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San Francisco’s First Chief Data Officer, Joy Bonaguro, Departs

San Francisco’s data efforts will be led moving forward by data services manager, Jason Lally.

Joy Bonaguro, San Francisco’s first chief data officer, has left her position after nearly five years in the role, the city announced with a farewell blog post this week. 

The city’s data work, branded as DataSF, will be led moving forward by data services manager Jason Lally, who worked alongside Bonaguro. As the leader of data work in one of the country’s most innovative local governments, her impact was felt, not only in San Francisco but also other jurisdictions influenced by the projects happening there.

The work done in San Francisco during the past half of a decade ranges from open data efforts — including standardizing open data, implementing a process for inventorying, monitoring open data and more — to becoming one of nine cities this past year to be certified for its open data use through Bloomberg’s What Works Cities initiative. 

Other significant work under Bonaguro’s leadership included a partnership with the controller’s office that yielded a data academy that trained more than 1,000 internal staff members; a DataScienceSF intervention program that sees civic data scientists helping departments function more efficiently with information; and shaping the current DataSF team that will continue the work and culture that she helped to establish. 

Read my Ode to @JoyBonaguro on the @DataSF blog. While saying goodbye is hard, I’m oh so proud of what our team built #opendata #opengov #openheart ❤️ — Jason Lally (@synchronouscity) September 18, 2018
“Joy’s impact on the city and on myself will not be forgotten,” Lally wrote. “And while goodbyes are hard, I am also excited for the next chapter leading DataSF. One of the greatest influences Joy had on me and our team is that she equipped us to make informed choices; to not feel boxed in by prior decisions. In that spirit, we will continuously improve and iterate on DataSF.”

Bonaguro also wrote a blog post reflecting on her time with the city and offering advice for other technologists who dedicate their skills and talents to municipal government. Her advice for those who work in the space includes serving without ego, being realistic about how long the creation of change takes and focusing on institutions rather than individuals to foster lasting results.

Thank you @DataSF for the beautiful farewell. Between the digital and paper versions of ode to Joy, I have crying material for the ages. Much love to all my former teammates and especially @synchronouscity and Blake as they move our work forward. Much love!!! — Joy Bonaguro (@JoyBonaguro) September 18, 2018
“This experience has snuck into every fiber of my being,” Bonaguro wrote. “I suspect I’ll be learning from it the rest of my life. In the meantime, I hope these bits are helpful for others embarking on their own government journey.”

She also noted that she’ll be announcing what’s next for her soon. 

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.