Haiti Tech Meet-Up

Katie Jacobs Stanton
Special Adviser to the Office of Innovation 
Washington, DC
May 10, 2010

Hi everybody, thank you for coming to the State Department and very early on a Monday morning. We're very honored, humbled and excited to have you all here for the State Department's very first Tech Meet-Up focusing on Haiti.

It's been 4 months since a mere 35 seconds changed the course of a nation. While together working with the people of Haiti we have accomplished a lot, there is a tremendous amount of work that remains to be done to help the Haitians develop the nation they envision. So we’re at this point of transition--from emergency relief operations and to long-term development. At the donor conference in late March, the Government of Haiti laid out its plan to build back Haiti better and the international community responded pledging around $10 billion to realize that vision and help Haiti lay the foundation for a better future. Secretary Clinton restated the U.S.'s commitment by pledging $1.15 billion over 2 years. And too often when the most emergent situations have passed, efforts to help on the ground disappear. We’re not going to let that happen here.

So while we’re at this important moment, we thought we should provide a platform for innovators in the field of relief and communication, education and banking to share their stories and ideas, successes, and even their failures--and to look forward to how to apply many of these lessons in the redevelopment of Haiti and elsewhere around the world. Many of these projects have been powered by these amazing volunteers, many of you in this room, and are at points to be transitioned, scaled or weaved into the fabric of other projects. We're very honored to have members of the Haitian community here including Carline Cazeau, Giles Charleston, and Al Leandre.

I want to give a huge thanks to Ms. Suzanne Hall from the State Department Western Hemisphere Affairs, who’s awesome. And they say that bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible, but don’t tell Suzanne Hall that because she’s fearless and she’s awesome and she took this idea and made it happen.

We want to pass on regrets from Cheryl Mills, who is the Counselor and Chief of Staff here at the State Department for Secretary Clinton, and who, at the request of the Secretary, has been working on Haiti since spring of 2009. She was scheduled to give opening remarks, but had to go to Haiti today to work with the government and international partners.

So the mechanics of today are very casual in terms of getting the ideas across. We’re going to do this Ignite-style. We’re going to have a series of panels and questions from the audience and also from the online community. We are using the Twitter #haititech. We do have press here, so I think everything is on the record. This won't be a perfect event. We just got wi-fi working, which is awesome, again thanks to Suzanne and some of our friends at AT&T. But what we can promise is that together, we’re going to learn, hopefully inspire, and share some best practices

And as the Haitian proverb goes, "Men anpil chay pa lou" meaning "Many hands make a workload lighter". So without further ado, I'm going to pass the mic to Brady Forrest from O'Reilly Media who has graciously volunteered to help us run this event Ignite-style.