March 21, 2023

U.S. Digital Response Names Hillary Hartley as Chief Executive Officer

As it honors its third anniversary, U.S. Digital Response today announced Hillary Hartley’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer and Avni Shah’s addition to the board of directors

U.S. Digital Response Names Hillary Hartley as Chief Executive Officer

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The board of U.S. Digital Response (USDR), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps governments respond quickly to the critical needs of the public, today announced the appointment of Hillary Hartley as CEO. Following an international search, Hartley will join the organization and interim CEO Tina Walha will transition to Chief Partnerships Officer at USDR on April 3, 2023.

Hartley joins USDR after six years as Chief Digital and Data Officer and Deputy Minister for the Ontario Public Service where she helped make government services simpler, faster, and more accessible for the people, businesses, and communities of Ontario, Canada. She helped create and grow the Ontario Digital Service, a digital innovation team designed to build digital and data capacity and redesign government services around user needs. Over the past 25 years, Hartley has worked with every level of government in both the private and public sectors. Prior to her move to Ontario, she worked for the U.S. federal government as the Deputy Executive Director and co-founder of 18F inside the General Services Administration (GSA), helping grow the founding team of ten to 250 designers, developers, and product managers delivering key services with U.S. departments and agencies. Hartley initially joined the federal government as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow, serving at GSA on the MyUSA project, an initiative designed to reimagine how people interact with government.

“As USDR celebrates three years of helping governments respond at the speed of need, Hillary is a perfect fit at the perfect time," said U.S. Digital Response Board Chair Jennifer Pahlka. “Her experience building world-class teams and scaling impact both inside and outside of government will be incredible assets to the mission. Our country needs USDR, and we are confident that Hillary's leadership will help the organization to meet even more of those pressing needs.” 

“I’m thrilled to be joining the incredibly talented team at U.S. Digital Response, especially at an important inflection point for the organization and for governments as they continue to rebuild and recover from the pandemic,” said Hartley. “USDR has done inspiring work with teams across the country, and I’m excited to continue empowering public servants to deliver important services to their communities.”  

Hartley joins existing executive team members Chief Technology Officer Alex Allain, Chief Experience Officer Jessica Watson, and current interim CEO Walha, who will continue to spearhead USDR’s public sector capacity-building work as USDR’s Chief Partnerships Officer.

“We’re honored and so excited to welcome Hillary to USDR as our long-term leader,” Walha said. “USDR has such a unique and urgent role to play right now, and Hillary brings the exact combination of experience and drive to help us fulfill our vision."

USDR’s board is also welcoming Avni Shah as a board member, joining Pahlka and Janette Fong. Shah has 20 years of experience building products and teams across consumer and education industries. Most recently, she served as VP/GM for Google for Education, where she led the product, engineering, and go-to-market teams that develop products and services for over 170M students, teachers, and education leaders around the world. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Women in Product, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in Product Management.

“Avni is an incredible addition to our growing board. Her deep expertise building product teams and overseeing growth is a testament to her immense talent,” Fong said. “As we move into the next phase of USDR’s growth, we’re building a diverse and talented board bench, and Avni’s enthusiastic presence is a great addition along with Hillary’s leadership.”

Now in its third year, USDR launched with a vision to assist governments and nonprofit organizations in responding rapidly to the critical needs of the public by pairing them with experienced, pro-bono technologists. Since March 2020, USDR has partnered with nearly 300 organizations in order to help deliver technical solutions for our country’s most pressing needs. USDR’s work has expanded to almost 400 projects across 38 states and territories. USDR has built a dedicated community of over 8,000 pro bono technologists who are ready to serve, and has expanded its team of dedicated staff members to nearly 30. USDR’s projects with partners span from country-wide solutions to community-specific needs.

This appointment builds off of momentum created by USDR’s founding executive team, including USDR’s founding CEO, Raylene Yung, who is currently the Executive Director of the federal government’s Technology Modernization Fund, as well as its interim CEO Jessica Cole, who led USDR through a year of growth before this transition. The momentum continued as Walha stepped into the position and supported USDR as it completed its search for its next long-term leader.

Over the last three years, USDR has notably:

Additional highlights can be found in USDR’s three year anniversary blog post.

The USDR team is continuing to grow. To see staff positions open at USDR, visit or to volunteer at USDR visit

About U.S. Digital Response 

U.S. Digital Response is a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort that helps governments respond quickly and efficiently to deliver for people’s most critical needs - now and in the future. Founded in 2020, USDR connects governments with a surge of technology, resources, and support at critical moments, leaving them better equipped to deliver services and support to millions of people nationwide. Visit to learn more. 

Get the help you need, now.
USDR is fast, free, and nonpartisan.
We’ll get back to you within 48 hours.
Contact us