Hi, I'm Devin Balkind, a nonprofit executive, civic technologist and open source advocate who ran for New York City Public Advocate in 2017 and 2019.
I'm running again because I believe New York is the world's greatest city but we have as mediocre (at best) government and I'm obsessed (slightly!) with improving it.
Born and raised in Manhattan, I went to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Communications. After graduating, I returned to New York to run a technology start-up that helped young people raise money online for their favorite nonprofit. During this experience, I realized that, along with a lack of funding for nonprofits, there was a lack of collaboration that limits the nonprofit sector’s effectiveness. Simultaneously, I learned about the radically collaborative open source movement that builds — and gives away for free — sophisticated technologies that improve people's lives everyday.
Captivated by that potential, I cofounded Sarapis, a nonprofit consulting group that brings open source tools and productivity techniques to other nonprofits. I also now serves as president of the Sahana Software Foundation, a nonprofit organization that produces a popular open source information management system for disaster relief and humanitarian aid. I regularly speak about disaster relief and urban resilience at events organized by groups such as: the American Red Cross, US Department of Defense, American Institute of Architects, International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) and New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM), and the United Nations.
My political perspective was shaped by the shock of 9/11, a strongly held belief that the war in Iraq was a terrible idea, and outrage about a “war on drugs” that destroys people's lives and undermines our fundamental freedoms. Both Republicans and Democrats have shamelessly shown terrible judgement and poor ethics on these issues and many others. That led him to the unhappy conclusion that he'd need to work with and through the Libertarians Party.
Lots of people don't like the Libertarian Par, myself included, but despite its flaws, it has consistently been on the right side of history on a lot of important issues. It vigorously opposing the Iraq War, the “war on drugs” and mass incarceration, while vigorously supporting a women's right to choose, LGBTQ+ rights, sex worker rights, and upholding human rights in word and in deed. It's a party with a principle I can get behind.
Despite my "libertarianism", I have a diverse activist history. I participated extensively in Occupy Wall Street and, then, Occupy Sandy, where I helped build software products and governance processes that supported mutual aid endeavors. I've also worked on civic projects in Taiwan and Madrid with leading government officials focused on more transparent and participatory government. I've built disaster management and health/human software services for groups all over the United States.
Currently I'm running software projects for a few nonprofits and startup clients, am building my own software company and am leading WeGov.NYC, a nonprofit program that leverages technology to improve how the city works.
- “What is WeGovNYC?”, presented online for NYC Open Data Week 2021 March 9, 2021
- Going from Spreadsheets to Airtable to Apps presented online for NYC Open Data Week 2021 March 9, 2021
- Buildings Apps “With Not For” presented at School of Data event in New York City on March 7th, 2020 March 7, 2020
- Breakthroughs in Open Aid Presented at National VOAD Conference, May 6th, 2019 May 6, 2019
- Moving Toward a Metro-Regional Approach to Planning and Advocacy March 5, 2019