Prompted by Technical.ly’s year-long THRIVING reporting series, I joined the CityCast podcast. We’re interviewing hundreds of people from a half-dozen other cities, plus following 10 Philadelphians for a full year to help understand: What are the obstacles and opportunities to economically thrive?
This year marks 10 years since the launch of Constitution Daily, a new editorial arm for the celebrated National Constitution Center. Find the blog here, which is richer and livelier than it even was at launch.
In the early days of my publishing company, my cofounders and I helped conceive of and launch the Constitution Daily as part of an editorial strategy consulting project we led for the museum. It was one of the most rewarding such projects I’ve been a part of, and resulted in several close friendships and an award.
I’ve been checking in and am so impressed by how vibrantly the U.S. constitution-focused blog remains. Led by their CEO Jeffrey Rosen, the blog includes an impressive weekly podcast and routine deep dives. This was a major early example of my belief that there were publishing lessons to bring outside of media. I’m humbled by where they’ve taken the project, and I’m proud to have played a small part.
Technically Media, the news organization I cofounded a decade ago, was honored back in November for its commitment to diversity.
It was unexpected — and may be one of the most important honors our organization has received. The praise came from Philly Startup Leaders, a respected nonprofit helmed by Kiera Smalls, during an event PSL organized with advocate Brigitte Daniel, who has known our work for a decade and spoke directly.
“Many of us would not even be in this room if not for Technically Media… “[They] brought us together. They have magnified our work. For a technically-orientated news site, this was never even heard of, never heard of to make an intentional effort to be inclusive.”
We were called for our diverse leadership team and and overall organization – gender parity, age range and racial diversity. It wasn’t empty praise, as we also do benefit by seeking the widest and most representative perspective.
I was given a ‘Community Leadership Award‘ by the Friends of the Coalition, a young leaders group associated with the influential Urban Affairs Coalition.
Knowing UAC’s reputation, I would have already been proud, but I was also surrounded by impressive company. My longtime friend Helen Ubinas, an Inquirer columnist, also received an award. That’s us smiling together in the above photo.
In introducing me, Kevin Harden, Jr. cited my work over the last 10 years in local journalism and community organizing, with a special focus on our adding Generocity.org to our existing Technical.ly work. He thought Generocity’s work was of particular importance.
Thanks also to Brandon Johnson, Felicia Harris and the other Friends of Coalition members, and UAC Executive Director Sharmain Matlock-Turner and the entire UAC team.
Here are the simple remarks I jotted down and shared to a group of 100 or so, at a reception following UAC’s 50th annual breakfast.
Last month, I was the featured speaker in a regular CEO series hosted by the Young Professionals Council of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia.
More than 40 people kindly came out to hear me be interviewed. We talked about Technically Media, tech and impact trends and journalism. (Yes, there was an Amazon HQ2 question: I said I was betting on the D.C. market but thought Philadelphia had a strong enough offering that I refuse to be surprised if chosen).
Below I share a few other thoughts I shared, mostly prompted by audience Q&A.
Long a believer in the importance of the nascent civic technology community, I’ve been a fan of national nonprofit Code for America. So I was thrilled for the chance to support the group in producing its first ever Brigade Congress, a national unconference focused on civic tech, last month.
I’m a first time entrepreneur, having cofounded a niche publishing company. For more than eight years, I have been among those most responsible for the organization’s longterm strategy. For most of those years, I played the role of public face, among the first to serve very nearly all the roles we now have. We have a team of more than 20 and invoiced for nearly $1.7 million in 2016, all of which I feel responsible for supporting and growing.
But only today did I take on the title of CEO.
No one had ever held the title at our organization before. In an era championing entrepreneurship and fetishizing the young and the innovative, we are quick to anoint untested first time founders as chief executives. How many one person or four person companies do you know with a first-time CEO? It’s meant to offer clarity and it’s a great resume line. I am going to tell you why I think that’s a mistake. It’s also why it took me eight years to feel comfortable calling myself an organization’s CEO.