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Tom Spengler, Tara Palacios Join Board of Government Innovation Nonprofit, CivStart

New members to help spark new innovations and guide the future of government technology development and adoption.


Tom Spengler and Tara Palacios Headshots

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 5, 2024). Two leaders in public sector innovation join CivStart’s board to support and grow programs for local government leaders and entrepreneurs alike in designing a better, more equitable local government of the future through technology and innovation.


The announcement doubles down on CivStart’s approach to bringing the whole ecosystem of people from public-sector to entrepreneur, investor, industry experts and more together around government innovation. Palacios has many years of experience in local government and nonprofit leadership in Washington DC and Arlington County, VA. Spengler is a successful govtech entrepreneur, having founded and led several high-growth startups into established industry players. This brings the number of board members to fourteen experienced local government and technology experts, leaders, and professionals.


Niles Friedman, serving as Board Chairperson of the organization for a second year-long term shared these comments on the announcement:

"I'm energized to serve a second term as CivStart's Board Chair in support of their strategic direction and mission. A growing cohort of entrepreneurs and public-sector leaders go to CivStart when they need trusted advice, key resources, and vital connections to support their mission and the role government innovation can play in serving our communities. The addition of these two new board members, with their combined decades of local government experience, means more energy, ideas, and passion for CivStart's mission to spark innovation in the public sector."

Tom Spengler has over 23 years of dedicated local government technology experience. As the former CEO and co-founder of Granicus, Tom helped create the market-leading citizen engagement and legislative management solution used by more than 6,000 government agencies and 500 million citizens. More recently, during Spengler’s tenure as CEO, Rock Solid accelerated growth in North America and expanded its offerings through acquisition, growing to serve more than 800 municipal customers across the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In October 2022, Tom successfully led the sale of Rock Solid to Granicus. Tom is now serving as Executive in Residence at Great Hill Partners. Tom is passionate about improving government and their communities through technology and has sat on the board of several other technology companies including Automotus, Propylon, Rock Solid, Ascendify, PrimeGov, and Granicus.


Tara Palacios, Director of BizLaunch for Arlington County, joined Arlington County in 2001 and founded the BizLaunch program in 2002 to help diverse entrepreneurs successfully launch, grow and expand their businesses in the County. Since its inception, BizLaunch has reached over 75,000 entrepreneurs through sponsored workshops, seminars and one-on-one counseling sessions. Tara has over 30 years of experience in Marketing and Business Development at various for-profit firms, including a health maintenance organization, an IT software developer, a financial institution and a uranium enricher.


“CivStart is the place that brings together local government and the innovative tech companies needed to support those agencies to reach their goals,” Palacios said in a statement. “Encouraging collaboration for the positive impact of the govtech sector is the future of this industry to help lift up our communities, and I am truly excited to play a role in this amazing organization.”

Their experience working inside, outside, and across local government, nonprofit, and private-sector boundaries align their experience with CivStart’s strategic focus on remaining a premiere innovation hub for state and local government and the wider govtech ecosystem.


For more information on the strategic direction of CivStart, or the trends and challenges CivStart sees in the ecosystem, please reach out to Nick Lyell at nick@civstart.org or (608) 234.2166. Board members may be available for interview upon request. Detailed bios for all 4 board members featured in this press release can be found at civstart.org/team.

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