Board Meeting Notes for November 2013

The Data Community DC Board

Data Community DC (DC2) is a member driven organization that provides a truly open and welcoming community of people who produce, consume, analyze, and work with data. The organization is a coalition of several meetups, governed by an elected board that meets once monthly in an official decision making capacity. In an effort to ensure that we’re open and transparent to our community, we have decided to publish the notes from board meetings in summary form on the DC2 Blog.

November 23, 2013

The board met via a Speek conference call organized by the President, Harlan Harris. This was partially due to the significant number of RSVPs. Forming a quorum were:

  • Harlan Harris, President and Founder, DSDC
  • Sean Gonzalez, Secretary and Founder, DVDC
  • Tony Ojeda, Treasurer and Founder
  • Abhijit Dasgupta, SPDC
  • Sean Murphy, Founder, DIDC & W3DC
  • Jason Barbour, DSMD
  • Ben Sweezy, DSDC

Additional attendees including:

  • Robert Dempsey
  • Benjamin Bengfort

The first order of business was to vote on the addition of a new member: Benjamin Bengfort will be joining the DC2 board as the representative for Web Programs (W3DC).

The main discussion focused around a proposal by Robert Dempsey to have Data Wranglers DC join the Data Community DC organization. DWDC is a meetup designed to fill the gap between being tasked with a project and analyzing a dataset. Topics will include data munging, along with the creation, storage, and maintenance of datasets. In particular, Robert proposed that there were several “synergistic” benefits to this kind of meetup, particularly through the use of coordinated events. Additionally, Robert mentioned that this meetup would be more hands on, focused on tutorials and code, which is an approach many on the board want to see DC2 take.

The topic of contention centered around how many meetups DC2 is organizing, particularly the question of whether or not the brand will be fragmented by more stand-alone meetups. Proposals included making this type of meetup a recurring theme, rather than a stand alone event. However, DWDC also already has significant amount of sponsorship already in hand as well as a venue, and is supported by the fact that there are many rich topics that are distinct from SPDC. A straw poll was taken, 6 members voted for the inclusion of DWDC, with 2 abstains. A note will be drafted by the board to send to Robert discussing financial matters, and proposal tweaks to diversify from SPDC more.

The second topic was financial. Firstly, the board discussed the use of the Cloudera organizational sponsorship obtained by Jason Barbour. Allocations, savings, and budgets for larger events were discussed. Special attention was paid to how DSMD’s role is affected by the DC2 brand. The final decision in a 7-1 vote was to allocate 50% of the funds to each meetup, and hold 50% in reserve for a “Uber-Level” event in Montgomery county, to be planned at a later date.

Further financial considerations were discussed about how to budget some necessary expenses, particularly related to the generation of audio and video content. It was decided that direct purchases of equipment is not feasible because of the geographic disparity of the groups (DSMD again cannot leverage DC2 resources as easily), and in the end, these kind of assets would still have to be used by someone. Instead, a small pilot program run by DIDC and DVDC to fund Tony Bray to perform audio/video services. The board also voted, 6-1-1 to pay 1776 for two months of coworking space for the board, in particular Sean Gonzalez, who has been crucial in building DC2 ties with 1776. No further expenditures were approved.

The wrap up included creating a contract for Tony Ojeda to organize workshops for DC2, formalizing recent practice. Some discussion was had on the parliamentary procedure for decision making via email. The final vote was to publish meeting notes, and was unanimous.


Each organization individually reports for the month, the highlights from these reports are as follows.


  • The President’s Ignite Talk at Strata about Data Communities and Music scenes is now up on YouTube.
  • Meetup Dice, an application for randomly selecting a meetup attendee, is now open to contributions and suggestions.

Data Science MD

  • Last meetup at Loyola University was the biggest to date, there has been a surge of membership for DSMD.
  • Hosting a happy hour to celebrate the year, details on the Meetup page.
  • Working on speakers and meetups in Montgomery County

Data Science DC

  • Announcing a new venue: Gallup!
  • New partnership with loTDC for real-time feedback at most recent event.
  • Currently at 3000 members, but attendance has flattened.

Data Innovation DC

  • Successful Census Bureau event led to a new model for future meetups. DIDC is now exploring relationships with other government agencies for reverse pitches.
  • New team member: Andrea will be working on events and web projects.

Data Visualization DC

  • Data journalism event had the largest attendance to date
  • The December event will be on “Data Stories” and “Visualizing Christmas”
  • Proposal for teaching data visualization workshops
  • Organizing “mini hacks” for “Visualizing Christmas”
  • Mentioned in the Strata Blog

Statistical Programming DC

  • Successful joint meetups in November: Python Data Analysis with DC Python and Census Reverse Pitch with DIDC.
  • Hiatus in December, no scheduled meetups
  • Several talks lined up for early next year, more Python topics and looking for R speakers as well.
  • Possibly in the market for a co-organizer if any good candidates are interested!

DC2 on the Web

  • Benjamin Bengfort has joined the team
  • Brief content slow down is now ramping up again, however there are some concerns that the web presence is only 50% of distribution.
  • Prioritizing optimization of web advertising strategy.
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Benjamin Bengfort

Chief Data Scientist at Cobrain
Benjamin is a data scientist with a passion for massive machine learning involving gigantic natural language corpora, and has been leveraging that passion to develop a keen understanding of recommendation algorithms at Cobrain in Bethesda, MD where he serves as the Chief Data Scientist. With a professional background in military and intelligence, and an academic background in economics and computer science, he brings a unique set of skills and insights to his work. Ben believes that data is a currency that can pave the way to discovering insights and solve complex problems. He is also currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Maryland.

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