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.
The importance of artificial intelligence and the algorithms that power them is still understated.
That’s among the big themes from Weapons of Math Destruction, an important book published lat year and written by Kathy O’Neill, a computer scientist.
Proudly, Technical.ly had a small contribution, as this story of ours was cited in the book — this story informed that later reporting. There have been a few other examples of that sorta thing but I haven’t captured them. Just kinda fun to see.
I first visited the Pen and Pencil Club in January 2009, as a spunky, 23-year-old. After visiting frequently, I finally became an official member of the country’s oldest surviving open daily press club in early 2012.
Then, in 2013 I ran and was elected to the club’s board of governors, with some encouragement from then club President Chris Brennan, a celebrated politics reporter and columnist who worked hard to grow the kind of members in the club. I was growing a reputation with Technical.ly and an active local organizer of the Online News Association.
I was proud. I learned a lot, and I put a lot of effort into being a board member. Next week, rather than run for a fifth term, I am stepping down. Here I share some of what I accomplished during the last four years.
Newsrooms should rethink their competition. Journalism organizations are in dozens of different businesses. What we share in common (journalism DNA) makes us more partners than adversaries. The many businesses that are competing for the revenue and not providing other community value, like service journalism, are the real competition.
This was the focus of a lightning pitch I gave this weekend at the national Online News Association annual conference in Denver. Below find my slides, audio and some tweet reactions I received.