Blog Post

Ode to Joy: a Fond Farewell to Joy Bonaguro

Joy Bonaguro leaves us with a legacy of successes and a lot of gratitude.
Joy Bonaguro leaves us with a legacy of successes and a lot of gratitude.

Goodbyes are hard

A cliche, I know, but true. This one is particularly hard for me. Joy Bonaguro, was the first Chief Data Officer of San Francisco and I had the pleasure of working with her nearly 5 years.

I met Joy during a fellowship in the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation under the late Mayor Edwin M. Lee. I was immediately struck by her optimism, warmth, strategic action, grit and determination to move things forward. When offered the opportunity to become her first hire, it was not a hard decision to join her and double the team :-)

A legacy of successes

During Joy’s time leading DataSF, the team delivered in many ways. Here are just some highlights:

Open Data. Many program improvements were delivered through Joy’s leadership. Improvements include implementing the inventory process, standardizing open data publishing, automated profiling, and monitoring of open data. Together these changes contributed to a 154% increase in datasets on the portal over about a 4 year period.

The bulk of open data publishing was focused on the highest priority data, driving an increase in portal usage internally and externally. For example, in the last complete quarter, we saw 55% growth in sessions over the same quarter last year and a 37% increase in users electing to download data. While there’s always ways to improve, we’re proud of the tremendous progress!

Data Academy. In partnership with the Controller’s Office, the Data Academy has trained over 1000 staff. More importantly, that training is estimated to save up to $6M per year in staff time with 80% of attendees improving their skills and 70% using those skills at least monthly (48% at least weekly). The Data Academy was an outgrowth of Joy’s initial listening tour (and part of the year 1 strategy) and it is now a vibrant, successful model owing to the strong support of the Controller’s Office and their staff.

Data Science. DataScienceSF isa new service of DataSF started last year. Data science interventions were successfully introduced to departments with incredible results. In a project with the Office of the Assessor-Recorder, the intervention saw a backlog reduction of more than 250 assessments as of March 2018 with more expected; increasing time to revenue on $407M. And this was just one of many other data science projects you can read about in our showcase.

What Works Cities Certification. Bloomberg’s What Works Cities initiative certified San Francisco for good use of data this past year. The City was one of 9 cities to receive the certification. In the 2 technical assistance categories representing much of our portfolio, Open Data and Data Governance, the City received perfect marks. The materials we’ve posted related to those topics have been copied and re-used the world over.

An Amazing Team and Culture. Moreover, Joy brought on the brightest people I’ve had the opportunity to work with. She allowed us to contribute not just our skills but our ideas to shape DataSF. She is an empowering leader that put her heart into the team as well as the work.

Building on the success, onward to the future

Joy’s impact on the City and on myself will not be forgotten. And while goodbyes are hard, I am also excited for the next chapter leading DataSF. One of the greatest influences Joy had on me and our team is that she equipped us to make informed choices; to not feel boxed in by prior decisions. In that spirit, we will continuously improve and iterate on DataSF.

The City deserves a DataSF that will continue to put data and technology in the service of people; that will mean we cannot sit still and use the patterns of yesterday to solve the problems of tomorrow.

Thank you Joy for giving us the courage to pursue new challenges and stay restless!

And for some additional reflections from Joy, read her post On Being CDO of San Francisco.