Conversations with Authors Series with Rachel Burstein and Alissa Black on Making Innovation Offices Work

What is the current state of government innovation offices? What should be considered when deciding to build an effective innovation office? What success factor...


What is the current state of government innovation offices? What should be considered when deciding to build an effective innovation office? What success factors go into building and sustaining innovation offices? How can you measure the success and identifying failures? Join Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Rachel Burstein and Alissa Black, authors of the IBM Center report A Guide for Making Innovation Offices Work.


(courtesy of the IBM Center for the Business of Government)

Rachel Burstein is Academic Director at Books@Work, a public humanities nonprofit organization.

Dr. Burstein previously served as a Research Associate at the New America Foundation’s California Civic Innovation Project. In her role at the New America Foundation, she studied perceptions of innovation among government staffers, knowledge and innovation diffusion, and civic innovation theory and practice at the local level. She authored and co-authored a number of reports, including “The Case for Strengthening Personal Networks in California Local Governments,” “The 2050 City: What Civic Innovation Looks Like Today—And Tomorrow” and “Creating Networked Cities.” Dr. Burstein also published articles on the topic of civic innovation for a number of popular publications, including Slate: that article, “Most Cities Don’t Need Innovation Offices,” provided the impetus for this report.

Dr. Burstein holds a PhD in History from the City University of New York Graduate Center. Her dissertation examines the public relations strategies of American labor unions in the postwar period. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with High Honors from Swarthmore College with a BA in History.

Alissa Black is principal of investments at Omidyar Network. At the Omidyar Network, she is working to improve the relationship between citizens and government through driving sector-level change in government and the emerging civic technology ecosystem.

Prior to joining Omidyar Network, Black was director of the California Civic Innovation Project (CCIP) at New America Foundation, where she was responsible for developing the project’s strategy and managing the research portfolio. The CCIP explored the use of innovative technologies, policies, and practices that engage residents in public decision-making throughout California.

Previously, she served as Government Relations Director at Code for America. She has also worked in the New York City Mayor’s Office and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, and the City of San Francisco’s Emerging Technologies team.

Black earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies with a minor in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master’s degree in urban planning from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

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