Project MyUSA

Presidential Innovation Fellows

The Team

Presidential Innovation Fellows - Round 1 (July 2012 - January 2013)

Phil Ashlock

Phil Ashlock Phil has spearheaded community driven civic technology initiatives with global reach. Most recently he served as the Open Government Program Manager at OpenPlans where he established the Open311 initiative. Open311 is a standardized protocol for publicly reporting and tracking civic issues which is now implemented in dozens of cities around the world. In partnership with Code for America he also co-founded Civic Commons, an initiative to help governments share technology and their experiences using it. Phil has also facilitated broader collaboration between cities and other government bodies around open government initiatives, standards, and open source civic technology. He’s been an active participant in the Open Government Partnership and served as a member of the NYC Transparency Working Group where he helped shape one of the world’s strongest open data laws: NYC Local Law 11 of 2012. Originally from Anacortes, WA, Phil received his B.A. in Art/Design from Western Washington University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York where he enjoys urban adventures by bicycle.

Benjamin J. Balter

Benjamin J. Balter Ben is working to hack federal government from the inside out. He most recently served as a Fellow in the Office of the US Chief Information Officer. Ben played a key role in drafting the President’s Digital Government Strategy, a fundamental reimagining of the role of technology in the public sector. He served on the White House SoftWare Automation and Technology (SWAT) Team, leveraging agile methodologies to streamline day-to day business processes. Ben’s paper “Toward a More Agile Government” was published in the Public Contract Law Journal, and he’s authored nearly a quarter of the government’s open source projects on GitHub. He earned his BA in Political Science at The George Washington University, and is currently a JD/MBA candidate at the same. Ben grew up in Northbrook, IL and currently lives in Washington, DC.

Danny Chapman

Danny Chapman Danny is passionate about web standards, responsive design, and creating well-crafted digital experiences that connect users to content. He most recently served as Creative Director for eGovernment provider NIC. In that capacity, he led the transformation of, Rhode Island’s official government web portal, into a nationally-recognized, award-winning state government web presence. Recent awards include an Interactive Media Award 2012 (Best in Class in Government) and a MobileWebAward (Best Government Mobile Application,). His creation of a statewide design platform for will be unveiled in the coming months. Originally from the United Kingdom, Danny graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in Art History and has used this broad understanding of art, design, and visual culture to inform his aesthetic sensibility ever since. He lives in Riverside, RI with his wife and two children.

Kara DeFrias

Kara DeFrias Kara has a passion for creating engaging experiences, both online and off. She most recently served as TurboTax UX (user experience) strategist and Intuit Innovation Catalyst, influencing the voice of and empowering Intuit’s employees to utilize design thinking in their project work. Kara also provided pro bono social media services to TEDxSanDiego and Team Rubicon. Prior to that, Kara’s career spanned nearly a decade working in corporate learning and development. She also worked in entertainment and pro sports, most notably on the Super Bowl Halftime Show, Women’s World Cup ‘99, and an Emmy award winning production of the Oscars. Raised in Burlington, NJ, Kara earned a BA in English and Theatre from Elizabethtown College and graduated summa cum laude from Penn State University with a master’s degree in instructional design. Kara lives in San Diego, CA, with her curmudgeonly English labrador retriever.

Greg Gershman

Greg GershmanGreg is an experienced software developer and entrepreneur who is passionate about bringing new ideas to life with technology. Greg most recently worked as a consultant to the General Services Administration on USASearch, where he made government content easier to find and helped bring agile and lean startup methodologies to the federal government. Previously, he founded Blogdigger, one of the first blog search engines. Later, Greg began a career as an independent software development consultant, using his experience in startups to help others quickly and effectively build new businesses and bring their ideas to life. He received his master’s degree in Computer Science from The Johns Hopkins University. Greg grew up in Gaithersburg, MD and lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife Penny and their three children.