City Club of Chicago: Political Technology in the 2016 Elections

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(L-R) Daniel X. O'Neil, Betsy Hoover, Harper Reed, Aaron Ginn, and Chip Englander at the Political Technology in the 2016 Elections panel at the City Club of Chicago, October 11, 2016 (City Club of Chicago)

October 11, 2016

Political Technology in the 2016 Elections – Moderated by Daniel X. O’Neil – Harper Reed, Aaron Ginn, Betsy Hoover, and Chip Englander

Chip Englander

Chip Englander has managed campaigns for president, governor, and Congress—both the House and Senate. Politico has described him as an “intense”, “mile-a-minute kind of guy”, and the Washington Post has called him a “youthful outsider”. The Leadership Institute has said, “Chip Englander has a track record. He wins.”

Englander has an extensive background in polling and modeling, and has used the latest technology evolutions to advance campaign and corporate interests. He is currently Senior Advisor at Michael Best Strategies, a government relations firm with offices in Chicago, Washington, DC and around the country.

He was Campaign Manager for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and served as the Senior Advisor on the Governor’s Transition Committee. The campaign was one of the Top 5 most expensive non-presidential races in American history. Rauner defeated the Democrat incumbent—the first time since 1892 that the president’s governor was defeated—all while being outspent in the final three months. The campaign relied on a variety of tools to be successful including unprecedented modeling and polling of the electorate.

Englander recently served as General Consultant and Chief Strategist of Doug Burgum’s successful campaign for Governor of North Dakota. Burgum initially trailed by 56%, but eventually won by 20%—a 76 point swing. It was called “an upset for the political ages… Burgum rode the anti-establishment wave from the beginning, waging an almost micro-targeted campaign pushed by his consultant… It was a non-stop blizzard of polling hot-button issues and talking points. Burgum’s campaign would push-poll residents one week and mail campaign flyers the next… Burgum’s campaign was a 2016 Corvette.”

Today, Englander advises businesses who are navigating Illinois government. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Governor Rauner has “put his trusted lieutenant Chip Englander in charge of his data project.”

Aaron Ginn

Aaron Ginn is the Cofounder of the Lincoln Initiative (, which is a community of like-minded technologists that desires to advance liberty in the public square through the use of technology. He was named by WIRED and Campaigns & Elections as a top political influence. His work is featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico, TechCrunch, San Francisco Chronicle, and Wall Street Journal.

Previously, Ginn has worked in a multitude of technology related positions, including as the IT Advisor for the City of Foster City, California, Head of Growth for StumbleUpon, Growth Product Manager for Everlane, and as a Growth Hacker for Romney for President in 2012. Ginn graduated with both a BA and BS from Texas Christian University.

Betsy Hoover

Betsy Hoover is a Founding Partner with 270 Strategies, leading the firm’s digital strategy practice. She helped launch the company after serving as Director of Digital Organizing for the 2012 Obama for America campaign, where she was responsible for bridging the gap between online and offline organizing.

Betsy has been recognized by Business Insider as “one of the top 50 people who are at the forefront of political innovation” and was featured on Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30: Law & Policy” list for her work on the president’s re-election campaign. Mother Jones magazine described her as one of “Obama’s digital gurus” with the role “of a community builder, helping channel enthusiasm online into fundraising dollars and volunteer shifts.” Betsy has discussed the power of online organizing with audiences across the globe, including TEDx and re:publica, Germany’s largest conference on digital trends and strategies.

Betsy got her start as an organizer in 2007 and transitioned to digital in 2010. At 270, she focuses on women’s economic and health issues, technology for engagement, voter empowerment, and electoral campaigns. She’s passionate about building communities online around issues people care about.

Betsy is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and currently lives in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. She speaks Twi, a language she learned on a service trip to Ghana, and enjoys skiing, running, and music.

Harper Reed

Harper Reed is a hacker/engineer who builds paradigm-shifting tech and leads others to do the same. Harper loves using the vastness of the Internet to bring people together, whether as CTO of Obama for America, CTO at, or on his own projects.

Through the acquisition of his company, Modest, inc, Harper is helping to define the future of commerce at PayPal.

You can often find Harper playing with new technologies, looking for something to hack, or enjoying life in Chicago with his amazing partner, Hiromi and their bizarre poodle, Lulu.

Daniel X. O’Neil

Daniel X. O’Neil is the Director of Product Development and Business Strategy for Ad Hoc, a small software company that came out of the successful rescue effort. Ad Hoc designs, builds, and operates consumer-focused services that are fast, scalable, efficient, and usable.

O’Neil has been a leading writer, convener, and practitioner in the American open data, open government, and civic tech fields. He’s written widely on community-based user testing, and commissioned and edited books on civic tech and community technology design modes. He’s been named to Crain’s Chicago Business’ Tech 50, served as a member of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, and was a White House Champion of Change for Technology and Innovation.

O’Neil has helped launch some of the most influential projects in civic tech, including CTA Alerts, EveryBlock, CityPayments, and the CUTGroup. In the late 80s and early 90s he was a member of the thriving Chicago Poetry scene, where he wrote books, produced plays, and did performance tours across the country. He’s a widely published photographer, with tens of thousands of images published as Creative Commons. He serves on the boards of Voqal and the Sunlight Foundation. He has a degree in English and Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.