Teaming up with Inform USA: an announcement from Open Referral leadership

I’m excited to share the news that, as of the start of 2024, I’ve joined up with Inform USA as their Senior Director of Strategy and Partnerships. 

Inform USA is the industry association representing information-and-referral providers across government and nonprofit human service sectors. Formerly known as AIRS (the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems), Inform USA sets standards and builds capacity for the “I&R” sector – providing training, practitioner certification, and program accreditation for resource referral providers across the country.

AIRS logo

Inform USA was formerly known as AIRS

Open Referral has worked with this industry association from our very beginning. Indeed, before we even launched, the leadership of AIRS (shout out to Clive Jones!) provided me with essential education and guidance as I wrote about the sector and developed a preliminary strategic framework for a data standardization initiative. In turn, I invited AIRS to sit at the center of the table (so to speak) when the idea of Open Referral was first conceived among key actors across industry, government, and web sectors. Since then, we’ve developed programming at their annual conference, supported their embrace of open source publishing for their style guide and standards, and partnered on a grant-funded effort to develop the initial Human Service Data API protocols. Five years ago, AIRS endorsed Open Referral’s Human Service Data Specifications as industry standards for resource data exchange. I see this new position as a natural next step in the evolution of our partnership.

I’ll be working with Inform USA’s staff, committees, and state affiliates to develop their policy platforms, partnership models, and engagement strategies. I’ll also be facilitating their Taxonomy Task Force, which is developing policy recommendations and industry guidance for human service classification systems.

It’s important to note that this announcement does not entail any direct changes to the Open Referral Initiative itself. Open Referral is and will remain an independent community of practice, fiscally sponsored by Aspiration. My position with Inform USA is not quite full-time, so I’ll continue to serve as Open Referral’s lead facilitator. Open Referral’s agenda will continue to be shaped by the priorities articulated in our community. Of course Inform USA members and leadership are an active and invaluable part of that network – and I think this is a great opportunity for us to cross-pollinate.

Together, I believe we can transform these sectors – to ensure that it’s easy to share, find, and use reliable information about the resources that are available to people in need.

Toward that end, I’m looking forward to learn from Inform USA members across the country (and in our sibling association, Inform Canada). Let’s explore opportunities to promote our standards, and to apply the concepts and strategies that we have developed in Open Referral – such as our recently published whitepaper – in order to galvanize collective action. If you’d like to connect and discuss, please reach out!

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