Day one of the 2011 CampaignTech conference highlighted this year's 10 Innovator Award winners. Nominated by their peers, Innovators work in the fields of technology, campaigns, advocacy and government and have developed a legacy of innovation and collaboration.
Insights from a few of this year’s winners:
"Washington, DC is the Silicon Valley of making a difference," said Clay Johnson, owner of Big Window Labs.
The political technology field has become stagnant, argued Johnson, focusing too much on building more sophisticated tools to get email addresses and raise money, instead of making constructive changes that solve significant problems.
Jill Miller Zimon, a city councilwoman from Pepper Pike, Ohio and noted political blogger talked about teaching constituents in her community to use and trust technology.
"People don't understand the power of the tools we have," she said. "Lots of communities out there could use someone to start with them and show them."
Dr. Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez, the first lady of the Dominican Republic, highlighted programs in her country designed to engage citizens and teach them how to better use technology.
"I'm always tweeting. I use Twitter because I want to be in contact with my people and their social problems so I can get unfiltered information. I want to monitor people’s views of our social problems and government policies," said Fernandez.
The Dominican Republic is building community technology centers in rural and impoverished areas to give citizens free access to technology and training.
The ultimate goal, said Clay Johnson, is building technology that actually solves problems.
"Technology is not a service,” he said. “Technology is a solution.”
The full list of 2011 Innovator Award winners, presented by New Media Strategies:
Wesley Donehue: CEO, Donehue Direct Republican
After South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” at President Obama during a joint address to Congress, it was Donehue who helped Wilson raise some $2 million online in just two weeks. He also helped Sen. Jim DeMint build an online presence and become an Internet force during the 2010 cycle. Donehue launched his own firm in 2010 with a focus on new media and technology.
Sarah Granger: Founder and CEO, PublicEdge Democrat
Credited by Wired magazine with launching the “first true weblog to be put up by a politician,” (for former Sen. Gary Hart’s 2003 presidential exploratory committee) Granger has more than 20 years of experience in new media and online communications. Her firm crafts online messaging and social media strategies for campaigns and organizations. Last cycle, Granger served as new media strategist for the Women’s Campaign Fund and as the interim political director at BlogHer.
Vince Leibowitz: Principle Consultant, the Dawn Group Democrat
After working as a newspaper editor and journalist out of college, Leibowitz entered politics full time in 2003. He founded his own firm, now known as The Dawn Group. A co-founder of the Texas Progressive Alliance and TexBlog PAC, his digital outreach work on Hank Gilbert’s campaign for Agriculture Commissioner last cycle was recognized nationally by the New Organizing Institute.