2019 Presidential Innovation Fellows

Meet the New Presidential Innovation Fellows!

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Beginning today, federal agencies will engage a new class of Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIFs) with technical and entrepreneurial expertise to help transform organizational practices within the American government. 

The 20 Fellows come with experience in artificial intelligence, data science, product management, customer experience and design and hail from Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington state, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, California, and Washington D.C. 

Meet them here and learn about the projects they’ll be working on:

Irtaza Barlas is joining from Johns Creek, Georgia, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers.gov. He’ll be leading the Farmers.gov portal effort and function as a bridge between the technical and business stakeholders. Irtaza brings more than 25 years of diverse technology and product development experience to the program. With a passion for innovation, Irtaza has developed strong technology teams in small to medium-sized businesses, co-founded several startups and also served as CTO in three others. He has architected systems for several diverse sectors including agriculture, real estate, textile and fabrics, utilities, and healthcare.

Devin Brande is joining from Washington, D.C., and will be one of two fellows detailed at the U.S. Navy Digital Warfare Office (DWO). Leading product development and strategy for DWO, he will help translate the operational outcomes the Navy envisions for digital warfare into technical plans, architectures, experiments, and guidance so that the Navy can develop and acquire the right capabilities it needs to enable digital transformation in warfare missions. Devin is a seasoned leader in national security technology innovation with deep experience working with diverse teams to develop and transition new technologies into the national security enterprise. Most recently he was Director, Product Management and Advanced Programs at Orbital Insight. 

Minh H. Chau is joining from Los Angeles, California, and will be detailed at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). He’ll be helping MCC ensure that their partner countries have the data, technology and innovations skills needed to maximize the impact from U.S. investments and to leverage the digital data revolution to drive their own development priorities. Most recently, Minh was the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Radii Robotics, a venture-backed company in the field of artificial intelligence-driven industrial aerial robotics. During the past two years, Minh led the team from ideation to product development and venture capital funding. 

George Chewning is joining from San Francisco, California, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Research AI Center. He’ll be helping the VA use data to further the impact on veterans’ health and make new discoveries with VA Research’s wealth of research information. George is a West Point graduate and former Army Infantry Officer. Most recently, he worked for Facebook where he led implementation of machine learning solutions to optimize availability of global data infrastructure. While at Facebook, he initiated the development of the Military Skills Translator, a tool to help veterans identify prospective career paths based on their military experience and realize their potential in the technology industry.

Dennis Chornenky is joining from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). He’ll be helping DOT develop technology so citizens can travel safer and more efficiently. Dennis is an experienced professional with twenty years of entrepreneurial leadership in technology strategy, artificial intelligence, and healthcare systems. Throughout his business career, Dennis has managed senior leadership teams, M&A deal teams, and product development and sales teams. His experience includes investment banking at Lazard, building an alternative investments and trading business at Morgan Stanley, and founding an AI-driven telemedicine startup in Silicon Valley and a drone startup at MIT.

Christopher Corpuel is joining from Bethesda, Maryland, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran’s Experience Office (VA VEO). He’ll be helping move the VA VEO towards a veteran-focused infrastructure and experience. Christopher is an innovation and growth leader who combines strategy, CX design, product and brand management skills with an ability to align global resources and capabilities to bring compelling concepts to fruition. Christopher was most recently Global Head of Product at CBRE where he oversaw the development and launch of Hana, their global flexible space offering, delivering engaging and productive work environments for owners and occupiers at scale.

Ariele Faber is joining from New York, New York, and will be detailed at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). She’ll be helping CMS modernize their technology so that they can share data across the healthcare ecosystem to support data-driven decision-making and innovative research. Ariele has worked across startups, small businesses, non-profits, and corporations specializing in healthcare and life sciences. Prior to government, Ariele worked in design strategy at Johnson & Johnson, leading care-centered design initiatives across the enterprise. 

Angelo Frigo is joining from Chicago, Illinois, and will be detailed at the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Product and Programs (GSA OPP). He’ll be helping develop a government-wide, lightweight, low-cost, streamlined mechanism for collecting customer feedback and improve the customer experience (CX) with federal services. Prior to being named a Presidential Innovation Fellow, Angelo consulted to Feeding America on the digital transformation of food rescue and charitable food distribution. He also helped establish the Corporate Digital UX function at McDonald's.

Joshua Farrar is joining from Arlington, Virginia, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Resolution Management (VA ORM). He’ll be helping the VA to better support employees who submit cases of discrimination and creating a healthy working environment for all VA employees. Joshua is a consultant who has worked for non-profits, education and textbook companies, and VR startups, social networks, social media projects, media outlets, political parties and campaigns, and https://search.gov. He has shipped statistical aggregates, data warehouses, search engines, data processing pipelines, natural language processing systems, reporting tools, user interfaces, and APIs. 

C.C. Gong is joining from San Francisco, California, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Chief Technology Officer (VA CTO). She’ll be helping the VA CTO adopt modern digital service delivery best practices, become more data-driven, improve processes and improve the experience that veterans have when interacting with the VA online. C.C. is a product leader who has built cross-functional, global teams to bring innovation to a wide variety of technology products, from the augmented reality HoloLens device to consumer apps like Facebook Messenger, used by 1.6 billion people worldwide.

Michelle Holko is joining from Cabin John, Maryland, and will be detailed at National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All Of Us Research Program. She’ll be working with NIH to better engage research participants and researchers for All of Us. Dr. Holko is a biomedical scientist driving innovation in health data analytics and bioinformatics. Her professional experience encompasses a variety of projects at the intersection of biology, national security, emerging technology, and analytics. She has recently served as a Senior Lead Scientist for the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Ken Kato is joining from Everett, Massachusetts, and will be detailed at the U.S. Navy Digital Warfare Office (DWO). He’ll be leading product development and strategy for DWO, responsible for translating the operational outcomes the Navy envisions for digital warfare into technical plans, architectures, experiments, and guidance so that the Navy can develop and acquire the right capabilities it needs to enable digital transformation in warfare missions. Ken Kato is an entrepreneur, platform/cloud architect, change agent, and innovator. Most recently he was  a founding member of Kessel Run at the U.S. Air Force.

Melissa Keene is joining from Arlington, Virginia, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers.gov. She’ll be leading the Farmers.gov portal effort and function as a bridge between the IT and business stakeholders. Melissa is a seasoned UX leader with experience implementing company-wide Agile, design thinking, lean UX, and product discovery transformations. She has secondary experience managing product management teams. Her in-depth technology background enables the experience to get built, not just designed. Melissa has industry expertise in government, finance, and media and is a data visualization subject matter expert. 

Johnny Martin is joining from San Jose, California, and will be detailed at Login.gov. He’ll be helping Login.gov simplify secure access to online federal services for the public, and reduce costs for agencies and taxpayers. Johnny is a software development entrepreneur and has held strategic roles in software startups innovating, leading, mentoring, and doing. He has been a software architect at PayPal and Adobe, a professor of computer science, and a founder of several startup companies including Object Guild and Xmlify, both bootstrap companies that employed over two dozen employees. 

Wanmei Ou is joining from Arlington, Massachusetts, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Chief Technology Officer (VA CTO). She’ll be helping the VA CTO adopt modern digital service delivery best practices, become more data-driven, improve processes and improve the experience that veterans have when interacting with the VA online. Since graduating from Massachusetts Institution of Technology with a PhD in Computer Science, Wanmei has led multiple enterprise digital initiatives transforming the use of data to enable precision medicine, adjudicate value-based reimbursement and accelerate biomedical research. Most recently she was a Director of Outcomes Research and Data Science at Merck & Co., Inc. 

Likhitha Patha is joining from Seattle, Washington, and will be detailed at Login.gov. She’ll be helping Login.gov simplify secure access to online federal services for the public, and reduce costs for agencies and taxpayers. Prior to government, Likhitha worked at Amazon and Microsoft. At Amazon, Likhitha focused on advancing the state-of-the-art of Alexa’s Natural Language Understanding stack by working at the intersection of research, engineering and customers to deliver delightful voice assistant experiences. At Microsoft, Likhitha worked on enhancing endpoint management experiences for enterprise and education (Ed-Tech) customers where she was a founding member of the product team that launched Microsoft Intune for Education. 

Gina Valo is joining from Washington, D.C., and will be detailed at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She’ll be helping the FDA keep up with the accelerating pace of medical product development and regulation. Gina Valo is an experienced leader in customer operations and software delivery with expertise in scaling people, processes, and technology within high-growth organizations. She has held cross-functional and executive leadership roles across a variety of industries, including digital advertising, payments, energy, and cyber security. Previous companies include Google, Square, Opower (acquired by Oracle), as well as several startups at various stages of growth, with a primary focus on business-to-business SaaS platforms.

Nina Walia is joining from Oakland, California, and will be detailed at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She’ll be helping the FDA keep up with the accelerating pace of medical product development and regulation. Her over 15 years experience includes overseeing innovative, award-winning designs intended to motivate, inspire, educate, and improve people’s lives for Nike (Nike+ FuelBand), Google, GE, PBS, and former First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Active Schools initiative. Most recently, Nina was weaving technological experiences into interactive textiles and surfaces as Design Lead for Jacquard, a collaboration between Google and Levi's, which was inducted into the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum's permanent collection. 

Scott Weiss is joining from Brooklyn, New York, and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office Veterans Experience Office (VA VEO). He’ll be helping move the VA VEO towards a veteran-focused infrastructure and experience. He most recently co-led a social innovation and design consulting agency based in New York called Community by Design, that delivered human-centric concepts at the intersection of design thinking, civic innovation practices, and community organizing. Prior to that, Scott worked at the award-winning design agency IDEO as an organizational and experience designer. 

Kaeli Yuen is joining from Washington, D.C., and will be detailed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Chief Technology Officer (VA CTO). She’ll be helping the VA CTO adopt modern digital service delivery best practices, become more data-driven, improve processes and improve the experience that veterans have when interacting with the VA online. Kaeli is an MD and clinical informaticist experienced in research, product management, and health information technologies. She enjoys building products, processes, and teams from the ground up, and has recently done so at The Human Diagnosis Project, Akido Labs, and the D-Health Lab at the University of Southern California. 

Since 2012, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program has hired 159 mid-career entrepreneurs, data scientists, AI/ML experts, design strategists, product leaders and technologists from the private sector to team up with agency partners to tackle hard problems and deliver value for the American people.

Last Reviewed: 2019-10-03