Accelerator Names 3 Civic Tech Innovators to Board of Directors


CivStart, a nonprofit organization dedicated to guiding and accelerating the adoption of cutting-edge technology solutions in local government has named three new members to its board of directors. All three have a background in the public and private sectors.

The new advisers – Joel Carnes, Niles Friedman and Dr. Peter Pirnejad – embody one of the organization’s three goals: “Convene public-sector officials to identify needs and goals.” The other two are “identify promising technologies to meet those needs” and “spur government adoption of innovative tech.”

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Joel Carnes

Carnes is a tech innovator who’s been affiliated with XPRIZE, SecondMuse, Activision and Disney Imagineering in the private sector. According to his bio on the CivStart site, Carnes “just concluded a three-year term as president and CEO of Alliance for Innovation, a social impact organization dedicated to building thriving communities by transforming local government strategy, operations, culture and ecosystems in hundreds of leading-edge cities across North America.”

“CivStart welcomes Joel’s experience with accelerators as well as his leadership in advancing CivStart’s mission of fostering local government innovation,” the organization says in a press release. “The board is eager to leverage Joel’s ability and expertise in growing companies, knowledge of the gov tech and local government innovation space, and important fundraising and strategic support.”

In a LinkedIn post about his appointment to the CivStart board, Carnes said: “I’m honored to join CivStart’s Board of Directors with co-conspirators Niles Friedman and Dr. Peter Pirnejad. Let’s make some noise!”

Pirnejad, award-winning city manager for Foster City, has a deep background in tech and in local and regional government in California, having served in a variety of capacities with Westlake Village, Lodi, Napa, Daly City and Palo Alto. In the private sector, he was with Oracle for about three years, having served as senior director for Global Public Sector.

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Dr. Peter Pirnejad

Pirnejad received his doctorate in policy, planning and development and local government administration from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. He has his master’s degree in the same discipline, also from USC, and a USC graduate certificate in geographic information science. He has a bachelor of arts degree in environmental studies and geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“Dr. Pirnejad has been involved in CivStart’s development for several years, serving as an adviser and mentor for our startups, providing valuable insight into our work with local government leaders, and more,” the organization said. “We welcome his direct and current experience in city government to our board, his expertise in innovation processes and his understanding of the interactions between the private and public sectors in local government.”

Friedman has more than 15 years’ executive management and advisory experience in the private and public sectors across the U.S., the European Union and Africa. He has worked for 10 years to increase innovation capacity and enhance technology capabilities across the federal government, the state of California, Los Angeles County and international health ministries. He is an executive adviser with Star Insights, based in Los Angeles.

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Niles Friedman

“Thrilled to join CivStart’s Board of Directors and an amazing team to fulfill their mission across the local government #innovation sector,” Friedman said in his LinkedIn profile.

According to his CivStart bio, Friedman was a strategic adviser with Los Angeles County’s office of the chief executive officer, where “he supported the launch of their first Analytics Center of Excellence in addition to collaborating on a challenge-based procurement for homelessness, technology strategic planning and department-driven innovation. He also worked with the California Health and Human Services agency to establish their first Office of Innovation, focused on improving the delivery of services through human-centered design approaches, digital services and insights from data and analytics.”

Friedman serves on the Government Response Team for U.S. Digital Response, and in the private sector, his previous affiliations included Deloitte Consulting and BroadReach Corp.

“CivStart is excited to have Niles bring additional value in this more strategic innovation role,” the organization says in its announcement. “We are excited to have him assist with strategic partnership and government relations as well as augment our fundraising efforts.”

Friedman has his bachelor of arts in zoology and pre-med from Ohio Wesleyan University, and he earned his master’s degree in public health, health management and policy from Emory University. Friedman has also written commentaries for Techwire.

Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.


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