Aneesh Chopra and Nick Sinai announced as the inaugural Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellows

November 3, 2014 — The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), is pleased to announce the appointment of two distinguished technological leaders, Aneesh Chopra and Nick Sinai, as the inaugural recipients of the newly established Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellowship.

Chopra and Sinai will work in partnership as joint Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellows. Together, they will drive an ambitious program on data as public infrastructure and speak widely, write, and investigate the media, policy and economic implications of providing greater public access to government data. Sinai, currently the U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer, will begin his six-month residency at the Center beginning on December 1. Chopra, the first U.S. Chief Technology Officer, plans to be in residence periodically.

“Open data is improving government service delivery, empowering citizens, and fueling economic growth. Taxpayers paid for vast troves of data, and wherever possible, they should be accessible to everyone—instead of being trapped in government systems,” said Sinai. “The Obama Administration has made significant progress opening up data, and I look forward to continuing to work on this important issue at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard Kennedy School.”

The Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellowship was established in December 2013 through a generous gift from Doug and Lydia Shorenstein in honor of Doug’s late father, Walter Shorenstein. Walter Shorenstein, the Center’s original benefactor, was a visionary leader in business and politics, a patriotic citizen and a creative and disruptive force for good. The fellowship aims to bring high-profile figures in the areas of media, politics, and policy to the Kennedy School to engage with students, faculty, scholars and the public on important issues of the moment.

“The generosity of the Doug and Lydia Shorenstein Family has made possible this living memorial to Walter H. Shorenstein, one of the nation’s great citizens. This will be a fellowship that truly makes the world a better place, which is just what Walter would have wanted, and our inaugural fellows are just the kind of superb leaders and forward thinkers that the fellowship was created to attract. We’re off to a great start!” said Alex S. Jones, the Shorenstein Center’s director.

Aneesh Chopra
In 2009, President Obama appointed Aneesh Chopra as the first U.S. Chief Technology Officer. In this role, Chopra was charged with promoting innovation to address the nation’s most urgent priorities—from creating jobs to reducing health care costs and keeping our nation secure. Chopra is the author of the new book, Innovative State: How New Technologies Can Transform Government. The book chronicles and catalyzes a growing movement of entrepreneurs inside and out of government collaborating to solve problems.

Chopra left the White House in 2012 and ran for lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2013. Upon Chopra’s departure, President Obama said, “his legacy of leadership and innovation will benefit Americans for years to come, and I thank him for his outstanding service.” In March 2014, Chopra co-founded Hunch Analytics, an open data and analytics company aimed at making healthcare and education sectors more productive. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and HKS.

Nick Sinai
Nick Sinai is currently U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House, where he leads President Obama’s Open Data Initiatives to liberate data to fuel innovation and economic growth, and leads the Open Government Initiative to ensure the federal government is more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Sinai also leads the Administration’s My Data Initiatives, to ensure Americans can securely access their own personal health, energy, education, and tax information. He was instrumental in the development and launch of the Green Button Initiative, a White House-inspired, industry-led effort that has grown to more than 100 million Americans being able to securely access and use their household energy data.

In 2012, Sinai helped start and grow the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which brings tech-savvy innovators into federal government and was the catalyst for the 18F digital services unit at the General Services Administration. He also played a key role in developing the Administration’s grid modernization strategy to build a smarter and more secure electric grid, and helped develop the President’s ConnectED initiative to bring fast broadband and digital learning to 99% of students. Before the White House, Sinai led a team at the Federal Communication Commission that played a key role in crafting the National Broadband Plan. While in government, he was named to the FedScoop 50, the Top 25 Most Influential People Under 40 in Gov and Tech, the 25th edition of the Federal 100, and the Networked Grid 100: The Movers and Shakers of the Smart Grid in 2012.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Sinai was a venture capitalist at Lehman Brothers Venture Partners (now Tenaya Capital) and previously, Polaris Partners. Sinai has also served in executive and advisory roles with two Boston area start-up technology companies, and served as a senior advisor to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. He started his career as a management consultant in telecom, Internet, and media. Sinai earned an M.B.A from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and an A.B. from Harvard University.

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Katie Miles: or 617-495-8209