Interview with Jo Lee of CitizenSpeak

BlogHer Original Post

As reported by the Executive Director of N-TEN, Katrin Verclas earlier this week, The Antonio Pizzigati Prize was awarded to George Hotelling, an open source software developer who built CitizenSpeak. But a big congratulations goes to Jo Lee
- an amazing woman (and mother of two) who works in the nonprofit
technology space - for all her work managing the project and making it
a huge success.

1.   Tell me a little about you!

By day I'm a principal at Green Machine PR, a marketing and public relations firm that specializes in high tech and green tech.  On the side I run CitizenSpeak.I also have two kids who are often seen at nonprofit technology conferences, most
memorably when my then 6 month old, in perfect Exorcist form, spit up an incredible volume of curdled milk during an N-TEN Conference

2.Why did you create CitizenSpeak?

started CitizenSpeak because I believe that online tools can help empower civic actors and grassroots organizations - the bedrock of a
strong democracy.

3. What's the elevator speech for CitizenSpeak?

CitizenSpeak is a free email advocacy service for grassroots organizations.
Inspired by MoveOn email campaigns, CitizenSpeak provides the same e-advocacy capability at the community level.

4.   What are some success stories of people using CitizenSpeak?

has helped organizations and activists across the country get their
voices heard and achieve their goals, such as a Philadelphia neighborhood coalition that successfully battled a large multinational
railroad company; a parent association that stopped the closing of a junior high in Providence RI, the national Container Recycling
Institute which forced the EPA to take a meeting on bottle recycling, a
Chicago neighborhood organization protect affordable housing and fight
gentrification.  You can read case studies here.

5.   How did you hook up with George Hotelling?

I owe the CivicSpace community for this fortuitous virtual meeting.
(Despite working with George for over a year, we've never met in person.) I
posted a message on a CivicSpace listserv about my plans to make CitizenSpeak into an open source module on Drupal. People passed the
message along and offered tons of advice.

6.   So, how does it feel to be acknowledged like this? It's sort like
winning a MacArthur genius grant? :-)

It feels GREAT, especially since it's the closest I'll ever get to a MacArthur award!

I know that you are the mother of two young children, how do you
balance being an activist, nonprofit software developer, and (a day job

I'm not alone. Lots of people do this, including
yourself. You have to have a job to pay the bills and you have to pay attention to your kids so they don't grow up to be psycho killers. And you have to be an activist otherwise the nut jobs will take over the

Flickr Photos from Jo Lee


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