Meet our 2015 Civic Innovation Fellows!

“The need for innovation in government has never been greater, and we must work with our greatest resource — our human capital — to find new solutions to old challenges.” — Mayor Edwin M. Lee

The Mayor’s Innovation Fellowship in the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation (MOCI) is a novel one-year program that looks to utilize entrepreneurial minds from all sectors to help San Francisco tackle challenging civic issues and be more accountable, accessible and responsive to residents.

Over the course of the last year, Innovation Fellows Jason Lally and Jake Levitas were a joy to work with. They have raised the bar, bringing talent, empathy, and creativity to their work. Jason focused on launching the Entrepreneurship in Residence program bringing startups to come work on high impact City challenges. As their Fellowships came to a close, they are continuing to lead civic innovation efforts in our community: Jason is deepening his efforts on the Mayor’s open data initiatives as Open Data Program Manager under Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro, and Jake serves as Senior Advisor to the Market Street Prototyping Festival he helped launch during his fellowship, and a leader in the national urban prototyping movement.

This past fall we put out a call for civic innovators, looking for two new Mayor’s Innovation Fellows. We’re now excited to welcome the new Fellows to our office, Denise Cheng and Ashley Meyers.

Ashley Meyers comes to MOCI from Code for America, where she was an early team member of the nationally-recognized startup non-profit that is using technology to reinvent the relationship between citizens and government. Ashley brings expertise in civic technology, government transparency, coalition building, public policy and community organizing. Her experience also includes U.S. Senate and Congressional races, local campaigns, and a stint on the Hill. In 2010 she was awarded a Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and spent a year studying cross-sector policy issues in Northern California, working with a number of government agencies and non-profits in the Bay Area. Meyers is a member of New Leaders Council and is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in history and political science. You can reach her on Twitter at @ashleymmeyers.

Denise Cheng lives at the intersection of civics, media, and work. Her background is in community building, the future of news, civic media, and labor in the peer economy, and she builds frameworks for meaningful participation. Denise has been quoted widely by NPR, Harvard Business Review, NextCity, the New Museum, and others about the sharing economy. She co-founded The Rapidian, a citizen journalism outlet that became a national model for hyperlocal, citizen journalism. Denise has trained Knight Foundation grant recipients on content distribution and community engagement, and in other lives, she was a Peace Corps volunteer and strategist to involve marginalized groups in media creation. She received her B.Phil from Miami of Ohio and M.Sc. from MIT, where she was a research affiliate with the Center for Civic Media and MacroConnections, both at MIT Media Lab. Twitter: @hiDenise.

Denise and Ashley will work in collaboration with partners like the Office of Workforce and Economic Development, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, civic technology volunteers, corporate partners, entrepreneurs and startups.

San Francisco Office of Civic Innovation

The Office of Civic Innovation helps make government more collaborative, inventive, and responsive for San Franciscans.