Meet the Team: — October 2016

Camille Ricketts, Public Engagement

I’m coming to the U.S. Digital Service from First Round Capital in San Francisco, where my job was to tell the stories and relay the advice of incredible innovators from across the technology industry. I’m hoping to draw on these skills to collect the wisdom and experiences of folks here to create resources that will help the team make an impact for decades to come.

Proust Questions:

  • What is your favorite occupation? Discovering new things. In particular, I love drifting through unfamiliar cities, piecing together where I am and where I’m going. I’m looking forward to doing this in Washington, so you might see me out wandering.
  • Who is your favorite prose author? I love Ernest Hemingway. The man knew how to write a clear sentence and make people feel emotions.
  • What is your idea of happiness? Good friends. Good food. Beautiful views. If I happen to own a horse while I’m at it, that would be great too.

Jenny Kim, Product Management — DHS

Prior to joining the Digital Service at the Department of Homeland Security, I was a product lead for Ralph Lauren’s global e-commerce business helping drive omni-channel experiences for the iconic brand. I’m passionate about efficiently integrating technology that serves and improves users’ lives while maximizing business value. I’m excited to be a part of this extraordinary team that improves the immigration experience.

Proust Questions:

  • What is your idea of perfect happiness? A cabin in the woods by a lake with an endless supply of books.
  • What do you most value in your friends? Sense of humor & honesty.

Chris Johnston, Product Management — Department of Education

Throughout my career, I’ve built and refined digital media systems — 3D animation, online video, digital music marketing, ad serving — that are easy to use, enabling artists to focus on their craft, not the tool. Having no prior government experience, I was drawn to the U.S. Digital Service by the prospect of building meaningful solutions to real-world problems that could benefit millions of people. At the Department of Education, we’re currently working on several projects that orbit around helping college students manage student debt.

Proust Questions:

  • What is your favorite occupation? As a non-sports guy, I didn’t realize how much I love baseball (or even learn how to throw a ball) until I was 20. In another life I’d be a major-leaguer. Then I’d retire from baseball and become a teacher so I could ‘splain All the Things.
  • What qualities do you value most in people? Many, but mostly these: honest, kind, and smart. Virtues you’ll find in abundance at the U.S. Digital Service!

Julie Meloni, Product Management

I’ve spent 20+ years as a builder of things, a builder of teams, and builder of teams who build things, mostly in education and healthcare. Immediately prior to joining the U.S. Digital Service I was an engineering manager at Hobsons where I worked on a product that helps teachers, counselors, and K-12 students align their strengths and interests to their college and career goals. I am incredibly proud to be part of this team and to learn from, share with, and help colleagues who are designing, developing, and delivering tools that make a difference in the lives of millions of people every day.

Proust Questions:

  • Where would you like to live? York, Maine (on the beach). Even in the winter!
  • Who are your favorite authors? I am unnecessarily overeducated in the field of literature, so picking favorites always results in analysis paralysis. But, I love and can re-read the works of Neil Gaiman and Ha Jin numerous times and still find joy, and I’m currently reading the complete works of Onoto Watanna.
  • What is your favorite motto? “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson. I try desperately every day to be wise.

Alia J. Bellamy, Operations

I’m a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer having served in El Salvador. I’ve spent the past few months of my life readjusting and I couldn’t have picked a better place than D.C to start. After three months of being in D.C. and getting lost on the metro, I found myself at the U.S. Digital Service. I’m surrounded by the most supportive group of people who unknowingly inspire me every day. I love what the team sets out to do for the American people but more than anything, I love getting to know the people across government who are making our mission a reality.

Proust Questions:

  • If not yourself, who would you be? I like to live by a motto that encourages everyone to always be themselves. Unless you can be Beyonce. Then always be Beyonce.
  • What is your idea of happiness? My idea of happiness is walking into my clean home with a hot Cinnabon in hand while being attacked with love and kisses by the world’s cutest dogs who I just saw 10 minutes ago but are acting as if I haven’t seen them in months.

Allison Koch, Talent & Recruiting

Before joining the U.S. Digital service I was sitting at a desk across the street from here, recruiting Engineers to come work for LivingSocial. I’m now telling the team’s story to technologists across the country, explaining how their talents could contribute to our mission.

Proust Questions:

  • What natural talent would you like to be gifted with? A really long attention span.
  • What is your favorite motto? “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” — Winnie the Pooh
  • What is your current state of mind? Fortunate, hungry (always), sleepy, and inspired!

Amanda Miklik, Content Strategist — DHS

Prior to joining the Digital Service at the Department of Homeland Security, I spent 12 years working in higher education figuring out how to use technology to help people learn and do. There, I developed a passion for making technology work for people, not the other way around. Now, I’m putting those skills to use in government to make digital immigration services more efficient, affordable, and effective. Hopefully, I’ll live up to my nickname, “The Real-Life Leslie Knope.”

Proust Questions:

  • What is your favorite motto? “We all do better when we all do better.” — Paul Wellstone
  • What is your primary characteristic? Desperate optimism.
  • What is your current State of Mind? Being open to how incredibly wrong I might be; sincerely hoping that I’m not!

Jeff Barnes, User Experience Researcher

Prior to the U.S. Digital Service, I was a federal contractor working across many agencies promoting user experience research and design best practices. I grew up in NOVA so the government culture has always been a part of my life. I’m passionate about helping transform the way our government approaches web-based citizen services. My first project is with the Small Business Administration integrating user-centered design principles into the certify.SBA.gov application.

Proust Questions:

  • What is your favorite occupation? My dream growing up was to be an astronaut. I love the idea of seeing the earth from space and the perspective it would bring!
  • What is your most marked characteristic? Definitely the red hair. Its a gift and a curse to be a little different.

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