If last year — Sunlight's first year of operation — was a little like being shot out of a cannon, it's hard to describe what the first quarter of this year has been like. Suffice it to say, we are moving at something beyond warp speed.
As a result we have some dramatic growth underway. Here's what's happening.
Our Sunlight Labs has become a core element of our work and we will dramatically expand its capacity this year. It started as an experiment in mid-2006 as a way to both support our grantees and experiment with technology ourselves. After an amazingly successful first year under the co-directorship of consultants Greg Elin and Micah Sifry, the Labs has become part of our cutting edge as our technology and software development arm, well beyond its original mandate. It's now evolving further to better support its expanded internal and external activities.
Greg Elin is becoming our consulting Chief Data Architect with responsibilities that include managing all API development with our partner organizations (a very high priority for us this year) and our own internal data products. He'll also be tackling the "names standardization" problem with other Labs staff. Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej of Personal Democracy Forum will continue in their valued role as strategic consultants to the Foundation and to the Labs.
At the same we will be hiring a Chief Technology Officer for the Foundation overall, a position we purposely did not have during our first year while we were exploring the role technology would play internally. We have a better sense now and we're looking for a very special person to lead the development of technology strategy, implementation and operations for the Foundation and the Labs. He or she will be overseeing a growing group of staff and consultants tackling a wide range of projects and problems. here's the job description. Send candidates our way.
We will also be hiring additional Labs staff and consultants, to assist on our various projects. Our Communications shop is also expanding as is our own real time investigative work. We've hired a terrific full-time Communications Director who will begin work on April 2nd — Gabriela Schneider — who's most recently been at the Council of Foundations. Also newly on board is Anu Narayanswamy who comes to us from the Center for Public Integrity to work on real time investigative projects that she and Bill Allison will be launching — including a daily blog that will chronicle their investigations.
And one final note. Zephyr Teachout, who worked as our National Director for the past nine months, is leaving us this week. The combination of working long-distance from Vermont and her desire to spend more time in the academic world — writing and teaching– led to her to a decision to leave us. We'll miss her unfailing energy, creativity, and exuberance. We plan to stay in close touch.
Note: job descriptions mentioned above will be posted later today.