Meet the Team: November

Meet some of the folks who recently joined the U.S. Digital Service.

Lisa Hwang — Salesforce Manager, Talent Team at HQ

Lisa is the manager for Salesforce at USDS. Prior to the USDS, Lisa worked at a startup in San Francisco to design and develop the Salesforce system there. Lisa’ previous experience includes working in telecom and helped to build out data networks for the major telecom companies in the US.

When and where were you happiest? When I worked at a non-profit organization, I launched several sponsorship programs where I had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia, Thailand, and Nicaragua to meet our orphans.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Becoming an adult. Lol.

Which living person do you admire most? My 4-year-old niece. She teaches me live life to the fullest each day.

Kristian Tran — Engineer at Defense Digital Service

After studying computer science at Wellesley College and working as a software engineer in Boston, I spent the past two years as an engineer in the federal D.C. studio of Deloitte Digital. I worked to solve major technical challenges facing important government and quasi-government organizations in the U.S. — most recently for the National Passenger Railroad Corporation, Amtrak. Now, I am honored to join the United States Digital Service as a part of the Defense Digital Service team. I’m excited to apply the best practices of the private sector and transform the way software products are built and delivered within the DoD to help military service members, their families, and ultimately the American people.

What do you most value in your friends? Empathy and Enthusiasm.

What is your greatest extravagance? Checking an item off my bucket list. Whether it’s camping in a National Park, hopping around islands in Southeast Asia, or tasting a new dish — I can’t help myself but do what it takes to make it happen.

What is your current state of mind? Eager to use my tech skills for government and make a positive lasting impact.

Ketan Patel — Digital Services Expert at Headquarters

Prior to joining USDS, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) was my second home for the past 13 years. I am proud to say that I was a part of day one of the first open enrollments for both Medicare Part D ( and the Health Insurance Marketplace ( and I continued to support that most important mission even during the current open enrollments. I moved from CMS to join the U.S. Digital Services team to accomplish the same common mission we all have, to serve the citizens of this country better.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being part of The U.S. Digital Services team and formerly being part of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) web team are my greatest achievements. The most impactful work I’ve done has been serving this country’s citizens and making difference in their lives.

What is your favorite occupation? Problem Solving: I consider solving problems to be a learning opportunity; thinking creatively to explore alternative options, bringing people together and building consensus are rewarding and educational.

What is your motto? “What you do is of little significance. But it is very important that you do it.” — M.K.Gandhi

Joel Nilsen — UX Designer at DHS Digital Service

I’ve only been on the job one week, but can already tell that USDS is the place to be if you want to make a difference in government! I spent the past eight years in the public service, facilitating my office’s transition to modern web technologies, transforming the way policy makers consume information on important issues, and making difficult office processes easier. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty working to mend the digital relationship between government services and the people who use and support them!

What is your greatest fear? Yes, it’s FOMO. We have so few days on this earth, my greatest fear is that I won’t use them wisely.

Who is your hero of fiction? Spiderman… “With great power comes great responsibility”. I’m looking at you designers! I appreciate Spidey’s acute sense of the complexity in every decision.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A crackling stone fireplace, a hot mug of mulled cider, gingerbread, and a spirited conversation with my friend and family (all at once, of course).

Sherika Ekpo — Director of Talent Management/ Acting People Ops (Co-Director) at Headquarters

Sherika joins USDS with over 10+ years of experience in Human Resources. Her experience includes recruiting, performance management, training, and diversity and inclusion. Sherika has worked in both the public and private sectors with enterprises such as JP Morgan Chase, Department of Homeland Security, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, just to name a few. At USDS, Sherika will lead the Talent Management function and develop strategies for hiring process improvements, employee engagement, and performance management.

What do you most value in your friends? I value loyalty.

When are where are you happiest? On vacation at the beach with a cold beverage in hand.

What is your motto? If you don’t like something, then do something about it.

Casey Johnson — Strategy and Operations at Defense Digital Service

Pre-USDS I was working at Dataminr a social media indications and warning company. I retired from the Navy in 2010 and over the last seven years, I have worked across multiple tech/disruptive companies. It’s great to be on the government side of disruption to actually help change happen. To say that I am excited to come over to the USDS is an understatement. Beyond frustrated with the acquisition and tech problems facing the DoD, I jumped at the opportunity to hopefully clear some hurdles across the DoD.

What is your greatest extravagance? Albanese gummi bears. American-made, these little snippets of joy come in 12 flavors and are amazing. Not only that, they put Haribo’s five flavors to shame. I challenge anyone to argue otherwise.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? To date, raising a son who is a gentleman, has proper manners and is respectful of people. Not sure what will happen when he is a teenager though, but for now I’ll gloat in my achievement.

What is your motto? If you change one person’s life for the better, you’re doing something right.

Seema Daryanani — Senior Technical Recruiter, Diversity & Inclusion at Headquarters, San Francisco Office

Prior to USDS I was a Senior Technical Recruiter at Autodesk. Over the past 10 years I have also been very involved with an organization that helps survivors of human trafficking called International Sanctuary. Joining USDS combines the best of both worlds for me, I get to do the job I love and see how those hires can work on projects that will positively impact so many.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I overuse the word …. REAAAAAAALLLY???

Which talent would you most like to have? I secretly want to be a pop star so maybe singing and dancing ?!

What do you most value in your friends? Friends who aren’t judgey.

Crystal Yan — Designer at Headquarters

I’m thankful for the opportunity to join USDS to improve government services. Prior to USDS, I worked on launching new product lines and leading the UX team at a technology startup transforming how organizations interact with government and prior to that, I worked in product, design, corporate strategy, and marketing at technology companies in the Bay Area, China, and India. In my first month at USDS, I’ve joined a team at HHS working on the Quality Payments Program API launch to help transition our healthcare system to one that rewards quality and value instead of volume.

When and where are you happiest? Exploring a new city abroad by foot while eating street food.

Which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be able to become fluent in a new language quickly.

What do you most value in your friends? Optimism and empathy.

The best of technology.
The best of government.
And we want you.

We’re looking for the most tenacious designers, software engineers, product managers, and more, who are committed to untangling, rewiring and redesigning critical government services. You’ll join a team of the most talented technologists from across the private sector and government.
If you have questions regarding employment with the U.S. Digital Service, please contact us at and visit



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
United States Digital Service

United States Digital Service


The U.S. Digital Service is a group of mission-driven professionals who are passionate about delivering better government services to the public.