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 OFFICIAL SITE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
OFFICIAL SITE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY

This site is in beta and a work in progress

OFFICE OF INNOVATION
State of New Jersey

Mission Statement

To improve the lives of New Jerseyans by solving public problems differently.

About the New Jersey State
Office of Innovation

The New Jersey State Office of Innovation was created by Governor Phil Murphy in August, 2018 with the appointment of Dr. Beth Simone Noveck as the State's first-ever Chief Innovation Officer.

Founded with the mandate to improve the lives of New Jerseyans by designing and deploying more effective and efficient government services, the Office of Innovation works in partnership with the Governor’s Office and State agencies to create innovative policies and technologies that address complex public problems by working differently: we apply data science and public engagement to understand problems, and use modern digital technologies combined with strategic policies to develop solutions that improve services while also reducing costs for the State and the taxpaying public.

How We Work + What We Do

The Office of Innovation works collaboratively with government, academic, non-profit, and private sector institutions to drive innovation in the Garden State's economy and improve the design and delivery of policies and services to the State's residents, businesses, and institutions.

Design + Development

Through the Innovation Lab, the Office of Innovation partners with State departments on product and project development. Under this model, the Office deploys interdisciplinary teams to embed within - or across - departments to deliver new products, policies, or programs. The Innovation Lab utilizes agile methodologies, working closely with agency and project management team leadership, to efficiently and iteratively develop, test, and implement solutions to public problems.

Public Engagement

The SmarterNJ initiative allows State departments and agencies to work with the Office of Innovation to leverage new and innovative technology to allow the public to contribute meaningfully to the policymaking process. If your department or agency is interested in collaborating with the Office of Innovation on a public consultation, reach out to us at team@innovation.nj.gov or use this contact form.

Innovation Skills Training

The Innovation Skills Accelerator (“InSA”) initiative and accompanying Public Entrepreneurship Fellowship is available to State departments and employees to accelerate the agile development of more effective public services by equipping State employees with the skills needed to drive innovation in their day-to-day work.

Project + Policy Advising

New Jersey State departments and agencies are able to engage the Office of Innovation for an array of innovation advisory services to strengthen project, policy, and legislative outcomes and benefit from the Office’s expertise in the use of:

  • Data analytics and evidence-based decision-making to drive performance improvements.
  • Human-centered design practices to understand how people experience a problem and therefore how to design the services they need
  • Experimental design, prototyping, pilot projects, and iterative strategies to become more agile, deliver faster, and measure what works.
  • International public and private sector best practices and comparative research to allow us to deliver best in class tools and services.
  • Public-private partnerships and multi-sector collaboration.
  • “Collective intelligence” and “crowdsourcing” strategies to strengthen policy and project development and implementation.

Our Team

Dr. Beth Simone Noveck

Chief Innovation Officer

Beth Simone Noveck serves as the State of New Jersey’s first Chief Innovation Officer - a position she was appointed to by Governor Philip D. Murphy in August 2018. In this capacity, Dr. Noveck, a native of New Jersey, focuses on enhancing innovation in government and in the Garden State’s economy. Using better data, more collective intelligence and agile technology, her team leads projects, designs policies, and advises agencies on innovative strategies to improve the lives of New Jerseyans. Dr. Noveck serves as the Chair of the Governor’s Future of Work Task Force and sits on the Governor’s Jobs and Economic Opportunity Council.

In addition to her role as New Jersey’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Noveck is a professor at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, a Fellow at NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, and is a Visiting Senior Faculty Fellow at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. She also directs NYU’s Governance Lab, an action research center studying the impact of technology on governing. Previously, Dr. Noveck served in the White House as the first United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer, and as director of the White House Open Government Initiative under President Obama. UK Prime Minister David Cameron later appointed her senior advisor for Open Government, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel named her a member of her ten-person digital council.

She is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, and was named one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government 2018” by Apolitical. Previously, she was selected as one of the "Foreign Policy 100" by Foreign Policy as well as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company and "Top Women in Technology" by Huffington Post. Dr. Noveck has written multiple books, and has been published extensively, on how technology can improve governing.

Ayna Agarwal

Ayna Agarwal serves in a digital product management capacity at the Office of Innovation. She leverages human-centered design and agile product management methods to drive and support cross-agency small business assistance and economic development projects.

Prior to joining the Office of Innovation, Ayna began her career at Palantir Technologies, serving both public and private sector organizations. She has worked at various start-ups including Cityblock Health and Chief. As an undergraduate, she co-founded an international platform to encourage more women in technology called she++, which is still run by students today.

Ayna completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University, and received her MBA from Harvard Business School. She is a New Jersey native, and enjoys procrastinating with her puppy and spending time in nature.

Crystal Penalosa

Crystal Peñalosa (she/they) is an artist, civic technologist, and interdisciplinary designer. Within the Office of Innovation, Crystal serves as the digital product lead for the Data for the American Dream initiative, leading the project’s human centered design, research, and product management in collaboration with New Jersey Department of Labor.

Crystal is active with the civic hacking and LGBTQIA+ communities, designing workshops on urban accessibility, public art, civic technology, and self-compassion practices. They also bring experience from the civic tech start-up, Stae, working with innovation and IT teams on solution engineering and human-centered research that make it easier for cities to rapidly prototype and iterate on digital services. Her work in the civic tech space impacted communities in Detroit, Jersey City, Guilford County, San Francisco, and New York.

Crystal received a Master in Urban Planning from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from San Francisco State University. Outside of work at the Office of Innovation, Crystal is a sound artist, performing collaboratively and commissioned work at venues such as The New School, MoMA PS1, and Roulette Intermedium. She also volunteers with the underground record label Generations Unlimited and the creative support network Voluminous Arts.

Dave Cole

Dave Cole is a software engineer and operations leader with experience in both the public and private sectors. Dave is currently focused on helping New Jersey businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic through work with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and other departments and agencies.

Previously, Dave was vice president of strategy and operations at a technology start-up, responsible for international operations and business development. In this role, he was an early employee who helped grow the company from 20 employees to over 500, launched and managed teams in four countries, and raised multiple rounds of capital investment.

Dave served in President Obama’s first term administration as a senior advisor to the Chief Innovation Officer and deputy director of new media. He is credited with bringing open source technology to the White House and helping other agencies to do likewise. Dave was also a software engineer at 18F, a digital consultancy within the US General Services Administration, where he designed and launched the Federalist service that has helped federal agencies launch over 130 modern, accessible, and efficient websites.

Dave graduated from Rutgers University and is a native of New Jersey.

E.J. Kalafarski

E.J. Kalafarski is a technology strategist with the Office of Innovation, where he manages the Business First Stop initiative, leveraging human-centered design and agile, data-driven practices to make it easier and faster to do business in the State of New Jersey through better digital services. He focuses on building organizations and products that run intuitively and iterate fast.

Prior to joining the Office of Innovation, E.J. was a senior technology strategist with Bank of America, a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor, and a presidential innovation fellow in the Obama White House, where he spearheaded the White House Workforce Data Initiative. He was also vice president of product at the New York-based web publishing platform Onswipe.

While attending Brown University, E.J. built experimental and pioneering touch screen interfaces across multiple disciplines. He’s also built cartographic apps for Google, taught on new media at Tufts University, served as an editor for Techmeme, and created an urban history photography app. E.J. has a BS in Computer Science and English from Tufts University and an ScM in Computer Science from Brown University. Originally from Massachusetts, he’s now a Red Sox fan in enemy territory.

Edward Paulino

Edward Paulino conducts policy analysis and drives engagement initiatives at the Office of Innovation. In his work, he fosters collaboration between government, external stakeholders, and New Jerseyans to inform policies by leveraging new and innovative ways for the public to contribute meaningfully to the policymaking process..

Edward began his career as an AmeriCorps national service member supporting workforce training programs in Paterson, New Jersey. His work there inspired a dedication to workforce innovation, economic development, and community revitalization. Edward has served as a program manager at the Passaic County One-Stop Career Center, an urban planning consultant, and as policy and communications director for New York City Council Member Stephen Levin.

Edward has served as an adviser to small business associations, government officials, and community groups. He is a graduate of Yale University where he majored in political science. A native son of the Garden State, Edward believes in our shared responsibility to improve our communities through data, inclusivity, and activism. Edward loves riding his bike, cooking for company, and spirited debate. A tinkerer since childhood, Edward loves taking things apart and putting them back together—sometimes they still work afterwards.

Emilia Ndely

Emilia Ndely serves in a product and project management capacity at the Office of Innovation. In this role, she leads end-to-end product and project management activities to enable the creation of modern technologies and services that improve the lives of New Jerseyans. She works closely with partners and key stakeholders, throughout the state, in order to enable long-term success.

Emilia has a background in strategy and innovation consulting, entrepreneurship, and sector specific knowledge in healthcare. She earned her B.A. in Economics from the University of Minnesota, and both her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and Masters in Healthcare Administration (MHA) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the State of New Jersey, she spent four years working for Ernst & Young.

Emilia has a passion for racial and gender equity and enjoys spending her time enabling and empowering individuals bound by these inequities. In her professional life that shows up by injecting an inclusive design mindset in her work.

Emilia currently serves on the University of Minnesota Alumni Association Board of Directors as the Student and Recent Alumni Counsel Director. She is also the President of the University of Minnesota Black Alumni Association and Director of Brand Management for MNPowerMoves. Her personal interests include: volunteering, dabbling in graphic/visual design, and working out.

Eugene K. Chow

Eugene K. Chow is an experienced speechwriter, journalist, and communications strategist, with more than a decade of public and private sector experience. With the Office of Innovation, he supports key public communication initiatives, such as the COVID-19 Information Hub, through content development and strategic messaging.

Prior to joining the Office of Innovation, Eugene served as deputy communications director for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign in New Hampshire, and later as a national spokesperson. He also served as the acting chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He began his career as deputy regional field director on President Obama’s 2008 campaign, before serving as a speechwriting intern to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Eugene’s writing as a journalist has appeared in Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, Huffington Post, and The Week. Recently, he served as the senior writer for the Robin Hood Foundation, where he helped produce a Webby-winning video short. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley.

Fred DeJohn

Fred DeJohn is an attorney with extensive experience in finance, budget, and human resources in both government and higher education. He serves as the Office of Innovation's chief financial officer - in this capacity, Fred oversees the Office's financial operations, manages relationships with foundation and institutional funders, and advises the Chief Innovation Officer on organizational governance and human resource matters.

In addition to his role with the Office of Innovation, Fred also serves as the chief financial officer of the Governance Lab at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering. Previously, Fred served as the acting vice president for human resources at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Before that, he spent more than eighteen years as the vice president for finance and administration at New York Law School.

Fred's earlier career was with New York City government where he held high level positions in a number of City agencies, including deputy commissioner for finance and administration at the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, first deputy commissioner at the Department of General Services, and first deputy director at the Department of Personnel. He finished his City service as a special assistant to Mayor David Dinkins, focusing on municipal labor issues. He holds a BA from NYU and a JD from NYU's School of Law. A NJ native, Fred attended Freehold High School at the same time as Bruce Springsteen but sadly admits to having no recollection of the Boss!

Giuseppe Morgana

Giuseppe Morgana is the digital director at the Office of Innovation, where he is leading the creation of the Innovation Lab. The team leverages modern technology, human-centered design, and agile, data-driven practices to deliver better services to the people of the state. He is passionate about finding opportunities to partner with leaders across the private and public sector to leverage technology and drive positive impact.

Prior to joining the Office of Innovation, Giuseppe was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he served both private and public sector clients. He was a member of the United States Digital Service, a startup based in the White House, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he partnered with colleagues to improve the services delivered to veterans. Giuseppe started his career with Unilever, completed his undergraduate studies at Boston University, and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Graham Simpson

Graham Simpson works on policy and engagement work at the Office of Innovation. In that role, he supports and manages public policy initiatives, leads the Office's programs on public entrepreneurship and innovation skills training, and produces policy research. Graham is passionate about evidence-informed policy and helping policy professionals use and apply data.

Previously, Graham worked at J-PAL North America, a research center specializing in the use of randomized studies to better understand what anti-poverty social policies work and why. While there, he managed a project to develop and evaluate mobility support for housing choice voucher recipients, coordinated the office’s written publications strategy, and advised external organizations on potential studies on basic income, addiction treatment, educational support, and financial inclusion. In addition, he has served as an impact consultant at What Works Cities, conducted policy analysis for the New York City Mayor’s Office, and taught high school equivalency and computer skills classes to incarcerated students in the Worcester County House of Correction.

Graham received his Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University. Outside of work, Graham enjoys cooking and hosting, visiting new cities and old friends, and returning to New England to spend time with his family and hike the mountains

Kai D. Feder

Kai D. Feder serves as the chief of staff at the Office of Innovation, where he oversees the office’s day-to-day operations and advises the Chief Innovation Officer on strategic direction, leads projects and policy initiatives, and manages intergovernmental and external affairs. His career in government and public policy has spanned numerous issue areas, ranging from economic development and technology, to transportation and infrastructure, and has included positions in both the public and private sectors.

Prior to joining the Office of Innovation, Kai worked for a leading New York City boutique public affairs firm, where he counseled a diverse array of organizations on the strategic engagement of government and community stakeholders. During his tenure, his primary practice areas included innovation and entrepreneurship policy advocacy and non-profit fundraising on behalf of a client base that ranged from community-based organizations and healthcare institutions, to innovation economy startups and Fortune 100 companies.

Kai also previously served as the director of capital budget and economic development for the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, where he led the office’s investment of capital funds, as well as efforts to drive job creation and business attraction and retention. Additionally, Kai has served on the boards of numerous economic development organizations, including the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

His writing and research have covered international and domestic matters of government, public policy, and economic development, including venture capital, real estate, and the innovation economy. In 2016, Kai was named one of New York City’s 40 Under 40 rising stars by City and State magazine. He obtained his Masters of Public Affairs from the University of San Francisco, and graduated summa cum laude from San Francisco State University. He is a proud San Francisco native who loves travel, food, culture, and urban history.

Mike Flowers

Mike Flowers supports the Office of Innovation’s efforts to leverage data intelligence and infrastructure to “de-silo” government operations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has worked across State government partners to stand up technology and logistics capacity for contact tracing, exposure notification and vaccine distribution, and on small business recovery and regulatory innovation.

Mike previously served as New York City’s first Chief Analytics Officer, under Mayor Mike Bloomberg. In this role, he founded the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, a groundbreaking initiative that leveraged data to make better decisions in government policy and operations. He also New York City’s first citywide analytics platform, and ran the city’s internationally recognized Open Data initiative. After leaving government in 2014, Mike served as the chief analytics officer at tech start up Enigma Technologies in New York City, was the inaugural Macarthur Urban Science Fellow at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, the inaugural What Works Cities Fellow, and continues to advise governments and companies around the world on establishing effective, transparent and accountable data intelligence infrastructures and policies. Most recently, Mike advised both the Biden-Harris and Bloomberg 2020 presidential campaigns on technology and government reform, and in March 2020 joined US Digital Response, a volunteer-led group of technologists and government experts providing support to state and local governments and nonprofits in their response to the pandemic.

Mike also served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, was the deputy director of the Department of Justice’s Regime Crimes Liaison’s Office in Iraq, and worked with Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington D.C. He started his career with a clerkship in the federal district court in Philadelphia, and then served as a prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Throughout his career, Mike was twice recognized by the Obama White House, and has received numerous other awards and recognitions across the globe.

Ross Dakin

Ross Dakin is a technologist whose background spans Silicon Valley startups, corporate enterprise, federal/state/local government, national non-profits, and academia. Ross currently supports the Office of Innovation in technical and strategic capacities, focusing on alleviating unemployment and facilitating small business growth. Ross was formerly an information security strategist at Bank of America and advised the Microsoft Cities team on how to best utilize the company's resources for public good in New York City.

In 2015, Ross served as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow, where he focused on a variety of national priorities including the facilitation of public/private partnerships, the implementation of code.gov, and various initiatives related to social benefits, foster child welfare, organ donation, mental health, and the gender pay gap. Prior to leaving Silicon Valley, Ross helped build/scale/sell companies across the finance, logistics, communications, and information security domains.

Ross is an adjunct professor of computer science at Lehman College, an advisor to the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University (his alma mater), and a founding trustee of Creo College Preparatory School, a free, public middle school with the mission of creating more equitable opportunity for kids in the Bronx. Ross also provides volunteer prehospital emergency care services as a nationally registered EMT and serves as a pro bono advisor and board member to various nonprofit organizations.

Shyamala Ramakrishna

Shyamala Ramakrishna conducts policy analysis and research at the Office of Innovation. She produces research-based policy advisory reports for the Governor’s office and State agencies, conducts research and user testing for new tools based on human-centered design principles, and provides project management support across the Office’s project portfolio.

Prior to working with the Office of Innovation, Shyamala worked in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, a national nonpartisan law and policy institute based in New York City, where she produced quantitative and qualitative research on campaign finance reform and voting rights issues. She has interned at the Legal Resources Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, and at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Shyamala graduated cum laude from Yale University with a degree in Ethics, Politics, & Economics. She was a scholar in the undergraduate human rights program at Yale Law School, an International Studies fellow with Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, and a Yale Alumni Community Service Fellow. Her career interests include direct legal services and public policy advocacy. She is a New Jersey native and a singer, music producer, and Court Watch organizer in her free time.

Xavier Hughes

Xavier Hughes specializes in large scale innovation, smart cities, big data, product development, conceptual design, and service innovation and automation. Within the Office of Innovation, Xavier provides project management support for the New Jersey Data for the American Dream (NJD4AD) initiative -- an interactive, mobile-responsive website offering data-driven advice for job seekers and employers about training opportunities and outcomes.

Prior to joining the the Office of Innovation, Xavier Hughes was the first-ever chief technology and innovation officer for the International City/County Management Association, where he helped create and support thriving communities throughout the world, including 13,000+ members, 3,000+ city managers, 1,000+ assistant city managers, 380+ county managers and 190+ assistant city managers. From 2010 to 2016, Xavier served as the first chief innovation officer in the history of the U.S. Department of Labor, where he led the development of innovative business practices, performance and technology applications to improve outcomes and simplify operations.

Xavier is a graduate of the University of Miami, and former adviser to CloudParc, Hustle, 1776, Grand Central Tech, Johns Hopkins, and FWD.us. He has received multiple awards for his work, and is considered one of the top public sector innovators in the world. He was born in San Sebastian, Spain and moved to the United States at the age of 10 due to terrorism in his homeland.