San Francisco OpenReferral

Lead Developer | 2015 | Visit Site | View Source

What is it?

In 2015 as part of Code for San Francisco, I worked with the OpenReferral team to collect and distribute information about social service organizations in and around San Francisco.

Although the OpenReferral movement has groups in many cities across the country, the San Francisco group has a local focus; help the SF Reentry Council collect, maintain, and distribute the information in their biannual publication, the Guide to Getting Out and Staying Out.

Every year, an enormous amount of work goes into collecting and verifying the information in the Reentry Council's guidebook. The work is done mostly by hand, and without any communication with other groups doing similar work. Our web app helps the Reentry Council manage and verify the information they collect, and combine it with other public data sources to improve the quality of their information.

My Role

For the year that I worked on the project, I was the lead developer on the team. I spend a lot of time onboarding and coordinating the efforts of several volunteers, in addition to standard development work. I advocated for and led user testing and group design exercises - both have had big impacts on the direction of the project.


With a lot of volunteer churn and very limited time constraints (three hours per week), one of our biggest challenges has been keeping momentum strong on the project.

To combat this, we schedule in regular user feedback. The feedback helps both to validate our product design ideas and to keep us driven and focused on the most important user-facing tasks.