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Looking forward to a year of growing momentum and continual change

CivicMakers team lunch Jan 2023

As a new year opens up before us, the CivicMakers team is deeply grateful for all the plusses and deltas from 2022. It was a year of good work, continued learning, and building momentum that we can feel as 2023 ramps up. With a solid book of work and amazing clients already in the queue, we thought we would share some of our hopes and dreams for the coming year, as well as some big changes on our team. 

First and foremost, after nearly 9 years being the original CivicMaker, Lawrence is ready for his next challenge. On March 1st, he will be stepping down as CEO and stepping away from client work. As before, Judi and Cristelle will oversee day-to-day operations as Managing Partners and will assume Lawrence’s operational and management responsibilities. Through this leadership transition, the CivicMakers team will continue to deliver high value collaboration with our customers and partners across California to unearth human insights and co-create solutions to public challenges.

Lawrence will be missed in the day-to-day, but he will still serve as a strategic advisor to CivicMakers and will always be considered part of our community. There will be more to come about what Lawrence has planned for his next act, as well as how the firm will evolve, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you’d like to keep in touch with Lawrence, connect with him on LinkedIn

Of course, the good work of making civics continues! We asked our team to share what kind of work they want to do more of in 2023, grounded in examples from the last year. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Judi: I am humbled by the great partnerships we’ve forged in 2022, such as with Jobs for the Future and Virginia Hamilton of Make Fast Studio. These partnerships have deepened our service area knowledge in the transformation of workforce development using Human-Centered Design. Following this foundational work the CivicMakers team participated in last year, we’re so excited to be helping to bring to life the Workforce Transformation Corps, co-designing and facilitating a year-long, immersive learning Fellowship to enhance human-centered approaches within workforce boards across the state of California. We are so grateful for this opportunity, and are eager to do more projects that include a learn-by-doing component. Speaking of applied learning, I also look forward to expanding our signature Learning Lab program where we work alongside cross-functional teams to coach them through creative problem solving within their institutions – and for the betterment of their customers. Everyone needs a cheerleader and a great coach every once in a while!

  • Cristelle: I am inspired by the asset-based community development and community-based research we contributed toward last year in collaboration with amazing partners like the San Francisco Departments of Workforce and Economic Development and Homeless & Supportive Housing,  and Community Development Partners. I am looking forward to more co-design for inclusive and accessible spaces, participatory research that breaks down silos and results in more humanized and responsive public services, and human-centered design research to move the needle  on equitable climate adaptation and resilience. I am also eager to continue with more climate-focused projects, such as those with BayREN, San Francisco Department of the Environment, and Monterey County. In addition to our clients, I am grateful for great partners,  like Grounded Research, Plan to Place,  and David Baker Architects, who appreciate the value of our human-centered approach and bring complementary skillsets that enable us to accomplish even more positive impact together. May we continue to collaborate in the new year!

  • Leah: I’m eager to continue working in the area of digital equity. Our work with the SF Department of Technology has been a reminder of how the internet has become as vital as other utilities – playing a key role in connecting us all to public services, maintaining relationships, and generating income. My second hope for our work is that we continue improving our participatory research practice – creating meaningful ways to bring stakeholders into the design process, while also protecting their time and limited capacity. Over the last year, we have been working to formalize our Design Research Practice. We are compiling tools and best practices that support our team and our broader community of CivicMakers. The hope is that the work of transforming public services through HCD can be a more accessible and collaborative field.
  • Brit: I’ve been seeing a curiosity emerge in myself around stakeholder engagement as it relates to service design in the public sector. What that has looked like is leading an internal stakeholder team (internal administrators or first degree stakeholders) through a process that teaches them how to apply a Human-Centered Design approach in redesigning a process they are engaged in. Our organization has begun to see a desire for this type of interactive training within workforce development agencies/departments. While this seems like an “of course we should be doing that moment”, it can be really difficult to teach a process to a group of individuals in parallel with asking them to apply it within the institutional environment they are working in. However I am a huge believer that true empowerment comes with the confrontation and deconstruction of uncomfortable and detrimental fallacies that are active and present right in front of us. I hope our organization can continue down the path of encouraging this type of empowerment work.
  • Mike: I am excited by the opportunity for more one-on-one and small group engagements. Building relationships and chronicling personal stories and aspirations through one-on-one interviews and focus groups is not only critical for effective program design and strategic planning, but essential to community building. I have been inspired by the intimate level of engagement in projects such as Community Development Partners’ asset-based community development (ABCD) project in East San Jose; City of West Sacramento’s annual City Council strategic planning retreat; and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office’s pre-release Medi-Cal application process redesign. When we take the time to connect as human beings, showing care and trust in one another, there is no limit to what we can accomplish together!

Finally, we are *very* excited about our newest teammate, Eva Mas! They are joining us after many years as a friend and consultant on numerous projects. Eva brings a wealth of experience working with communities and nonprofits in San Francisco, as well as being a talented musician and a proud parent to a little one. You can read more about them here.

Much change is afoot, coupled with many hopes and dreams for impactful work to come. We’re feeling this potent combination, and are ready for all the good things it portends. As always, thank you for following along, supporting our work and inspiring us with yours.