A fond farewell


Well, it’s been a great six years, but the next few weeks will be my last at Sunlight. Ellen suggested that I write a little post letting you all know.

Working here has been nothing less than a dream job. It’s given me the chance to watch the organization, its people, and the larger civic hacking movement grow into genuinely transformative forces. That has been a real privilege.

Sunlight is transforming too, as we face the prospect of a new leader and a new chapter in our history. Ellen is absolutely irreplaceable, but I think we’re all excited to see what will come next. Still, I have to admit that a part of me wondered if new blood in Labs would be healthy for the organization.

I am not nearly selfless enough to give up a job this great over that kind of vague worry, mind you. But when the opportunity to make a change and join Mapbox came along, I realized it was the right thing both for me and for Sunlight. I’ve admired Mapbox since before it was a company. Those folks are doing some truly amazing things with mapping and geodata, and they’re doing it all on top of a foundation built on open data. So, fellow open data enthusiasts: you haven’t gotten rid of me yet. I’m excited to join a business that’s being built on the values our community shares.

I’ve been lucky to work with an incredibly talented collection of people during my time here, and together we did some pretty cool stuff. In the last four years we’ve seen our API traffic grow 500-fold, to about a billion hits a year, serving everyone from presidential campaigns to kids learning Javascript. We’ve played a major part in passing important open government data legislation. We’ve built tools that are used by hundreds of thousands of activists, advocates and citizens. We’ve contributed new findings to political science and, thanks to our friends in Comms and the press, gotten them in front of millions of readers. And we’ve had the chance to build friendships with brilliant people fighting for open government around the world. I’ll miss it all.

I am certain that Sunlight’s best days are still ahead of it, and I’m excited to watch them unfold. The seat of power in Labs (and the profoundly filthy desk in front of it) will pass to James Turk, a Sunlight veteran and someone who embodies the organization’s values and potential. There should be no doubt that James will excel at leading a team of civic technologists, because he’s already been doing it for several years, managing our Boston team and the incredible work they’ve done on Open States and, more recently, Open Civic Data.

It’s been a pleasure and honor to work here, and I’m grateful to all of my colleagues, particularly the Labs team members past and present. Thanks to Clay Johnson for giving me this opportunity; to our funders, for making the work possible. And thanks to Ellen Miller for creating this institution and teaching me so much within it.