A New Spirit of Public Service: Good News from the Millennial Generation

Location: Independence Ballroom A Level:
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A new survey commissioned by the Center for American Progress found that young Americans age 18 to 32 give the government more positive performance ratings and more strongly favor a significant role for government in addressing national challenges than does the public at large. Millennials’ distinctly pro-government outlook may well be a leading indicator of a nascent rebound in public confidence in government.

We’ll hear about the findings in the CAP report. Then Jennifer Pahlka, founder and Executive Director of Code for America, will share some of the answers she’s received to the question “Why do you want to spend a year of your life in public service” from applications submitted by prospective Code for America Fellows.

We may feel the weight of how hard change is in government , and sometimes lose faith that it’s possible, but the next generation believes it can happen and is expecting us to do something about it. They’re also expecting us to let them do something about it. They can see what’s wrong very clearly. And unlike past generations, they care about government and collective good. Let’s either rise to the challenge they are offering, or get out of the way and let them do it.

Photo of Jennifer Pahlka

Jennifer Pahlka

Code for America

Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for
America, which is dedicated to the idea that government can work for
the people, by the people, in the 21st century. She is an Ashoka
fellow, and received the Internet and Society Award from the Oxford
Internet Institute in 2012. Government Technology named her one of
2011’s Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in Public Sector Innovation and the
Huffington Post named her the top Game Changer in Business and
Technology the same year. She is known for her TED talk, Coding a
Better Government, and is a frequent speaker. Previously, she ran the
Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 events for TechWeb, in conjunction with O’Reilly
Media, and co-chaired the successful Web 2.0 Expo. She is a graduate
of Yale University and lives in Oakland, Calif. with her daughter and
eight chickens.

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