...is a social practice artist and an internationally-recognized expert in civic engagement and community technology. For shy of a decade, they've 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. They train 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 them 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 they lead research into engagement and organizing models that prioritize community leadership on the social impact projects meant to serve them. They also consulted with the Smart Chicago Collaborative on an investigation into what it means to build civic tech with, not for. In fall 2015, they published the book Experimental Modes of Civic Engagement in Civic Tech with their 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, they 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. They cut their 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 supported the US Department of Arts & Culture's People's State of the Union as an Artreach Coordinator, 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. They 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. They hail from New England and speaks broken Swedish, limping Spanish, and with a New York accent if you get them excited enough. They are absolutely obsessed with parades and totally willing to give you comic book recommendations. Just ask.