Hi, I’m Kevin. I’m a senior at Stanford University majoring in Public Policy and Computer Science and minoring in Economics. I’m also currently working for the San Jose Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation as a technology policy analyst, where I focus primarily on digital inclusion issues.
I care about public policy because fundamentally, the policies we enact are a manifestation of our principles and values. Are we a caring, tolerant society? Do we believe in fairness and equity? Do we trust in the goodness of our neighbors and seek to empower even those who disagree with us? Do we give people second chances, knowing that we all make mistakes at times? Are we vindictive or merciful, selfish or generous? We answer these questions through the laws we enact and the voices we bring to the political conversation. It’s too easy to be cynical of politics, to attack our system and to deride those who care about it. Could our system work better? Of course – far from inspiring cynicism, that potential should be what motivates each of us, every day, to improve the world for our communities. Despite the challenges we face today, we all have a role to play in making our society a better place.
I’m also deeply passionate about mathematics and computer science, but that passion comes from a simpler place: I find it beautiful and enthralling. I’ve been fascinated by mathematics from an early age; I was a math competition fanatic in high school. Computer science is a particularly practical expression of the grace of mathematics, and I’ve spent many a night coding a tricky problem or discovering an elegant algorithm only to discover that all of a sudden the time on the clock is 3am. Also especially exciting for me is when my interest in computing and public policy intersect: technology policy, the ethics of artificial intelligence, or even a project I did once that saw me write a program that sent the federal government a couple hundred thousand electronic FOIA requests. (Not something I would do again!)
Beyond my academic and professional life, much of my energy is focused on Wikipedia, where I’ve been an active editor for about seven and a half years. I’m currently a Wikipedia administrator and an elected member of its Arbitration Committee (often described in a nutshell as “Wikipedia’s supreme court”). Wikipedia’s mission – to bring about a world in which every person has free access to the sum of all knowledge – is extremely compelling to me. Knowledge is the supreme power, and Wikipedia’s success in making a tremendous amount of verifiable high-quality knowledge available to billions of people free of charge, free of conditions, and free of any profit motive must rank somewhere on the list of the great achievements of humankind. If you’re interested in thoughts I have about Wikipedia, I’ve written one essay on Wikipedia’s success and the price we pay for it here, and another on the biggest challenge Wikipedia faces today.
In past years, I’ve conducted qualitative research as a research assistant for the Stanford Center for Deliberative Democracy, as a research fellow on corporate social responsibility under the direction of Paul Brest, and as a summer research assistant on election redistricting with the Bill Lane Center for the American West. I’ve also taught computer science through codeConnects, a program of the nonprofit The Coding School, and have done some coding work for Save the Children via Develop for Good.
During academic year 2020-2021, I helped lead the Stanford Democrats as its co-president. Much of my political experience comes from my home state of Iowa, where I worked for several years on education policy and mental health legislation as well as on local, state, and federal campaigns. I was a caucus chair during the 2020 Iowa presidential caucuses, and was elected to be (briefly, before the COVID-19 pandemic) a member of the Polk County Democratic Central Committee. I was also a fellow with Democracy Summer (through which I worked on the 2018 Axne and Finkenauer campaigns) and interned at the ACLU of Iowa and Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors.
In any event, if you’re curious about anything I do or have any ideas for collaborations, please get in touch! I would love to hear from you.