Dave Seliger

Using design to transform cities and government.


Founder of Public School


Internal innovation lead for NYC Mayor's Office of Tech + Innovation

Co-founder of Designing for Financial Empowerment

Co-founder of Civic Service


Dave Seliger is a civic entrepreneur based out of New York City. Trained as an engineer, Dave started out working with fire and police departments before serving as a disaster responder for the City of New York during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

In 2013, while working for the NYC Office of Emergency Management, Dave co-founded Civic Service with Parsons the New School for Design in order to educate civil servants on how to use design in government.

In 2014, while working for the NYC Mayor's Office of Housing Recovery Operations, Dave co-founded Designing for Financial Empowerment with public and private partners in order to use service design to help low-income New Yorkers.

In 2015, Dave joined the brand-new NYC Mayor's Office of Tech + Innovation to lead internal innovation initiatives.

In 2016, Dave left government to launch Public School.

Click here to download his resume.


NYC Tech Jobs

NYC government agencies have a tough time recruiting top tech talent to join their ranks. Multiple agencies asked the Mayor's Office of Tech + Innovation to design a microsite that would market critical and hard-to-fill tech jobs in a more compelling way.

After talking with a range of experts and researching how start-ups recruit talent, I decided to "rebrand" government as an unparalleled opportunity to solve complex urban challenges, create massive impact, and learn new skills. The goal would be to recruit socially minded millennials who might otherwise join start-ups.

I used my limited coding skills (thanks, Codecademy!) to quickly build a prototype site with dynamic language and modern-looking design that we launched at the Code for America Summit.

We've since open-sourced the website on GitHub and encouraged other governments to use it. Additionally, I prototyped a new format for job posting language that is now being adopted internally by City agencies.

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Lightning Talks

Every six weeks, I host Lightning Talks at City Hall featuring 5-minute presentations from a dozen different City agencies on a range of tech, design, data, community engagement, and other innovation topics. The Lightning Talks are only open to City employees and offer a chance to learn about other agencies, share innovative ideas, and build a network of interagency collaborators.

This event series grew out of my work on Civic Service.

Talks have included:

Designing for Financial Empowerment

Designing for Financial Empowerment is a cross-sector initiative to explore how service design can be used to make public sector financial empowerment services more effective and accessible.

The initiative is a partnership between the Parsons DESIS Lab, the NYC Office of Financial Empowerment, the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity, the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC, and Citi Community Development.

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Civic Service

Founded in 2013 at the Parsons DESIS Lab, Civic Service is a bottom-up approach to embedding service design in government. Civic Service promotes design in government by hosting events just for public servants, then collaborates with these internal champions to launch service design projects for their agencies.

We hosted 34 speakers from organizations such as MindLab, Public Policy Lab, and the UK Design Council, and brought together hundreds of civil servants from across NYC government.

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Futuring Workforce Development

We partnered with the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to explore the future of workforce development in New York City. Over the course of several months, service designers and futurists from PDL and staff from SBS worked together to imagine new types of workforce development services that could benefit New Yorkers in the year 2040.

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Civic Design Camp

Civic Design Camp: East Coast Edition was a day-long "unconference" that brought together some of the top public servants, designers and innovators to create connections, share knowledge, and strengthen the emerging movement dedicated to creating better citizen experiences.

The Camp hosted 75 participants on topics ranging from community engagement to website design to capacity building, and was supported by the Knight Foundation and Code for America.

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Writing & Speaking