Meet the newest members of the U.S. Digital Service family.

The U.S. Digital Service
Mar 5 · 6 min read

Hala Shakra, She/Her, Product, U.S. Digital Service at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, previously at Trustify, from Oak Park, CA

At Trustify, I built the product suites and digital ecosystem that allow individuals and businesses to connect to the experienced investigators’ intelligent network. At Digital Service at CMS, I’ll be extending my product expertise to help modernize the payment and claim processing systems for Medicare. I’m excited to learn about healthcare and the intersection between technology and government to improve the experience for the American people.

What is your motto?

Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open (Dalai Lama).

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My son, who always fills me with hope and brings me closure on the fairness of life.

What is your greatest fear?

Fun fear: to lose my cell phone. Then what? Not fun fear: flying.

Jeff Hayter, He/Him, Digital Acquisitions Expert, Digital Service Veterans Affairs, previously with the State Department, from Hagerstown, Maryland

I am honored and thrilled to be part of the USDS Acquisitions team, also known as the Procuremenati. Prior to USDS, I spent eight years at the State Department. Most recently, I was part of a team that helped modernize public diplomacy by implementing modern digital platforms and strategies. I helped lead a modernization effort to stand up an enterprise analytics office for the agency. In 2017, I had the rewarding opportunity to spend some time on the Hill as a fellow with the Brookings Institution where I served as a foreign policy adviser to a Congresswoman from Hawaii.

At USDS, I am a member of the Digital Service team at the Department of Veterans Affairs. DSVA has many significant and challenging contracts that I’ll be helping administer along with my fellow USDSers.

What is your Motto?

“Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.” — Benjamin Franklin

What is your greatest extravagance?

It’s a toss-up between iced coffee and our two standard poodles, Roosevelt and Lucy. I love my caffeine, but only if it comes with ice. I once had my coffee freeze into a slushy as I walked to work in 17-degree weather. Also, a poodle haircut costs how much?!

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I am admittedly impatient at times. I often find myself in a constant state of planning for the future. Even my plans have plans!

Martha Wilkes, She/Her, Designer, U.S. Digital Service, previously at Citi and SAS, from Miami, FL

This is my first government job. I was at a career crossroads and I saw a tweet about USDS so I decided to just go for it. I love the idea of being on a mission and I definitely feel a calling to use my design skills for the greater good. My first assignment is a project to help improve government hiring processes.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Last year I bought a convertible Beetle. Driving with the top down with the music blasting and singing at the top of my lungs makes me stupidly happy.

What is your favorite occupation?

My first real job was working in a record store — definitely the coolest job a teenager could have in suburban Miami in the 80s.

When and where were you happiest?

I once spent a week at Penland School of Crafts. I did nothing but make glass beads and hang out with other craft-obsessed people in the gorgeous NC mountains. Truly heaven on earth.

Kevin Thomas, He/Him, Product, U.S. Digital Service at Department of Homeland Security, Previously at IAC Applications, from Washington, DC

I come to USDS by way of IAC Applications. For the past 4 years, I worked as a product manager on PC optimization software that simplified users’ digital lives. At USDS, I will work with the Department of Homeland Security to improve the delivery of immigration benefits. I joined the DHS digital service team to work on products that have a large, positive impact on people’s lives.

What is your motto?

“Show me the data.” News and popular thinking often equates to storytelling spattered with anecdotal evidence. Data, when visualized properly, not only tells the true story but also offers compelling evidence that the story sits close to the truth.

Who is your hero of fiction?

The Dude. Or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

What are your favorite names?

My favorite names are the ones we chose for our daughters .. Eleanor, Rose, and Camille. I have my wife to thank for these. She is glad we didn’t have a boy … would have used the Top Gun Name Generator.

Will Slack, He/Him, StratOps (Bureaucracy Hacker), U.S. Digital Service at Health and Human Services, previously at 18F, from Decatur, GA

I am supporting Medicare’s development of cloud-based systems to support value based care and better health for all Americans. Prior to USDS, I helped scale 18F at the General Services Administration, creating the project intake process and later leading a portfolio of our products and platforms such as Federalist, the US Web Design System, and cloud.gov. I’ve also done epidemiology research and previously worked for an electronic medical record company, so it’s a honor to be able to impact some of the processes I’ve experienced on the ground alongside this wonderful team.

Where would you most like to live?

I love the mountaintops of the Appalachians, amidst the forest, but that’s not where the work is.

Who is your hero of fiction?

I’m a fan of Honor Harrington, a space navy character based on CS Forrester’s Horatio Hornblower. Her book series is an ideal beach read.

What is your favorite occupation?

I love jobs that involve working one on one to help another person. I’m hoping to have a second career as a therapist, ideally on a mountaintop somewhere, once government technology is fixed.

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 and visit usds.gov/join.


The U.S. Digital Service

The United States Digital Service is a tech startup working across the Federal government to deliver better services to the American people.

The U.S. Digital Service

Written by

The United States Digital Service is a tech startup working across the Federal government to deliver better services to the American people. www.usds.gov

The U.S. Digital Service

The United States Digital Service is a tech startup working across the Federal government to deliver better services to the American people.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade