Meet the TransparencyCamp Scholars


We’ve spent a lot of time making general reflections about the experience we shared with some of you at TransparencyCamp, but haven’t really covered the specifics — the sessions, people, and takeaways — that made our great Camp just so darn great.

This post won’t cover all of the above, but it will highlight some pretty special folks who added volumes to the conversations and energy of the weekend: our travel scholars!

With your help, Sunlight was able to take the edge off of travel expenses for 11 people journeying from across the country (and then some) to Camp. We promoted the scholarship program publicly on the TransparencyCamp website and received some fabulous applications from activists, academics, developers, leaders, n00bs (er, newbies), students, lawyers, and so on. For those of you who want to see where your donations went and for the rest of you curious folk (who might want to see this program expanded in the future), here’s a snapshot of our scholars:

Mike Sherry

Hails from: Prairie Village, Kansas
How he works for #opengov: Mike has been a journalist for nearly 25 years. He currently serves as the Executive Director (and Founder) of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit dedicated to watchdog reporting in Kansas and Missouri, though he’s also known as a founding member of the Missouri Sunshine Coalition and for his byline in several midwestern and DC-based publications. (Perhaps you’ve heard of CQ?) Mike came to TCamp to connect with others passionate about open public records and data.

Stephen Jackson

Hails from: Chelsea, Alabama
How he works for #opengov: Stephen’s been an IT developer and consultant for over 10 years. He founded — an independent, volunteer initiative to make Alabaman legislation more accessible to the public — after he found that the state’s legislative system made it nearly impossibly to track legislation. When he started, Stephen had never heard of the open government and open data movements, let along groups like Sunlight and Now Stephen’s trailblazing for Alabama in the greater #opengov community.

Tamar Gurchiani

Hails from: Georgia (the country), by way of Williamsburg, VA (W&M Law School grad)
How she works for #opengov: Tamar is an expert in Georgian Freedom of Information law, working for 6 years with the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association on FOI projects. This spring, she completed her LLM at William and Mary, started at the National Security Archive as a visiting fellow, and is scoping out how to take TransparencyCamp back to Georgia with her.

Ramphis Castro

Hails from: San Juan, Puerto Rico
How he works for #opengov: Ramphis is a software engineer and the president of the Institute of Computer Engineers, spearheading efforts with technologists and others to get more public policy focused on transparency in Puerto Rico. Outside of his advocacy for local open government, Ramphis is the principal tech advisor for Relisc Coporation, a group that provides outsourced-CIO services for clients, and the curator/founder of TEDxSanJuan (stay tuned for their first event November 2011).

Stefan Urbanek

Hails from: Bratislava, Slovakia
How he works for #opengov: Stefan is a senior business consultant (and owner) of Knowerce, a knowledge management company, with a strong background in open data work (evidenced by his latest project, Data Brewery). Stefan’s work spans Slovakia and the US, though among his top credentials are a Slovakian open public procurements portal and Datacamp, a data sharing application.

Jason Williams

Hails from: Hyrum, Utah
How he works for #opengov: Jason is an activist, talk show host, and blogger, sharing news and opinion on national and local issues since 2005. Following the Utah state legislature’s attempt to dissolve it’s Freedom of Information law (aka GRAMA), Jason became involved in the citizen efforts that were organized in response, including the collection of some 65,00 signatures required to petition the government to keep open records…open. Jason now serves on the working group – composed of lawmakers, citizens, and lawyers, among others – that’s examining alternatives to the passage of unpopular legislation.

Suzanne McBride

Hails from: Oak Park, Illinois
How she works for #opengov: Suzanne is the co-founder and co-editor of Chicago Talks, a 4-year-old website covering local issues, events and politics. She has a history of working for on open government issues as an investigative journalist (leading, for example, a statewide audit of public records for the Indianapolis Star in 2004). When she’s not working with ChicagoTalks, she’s supervising a group of undergrads and grad students on award-winning investigations as a professor at Columbia College Chicago.

Friedrich Lindenberg

Hails from: Berlin, Germany
How he works from #opengov: Friedrich defines himself as “a media scientist turned coder.” His open data cred spans the creation of data portals for a number of European administrations and authoring Adhocracy, a collaborative drafting software. Currently, Friedrich works the Open Knowledge Foundation where he focuses on different initiatives to make financial and budget data accessible.

Michael Clarjen-Arconada

Hails from: Sag Harbor, New York
How he works for #opengov: Michael stood out as a local leader when he organized a community showing of the Casino Jack and the United States of Money — a 2010 documentary on the Jack Abramoff scandal. His Long Island event drew around 300 viewers.

Tracy Dingmann

Hails from: Albuquerque, New Mexico
How she works for #opengov: Tracy is an investigative reporter and proud IRE member who’s been around the block with open records requests. Currently working as an independent and correspondent on the KNME program, In Focus, Tracy’s been reporting for over 20 years and just wrapped up a stint as the New Media Director at the Center for Civic Policy.

Michael Maranda

Hails from: Chicago, IL
How he works for #opengov: Michael is a software developer and movement strategist, working on the bridge between open data and open government efforts. His interest in increasing digital literacy has led him to leadership roles in several community networking groups, including the Chicago Digital Access Alliance and the Illinois Community Technology Coalition.