We’re kicking off our #MeetSFBrigadeMembers series with April Steed – a UX designer, passionate civic hacker, and Project Lead for Lighten. Read on to find out how she got involved with Code for SF, what drives her and how Lighten is making access to social services more user friendly!
Tell me a little bit about yourself, what is your professional background and your interests?
My professional background is in UX design, I've been working as a freelancer for the last year and a half. I started out in illustration and graphic design, and gradually ended up on the UX path. I still love illustration, I'll be starting a new body of work over the course of this year.
What are you passionate about?
I'm passionate about making people's lives better, especially those who have historically been underserved, ignored, and oppressed. It's why I became a UX designer. I believe the key to sustainable positive change lies in ethical design. In the words of Gloria Steinem, I'm determined to leave this world a better place than when I found it.
How did you get involved with Code for San Francisco and how long have you been a part of the SF Brigade?
I literally just showed up one night about two years ago and never left! I had just finished a UX bootcamp and was eager to find something to work on. I never thought I would end up leading a project.
What do you like best about being a member?
I like how passionate and supportive people are at CfA, it feels like a community. I get to talk to people I never would have otherwise met, and I love seeing what other people are doing in the civic space.
Tell me about Lighten, what is the project hoping to achieve?
The goal of Lighten (previously Open Referral) is to improve social services delivery by making information about those services easy to access, and by making sure that information is accurate and useful. We believe the way to make this happen is by developing a universal open source set of standards so this information can be automatically exchanged between agencies whenever a change is made.
How long have you been working on this project? How many people are in the team?
I've been working on this project for two years now. I came on as a UX researcher, and gradually took on more and more of an active role until I was leading the project, which I've been doing for about a year and a half. There's about 8 people on the team, although it varies depending on the tasks at hand. It sounds like a long time, but because we are attempting systemic long-term change in uncharted territory, we've still got a long way to go.
What is the next big thing for this project?
Funding! Once we get a functional prototype off the ground we will be looking for financial support to turn it into a real product.
What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I'm a total comics geek! Despite it's problematic recent history I've been a fan of comics for a long time. The industry is having a bit of a renaissance right now. There are tons of great new stories coming out that star women and people of color, written by women and people of color, that are anything but your typical superhero storyline.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Getting out into nature as much as I can by camping, hiking, or kayaking. Working on my own personal creative projects or my illustration work, or relaxing with a stack of comic books!