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Civic Hall Beta Member: Jeanne Brooks, Hacks/Hackers

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 16 2015

Jeanne Brooks at work in Civic Hall (Photo: Marina Villela)

This month Civic Hall, the new home for civic tech in New York City, opened its doors to beta members like Jeanne Brooks, executive director of Hacks/Hackers. Beta members are people working in the civic tech space who have been invited to try out Civic Hall for the month of January: to work in the space and see what it is like, and in turn provide feedback to the Civic Hall team. We caught up with Brooks to ask about her work and find out what she hopes to see and do here at Civic Hall.

We're profiling some of Civic Hall's members as they start to join and use the space; stay tuned for more. This interview has been edited for clarity.

Could you tell me a bit about yourself and what brought you to Civic Hall?

I'm the executive director of Hacks/Hackers, a movement of journalists and technologists who share knowledge and ideas. I'm the first-ever executive director, so I've been focused on fundraising and building strategic partnerships. Being at Civic Hall is exciting because there's already a fantastic community here and I'm looking forward to meeting more great folks in this space and to really have my fingers on the pulse of civic tech.

What in particular are you looking forward to taking advantage of at Civic Hall?

I'm hosting an event this weekend and Hacks/Hacker leaders are coming in from around the world, from as far away as Prague and Tel Aviv. I'm excited about them being able to come here and to introduce them to other people in the community.

I'm also looking forward to the business insights from the community. The Hacks/Hacker movement has been around for five years. As the first executive director I'm building some structure within a decentralized movement while still maintaining power within the community. So we're looking for a different kind of business plan...

We're a non-profit but we're exploring sustainable business options; we're using lean start-up practices so I'm also looking for people who are using innovation accounting. I'm looking forward to having regular check-ins with other people who are dealing with the same issues.

Anything else?

As a new executive director I'm looking around for mentorship. I follow the model of horizontal loyalty, which means that when I seek mentorship I seek it out at all kinds of levels. I see this as a really great opportunity to build out my network to support the success of Hacks/Hackers.

I'm also a new New Yorker so I'm excited to have this network to tap into for that reason as well.