The Personal Democracy Forum (better known as #PDF15) is an annual conference that highlights and showcases the work of civic technologists: people and organizations at the intersection of politics and tech using their powers for good. VoteRunLead was proud to serve on the Understanding and Overcoming Barriers to Participation panel with Google’s John Webb, Knight Foundation’s Jon Sotsky, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation’s Sandy Heierbacher, moderated by Allison Fine, author of Matterness.

This panel, just like the entire speakers’ docket, did what a lot of conferences attempt to do: men and women equally sharing the stage. With 50% female speakers at the entire event (way to go #PDF15), Liz and I met even more dynamic women working to improve democracy and using tech to make it happen. We were inspired! So this week, all the women of #PDF15 are VRL’s Monday Motivation!

Here are a few of our faves – from the White House to the women of #BlackLivesMatter:

1. Haley Van Dyck, the co-founder of the United States Digital Service, on her new “start-up” headquartered inside the White House to build services for the American people that work better and cost less. Cool.

Haley Van Dyke

2. CEO of and Founder of Dress for Success, Nancy Lublin, gives an update on Crisis Text Line, her new company and the first 24/7, free, nationwide text line for teens. And, how she broke away in a new, honest direction with her own leadership.


3. Lizz Brown and Kimberly Ellis, aka Dr Goddess, served on the #BlackTwitter, #BlackLivesMatter: Turning Pain Into Political Powerpanel, and gave a shout out to VRL while hitting all the right notes on how to sustain the movement.

4. Social Scientist Kate Krontiris explaining new research on the opportunities to engage “Interested Bystanders” – getting almost half the country more civically active — in partnership with Google Civic Innovation Portfolio.

Kate Krontiris

5. Deanna Zandt with her talk, “All the Feelz,” makes the emotional case for bringing our full selves to technology and civic change. (Her team, Lux Digital, is helping us do this kind of ‘emotional resonance’ with Invitation Nation and we couldn’t be more thrilled!)


6. US Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the 200th woman elected to serve in the House of Representatives, shares her vision of what the future of Congress could look like if politics and technology finally intersect. We admire her dedication to bring Capitol Hill in to the 21st century.


You can watch all the talks, yep, including the ones by men, too, here.

VRL is proud to be a part of the growing civic tech community as a member of Civic Hall, the sister organization to PDF, and in our own efforts to use technology to accelerate women’s leadership.
Still not quite sure what this civic tech is all about and – more importantly- how it can help you lead? Check out “Civic Tech Is Ready For Investment,” and stay tuned for an upcoming online summer series on technologies that we think will help you vote, run, and lead.


Here’s a great past web clinic by Marci Harris, VRL Advisory Board Member and Founder of PopVox, on how to contribute to bills in Congress in a more meaningful way, right from your computer.