2018 in CivicMakers

A Year of Learning and Growing

“You don’t have to have magic unicorn powers. You work at it, and you get better. It’s like anything: You sit there and do it every day, and eventually you get good at it.”
– Kathleen Hanna

2018 was a rewarding and instructive year for CivicMakers. We worked with close to 20 state and local clients; expanded our service offerings to include change management; rolled out two new public trainings (human-centered community engagement and human-centered strategic planning); honed our internal culture; grew our team from 3 to 5 (welcome Jim and Leah!); continued to convene our community; and brought two CivicMakers babies into this world: MB and GG <3


Every day we have the privilege to collaborate with some of the most passionate folks in government to tackle big problems. Because what we do is part of a larger collective effort to transform local government and public service delivery, we would be remiss not to share what we’re learning along the way with you, our community, in order to grow the movement and learn from one another.

To wit, one of our biggest learnings from 2018 is how the many approaches and disciplines within the innovation field intersect to cultivate the culture change necessary to realize truly transformative initiatives in government. We captured this idea in what we call “The Culture Stack”:

The Culture Stack

The Culture Stack

You can read more about this model in our recent blog post, The Culture Stack — Cultivating a More Resilient & Responsive Government and please share your feedback! We’d love to learn from you 🙂


As an impact-focused consulting firm, we’re proud of our work with amazing clients and partners committed to supporting organizational transformation and collaborating with their communities to design services, policies, and programs that reflect real world needs and lived experiences. In 2018 we…


Improved Programs & Services

Deep Partnerships

Deep Partnerships

We love return clients, especially when we have the opportunity to help implement our (co)designs. This year we were lucky to continue and deepen our partnerships with both the City of San Rafael, to help implement v2.0 of an Innovation Learning Lab, and the City of Fremont, to help implement their Smart City Action Strategy.

“Working with CivicMakers to co-create a new way of problem-solving and redesigning government services has helped our organization redefine what public service is in the 21st century. They have taught us that no matter where you’re at in your career, you can always learn and discover more about the world and how it works.”

– Rebecca Woodbury, Director of Digital Service & Open Government, City of San Rafael

City of Berkeley Change Management

City of Berkeley

Supporting the people-side of Berkeley’s transition to a new ERP software system, including co-designing trainings for change managers, process improvements roadmaps, communicating the case for change, change leadership coaching, and demonstrating visible support from management.

Read more about this project

Parks and Tech Challenge

Parks & Tech Challenge

Designed, promoted and facilitated a weekend-long design challenge that brought together technologists, designers, parks staff and outdoors enthusiasts to create technology solutions to maintenance challenges in our National Parks.

Read more about this project


Engaged Community

City of Santa Rosa Community Advisory Board

City of Santa Rosa

Facilitated an iterative strategic planning process to chart an actionable roadmap for the future of the Community Advisory Board, including robust engagement with the City and community to build capacity, cultivate ownership, and foster long-term champions of implementation. The City extended our contract to provide some coaching and implementation support for one-year workplans that map to the strategy.

CivicMakers provided a creative and engaging process for us to co-create a strategic plan with our Community Advisory Board. In addition to stakeholder outreach, data analysis and facilitation, they provided us with tools and techniques that we will continue to use in our broader community engagement efforts.”

– Danielle Garduño, Community Engagement Coordinator, City of Santa Rosa

City of Richmond

Partnered with WRT to design and implement a robust community engagement program that combined onsite workshops with parallel digital engagements to consult with a diverse body of residents about the development of Point Molate, a large parcel of land on the Bay.

Read more about this project

CivicMakers Events

CivicMakers Community Events

Hosted four of our signature Civic Mornings events in San Francisco and Oakland focussed on civic design, community engagement, social impact and nonprofits. We also organized a a super-fun Civic Mixer in Sacramento and a sold-out San Francisco Design Week event that featured a panel discussion on Service Design in the Public Sector.

Read about our SF Design Week Panel


Built Capacity

CHHS Office of Innovation

CHHS Innovation Lab

We designed and facilitated a two-day human-centered design training for California Health & Human Services’ newly-created Office of Innovation; one day on applying human-centered design to change management; and a day-long train-the-trainer.

“CivicMakers provided training that is essential to our functional identity. We use the skills and methodologies in human-centered design and organizational change management every day to deliver on our vision of delivering better government services for the most vulnerable Californians. With CivicMakers continued support, we are exceeding expectations and forging the 21st century government with every one of our engagements.”

– Chaeny Emanavin, Director, Office of Innovation, California Health and Human Services

FUSE Corps Innovation Labs

FUSE Corps Innovation Labs

FUSE Corps supports local government by placing Executive Fellows in local agencies to work on yearlong strategic projects. CivicMakers provided support to three Fellows on the collaborative design and facilitation of various Innovation Labs for the benefit of agency staff.

Read more about this project

Human-centered Design Trainings

Public Impact Design Trainings

We expanded our signature Public Impact Design training to include focused trainings in Community Engagement and Strategic Planning, both of which apply human-centered design as the underlying framework.

Sign up for a training!


2018 in CommunityLast year was another wonderful year full of connection and community. We’re honored that so many inspiring folks joined us for events, attended trainings and opted-in to our newsletter to learn more about civic innovation.

  • We hosted 7 events for 519 people in San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento
  • We facilitated 13 trainings for 344 people on topics like Active & Empathic Listening; Project Management; Presentations & Storytelling; Conflict Resolution; Train the Trainer; Human-centered Design and the application of HCD to Change Management, Strategic Planning and Community Engagement.
  • We sent 22 newsletters full of all things civic to the 3,458 people on our email list
  • Our staff grew to 5, plus two babies 🙂

Last, but not least, there are a few very important people we would be remiss not to mention and thank…Kevin Bayuk, for all of the guidance and inspiration, the Impact Hub SF crew for providing us a happy home, Angelica Quirarte & NxtGov for their incredible support in Sacramento, and everyone who spoke, volunteered or otherwise attended one of our events. THANK YOU 🙂

2019 AND YOU!

What learnings will 2019 bring? We’re not sure, but we can’t wait to find out. Most of all, we’re eager to figure out how YOU factor in to our vision of a world in which every community has the tools necessary to co-create solutions to their shared challenges.

If any of this resonates with you, we hope you make CivicMakers part of your 2019. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

Sign up for our twice-monthly newsletter full of civic innovation.

Attend a Public Impact Design training.

Contact us to collaborate on a project.