Why I Exited My Presidential Innovation Fellowship

Since this blog acts as kind of a journal for my world, I figured I should make sure and add an entry regarding my exit of my Presidential Innovation Fellowship, affectionately called PIF program.

In June I was selected as a Presidential Innovation Fellow, where I went out to Washington D.C. and accepted a position at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I didn't actually start work until August 11th, but accepted I accepted the role along with the other 42 PIFs earlier that summer.

After 60 days, I decided to leave the program. The main reason is that Audrey and I couldn't make ends meet in DC, on what they paid, and after spending our savings to get out there, with no credit cards to operate on, and experiencing the shutdown, and facing another shutdown this winter--it just wasn't working for us.

The benefits gained by the title, and the G-14 employment position just didn't balance out the negative. In the end I'm thankful for the opportunity, but I couldn't ask Audrey or myself to make the trade-off. I knew things would be hard, but facing sleeping on friends couches and not being able to pay our AWS bills was not in the cards.

As is my style, I've spent zero time dwelling on my exit. I am determined to pick up all my projects, and continue moving them forward. In short I will still be doing all the work, just leave behind the title and official PIF status. I strongly believe that the best way to apply my skills is from the outside-in, and my exit will allow me to make a larger impact across government in the long run.

I hope everyone who I worked with at the VA, GSA, OSTP and beyond understands why I left by now, and knows I'm here to continue my support. I think the PIF program has a lot to offer future rounds, and I will continue to play an active role in the program and helping change how government operates using open data and APIs.

Thanks everyone!