Fellow Profile: Natasha Scantlebury

| MSNY Staff

Natasha Scantlebury MSNY FellowWhere are you from? I am a born and raised Brooklyn girl and proud of it!

School/grad year/major: Trinity College/ May 2012/ B.A. in American Studies

Last thing you searched on Bing: The registration page for the SXSWedu New York PanelPicker Meet Up and Panel Discussion with Urban Arts Partnership and Civic Hall.

 Why did you choose Microsoft’s fellowship program? The opportunity to become a Civic Tech Fellow specifically working on the Tech Jobs Academy program came at a perfect time in my life when I decided to transition out of the nonprofit sector and set my sights on a new industry—technology and civic technology, to be exact.  My background is in community development and I’ve spent the last few years working to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers including the elderly age in place, helping college-bound students have access to the resources needed to get to and through college and provide supportive services to children of incarcerated individuals, to name a few.  This program afforded me the opportunity to try something different while still doing something that I enjoy, and that’s helping people help themselves.

What’s your favorite technology that’s building New York’s civic spaces? Art and technology has a way of working cohesively together to create feelings of unity and shared experiences in pre-existing spaces.  For instance, the many art installations that have been exhibited throughout the Brooklyn Promenade, and other parts of the city, help to encourage not only more traffic to these sites but unique and creative ways to use them to benefit others.

Who is your civic tech mentor/idol? Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors.

What projects are you working on for your position as tech fellow for Microsoft New York? When I came on board in March, I was hired specifically to assist with Tech Jobs Academy (TJA).  TJA is an intensive 16-week technical training pilot program that was created in partnership by Microsoft, City Tech at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Mayor’s NYC Tech Talent Pipeline.  The goal of the program is to prepare underemployed and unemployed New Yorkers for in-demand tech jobs in cloud and server administration.  TJA is my main focus at the moment but I’m sure as the fellowship continues, there may be other opportunities to support other projects as needed.

What’s your favorite project Microsoft New York has done? The great thing about Microsoft and the New York team specifically is it is full of some of the best and brightest in this industry and they are always trying to think outside of the box and come up with useful tools that will serve the masses.  One of these projects that are continuing to make great strides is Civic Graph!  Who wouldn’t want to map the organizations, agencies and individuals in the civic tech community in an effort to understand the work they do while examining the many different ways they are all connected.

What excites you about civic tech? Coming from the nonprofit sector and more specifically the community development arm of it, I have always been passionate and committed to helping support and improve the lives of low-to-moderate income individuals all while trying to ensure that the support they receive allows them the agency to become self-sufficient. The opportunity to work in civic technology affords me the ability to blend two worlds: community development and social good, a world that I am quite familiar with, with a world that I am eager to explore in more detail, the technology sector. My hope is to be able to take the knowledge I’ll learn from my Civic Tech Fellow peers, members of the Microsoft team and the industry, in general, to be able to make long-lasting impactful change for in-need neighborhoods across New York City.

What’s one problem you hope civic tech will solve for cities? My hope is that people (with varying levels of technical savviness) have ways to connect and engage multiple types of resources in their neighborhoods and communities surrounding theirs (like knowing where free, extracurricular programs are for children, where local food pantries are located, and where senior citizens can apply for benefits like SCRIE and SNAP, to name a few).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,