Sandy brought forth countless “Champions of Change,” one of whom the White House recognized in an event honoring Americans striving to improve their communities through technology and civic participation.
Jessica Klein, a Rockaway resident, civic hacker and designer, received the Champion of Change award for her work through the website www.rockawayhelp.org.
Klein co-founded the site with other locals in the wake of Sandy to empower the community to find solutions, provide emergency response information and much more geared towards helping Rockaway rebuild.
She was one of 14 recipients from all over the country honored for doing “extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world,” according to the White House website.
The Civic Hacking and Open Government section in which Klein was recognized was for those who have made a “tremendous, positive impact” by building high-tech tools to help health workers and disaster-response crews better serve communities as well as “piloting programs to involve traditionally disengaged communities.”
President Barack Obama said the champs for change have “a belief in working at the grassroots level and getting people engaged” and an understanding that “change happens from the bottom up.”
Additionally, Klein led workshops and “hackathons” for designers, engineers and Rockway residents to identify problems and discover ways to get the rebuilding show on the road.
Klein also created the Hackasaurus project, Web X-Ray Goggles and Thimble tools to help teens learn how to code through hacking. She has worked at learning institutions such as the Museum of Art and Design, the Rubin Museum of Art and the Institute of Play. She also founded OceanLab NYC, a project engaging parents, teachers and youth with their urban coastal environment.