Laying the foundation for the future of TPG
By TPG Board of Directors
Technologists for the Public Good (TPG) formed in 2021 to serve as the first-of-its-kind professional association for the growing field of public interest technology. While the field has been around for 10+ years, it’s a constantly changing and evolving ecosystem. With TPG, we set out to create a space where those of us who identify as public interest technologists—a term we view broadly—can come together to connect with others who are as passionate as we are about ensuring government can really work for the public.
But—and we get asked this a lot—what does TPG actually do?
Fair question! And, to borrow some shorthand our field tends to use, the tl;dr is that we have some answers to that question but are still establishing this organization’s priorities and activities. As the TPG Board of Directors, we wanted to share an update on where TPG is today and where the organization is headed.
First, some background
Before formally launching in June 2021, this group spent more than a year researching the needs of the field, speaking with dozens of people working in all parts of the public interest tech ecosystem to inform the priorities of this professional association. It won’t come as a surprise that together we identified many gaps, needs, and priorities—some of which are a great fit for an organization such as this and which we are anchoring around.
It’s also important to know that TPG evolved from another robust community of practice called the Agile Government Leaders Association (AGL). In 2019, taking note of the expanding field of people working on digital service delivery, AGL’s leadership started exploring ways to expand AGL’s mission to serve a broader community. That included partnering with the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University and then-fellow Jenn Noinaj—now our TPG president—to lead our field research.
TPG’s mission is to power the people who are reimagining how government serves the public. As the organization’s governing board—an all-volunteer board of nine people representing different parts of the public interest tech ecosystem—we have spent the past year setting the organization up to begin achieving that mission.
First, informed by our field research from 2019-21, we established four organizational priorities including providing professional development, leadership opportunities, resources and networking, and job opportunities. Second, we began working to secure initial financial support through philanthropic grants and gifts to give the organization the resources to hire a staff and become fully operational. In parallel, before we were able to staff up, we established a light support structure through our membership to meet some of the organization’s initial priorities by creating volunteer committees including our education committee as well as events and communications committees to provide initial operational support.
This approach allowed us to start initial work as we awaited the necessary resources to fully get the organization off the ground. It also gave us opportunities to better know the public interest technology community through initial Town Halls and educational events. And, it is allowing us to be very intentional about how we establish the organization to ensure it can meet the needs of the community we’re all part of over the long term, knowing that as the field evolves so too will the priorities of this professional association.
What's next for TPG?
We’re proud to share that TPG has secured short-term funding and, with these resources, TPG has launched a search for our inaugural executive director. This person will join us to design, lead, and manage TPG to provide opportunities to build community, create and share resources, and support the overall development and retention of the workforce. We are seeking someone with a vision for how this association can support the field and who has the professional experience and lived expertise to inform this mission.
As the organization’s board, we intentionally kept our direction high-level and light in this first phase to ensure the executive director will be well situated to set a vision for the organization. We want to ensure they are also empowered to recruit a small team of staff and partner with leadership from the community to carry that vision out to serve our membership. We are excited for the executive director to lead TPG into this next phase to become the professional development and support resource we envision as a staple for our community.
As stakeholders in this ecosystem, we hope you will help us spread the word to recruit someone great for this role and, when they’re on board, we invite you to collaborate with this new team and all of us to take TPG into this next phase.
The TPG Board of Directors is a diverse group of practitioners dedicated to building the field of public interest technology.