Seven years ago, Jerry Seinfeld took his idea for an unscripted talk show called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to the web. The program is exactly what it sounds like. Two comedians drive around in a fancy sports car and get coffee.
The premise is that by taking them out of their element (a club with a live audience) they can talk more freely about their craft and whatever else comes to mind. Ten seasons, three networks, and more than 70 episodes later, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is still on the road.
At ClearGov, we thought this sounded like a good way to learn more about our own merry band of co-workers, many of whom are amateur comedians in their own right. Since we don’t have a budget for fancy sports cars, we swapped Keds (think walking shoes) for corvettes and hit the streets of Maynard in pursuit of caffeine and candid conversation.
Shamelessly stealing from Seinfeld, and drawing inspiration from ClearGov’s president Bryan Burdick, we’re pleased to launch Co-Workers in Keds Getting Coffee. Back in April, Bryan invited every member of the ClearGov team to join him for daily one-on-one walks. If you know anything about East Coast weather this was a bold and optimistic venture. In the end however, the conversations proved enlightening even if the climate didn’t always cooperate. So, we figured why not keep the momentum going.
Every other month, we’ll pry one of our co-workers away from their computer to find out what makes them tick. Our goal on the blog is to introduce clients and prospects to the people behind the ClearGov mission — so you can get a taste of the diverse talents and passions “ClearGovernors” bring to the table. Find out what gets us out of bed in the morning and why we’ve all rallied behind the idea that we can make democracy work better — both for folks who work in the public sector and the residents they serve.
Episode 1: Meet my co-worker, Linda Dunbrack.
1. What do you do at ClearGov?
Linda was among the first to join the ClearGov team initially as a contractor and then as a full-time employee logging untold hours mapping publicly available fiscal data to the ClearGov platform. Given the fact that ClearGov now has transparency profiles for every civic entity in the U.S. — more than 40,000 in all — it’s safe to say that Linda has what is technically referred to as “mad data skills” and clearly knows how to get stuff done.
In her current role as director of data on-boarding, she heads up the team responsible for translating complex spreadsheets into easy-to-understand infographics. Linda and her colleagues prepare client-supplied financial data for import and integration, building out powerful client dashboards that mirror a client’s chart of accounts.
2. Do you have any experience in the public sector?
Prior to joining ClearGov, Linda was extremely active in local government. She moderated FramGov, an online political forum, for more than a decade, and served on the Framingham Finance Committee for six years before that. She also narrowly lost a bid for a seat on the Charter Commission in a very tight 2016 election. Of course, the town’s loss was our gain because Linda brought her ideas, experience, and mad data skills to ClearGov, along with a deep and abiding commitment to improving local government.
3. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Linda said she always enjoyed computer science as a kid and remembers one of the first programs she ever wrote had something to do with Israeli-Palestinian relations. (This means that while I was eating Skittles and coveting my neighbor’s MTV Linda was pursuing peace in the Middle East. I’ll see myself out.)
4. Let’s have some fun. You’ve been banished to a deserted island. Oddly, you have the foresight to take one book with you. Which book do you take and why?
“Outdoor Survival Skills” by Larry Dean Olsen. By now you’ve realized that Linda is pragmatic. She didn’t just pick any survival guide either. She picked the one how-to that very specifically documents Native American survival techniques practiced by the Anasazi. Needless to say, if this desert island has cliffs Linda will carve out a lovely shelter replete with functional pottery and stunning waterfront views in no time.
5. Logistics aside, what album and movie would you bring along?
“I’d take the Fleetwood Mac Rumors album because I like every song and every song is different and features different artists.” Makes perfect sense. Variety is the spice of desert island life. And, what movie? “The Princess Bride, no explanation necessary.” Agreed.
That said, The Princess Bride is the perfect movie choice for someone who works in client success for two reasons: 1) the word “inconceivable” doesn’t mean what you think it means, and 2) Linda’s answer to client requests is always the same, “as you wish.”
Okay, that’s it. Our first Co-Workers in Keds Getting Coffee is in the books. In the interest of full transparency, we did not in fact get coffee. Linda led the way to a bike path that I didn’t know about, past a brewery I was completely unaware of, to an undisclosed canoe put-in. Who had time for coffee? This is a seriously good gig and I officially owe Linda a beer (and now I know just the place to get one).