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Lessons Learned

CTG Program Director Donna Canestraro, center, with Shebnem Mammadova of Azerbaijan and Denys Gursky of Ukraine, who attended CTG's Leadership Institute.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 18, 2016) — Two young professionals from Ukraine and Azerbaijan and a group from Uruguay came to the Center for Technology in Government this summer to study open and digital government, data analytics and policy innovation.

Denys Gursky of Ukraine and Shebnem Mammadova of Azerbaijan were part of a highly competitive exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the International Center of the Capital Region. They spent two weeks at CTG’s Leadership Institute, doing workshops and brainstorming sessions with CTG and its network of colleagues.

Gursky is the founder and CEO of a technology startup, SocialBoost, which promotes open data in Ukraine. His company hosts “Hackathons” where thousands of IT professionals and government agencies gather for collaborative computer programming and brainstorming sessions. Mammadova is a senior advisor at the Department for Electronic-Governance in Azerbaijan. She was particularly interested in learning about open government data platforms and strategies that could be used to engage citizens in creating web technologies.

Mammadova said her study tour at CTG was productive. “The experience has given me new visions and a broader perspective on a wide variety of topics that I feel will help me improve public service in Azerbaijan,” she said.

The group from Uruguay came to CTG for a program designed to help them develop an open government data platform.

The five – Gustavo Suarez, Victoria Koster, Aranzasu Guillan Montero, Marco Scalone, David Zamora and Daniel Carranza – represent Uruguay’s Agency for the Development of Electronic Government.

CTG Program Director Donna Canestraro connected both groups with other mentorship opportunities. Gursky and Mammadova visited with UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad, the Massry Center for Business, New York State Enterprise Corporation, Wise Labs, NYBizLab, the SUNY Research Foundation’s Mentorship Program and others, while the Uruguayan group met with the state’s chief data officer and leaders of the Committee on Open Government and the state Department of Health Division of Information & Statistics.

“It’s hard for me to find the words to express my feelings about our study tour experience at CTG,” said Suarez. “The material we learned is invaluable, but the pride and passion each person had when talking about their work and the selfless way they shared their knowledge is something that I cannot express with simple words of gratitude.”

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