Devin Balkind is a nonprofit executive, civic technologist and open source advocate. He's running for Public Advocate to help the city use technology to save taxpayers' money, improve the lives of New Yorkers in need, and make our government more democratic and accountable.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Devin went to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Communications. After graduating, he returned to New York to run a technology start-up that helped young people raise money online for their favorite nonprofit. During this experience, he realized that, along with a lack of funding for nonprofits, there was a lack of collaboration that limits the nonprofit sector’s effectiveness. Simultaneously, he learned about the radically collaborative open source movement that builds — and gives away for free — sophisticated technologies.
Captivated by that potential, Devin cofounded Sarapis, a nonprofit consulting group that brings open source tools and productivity techniques to other nonprofits. He also now serves as president of the Sahana Software Foundation, a nonprofit organization that produces the world’s most popular open source information management system for disaster relief and humanitarian aid. He regularly speaks 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.
Devin had a strong interest in politics from a very young age. His political perspective was shaped by the war in Iraq and the “war on drugs,” two issues Republicans and Democrats supported but that he strongly opposed. Devin became interested in libertarian philosophy in 2007 because the Libertarian Party was uniquely and vigorously opposed to the Iraq War, the “war on drugs” and mass incarceration, while supportive of women's right to choose, LGBTQ+ rights, online privacy and the rule of law.
Devin participated extensively in Occupy Wall Street and, then, Occupy Sandy, where he helped build software products and governance processes that supported mutual aid endeavors. He recognized that #occupy and other social movements shared many of the same values, organizational dynamics and productivity processes as open source projects.
Devin has studied, partnered and worked with people around the world who are using "the open source way" to remake government. He's inspired by the work of the UK's Government Digital Service, Madrid's Civic Participation team and Taiwan's g0v community.
As a lifelong New Yorker, Devin couldn’t be more excited about leveraging best practices emerging around the world to upgrade New York City's government and show New Yorkers what can happen when they elect people who use technology to deliver results instead of rhetoric.
- Moving Toward a Metro-Regional Approach to Planning and Advocacy March 5, 2019
- New York City Shouldn’t Regulate Ride-Hailing Apps – It Should Compete With Them February 26, 2019
- Making the Libertarian Party Viable in New York City February 26, 2019
- As City and State Politics Fail Us, Time to Rethink New York Metropolitan Area February 19, 2019
- Taiwan’s Radical Participatory Democracy Training is Coming to New York February 4, 2019