Meet the Newest Presidential Innovation Fellows
Olivier Kamanda, 2016-2017 Presidential Innovation Fellow, at the PIF Annual Homecoming Event.

Meet the Newest Presidential Innovation Fellows

The U.S. General Services Administration has announced the new class of Presidential Innovation Fellows for 2017.


Launched in 2012, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program has attracted over 120 top technologists from around the nation for this prestigious and highly competitive opportunity that less than 3 percent of applicants are accepted to. To date, these fellows have joined over 25 government agencies for tours of duty.

The goal of the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program is to bring the principles, values and practices of the innovation economy to the federal government. This is accomplished by recruiting the best innovators, entrepreneurs, and startup founders and pairing them with top civil servants and change-makers within the government to help transform government technology. The fellows work within agencies to tackle some of the nation’s most pressing challenges.

Presidential Innovation Fellows Leadership Team: Saran Kaba, Joshua Di Frances and Ben Willman

Building on the efforts underway to modernize technology within the government, the U.S. General Services Administration has announced 10 new Presidential Innovation Fellows for 2017. Joining the federal government as entrepreneurs-in-residence, the fellows will be working to drive innovation and modernize technology within government agencies and offices, including the Census Bureau, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Meet the newest Fellows!

  • Gil Alterovitz, from Boston, Massachusetts, has led national and international collaborative initiatives for developing novel informatics methods and approaches for integrating clinical, pharmaceutical, and genomic information, from research to point-of- care. As a faculty member at Harvard/MIT and the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, Gil has produced over 50 peer-reviewed publications and three books in the field.
  • Nina Bianchi, from Detroit, Michigan, is a strategist, founder, and facilitator who has over 15 years of experience developing smarter and more intuitive systems that blend design and management to drive collaboration between industry, academia, and government.
  • Sandeep Burugupalli, from Houston, Texas, a healthcare entrepreneur and strategist who has spent his career designing and launching large-scale innovation initiatives and advancing startups and emerging technology inside leading healthcare organizations, such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Johnson & Johnson, and the Texas Medical Center.
  • J. Alex Dalessio, from New York, New York, a social entrepreneur and strategist who has developed innovative programs in some of the world’s largest organizations, including the United Nations, the United States government, Reed Elsevier, Nike, Citibank, John Wiley & Sons, and AB InBev.
  • Davey Gibian, from Brooklyn, New York, a systems designer specializing in technology development for massive scale. He has worked in Silicon Valley and at the front lines of war zones designing and implementing systems for human impact in complex conditions. As an entrepreneur, he has built multiple technology businesses and remains an active growth investor.
  • Zach Goldfine, from San Francisco, California, a generalist who has worked for basketball teams in the NBA, founded and grown tech startups, advocated for legislation reducing the influence of money in politics, and studied the science of decision-making.
  • Mike Rossetti, from Branford, Connecticut, a government technology consultant, political data analyst, open source software contributor, and adjunct professor of business and computer science.
  • Jeffrey Starr, from Springfield, Virginia, a cyber security and quantitative risk management entrepreneur, whose start-up Neo Prime delivers cyber risk-of-loss forecasts and financial hedge strategies to clients, advises municipalities on digital transformation, and was previously a business intelligence advisor at Goldman Sachs and national security specialist in the U.S. government.
  • Stephen Winchell, from Washington, D.C., a physicist and engineer with a passion for architecting and implementing complex systems solutions end-to-end: from physical laws and raw data to end user operations, system dynamics, and strategy.
  • Stephen Matthew Wisniew, from San Diego, California, a retired U.S. Army officer and entrepreneur who most recently served as CEO of Stephen Matthew Designs LLC, an interdisciplinary design and strategic planning and communication company.

Michael Kratsios, Acting U.S. CTO, addressing the PIFs in Summer 2017

During their year-long fellowships, our fellows will use creative ideas and work alongside forward-thinking agencies to come up with lasting solutions for the nation’s most pressing issues.

Amy Wilson, 2016-2017 Fellow, leading a Design-a-thon event

The following nine current fellows are also staying on with the agencies that they are working with to continue their tour of duty within the government: Michael Brown, Steven Babitch, Amrita Basu, Wendy Harman, Justin Koufopoulos, Erren Lester, Clara Tsao, Mitchell Sutika-Sipus and Amy Wilson.

Past fellows’ projects have focused on improving care and access to benefits for our veterans, re-imaging cancer clinical trials to increase awareness and access for patients, defining an ecosystem to help the private sector manage risk and mitigate threats, and creating a central digital location to share and improve outcomes for children within the foster care system.

Current fellow, Clara Tsao, has led the Digital Line of Effort at the interagency Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Task Force over the past year. This task force focuses on terrorists’ use of social media for recruitment, radicalization and mobilization. Clara and her team worked on building digital tools to help partners counter violent extremist propaganda online, increasing access to CVE information, and enabling partnerships between the public and private sectors. These activities have helped drive synergies across those sectors, seeing partnerships between organizations working on online terrorism prevention.

Clara’s leadership, especially from a digital front, have helped magnify government’s effectiveness in the online terrorism prevention space and in bridging information gaps across agencies and the private sector.

“The Presidential Innovation Fellowship has allowed me to leverage my private and startup sector hat to help bridge technical gaps in Terrorism Prevention Online, a place where policy and programs have been slow to keep up with digital evolution.”
– Clara Tsao, 2016-2017 Presidential Innovation Fellow

Dan Hammer, a UC Berkeley doctoral candidate and Presidential Innovation Fellow alumnus, has been honored with the first-ever Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award. The Pritzker Award is the field’s first major honor for young innovators.

As an environmental economist, Hammer is the co-founder of The Earth Genome–a non-profit that makes satellite images available to journalists and other decision makers. Dan has put together a team of former Rhodes Scholars, White House staffers, and Y Combinator startups to surface environmental data in formats that web developers can use.

Efforts like these are getting noticed.  For example, earlier this week, a group of roughly a dozen fellows had the opportunity to meet with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California for a roundtable discussion on the important work they are doing at multiple agencies to make government more efficient, accessible, and transparent. It was truly an honor to have the opportunity to engage in such a candid and substantive discussion with Rep. McCarthy, who sponsored the TALENT Act, which made  the PIF program permanent by codifying it in law.

The Presidential Innovation Fellows Program is looking for even more of the nation’s most talented technologists. The application for the Summer 2018 cohort will open in February. Applicants will be able to apply online on Stay tuned!

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