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Empowering Our Communities with Data and Civic Tech

May 12, 2023

Civic technology and innovation are at the core of our network. Technology and data are often used to further oppress marginalized people, but we can use data to help free us. 

We can do this by investing in BIPOC organizers and their ideas about what digital tools and strategies we should explore, while making sure technology, tools, training, and resources are in the hands of people experiencing oppression in society.

In April 2023, State Voices hosted our 2023 Data Convening in Miami, Florida. Data practitioners from across the country came together to learn, strategize, and imagine new ways data and technology can be used in service of a multiracial democracy. We organized with grassroots groups like State Voices Florida and Engage Miami around expanding investment in libraries.

A seated panel discussion is highlighted featuring five women of color sat at the front of a stage.
Participants in the Women of Color Leading Data panel including Dynisha Hugle (Power Coalition of Equity and Justice), Hersheda Patel (ProGeorgia), Jakalia Brown (ProGeorgia), Kaelyn Seymour (MOVE), Sha’Kirayah Roberts (ProGeorgia), Shatira Cummings (ProGeorgia), and Valeria Sandoval (State Voices) discuss their journeys through the civic tech and data fields.

We also held a Women of Color (WoC) Leading Data panel, where data leaders from ProGeorgia, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and Missouri Organizing and Voter Engagement Collaborative provided their wisdom, guidance, and analysis on the movement.

“The ProGeorgia team was very excited to create the session and have an opportunity to partner with the amazing WoC data leaders in Louisiana and Missouri,” shared Hersheda Patel, Data Director with ProGeorgia. 

“While we were happy to speak on our experiences as WoC in this movement, we truly wanted to share our vision for WoC in data and invite everyone to think creatively about their vision for WoC in their own states in the next 10 years.”

This Convening, coordinated by State Voices’ Data and Technology Department, reflects the power that people in marginalized communities have in the fight for multiracial democracy.

“Shatira, Dynisha, Kaelyn, Jakalia, Hersheda, and Sha’Kirayah are today’s ambassadors representing the State Voices data pipeline. When I joined State Voices, there were zero women data directors in our state network—now there are three, and all are women of color,” shares Brandon Jessup, State Voices’ Deputy Director of Data Analytics and Movement Technology.

“This is proof that investing in the development of talent in the civic tech and civic engagement space produces great dividends. The State Voices data network is not a monolith of administrators of data and systems. Our data corps is a burgeoning community of data scientists, data engineers, and architects. The State Voices Affiliated Network leads the civic engagement space in data talent; we are diverse, we are grounded in our communities, and will continue to elevate our service to our communities in pursuit of a better democracy.”