Scary challenges at the U.S. Digital Service

This Halloween we’re highlighting members of our team, scary challenges they have overcome, and the things they like most about this time of year.

USDS logo carved by designer Ellen Butters.

Florence Kasule, She/ Her, Procuremenati at U.S. Digital Service, born in Uganda and grew up in Simi Valley, California, previously at Health & Human Services, the National Labor Relations Board and DoD before USDS

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

My scariest experience at USDS would be buying user recruitment services via a micro-purchase (up to $10,000) via a Government purchase card within the VA and having to make sure all parties understood how to do it! Every agency approaches micro-purchases verrrrry scarrrilly differently!

What is your all-time favorite Halloween costume?

My husband as Black Panther!

What do you look forward to most during the month of October?

Apple picking with our kids.

If you’re taking someone trick-or-treating, what is their costume?!

My 9-year old is going as Black Panther, 6-year old as Killmonger, and 4-year old as Bat Girl (2nd year in a row b/c she’s obsessed with Bat Girl).

Francisco Eduardo Rosado Naranjo- Frankie, He/ Him, Executive Assistant at U.S. Digital Service, from Orlando, FL, previously at ADP

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

Have you ever seen the closet in the front of JP… Let me tell you there were some cobwebs and I don’t do bugs! But Eunice and I decided to wear our best outfits (all in black) to get dust all over us. Now we have storage space at headquarters!

What is your all-time favorite Halloween costume?

So I periodically dress up at Peter Pan. When I was a kid I dressed up as him 5 years in a row.

What is your Halloween candy of choice?

Chips…I said what I said.

What do you look forward to most during the month of October?

I love Halloween! I love the decorations, the movies, the chill in the air, the costumes. It allows people to live outside themselves for a night.

Angela Grossfeld, She/ Her, Events & Partnerships Lead on Talent Team, U.S. Digital Service, previously at Google

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

Figuring out how to get top technologists to join our non-partisan organization for a tour of duty during these charged times.

What is your Halloween candy of choice?

Nothing like a few candy corn to put you in the autumn spirit.

If you’re taking someone trick-or-treating, what is their costume?!

My kids are obsessed with sports and zombies. My son will be Slapshot, the mascot of the Stanley-Cup winning Washington Capitals, and my daughter wants to be a Zombie Cheerleader.

Neil Sharma, He/ Him, Engineer at Department of Homeland Security Digital Service, from the Bay Area, CA, previously at small web startup

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

To understand the costs and inefficiencies of not having a robust online application process, we followed the flow of immigration paperwork through the system. This involved touring a secure paper processing facility, tracking applications flagged with complications, and understanding the technologies and humans needed to resolve conflicts.

What is the scariest Halloween costume?

A human sized mirror suit. Nothing is scarier than taking a good hard look at yourself :)

Matt Cutts, Administrator at U.S. Digital Service, He/ Him, from Kentucky, previously at Google

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

I think USDS tackles a lot of challenges that look scary at first, but aren’t that spooky when you really dig into them. For example, moving across the country to work in DC might look frightening at first, but when you take it a step at a time, it’s doable. Or if you’ve never worked in the government, what will that be like? Will I know what to do? But if you take it step by step, before you know it you can be working to help the American people.

What is your Halloween candy of choice?

My Halloween power move is handing out full-size candy bars. It’s really fun to see kids’ eyes widen when they get to pick a full-size serving of candy.

Eunice Garcia, She/ Her, Office Manager at U.S. Digital Service, from Los Angeles, CA, previously at Office of Records Management, WHO

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

What comes to mind is when I first started and had been tasked with the JP move. There was so much stuff everywhere, the office setup was unlike anything I’d ever seen before, I was still learning the ropes, and I thought “what on earth have I gotten myself into?”. I didn’t know everyone yet so I definitely had to come out of my comfort zone. What was wonderful about that whole thing was having a cool group of people to work with that let me bug them as many times as was needed to get the job done.

What is your all-time favorite Halloween costume?

Victoria Beckham in Spice Girls.

What is your Halloween candy of choice?

Snickers!

Jennifer Noinaj, She/ Her, UX and Product Designer, Department of Homeland Security Digital Service — FEMA, from Chicago, IL, previously Interaction Designer at National Instruments

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

The scariest challenge I’ve faced at USDS was the potential of delivering a solution to our users without first talking to them. We’re now working on getting the team in a regular cadence of user interviews and usability testing. This helps us make sure that we are meeting our users’ needs and continually iterating on our designs.

What do you look forward to most during the month of October?

October is one of my favorite months because I love Halloween and the fall colors. I’m excited about candy, costumes, and carving pumpkins!

Nick Hake, He/ Him, Talent Operations Specialist at U.S. Digital Service, from Columbia City, IN, previously recruiter for USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

A challenge I have faced has been to help make the off boarding process smoother for USDS team members transitioning between agencies. To do so, I serve as a point of contact for USDS staff who are transferring to a different agency from EOP, or who are completing their tour of duty. While my primary role is guiding candidates through the application process, this has allowed me the opportunity to also assist our current team members as they make a transition.

What do you look forward to most during the month of October?

Seeing the leaves change colors is one of my favorite things about fall/October.

Rauland A. Sharp, He/ Him, Talent Operations at U.S. Digital Service, from Chicago, IL, previously Program Manager within the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Corporate Recruitment and Outreach Division

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

Being a member of the Talent Team, we recruit and manage the candidate experience for potential USDSers. We are constantly in search of great engineers, designers, product managers, communication specialists, and more to improve digital services and products for the American people. If we don’t find the best talent to help agencies solve digital challenges — we’re all doomed.

What is your all-time favorite Halloween costume?

Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

What do you look forward to most during the month of October?

Wearing sweaters, the start of the NBA season, and October 3rd (my alma mater, Florida A&M University’s birthday).

Marcy Jacobs, Executive Director, Digital Service at Veterans Affairs, She/ Her, from Potomac, MD, previously at Government contracting firm in VA

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

Building great partnerships within VA — maybe at first being seen as outsiders, but as we continue delivering MVPs and building credibility in-house we are able to tackle bigger problems and provide greater impact for Veterans while giving the credit to our partners at VA who have been integral to our work and success. Specific examples: online scheduling, Vet360, Vets.gov to VA.gov

What is your Halloween candy of choice?

Candy corn! And Twizzlers, and Swedish fish, and dark chocolate…

If you’re taking someone trick-or-treating, what is their costume?!

my children don’t figure out their costumes until the week before Halloween. Stressful.

Michael Boyce, He/ Him, Bureaucracy Hacker at Department of Homeland Security Digital Service — Asylum Team, from New York, NY, previously a member of the Refugee Corps

What is the scariest challenge you‘ve overcome while at USDS?

The scariest of all Halloween ghouls — lawyers — I remember the numerous times that entire projects were almost put on ice because a member of a council’s office, who had been briefed on a project numerous times, suddenly realized that their interpretation of the law had changed and tried to stop critical features. Most of the situations I’ve seen where that happens we pull out another set of costumes — good cop, bad cop. I generally would wear the bad cop, challenge the new interpretation, make a stink, and ask for repeated analysis of the new findings. The good cop would swoop in, find a middle ground “compromise” and the project would move forward. Halloween would be saved.

What is your all-time favorite Halloween costume?

Batman. Are there Halloween costumes other than batman?

What is your favorite Halloween costume?

It’s less about the costume and more about the person. A bunch of my friends have kids who are rapidly getting older and I’m looking forward to taking them out to conduct a little mischief and get lots of sugar.


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.



Kelsey Hastings leads digital marketing and content at U.S. Digital Service. She helps share the inspiring stories of colleagues, alumni, influencers, and the impact of their work. Most days she can be found brainstorming ways to inspire technologists to join USDS and improve government services for all.