting current workforce challenges.

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Anne LoVerso: In my work with the folks at New Jersey Office of Innovation and Department of Labor, everyone I’ve encountered is incredibly passionate and dedicated to helping the New Jersey workforce get support from the state and figure out their best path forwards. With these folks behind a project like this, I know that the outcome will be a good one. I think that the D4AD project will help more jobseekers find training opportunities in an accessible, clean, and delightful way. We’re attempting to modernize processes, sites, and tools for the modern age. I think that the modern site, powered by modern, maintainable code, and a team dedicated to prioritizing the most important user features, will be positioned to connect more New Jerseyans than ever to trainings and opportunities they might not have even known were available.

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The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Office of Innovation, the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, the New Jersey Council on Community Colleges, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, and the New Jersey Department of Education are addressing these problems by developing a “smart disclosure” tool based on an expanded set of open educational and training data. Although the tool will be available to the public at large, it will be designed with and for low-income people and people from other disadvantaged populations. The tool will operate on its own and be linked to New Jersey Career Network, the larger set of digital tools being developed for New Jersey residents anywhere along their respective employment journeys.

New Jersey Data for the American Dream (D4AD) is supported by Schmidt Futures and Lumina Foundation. The funders’ implementation partner is the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS).

For the latest updates on NJ D4AD, check out our Medium posts here: https://medium.com/njinnovation/d4ad/home

New Jersey State Office of Innovation

Official blog of the New Jersey State Office of Innovation…

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