TechCongress Announces First Class of Congressional Innovation Fellows

Embedded fellows will provide deep technical knowledge and expertise to Congress
Press Release
Jan. 20, 2016

WASHINGTON, DCTechCongress, a fellowship program incubated by New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) that is bringing technologists to Congress, is pleased to announce its first class of Congressional Innovation Fellows: John Costello and JC Cannon. The Fellows will find a placement with a Member of Congress or Congressional Committee to gain experience in the the legislative process and bring firsthand technical experience and knowledge to Congressional policymaking. Fellows began an orientation program on January 11 and will meet with prospective offices to begin their nine month fellowship later this month.

About the Fellows

JC Cannon is the founder of Assertive Privacy, a Washington D.C.-based consulting agency. Prior to moving to DC, Cannon had a 16-year career at Microsoft where he worked on identity management and database compliance strategy. He spent 12 of those years working on online, digital privacy issues. While at Microsoft he wrote two IT-related privacy books. Before joining Microsoft, JC worked as a software consultant for companies in the United States, England, France, and Sweden. He has BS in Mathematics from the University of Texas. He is also a six-year veteran of the U.S. Navy where he fixed avionics for A6 aircraft on the flight deck of aircraft carriers. Cannon spends his free time writing science fiction books.

John Costello was an Analyst at Defense Group Inc's, Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, where he researched Chinese defense and security issues. As a member of the U.S. Navy and intelligence community, John established himself as a leading thinker in cyber warfare, emerging technologies, and information dominance. His current research focuses on understanding the future of warfare, the role technology, and finding creative, iconoclast solutions to best prepare the United States for future conflict. He has a BA from University of Maryland University College. John graduated with honors from the Defense Language Institute and is fluent in Chinese Mandarin. John is also establishing the China Cyber and Intelligence Studies Institute (CCISI), a non-profit dedicated to understanding China's use of cyber and intelligence as instruments of national power.

TechCongress is the first of several new projects supported by OTI that are aimed at bridging the divide between the tech and policy communities. OTI’s work in this area is made possible in part by a philanthropic seed investment from entrepreneur and investor Reid Hoffman and by additional partners soon to be confirmed.

The following quote can be attributed to Travis Moore, Founder and Director of TechCongress, at the Open Technology Institute:

We are proud to welcome John and JC as the first class of Congressional Innovation Fellows. We were extremely impressed by the depth of experience and range of expertise of our applicants, and narrowing down the field was a challenge. Over 200 technologists applied for the program in just three weeks. There’s a clear desire in the tech community to serve and help modernize Congress, and the country needs a Congress that can keep up with technology. We look forward to working with Members of Congress and Congressional staff to help make this program successful.

The following quote can be attributed to Kevin Bankston, Director of the Open Technology Institute:

As technology rushes ahead it can often be hard for policymakers to keep up, so we are excited to help bridge that gap by launching the TechCongress fellowship. Capitol Hill is in desperate need of more tech expertise, and we hope that JC and John are just the first of what will be a growing crop of technologists who will serve the public by advising our lawmakers--not just inside the beltway but across the country. Public service should be as common and as easy a path for techies to take as it is for lawyers and public policy wonks, and TechCongress’ Congressional Innovation Fellowship is just our first experiment in trying to build that tech-for-policy pipeline.