A NAC Experiment in 2020: Co Chairs!

A NAC Experiment in 2020: Co Chairs!

Co-authored by @bentrevino and @mmazanec22, with thanks to @elb for editing

As a resident of the city or county you live in you are likely represented by a city councilor. As a resident of your state, you likely have several people in Congress representing you at the federal level. And as a Code for America Brigade Member, you are represented in Code for America decisions by members of the National Advisory Committee (NAC).

These are incredibly difficult times for many communities. For some of us, the disparities and systemic exclusions and oppressions we’re witnessing are the same reasons why we got involved in civic tech in the first place. Just like our elected officials are empowered to be a resource to communities seeking a better future, NAC exists to be a resource to your work as brigade member and as a civically engaged volunteer. NAC members believe your work is critical, and want to support you. We’re also volunteers - learning how to address this dynamic situation along with everyone else, armed with a belief that we can lean on each other when it seems like we might get knocked down.

Brigade members don’t always know where and how to ask the NAC for help. Here are some things you can lean on us for:

  • Do you want advice about how to run your Brigade virtually? NAC members can hear more about your situation, and connect you with both CfA and staff resources.
  • Do you think particular trainings or tools would help your Brigade? Give that feedback to a NAC member, or a member of the Network team.
  • Do you have an idea that you’d like to see the organization adopt? Share it with a NAC member!
  • Do you want to talk with a fellow Brigade leader who might also know how other groups are operating? That’s where a NAC member can be handy.

A Brief History of the NAC

The first NAC election was held in 2016 and included representatives:

  • Jill Bjers, Open Charlotte Brigade
  • Jason Hibbets, Open Raleigh Brigade
  • Chris Alfano, Code for Philly
  • Neil Planchon, Open Oakland
  • Noel Hidalgo, BetaNYC
  • Harlan Weber, Code for Boston
  • Vyki Englert, Hack for LA
  • Luigi Ray-Montanez, Code for Atlanta
  • Andrew Kozlik, Code for Orlando

Notably, this first NAC class organized the first Brigade Congress in 2017. Following that first year of NAC, half of the members rolled off after 1 year to allow for staggered terms and to introduce regionally elected representatives to help ensure that the NAC reflects the network:

  • Laura Biediger, Code for Durham
  • Ramy Kim, OpenOakland
  • Dawn McDougall, Code for Philly
  • Janet Michaelis, Code for Dayton

In 2018, 5 at large positions were elected, completely turning over the original NAC.

  • Em Burnett (At-Large, OpenMaine)
  • Nina Kin (At-Large, Hack for LA)
  • Carl V Lewis (At-Large, Open Savannah)
  • Melanie Mazanec (At-Large, Code for Philly)
  • Ben Treviño (At-Large, Code for Hawaii)

This NAC helped organize the first coordinated National Day of Civic Hacking.

In 2020,

  • Sabrah n’ha Raven (At-Large, Code for Asheville)

Joined to fill a spot vacated after Carl V Lewis passed away in 2019.

The current regional reps were elected in 2020.

  • Tyrek Shepard, Code for Atlanta
  • Bonnie Wolfe, Hack for LA
  • Thad Kerosky, Code for Boston
  • Janet Michaelis, Code for Dayton

Completing your current NAC Representing you today.

A History of NAC Chairs (and introducing 2020 CO-Chairs)

Jill Bjers served as the NAC chair for 2017, 2018. Laura Biediger was elected Chair for 2019. In 2020 The NAC elected Melanie Mazanec to be the NAC chair and also voted to empower the other chair nominee, Ben Treviño to serve together with Melanie as Co-chairs. The election was held in April and the vote to adopt co-chairs was held in May. Through this blog post, weʻre excited to officially introduce Melanie and Ben as co-chairs.

Our experience in 2020 has highlighted the importance of resilience and of developing communities full of leaders. Each year the NAC has tried to introduce new ideas, experiments, and resources to the network to strengthen it and better support the work we do together. This year, one of the things we want to focus on is developing that leadership within the network, starting with ourselves. By challenging two people to take on responsibility for the chair role, we hope we are creating twice as many opportunities for leadership and providing some resilience when the twists and turns of 2020 inevitably come up.

Weʻll be sharing information via Slack and Sparks to update you on some of the other things we are trying this year and ask for your help on our network level initiatives.

In the meantime, we wanted to make sure you know who we (all of NAC) are and how you can reach us with any feedback, ideas, struggles, experiences – anything youʻd like to share. You can reach all current NAC members either by email (nac@codeforamerica.org) or @nac in Slack. You can also reach out to any individual NAC member or the chairs.