...is a social practice artist and an internationally-recognized expert in civic engagement and community technology. For shy of a decade, she's advised and led innovation + policy initiatives that focus on increasing equitable access to information and public participation in civic life.
Laurenellen's approach flips the tech-for-the-sake-of-tech table. Rather than trust-falling into the "democratizing potential" of new technologies, Laurenellen works with communities (and governments) to co-create and identify tools that best fit local wants and needs. Laurenellen's methods are influenced by a variety of organizing and arts traditions and focus on leveraging existing communal assets and creativity to enable greater collaboration in governance. She trains other practitioners (inside and out of government) to do the same. In 2014, Laurenellen started the movement to bring this practice (co-design) into civic technology and related fields. [More at buildwith.org]
At the end of 2013, TIME Magazine named her one of 30 People Under 30 Changing the World. No pressure, right?
Laurenellen was a Civic Innovation Fellow at the Open Technology Institute at New America where she lead research into engagement and organizing models that prioritize community leadership on the social impact projects meant to serve them. She also consulted with the Smart Chicago Collaborative on an investigation into what it means to build civic tech with, not for. In fall 2015, she published the book Experimental Modes of Civic Engagement in Civic Tech with her findings.
Prior, Laurenellen was the founding National Policy Manager of the Sunlight Foundation. In addition to leading and co-founding Sunlight’s work on state and local issues, she co-authored Sunlight’s open data policy platform, helped dozens of cities, counties, and states write their first open data policies, and directed TransparencyCamp, one of the largest community gatherings about open government in the world. She cut her teeth as a journalist and web producer with NPR and affiliate stations and as a youth member of her hometown school board.
In the margins, Laurenellen's cooked up and captained an independent web and mobile platform for collecting and sharing data about public art in DC (ArtAround), helped launch one of iTunes’ Best Podcasts of 2013 (The Good Fight, with Ben Wikler), which hit #1 on the charts after its first week, gave birth to a dinosaur, and got her neighbors to explore underutilized public space through the Alley of Doom. She also produced the first season of Animal Planet's Dogs 101 and attended a chihuahua birthday party. Not a joke. Ask her about it. I dare you.
L(e) holds a BA in Government (with a ton of studies in Psych and Film) from Wesleyan University. She hails from New England and speaks broken Swedish, limping Spanish, and with a New York accent if you get her excited enough. She is absolutely obsessed with parades and totally willing to give you comic book recommendations. Just ask.