Meet the Team: September 2017

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

Lisa Chung, Software Engineer — Headquarters

Prior to joining USDS, I worked on software at The Motley Fool, where I also got to learn about things like socially responsible investing and the value of paying attention to one’s personal financial health. They taught me a lot! In my first month at USDS, I’ve joined a team that refines the tech infrastructure for the Veterans Appeals Modernization and Vets.gov projects. As an engineer and a citizen, I’m thrilled to have this opportunity.

Which living person do you most admire?

Sonia Sotomayor.

What is your current state of mind?

Inspired, grateful, and indebted. This is going to be one heck of a ride!

When and where were you happiest?

I’m happy now!

Megan Lamberti, Talent Operations — Headquarters Talent Team

Before coming to USDS I worked on HR/Talent teams at a few startups in San Francisco. I’ve worked in ed-tech, cybersecurity and most recently beauty. I am passionate about helping others and bringing out the best in them. I am excited to work towards our mission here at USDS and bring in more great talent to the team!

When and where were you happiest?

Any blue bird day in Tahoe.

What do you most value in friends?

Dependability and a good sense of humor.

Idea of happiness?

Coffee & wine (not together…) and a view of nature.

Jessica Weeden, Designer — DHS

Prior to joining USDS, I worked in healthcare at Philips in Pittsburgh, PA. As a service designer, I worked on a range of projects from connected device ecosystems to post-acute care patient monitoring services. I have been interested in civic design for a while, so when I knew I would be moving to the region for other reasons, I leapt at the chance to join USDS and help with the amazing work happening here. I will be contributing the immigration team’s work on the asylum process.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

So, I have a tendency to start all of my sentences with ‘so’. I always have to go back at the end of an email and delete one pretty much every other sentence. Also, when listing things, I like to end with “…and all that good stuff”.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Hand-eye coordination, just, in general. Sometimes I fantasize about how different my life would be if I was good at sports.

What is your motto?

I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.

Jitendra Vaidya, Software Engineer — VA

Before joining USDS, I worked for a little over four years at Dropbox. Prior to that, I have worked at various bay area companies such as Google and YouTube. I had heard about USDS from friends who had done a tour of duty and they were all unanimous in recommending it. I am an immigrant. I emigrated to the United States from India. Doing a tour of duty at USDS seemed like a worthwhile opportunity to give back. I am with the VA Digital Services supporting vets.gov and Appeals projects and working on establishing an SRE group.

Who are your favorite writers?

I love to read. My all-time favorite prose author is probably Milan Kundera. I also end up reading a lot of science fiction: in the last year I have read Cory Doctorow, Liu Cixin and Neal Stephenson. Vernor Vinge is an all-time favorite.

What is your favorite motto?

I first came across the quote “Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.” on the blog of Ken MacLeod, a Scottish science fiction writer. I was recently reminded of it when I read “Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow. From what I have seen of the USDS so far, that ethos seems to describe the USDS very well.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Before I was asked to write an entry for this blog post, I had no idea what the Proust Questionnaire was. So naturally I googled it and spent hours wandering obscure pathways on the net. Louis CK has some interesting answers, The New Yorker has done an article on its cultural import (of course), there are self-help books that purport to lay bare your deepest self-based on your answers etc. It would be nice if I could learn not to waste time on the Internet (yeah, right!).

Marvourneen Dolor, Strategy and Operations — Veterans Affairs

Before joining USDS, I worked with state, provincial, and federal governments in the U.S. and Canada on sustainable shipping regulations and ocean observing systems. I’ve also worked on a campaign to end illegal fishing globally, and conducted environmental chemistry research aimed at measuring human impacts on coastal ecosystems. Technology can do more than entertain and amaze us, and I’m very optimistic about the capacity of government to be a force for good in people’s lives. I’m looking forward to combining the two as a “bureaucracy hacker” with USDS.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A cat that co-habitats with a human like my wife.

Your favorite heroine in fiction.

Lauren Oya Olamina from the Earthseed series by Octavia Butler.

What is your motto?

I vow to choose what is.

Ellen Butters, Designer — Headquarters

My most recent work adventure was to publicly digitize the entire Explorer grantee database at National Geographic. My team’s mission was to help innovative scientists from every corner of the planet find each other, exchange ideas, and encourage less privileged Explorers to apply for grants. Before that, I contributed to the profound endeavor of fully digitizing the Marvel comic’s library and offering it through the unlimited comics subscription app. I am delighted to ​join the design community at USDS so I can avoid the first Proust answer below.

What is your greatest fear?

Taking more from the world than contributing to it.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A male Pinta Island tortoise: I’d fill in for Lonesome George to resurrect the species, I’d live to be a hundred years old, and I’d get to hang out at the Galapagos!

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Don’t even think about it!” (Spoken to my two boys, ages 3 & 6)

Saad Reza, Technical Recruiter — Headquarters

Prior to joining USDS, I helped high tech, high growth organizations hit their hiring goals while chipping in on the HR side as well. I have my Masters in Human Resource Management and my PHR certification. I hope to continue to bring in smart, articulate and passionate folks to USDS with a bigger focus on engineering.

When and where were you happiest?

I grew up in Richmond, VA and remember playing in the James River. We would do flips off the rocks and into the rapids, swim through the tunnels in the rocks and do fun tricks off the rope swing. Richmond has great single track mountain biking trails, kayaking and outdoor activities within an urban scene and I remember not having a care in the world and enjoying the company of my friends while growing up there.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

I really admire a man who is patient with his children since I have a short fuse with my 4 and 2 year old. I admire Daddy Pig from “Peppa Pig”.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My two children are my pride and joy.

Lauren Alexanderson, Digital Services Expert — Veterans Affairs

I come to USDS after nearly a decade with public health research & consulting firm, John Snow, Inc. (named after the epidemiologist, not the Game of Thrones character!). I have a background in UX design, health communication research, behavioral economics, and communication. I’m so excited to join the Digital Service VA team as a UX designer. My first projects will be working on some of the different benefit applications on vets.gov, such as vocational rehabilitation and employment.

Where and when are/were you happiest?

I grew up racing sailboats, and discovered whitewater kayaking a few years ago through First Descents (basically, adventure camp for young adult cancer survivors). I do not get to spend nearly enough time on the water, but catch me in a race or on a rapid, and I’ll be grinning from ear to ear.

What is your biggest fear?

Heights…or more specifically, cliff edges. I love to hike and visit national parks, though, so I’m trying to shake this. I completed the rock scramble on the Billy Goat A Trail a few weeks ago without panicking, so I am making progress!

What is your motto?

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without ever knowing what will come next. Delicious ambiguity.” — Gilda Radner

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 usds@omb.eop.gov.