Digital First Residents, welcome!

Editor’s Note: The Digital First Residency Program is a new development opportunity for mid-career digital practitioners in the Ontario Public Service looking to champion digital-first approaches and grow their skills.

If you have questions about the Digital First Residency Program, please contact me, Kelsey Merkley at kelsey.merkley@ontario.ca.


The phrase “shipping culture” is often used across the Ontario Digital Service. But what does it mean to ship culture?

With this in mind, we launched the Digital First Residency program.

The first cohort of Digital First Residents joined the Ontario Digital Service this week, and will work closely with the central team running Digital First Assessments, helping ministries meet the Digital Service Standard — a set of principles that guide the design and delivery of excellent online services.

The Digital First Resident program is an opportunity to enhance digital capabilities and capacity across government.

The Digital First Resident program has three goals:

  1. Provide internal training and opportunity for individuals across the OPS in a time of fiscal prudence
  2. Empower individuals to become experts in assessing digital services, so that we meet consistent standards across government.
  3. Take modern digital ways of working, including in multidisciplinary teams, using agile work practices and internet-era approaches, and bring that learning back to a home office.

We’ve asked each resident to share a bit about their journey through the Ontario Public Service, and what they are hoping to get out of the 4-month residency program.


Hana Carrozza

Digital Resident Hana Carrozza. Photo taken by Myuri Thiruna.

I started in the Ontario Public Service as part of the Ontario Internship Program through the Information and Information Technology (I&IT) Stream.

I spent some time in the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services on an information technology team that supports initiatives related to social services. I worked to deliver key projects like preparing our ministry for an Office 365 Migration. I soon left the internship program and officially joined the I&IT Business team. My role today is to act as a link between the ministry and the cluster, and a lot of the work is focused on change management.

I am interested in the Residency program and the Ontario Digital Service more broadly to see if there are different ways of working to best address IT challenges at the enterprise level.

Oskar Rabeda

Digital Resident Oskar Rabeda. Photo taken by Myuri Thiruna.

I am joining the Residency program from the Children Youth and Social Services Cluster. I have a background in IT, project management and working on enterprise-level projects. My main goal is to gain familiarity with the Digital First assessment program and bring it back to my team, which provides end to end I&IT solution design, development and technology support for our many partners.

Sameer Vasta

Digital Resident Sameer Vasta. Photo taken by Myuri Thiruna.

I’m lucky to have worked on Ontario’s digital transformation efforts for the past decade. From the original e-Government team at the province, to the OneSite project (the initiative that led to ontario.ca as the government’s official website), its inaugural Open Government Office, and working with the many people and teams who have brought to life the Ontario Digital Service (ODS), and the Ontario Public Service’s focus on digital.

For the past few years, I’ve integrated my background in governance and organizational design to help shape the employee experience in the ODS.

One of the most important ways that we can ensure that the digital products, programs and policies we develop across the Ontario Public Service are truly reflective of the needs of the people of Ontario is to build check-ins, so that we can ask ourselves important questions along the way. Digital First assessments are an important mechanism for asking these questions.

I’m hoping to further embed questions of equity, ethics, and justice into the framework of how we design and build digital products and policies, and hopefully learn from others who are doing this well, so that justice is at the core of all the work we do.

Sarah McConnell

Digital Resident Sarah McConnell. Photo taken by Myuri Thiruna.

I have had various opportunities that I have mostly fallen into throughout my career in the Ontario Public Service.

I started at the Ministry of Transportation and then moved into a number of human resources positions within the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs and now with the Office of the Corporate Chief Information Officer (OCCIO).

Through the work that I’ve recently done collecting project data for Ontario’s Corporate Chief Information Officer, I’ve become very interested in the work of the Ontario Digital Service (ODS). The Digital First Assessment process is of particular interest to me and I look forward to sharing my learnings with my team at the OCCIO.

Chet Narangoda

Digital Resident Chet Narangoda. Photo taken by Myuri Thiruna.

I joined the Ontario Ministry of Transportation Road User Safety Division in 2009 from the private sector. I’ve worked on various projects from covering data warehousing to transactional reporting and leading large data migration initiatives.

Having developed many standards, guidelines and frameworks to help teams deliver quality products, I am interested to learn more about how the Ontario Digital Service (ODS) works. I am a strong believer in the need for a digital first assessment process and am looking forward to sharing what I learn with my team.


Tune into our blog as we continue to track the journey of our Digital First Residents. We’re all in this together!

Digital Resident group shot. From left to right: Sameer Vasta, Hana Carrozza, Sarah McConnell, Chet Narangoda, Kelsey Merkley (Digital Resident Program Coordinator), Oskar Rabada. Photo taken by Myuri Thiruna.

Ontario Digital

Digital, the Ontario government, and all things in between. Learn more at http://ontario.ca/digital

Kelsey Merkley (née Wiens)

Written by

(née Wiens) @uncommon_women founder. Believer of Functional Pocket Feminism, lover of Whisky, founding member of G.S.D Brigade.

Ontario Digital

Digital, the Ontario government, and all things in between. Learn more at http://ontario.ca/digital

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