Kelly Dinglasan Minton
We joined the United States Digital Service because we are leaning into ourselves, as Americans, as people who really believe in the American Dream
Last November, in an ice cream parlor in Palo Alto, I attended a meeting that completely changed the course of my life.
A senior technology advisor at the White House invited my husband Joel to meet because the White House was looking for someone with his specialized skills and background to help lead a new login platform for the United States. Since I was also working in the tech industry, I was asked to join as well. When I arrived at the ice cream parlor, a group of top talent from the tech industry was gathered around the table. A Senior Administration Official was on the way to meet with this group, with the goal of inviting them to join the United States Digital Service, a stealth team comprised of leading edge technologists whose mission was simply to “build a more awesome government through technology.”
I was introduced to the Senior Administration Official and the U.S. Digital Service head of talent, Jennifer Anastasoff, who asked me to join her. After quick introductions with other members of the team, we all squeezed into a red vinyl booth and Jennifer began her pitch. “We love Joel,” she began, “But, I’m here to talk about you.” And so began the discussion about how they found Joel and in the process, had found me. The research on my professional career had been done and she assured me that my skills and background would be a perfect fit for the U.S. Digital Service. A short back-and-forth ensued and at the end of our discussion, Jennifer looked at me very seriously and stated, “Have you ever considered using your talents to serve your country?”
Fast forward to two months later and my husband, Joel, and our two young children, Trevor and Bianca, were on a plane bound for Washington, D.C. We left the comforts of our sunny beach house in California, clutching onto our newly purchased Canada Goose Jackets because D.C. had just experienced one of the “greatest snowstorms.” Ever. In less than one month, we put our comfortable careers with Silicon Valley companies on hold, completed over 100+ pages of government requirements, had movers take our furniture and car, put our house on the rental market, found a condo in D.C., and a school for the kids. Hurdle after hurdle, we kept pushing forward and every step of the way, we weren’t sure we’d able to make it to the next step.
But, in the end, it all worked out. Never mind that we only had one week to settle in before work. Never mind that our kids were changing schools and moving to a new town. Never mind that we didn’t have guarantees of having jobs at our former companies. Why would we do this?
For many reasons. Because it’s a way to serve our country. Because it’s a great experience for our family. Because we are in the position to help. We joined the United States Digital Service because we are leaning into ourselves, as Americans, as people who really believe in the American Dream. Working at the U.S. Digital Service with the mission to reboot the U.S. Government is not easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest jobs that we’ve both done. But at the end of each day, I truly feel that my efforts are not in vain. Sure, some things may move slower in the government at times, and it’s a huge change from the private sector, but then I remember the millions of Veterans we are helping get access to their benefits, the students we’re guiding to make better decisions on their college choices, and the immigrants we’re helping to easily understand and complete forms that are required of them.
My father-in-law often says, “None of us gets out of here alive.” He says it in jest, but for me, there’s a heavy underlying message. Life is short. In the end, at the very end, I want to leave knowing that I did my best and hopefully, that I actually made a difference.