Presidential Innovation Fellows

Presidential Innovation Fellows: Meet the Round 1 Presidential Innovation Fellows

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The Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program pairs top innovators from the private sector, non-profits, and academia with top innovators in government to collaborate during focused 6-13 month “tours of duty” to develop solutions that can save lives, save taxpayer money, and fuel job creation.

Meet the Round 1 Presidential Innovation Fellows

MyGov | @ProjectMyUSA

Phil Ashlock
Phil Ashlock Phil Ashlock 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 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 BA in Art/Design from Western Washington University. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, and enjoys urban adventures by bicycle.

Ben Balter
Ben BalterBen Balter is a talented software developer working to improve the 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, where he is currently a JD/MBA candidate.  Ben grew up in Northbrook, IL, and currently lives in Washington, DC.

Danny Chapman
Danny ChapmanDanny Chapman is passionate about web standards, responsive design, and creating well-crafted digital experiences that connect users to content. He most recently served as a 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 DeFriasKara DeFrias 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 (minor in Theatre) from Elizabethtown College and graduated summa cum laude from Penn State University with a Master’s degree in instructional design. Kara lives at the beach 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 to bring agile and lean startup methodologies to the Federal Government.  Previously, he founded Blogdigger, one of the first blog search engines. Greg then 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 with his wife Penny and their three children.


Open Data | @ProjectOpenData

Nick Bramble
Nick BrambleNicholas Bramble is a lawyer with a strong interest in improving how governments release data and promote engagement by citizens and startups. Nick directed the Law & Media Program at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. For the last two years, he has taught a course at Yale titled Access to Knowledge that deals with difficult issues in privacy, intellectual property, and telecommunications law. Nick has written multiple court briefs and agency comments and has authored articles in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, the Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review, and the Hastings Law Journal.  He holds a BA in Linguistics and an MA in Literature from Stanford University. He also holds a JD from Harvard Law School and was a visiting researcher at the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy. Nick is married and lives in New Haven, CT.

Dmitry Kachaev
Dmitry KachaevDmitry Kachaev is a civic-minded software engineer with more than a decade of experience in the private sector, public sector, and academia. Half of his career was spent working for the District of Columbia where he established and ran a technology innovation group called OCTO Labs. Most recently, Dmitry was on the faculty at the University of Maryland, where he worked on challenges related to crowd-sourced language translation in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University's Human Language Technology Center of Excellence. Dmitry holds an MBA degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an MS in Applied Math and Computer Science from Krasnoyarsk State University, Russia.  Dmitry lives in Arlington, VA, with his wife and child. He enjoys longboarding and rock climbing.

Ian Kalin
Ian KalinIan Kalin is passionate about energy and empowering people through data. Ian started his professional career as a Counter-Terrorism Officer for the US Navy, later serving as a Nuclear Engineer onboard the USS Ronald Reagan. After leaving the Navy, Ian joined a rising company called PowerAdvocate, which delivers market intelligence solutions to the electric and gas sectors. His entrepreneurial work led to significant cost savings for utility companies and their customers. Ian has a BS in International Politics from Georgetown and a MA in Engineering Management from Old Dominion. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Amanda, and is a musician in his spare time.

Raphael Majma
Raphael MajmaRaphael Majma is a researcher passionate about the field of open data. Most recently, he worked on the Initiative on Open Government Data and the Nonprofit Sector for Professor Beth S. Noveck at New York Law School. Previously, he studied intellectual property and information law. He has also worked as a legal contributor to the Mozilla Foundation on the Open Badges Project. Raphael holds a JD from New York Law School. He served as a Student Research Fellow at the school’s Institute for Information Law and Policy. During that time, Raphael worked on outreach programs to educate the public about significant and landmark cases, such as the Google Books Settlement (Authors Guild et al. v. Google). He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his pet turtle, Turtle. 

Nat Manning
Nathaniel ManningNathaniel Manning is the Director of Business Development and Strategy at Ushahidi, a non-profit tech company from Kenya that specializes in developing free and open source software for information collection, visualization, and interactive mapping. He is also the Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder of 9th Sense Robotics. Nathaniel sits on the World Economic Forum’s Personal Data Tiger Team, on Google’s Data Colloquium Team, and on the technical advisory board to The Rules, and is an alumnus of Singularity University. He has been an advisor to Runa Tea, a USA-Ecuadorian social enterprise. He also co-founded a web-video platform called Previously, Nathaniel was a Financial Associate for the Clean Energy team at the Clinton Climate Initiative, living in Bangkok and Melbourne and working throughout emerging markets. He has run his own energy and design consulting group.  Nathaniel holds a BA in Religious Studies and an MA in Environmental Science with a focus on international development and carbon finance from Brown University.

Marina Martin
Marina MartinMarina Martin has been a business efficiency consultant and web developer for the last ten years, helping businesses save time and money through a combination of hands-on process optimization and custom Ruby on Rails and Apex application development. Marina is the founder of the efficiency consulting firm The Type-A Way and author of Business Efficiency for Dummies. She serves on the City of Seattle Citizens' Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board and has worked on open data projects across Washington State. Marina grew up in Connecticut and lives in Seattle, WA with her cats and extensive collection of dry-erase boards.


Blue Button for America | @ProjectMyData

Matt McCall
Matt McCallMatt McCall believes that open standards, data, and software have the potential to redefine the way in which patient-centered healthcare is delivered in this country, and that Blue Button is a critical step towards realizing the potential of this transformative concept. Matt has most recently been involved in community engagement and development support for the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA), established by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to catalyze innovation on the VistA Electronic Health Record and related health information technology projects. Matt previously worked on several efforts for KRM Associates Inc. Prior to KRM, Matt’s focus was in big data management and analytics support for the database marketing industry. He graduated from Salisbury University with a degree in Management Information Systems. Matt lives in Baltimore, MD, where he plays ice hockey and is active in the arts and theater community.

Ryan Panchadsaram
Ryan PanchadsaramRyan Panchadsaram was most recently the head of Customer & Product at, a spin-off from MIT Media Lab, using big data to transform health. He has been a Fellow at Rock Health, where his company Pipette was incubated and ultimately acquired by He previously worked at Microsoft and While at Microsoft, Ryan was responsible for the user experience and design for Outlook for Mac 2011. During his time there, he filed multiple patents for innovations in geolocation, user interfaces, and large datasets. Ryan sits on the board of SeventyK, a young adult cancer advocacy group. A designer and engineer at heart, Ryan recently won first place in The Guardian & Google's International 2012 Data Visualization Challenge. He graduated from University of California-Berkeley with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. Ryan lives in San Francisco, CA with his fiancée and their Australian Shepherd.

Henry Wei, MD
Henry WeiHenry Wei has been Senior Medical Director for Clinical Innovation at Aetna, Inc., Clinical Instructor in Medicine at Weill-Cornell Medical College, and an Attending Physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Prior to these roles, Henry was Senior Medical Director for Clinical Research & Development at ActiveHealth Management, working on computerized clinical decision support, population health, and online patient portals. Before that, Henry was a consultant at McKinsey & Company for healthcare IT. He is Board-Certified in Internal Medicine and completed his residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital, along with Informatics training at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University. He holds his medical degree from Weill-Cornell Medical College, and Master's and undergraduate degrees from Harvard University. Henry lives in New York City with his family.


RFP-EZ | @ProjectRFPEZ

Adam Becker
Adam BeckerAdam Becker is a software developer and entrepreneur. He co-founded and served as Chief Technology Officer of a civic-oriented startup called GovHub that aims to facilitate communication between citizens and their elected officials in local government. Previously, Adam built a wealth of experience in different web development projects, with his very first effort being a website for his junior-high punk band. Adam is passionate about bicycling and lives in Oakland, CA, with his two cats.

Clay Johnson 
Clay JohnsonClay Johnson's career at the intersection of government and technology began as the Director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation, where he built a community of 2,000 developers, designers and technologists dedicated to helping government be more open and transparent with its stakeholders. After Sunlight, Clay worked as the director of Engagement at Expert Labs where he worked with Federal agencies to help embrace and use social media. Recently, Clay wrote the bestselling book The Information Diet, which explores the parallels between our media and food consumption. Clay was named the Google/O’Reilly Open Source Organizer of the year in 2009, was one of Federal Computing Week’s Fed 100 in 2010, and won the CampaignTech Innovator award in 2011. Clay lives in Washington, DC with his wife Rosalyn and his adorable 7 week old son Felix.

Jed Wood
Jed WoodJed Wood is an interaction designer, developer, and entrepreneur. Having built experience as a usability expert, he wandered into geekier pastures of writing actual code. He has spent the past decade bridging the gap between design and programming by creating rapid prototypes and production applications. Jed co-founded Lime & Chile, building three web applications that were later acquired. Most recently he was part of the Labs team at Gravity Tank. Jed earned a Master’s degree from the Institute of Design in Chicago, IL, where he now lives with his wife and two daughters.


Better Than Cash | @ProjectTwenty

Karl Mehta
Karl MehtaKarl Mehta is a Silicon Valley-based serial entrepreneur, engineer & inventor with over 18 years of experience in founding, building, and funding technology companies in the US and international markets. Most recently, he was the founder & CEO of PlaySpan Inc. (acquired by Visa), a global leader in micro-payments with a monetization platform supporting 100+ local payment options across 180 countries. In 2010, Karl won the 'Entrepreneur of the Year' Award from Ernst & Young for Northern California. Karl is also the founder of Grassroots Innovation Network (GrIN), a public-private partnership platform that brings the startup ecosystem and Silicon Valley's entrepreneurship know-how to millions of college students nationwide. Karl is a board member of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Chapman University, Pratham Bay Area, Source Ventures, and Simpa Networks (solar energy on pay-as-you-go for developing markets). He is an active angel investor in the clean-tech and internet sectors. He lives with his wife and two children in Fremont, CA.