Laurenellen McCann

Laurenellen McCann was the director of New America DC, a collaborative research program exploring whether and how national organizations can support existing community activity. This initiative, launched in May 2016, challenges traditional models of national-to-local engagement by showing how public policy institutions can work with (not for) communities as they define and pursue their priorities.

A prominent social theorist, educator, and organizer, McCann has worked on civic engagement and innovation in policy and practice for just shy of a decade. In 2014, she started the movement to bring community organizing practices into public interest technology under the banner, “build with, not for.” In 2013, TIME Magazine named her one of 30 folks under 30 changing the world.

Prior to New America DC, McCann was a Civic Innovation Fellow at the Open Technology Institute, a consultant with the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a crackerjack NPR reporter, and the founding director of the Sunlight Foundation’s state and local team, where she co-authored Sunlight’s open data guidance and helped dozens of states and cities write their first open data policies. She also directed TransparencyCamp, one of the largest grassroots events for government accountability in the world.

McCann is the author of Experimental Modes of Civic Engagement in Civic Tech (2015) and a contributor to the (Re)Building Technology zine. She sits on the board of directors for Exhale Pro-Voice and the DC Funk Parade, and is the lead artist of The Curious Citizens Project, a DC-based civic arts collective. She holds a bachelor’s in government from Wesleyan University, also uses they/them, and is the co-parent of a 15-ft long cardboard velociraptor. (Long story.) 

All Work

NEW AMERICA DC and NEW AMERICA NYC
If You Build It

Can community-based design transform a small North Carolina county from poverty to possibility?


This is What Democracy Sounds Like

OTI’s Laurenellen McCann on a new program that is trying to engage all American voters, whatever their native languages.


NEW AMERICA
Broken Windows or Broken Badges?

Join New America in collaboration with Howard University for the second event in the “From Moment to Movement” series.


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
Civic tech in 2015: $6.4 billion to connect citizens to services, and to one another

It's a focus upon building with people, not for them. It's a focus on people, not data. It's about starting with people, not technology, as


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
Designing With, Not For

Issue #2 of Civic Quarterly centers around the phrase “Design with, not for,” an idea originally introduced by Laurenellen McCann that was c


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
People First, Tech Second: 5 Criteria for Community-Driven Civic Tech

Beyond direct application to the Experimental Modes initiative, my goal in creating these criteria was to define the leanest standard possib


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
No Revolution Without Reflection

Working with both the Open Technology Institute at New America and the Smart Chicago Collaborative, and in coordination with civic tech peer


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
Building Journalism With Community, Not For It

McCann argues that For is the thorn in the paw of the civic movement today. We espouse to build new, collaborative systems, new technologies


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
Welcome to the Open Data Movement's Turbulent Teenage Years

“Open data has been a space where it’s just public knowledge being digitized and that’s good,” says Laurenellen McCann, a civic innovation f


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
With and Of and By and For

The idea that anybody can participate is the very source of government as platform’s value. It’s also a frequently revisited trope within th


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
New Project: Experimental Modes of Civic Engagement in Civic Tech

Today we’re launching a new project— Experimental Modes of Civic Engagement in Civic Tech. This is a project led by Laurenellen McCann that


OPEN TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
Crafting Civic Tech

We wanted to share our work, even at this early stage, in the hopes that it could benefit others similarly looking to transition from aspira