Meet the Team 🇺🇸❄⛄ Winter 2020

What do an AI philanthropist, Awesome Foundation director, public servants, techies, a Disney Imagineer, and a lawyer all have in common?

They’ve joined the U.S. Digital Service to deliver better government services to the American people through technology and design.

When you join USDS, you become part of a community that extends to life after your tour of duty. Since we were founded by the President in 2014, over 500 people have served, modernizing government, shifting culture, and showing what’s possible.

Meet the newest members of the U.S. Digital Service family — recruited from tech communities across the country. They come from startups, big tech companies, and government agencies.

Spoiler: one of them is friends with Smokey Bear.

Ashley Hathaway, calmest skydiver ever.

Ashley Hathaway (she/ her), Product Manager, USDS HQ. Previously Pivotal, IBM Watson, Y&R Brands. From Houston, TX.

Prior to USDS I found a niche working with platforms and developer tools for enterprises. Over the years I’ve run hackathons, developed go-to-market strategies for API platforms, and have helped large financial institutions in their application modernization. I really like big complex systems and enjoy learning about security. I’m currently assigned to HQ and will be helping out the VA next. It’s been an absolute blast so far!

What is your favorite occupation?

If I wasn’t in tech working as a product manager then I would be a sommelier specializing in natural, old world wines. I love wine because it’s easy to cover geography, history, chemistry, and biology very quickly. A good bottle or glass is a way to remember a certain place, time, and the people involved. I love great restaurants that care about good wine and even pairing at home (I love to cook). That, or an antiques dealer.

When and where were you happiest?

I love traveling and learning about new things along the way. I’ve been to 30-ish countries but keep going back to France and Morocco. My goal is to see all seven continents and go to one new international and domestic place every year.

What is your greatest fear?

I’m not afraid of many things, actually. I was told that I was the calmest skydiver ever by an instructor. Not a huge fan of snakes, though.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Swimming with dolphins in Hawaii was pretty top notch. Anything surrounded by family and friends.

Kelvin Luu (right) tours longtime friend Smokey Bear (left) through the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Kelvin Luu (he/him), Engineer & Bureaucracy Hacker, USDS HQ. Previously CreativEngine in Los Angeles, CA

Before joining the USDS, I was wearing hats ranging from individual contributor, architect, team lead, instructor, technical writer, contractor, consultant, and everything in-between.

I moved 2,673.6 miles to join USDS because “government is who shows up,” and I wanted to contribute to solving some of the biggest problems facing our country. I’m working with a team passionately focused on improving the hiring outcomes across the federal government, and making sure even more people are able to show up and get the work done.

What is your favorite occupation?

Not including what I do now or teaching: I loved working as a barista. Besides the free coffee smell, it’s great getting to know so many different types of people and building a small community while working a craft; there’s something very rewarding about making someone a good cup of coffee.

What is the trait you most admire in others?

Being open to being wrong and admitting when they are — also being ready to accept, without reproach or humiliation, when someone else does. That’s the highest signal-to-noise in traits I admire. Optimism is a close second.

On what occasion do you lie?

Here’s what I can tell you: the other guard would tell you to take the first door if you want to escape.

Altay Otun, creator of digital magic.

Altay Otun (he/him), Product Manager, USDS @ Department of Homeland Security. Previously Director of Product Management at the Walt Disney Company. From Los Angeles, CA.

Prior to joining USDS, I had the pleasure of creating “digital magic” for the millions of Guests that visit the Disney Parks & Resorts each year. From launching new features aimed at simplifying the user experience to responsibly using data to create personalized moments, I had the very exciting job of making family vacations even more memorable.

Today, I am working to improve the digital tools used at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) component of the Department of Homeland Security. I am excited to join a team of talented individuals and give back to my country any way that I can.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My grandfather is my biggest hero. He immigrated to the US in the 1970s with an elementary school education and not knowing a word of English. He found a supportive and welcoming community in upstate NY and worked hard to create his own version of the American Dream. I am incredibly grateful to have the chance to improve the lives of other immigrants coming to the US by working at the United States Digital Service

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Either my dog Dexter or cat Pongo. They always seem to find the coziest spot in the house and eat better than me!

What is your motto?

I love this quote by Studs Terkel: “Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to build and shape my career according to my own values and identity. I think a lot of us take that for granted — especially in the tech industry.

Rachel Sauter, fixer of broken things.

Rachel Sauter (she/her), Product Manager, USDS @ Department of Homeland Security. Previously at Veterans Affairs. From Western Massachusetts, been in D.C. for over 15 years.

I’ve been working in and around the federal government for my entire career, beginning at Sierra Club, where I worked on Clean Water Act issues. Most recently, I served as an attorney at Veterans Affairs, where I drafted regulations, forms, and policies to implement a new law representing the most significant overhaul of the Veterans’ appeals process in more than 80 years. I partnered with a team from USDS and saw first-hand that a small group of technologists could have a massive impact by improving government services for Veterans.

Now I’m using my government expertise to help USDS teams understand and navigate agency rules and decision-making so we can keep projects moving forward, support our agency partners, and make government better for everyone.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

In my last role, I built and led a team of brilliant, hard-working, compassionate people. While I can’t take credit for their awesomeness, I am proud of all the ways I supported and empowered them, and made room for them at the table whenever I had the privilege of being there myself. Elevating and investing in those around you is the best way to multiply your impact, and is a critical element of public service.

What is your favorite occupation?

I love what I’m doing now, but sometimes I miss working with my hands. I used to work as a technician in a photo lab. There’s something so satisfying about finding a broken piece of equipment and figuring out how to fix it.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Hmmm…

Will Sullivan, USDSer by day, runs a grant foundation to empower DC communities by night.

Will Sullivan (he/him), Product Manager, USDS HQ. Previously at 18F. From Toledo, OH.

Previously I was a Product Lead and Supervisor at 18F within the General Services Administration, the sister Federal digital service group to USDS. I mentored our team’s Product Managers, worked as an SME on hiring and vetting partners and projects, lead the product development and evolution of the U.S. Web Design System as well as the eRegulations platform, with shorter engagements consulting on product development and strategy for the State Department, California Child Welfare Services, HHS, Thrift Savings Plan, among others. Before that, I worked as the Director of Mobile for the U.S. Agency for Global Media, leading the strategy, product development, and multi-tiered portfolio of mobile and emerging tech products in 61 languages for their audience of more than 350 million people around the world.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Probably ‘ope’ or ‘okie dokie’ (which are vernacular remnants from my Midwest upbringing), or ‘awesome’ — since I’m the leader of the Awesome Foundation DC, and on the Board of Directors and Treasurer for the Institute on Higher Awesome Studies, the global hub for all the world-wide Awesome Foundation chapters — so the word Awesome (and group/grants/projects) are on my mind frequently.

What is your motto?

“A garden is never finished.” I try to live my life focused on kaizen for continuous improvement, and have a weekly mastermind group where we plan our goals in weekly, quarterly, 1, 3, 5 year, and lifetime increments to hold each other accountable and make the most of our very, very limited time on Earth. So I’m constantly finding ways to improve, learn, and keep tending to the garden.

What is your favorite occupation?

I dressed as Santa at a fundraiser for my neighborhood dog park this Winter and taking photos with all the different dogs and the joy that people expressed when they saw me made it one of the best gigs of my life.

Julia Moore (she/her), USDS Front Office, and as we say in government, “other duties as assigned.” From Washington, D.C.

Prior to USDS, I had been at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for 10 years, doing everything from budget to communications to analytics. Like every third person you meet in D.C., I have a law degree that I don’t use, which makes me a whiz at reading governmentese. Front Office is the perfect place for me because of the variety of stuff that gets tossed in our direction. In my spare time, I craft and collect machines with which to craft (I currently have my eye on a laser cutting machine).

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Patience. Having patience is good in lots of situations and probably very good for your health, but occasionally impatience is necessary to uphold other virtues. Often in the government, delay is a highly effective form of denial, so knowing when to keep pushing is important.

What is your greatest regret?

I don’t have regrets anymore, as my French auntie once intoned “Regrets are useless sufferings” and adopting this outlook has greatly improved my life. Learn from your mistakes and move on!

What is your motto?

I’d love for my motto to be from some serious tome or great thinker of old, but if I’m honest, it’s from Dodgeball. “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” It’s true, it’s empowering, and it was a fun scene in the movie!

Camille Hogan, nail polish enthusiast.

Camille Hogan (she/her), Acquisition Strategist, USDS HQ. Previously at United States Department of Transportation. From Cambridge, MA.

I’m excited to be at USDS working with the Procuremenati to scale and deliver training in agile concepts and digital services to Contracting Officers across the Federal Government. The Digital IT Acquisition Professional Program empowers Contracting Officers to lead change from within their organizations while leveraging current procurement policy to buy and deliver modern digital services, and I’m excited to be working on such an important initiative!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Spending the day on a warm beach with a cold drink, a good book, good music, and good friends. Also having an umbrella and plenty of sunscreen on said beach.

What is your favorite occupation?

Whatever occupation is responsible for naming nail polish colors, for example, “Don’t Bossa Nova Me Around.”

What do you most value in your friends?

Authenticity.

Leah Siskind, politely irreverent. Ask her about salt.

Leah Siskind (she/her), Chief of Staff, USDS @ Department of Health and Human Services. Previously led Uptake philanthropies. From Chicago, IL.

I managed a fellowship for aspiring data leaders the public sector that needed mentorship and training. I learned about USDS from the civic tech community, and moved to D.C. to help modernize Healthcare. I’m very happy to be here and can honestly say there is no other place I’d rather work!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Eating humus on the beach in Tel Aviv with my friends and family.

What is your greatest extravagance?

These days I buy really fancy salt. I actually have 6 different types at home. Salted chocolate chip cookies are my favorite.

What is your Motto?

I’ve never watched wrestling, but I heard that John Cena’s motto is “hustle, loyalty and respect” which I like. Mine would be “hustle, loyalty, and polite irreverence.”

The best of technology.
The best of government.
And we want you.

We’re looking for the most tenacious designers, software engineers, product managers, and more, who are committed to untangling, rewiring and redesigning critical government services. You’ll join a team of the most talented technologists from across the private sector and government.
If you have questions regarding employment with the U.S. Digital Service, please contact us at usds@omb.eop.gov or visit our Hiring FAQ.

The United States Digital Service is a tech startup working across the Federal government to deliver better services to the American people. www.usds.gov