I’ve always been about big ideas.

At 13, I was fascinated by the origins of the universe, blacks holes, and dark matter. Later, social justice and solutions-focused journalism — like Jonathan Kozol’s writing on youth living in poverty in the South Bronx — had a significant influence on me. Growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, I couldn’t believe the adversity faced by youth just a two-hour car ride away. They deserved a better, fairer society.


I now work on solving big global challenges (although I still sometimes wish I became an astrophysicist).

At the White House Office of Management and Budget, I helped make government more evidence-informed and innovative by:

  • Leading an effort to make it easier for cities to provide youth with the most effective services;
  • Collaborating on the U.S.’s first federally-supported social impact bond; and,
  • Advising senior officials on job training and education policy including a $500 million community college program and a $150 million workforce innovation fund.

More recently, I led WithoutViolence, a program to help violence prevention practitioners at international organizations, social entrepreneurs from the U.S. and Uganda, and youth advocates from Peru develop more powerful communications. I’ve written about cities and open technology in Next City, and on philanthropy in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. I found my passion for data analysis and economics while getting a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University, but before that, I studied English literature and German at the University of Notre Dame. I love stories and am avid soccer player, runner and hiker.

I’ve seen many big ideas get put into action — but watched others stagnate. Too often, innovative solutions and ground-breaking research do not get scaled or bring about change for people and the planet because leaders miss the opportunity to make connections between sectors and new allies.

What big ambition drives you?

I’d love to hear from you and see if we can collaborate to achieve it.

– Joanna