Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Opportunity to Make a Difference: The Presidential Innovation Fellows Program

A little over two weeks ago, I came across a unique, and once in a lifetime public service opportunity while reading about start-ups, innovation and small business.  

President Obama’s senior White House technology advisors,  
U.S. CTO Todd Park (@todd_park) and U.S. CIO Steven VanRoeke (@stevenvDC), announced the launch of The Presidential Innovation Fellows program at TechCrunch Disrupt New York on May 23, 2012.  The venue selection for the release, a conference for innovators and entrepreneurs, was a telling sign about the Obama Administration’s thoughtful strategy, lofty objectives, and commitment to game changing solutions.
The program is looking for 15 “amazing innovators” who are interested in coming to Washington, DC for 6- to 12-month fellowships. They will work in small teams focused on the five project’s Park and VanRoekel announced earlier this week: MyGov, Open Data Initiatives, Blue Button for America, RFP-EZ and The 20% Campaign. The scope of these projects was chosen so the teams can “deliver significant results within six months.”  -
After learning about the program, I went online to further learn about the program. I reviewed descriptions of all of the initiatives and determined that my background, experience and passion would be best utilized on the RFP-EZ project.  
RFP-EZ aims to create a streamlined process for the federal government to do business with small high-growth companies. -
In December 2011, I was invited to a roundtable discussion in New York City with approximately 15 other entrepreneurs to meet with SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns and Sergio Fernandez de Cordova (@sfdecordova), a member of the SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities (CUC).  The conversation primarily focused on how the SBA can better assist small business win government contracts, gain access to capital, and better understand opportunities created by President Obama’s American Jobs Act.  I left the roundtable yearning to make a difference and questioned exactly how I would engage in architecting a game changing solution.

On May 25, 2012 while reading about The Presidential Innovation Fellows program and researching more about it, I realized how I was going to be part of the solution.  I was going to apply for a 2012 Presidential Innovation Fellowship. 

The Presidential Innovation Fellows program is an example of the Obama Administration’s commitment to Government 2.0 and innovative leadership.  The program provides a means of using the best minds and methods from the private sector, non-profits, academia, and government to develop game changing solutions.  

I encourage other passionate entrepreneurs and innovators of varied backgrounds and experiences to apply.  Applications are being processed this week.  

Apply at:

I hope to see you in Washington, DC in July!  

Jonathan B. Smith


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