FWDThinking Episode 13: The Nerd Peace Corps has grown up

In conversation with Code for America’s Amanda Renteria and Code for Canada’s Dorothy Eng.

Published On Jul 7, 2021

All opinions expressed in these episodes are personal and do not reflect the opinions of the organizations for which our guests work.


We often talk about the “private” and “public” sector to separate the activities of free enterprise from those of the government. That’s a simplistic distinction, of course: Academia, non-profits, lobbyists, and many other organizations try to steer society towards their goals. But it’s a convenient scalpel with which to divide government discussions.

Governments run on information. As tech has made it easier for many groups to work with information, we’ve seen the rise of a third sector: Civic Tech. It’s the  intersection of citizen coders and government tech. It occupies a “third space” between individual activism and public sector services. And its proponents have one foot in the halls of government, and the other in the realities of fast-changing technological innovation.

First launched as a “peace corps for startups” or “gap year” for technologists, the movement has grown worldwide. Code for America was the biggest and most visible of these movements. Over the years, it spawned similar organizations abroad. The model also evolved as governments launched their own Digital Services groups.

Amanda Renteria is the CEO of Code for America. Dorothy Eng is her Canadian counterpart, the new Executive Director of Code for Canada. When we asked them to join us, we didn’t realize that they’d never met, which made this conversation all the more delightful! In the latest FWDThinking episode, Amanda and Dorothy talk about working with vendors, supporting public servants, when to go deep and when to go wide, and much more. Most of all, we loved seeing them meet and compare their worlds for the first time!

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