Looking Back: A Year of Civic Engagement in Boston

Cathy-Wissink-300x300It feels like just yesterday that I arrived in Boston, having taken on a new role for the company at Microsoft New England. The loosely-defined role of “civic engagement” was not just new to me—it was a net-new role to the company and I was the first to take on this job. Where would the job go? Where would we focus? What could we accomplish?

A year in, it’s hard to imagine not having a civic engagement team in the city. There’s a thirst in the community to determine the role that technology can play in areas like education, citizen services, as well as government transparency and efficiency. At the same point, it’s been crucial to thoughtfully consider all potential solutions to civic challenges, which may—or may not—include a technology option.

You may recall from our introductory post announcing the MIPC-NE and my role that we had three goals:

  • Connecting the region’s tech/business/academic/government stakeholders in ways that complement and extend the work of others;
  • Catalyzing important technology and public policy discussions about issues that have a direct impact on this region’s economy; and
  • Contributing more directly to the health and vitality of the local technology community and broader regional economic development opportunities.

We’ve kept busy this last year, trying to remain true to the “three C’s”, as the team calls them. To that end, here are some highlights of our work:

CodeAcross 2014 with Code for Boston

(L-R) Ken Chan (Microsoft), Sam Berg, Jared Kirschner, Fatima Sarah Khalid (Microsoft), and Andrew Arace at HubHacks!

  • We were also asked to contribute to a number of events demonstrating Microsoft’s role—and responsibilities—at the intersection of technology, business and policy, including:
  • Participating in District Hall’s Innovation and the City event as an “anchor institution”.

Our own Cathy Wissink (second from the left) spoke on a panel about anchor organizations at Innovation and the City.

TEALS helps CRLS expand CS offerings.

With all this work, we’ve been fortunate to partner with a great number of organizations, government entities and individuals during this year, all of whom share a desire to make this a great place to live, work and connect.

What’s next for the Civic Engagement team in Boston? We’ll continue to stock of what we’ve done, what worked (and didn’t); we’ll keep the conversation going with our constituents and partners to see where Microsoft can best contribute, and we’ll keep you involved as well. Thank you for your engagement and feedback—we look forward to the next year!

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