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Loren Gonzalez, communications, outreach and engagement manager, Virginia

Can you describe your role?

It’s such a new office and was such a small team, so there’s an opportunity there to establish the brand and the communications for our office, which was so cool. So last year, we built the website, we launched the newsletter, we started a blog and it’s cool to see how people interact with all the new things that were built from a communication standpoint and to see the awareness raise for the type of work that we’re doing because we are so new — the chief data officer was just appointed in August 2018 — so we’re still to this day telling the state agencies what we do and how they can really harness what we’ve already built and at no cost to them.

What do you love most about your job as a public servant?

In state government and public service sometimes you can see a lot of projects or initiatives for the sake of appearance. But I think I love the work that we do the most because it’s so grounded in data. Nothing we do is anecdotal, whether it’s the decisions we make for our office, internally or externally.

What lesson will you take with you from the pandemic?

It was a reinforcement of the “luck favors the prepared mind” because while the pandemic did slow down some things for us, it actually accelerated quite a bit of other things. If you can get in front of your work and start to get prepared with the processes and the technology, when the need arises, which is sometimes sooner than you think, you’re ready to take advantage of what you’ve already been working on.

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