DataKind harnesses the power of data science in the service of humanity by bringing together data science and social sector experts on projects designed to move the needle on critical social issues.
Our global community is what makes all of our work possible, from the data scientists looking to use their skills to give back to our visionary partner organizations working to address humantarian challenges.
Bringing all these talented people together so that their powers can combine is no easy task, which is why we are thrilled to welcome Jeanne Brooks as our Director of Global Communities.
Jeanne will be supporting and rallying DataKind’s community of Chapter Leaders, data science volunteers and partner organizations to embark on world-changing collaborations together.
Learn more about Jeanne below and send her some Twitter well-wishes @jmfbrooks!
What were you up to before you came to DataKind?
As an experience designer, I engineer bridges between people, technology and information to create impact. At first, I worked in the social sector advocating for women’s issues and, later, I worked with news producers educating and helping to shape information systems to better serve public information needs.
I’ve worked with a variety of national and international professional networks to support skills sharing, collaboration, and new technology development to better serve public information needs. Networks I’ve worked with include The Media Consortium, Online News Association and Hacks/Hackers and, last year, I was a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.
Even my passion projects fit into this personal mission. I’m the co-director of New/s Disruptors, a project working to reframe the narrative of digital disruption in journalism to champion the experiences and contributions of diverse voices. I also helped organize Space Apps NYC, an amazing initiative from NASA and the International Space Apps Challenge community.
How did you hear about DataKind?
Actually, I met Jake Porway, DataKind’s executive director, at Civic Hall! Civic Hall is a vibrant community for civic technology and the home of DataKind HQ. It’s become an amazing space in the heart of NYC’s tech district to connect powerful civic tech leaders from around the world.
When Jake and I met, we started talking about what he was doing with DataKind and plans for expansion. DataKind is hiring for a number of roles (more on that here!) and when he mentioned he was hiring a Director of Global Communities, my eyes lit up. I thought, “Well, that sounds like a perfect job for me!” I applied the next day.
Tell us about your role - what will you be working on?
DataKind has been really smart about how to grow its global network. We are investing in building the technology and infrastructure needed to support the community and new leaders in the Data-for-Good movement. I’m incredibly impressed by the Chapter Leaders I’ve met and, after my first week of being here, I expect I'll be focused on:
- Communication: We’ll be developing and fine tuning systems of communication not only between DataKind HQ and Chapters but also between Chapters, deepening connections and information sharing across the network.
- Technology and resource design: With many resource documents and database management tools already in place, I plan to work with folks to continue developing tools that make the work of the community more effective, efficient and fun.
- Community engagement: Bringing the mantra of #buildwith to DataKind, I’ll be working with the network to design deeper community engagement pathways and expand its impact through creative experiments and strategic connections.
I’ve been thrilled to dive right in - literally. I got to attend DataKind DC’s DataDive last weekend and am flying out to DataKind Dublin’s DataDive this weekend.
What’s the most interesting data project you’ve seen recently?
Honestly, as a DataKind newb, I’m allowed to say the DataKind DC Spring DataDive I attended last week! Holy smokes, I was blown away! The group worked with four organizations: American Red Cross, Not In My Country, Fair Labor Association and DC Action for Children. All of the projects were powerful but the one that impressed me the most was the Fair Labor Association.
FLA affiliates account for over 5.4 million workers across 8,640 factories in 85 countries. They’ve been conducting audits of factories and have gathered valuable information about workers’ conditions, but all of it was locked in PDFs, making analysis and storytelling a big challenge. By the end of the day, the team had created a PostgreSQL database, cleaned the data and mapped code violations. Now they’re imagining an interface where consumers can easily look up the working conditions of factories that produce the products they buy. The levels of impact on this project will only continue to grow!
When you’re not busy using data science to change the world, what do you like to do in your free time?
I am such a nerd. I spend my free time...planning technology events, lol. Particularly, I’m interested in designing more inclusive spaces for technology development. Most recently I’ve been on the organizing teams for Hacking Journalism, rethinking how we create, disseminate, and consume media. Earlier this year, we produced a hackathon at Condé Nast rethinking video news and this summer we’re hosting one at the Washington Post on data science!
I’m also a space enthusiast! NASA organizes the International Space Apps Challenge, the largest hackathon in the world. This spring, I was on the Space Apps NYC team, hosting the global mainstage for the event. In addition to the hackathon, we had a festival featuring incredible speakers such as Astronaut Cady Coleman and NASA Innovation Director, Beth Beck. It was so awesome to bring hundreds of people together to work with NASA data and experiment with building technology to help NASA solve some of the toughest scientific problems in the universe!
But don’t worry, it’s not all tech all the time. When I’m not working on technology stuff, I’m most likely hiking a mountain somewhere or sitting quietly in nature, unplugged with all devices turned off.
We would love for you to get involved - sign up below and email me with any questions, comments or opportunities for the DataKind network!