Jennifer Godzeno

Jennifer Godzeno
Location: Brooklyn, New York Cohort Start Year: 2016
Director of Engagement
National Association of City Transportation Officials

Our most pressing social and political issues are rooted in an unfortunate misalignment of citizen will, political power and where our tax dollars go. Elected officials and power brokers under-invest in preventative health measures, subsidize food that’s terrible for us, build neighborhoods in ways that worsen congestion and climate change, and starve basic community needs like education and public space. I bet if everyday people had direct power over how to spend public money—plus easy access to good data to drive their decisions—“we the people” could help our leaders to make better and more inclusive public investments and policies that support a culture of health. Participatory budgeting has given communities across North America the power to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars more equitably.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Participatory Budgeting Project
The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) addresses governance issues stemming from the lack of representation in public policies. It champions participatory democracy tools, such as participatory budgeting, citizen juries, and open data, which have globally resulted in more equitable decision-making. PBP collaborates with a partner organization, targeting the next generation of public sector leaders. The program involves developing skills, learning best practices for civic engagement, exploring successful democracy initiatives, conducting personalized and group coaching for new initiatives, providing access to resources, connecting with innovative leaders, emphasizing the link between civic and public health, and offering public recognition for implementing community-based participatory democracy initiatives. PBP aims to bridge the gap between people and public sector leaders, promoting more inclusive and effective governance.

I’ve worked to advance equity through grassroots transportation advocacy and active design research. The next frontier is getting elected and appointed leaders to act on good data and the voices of diverse constituents—I’m excited to bring a civic participation lens to advancing a culture of health.