Gilbert’s digital government team recognized

Gilbert Office of Digital Government
Gilbert's Office of Digital Government was recognized with a national award. (Courtesy town of Gilbert)

Gilbert's Office of Digital Government was recognized with a national award. (Courtesy town of Gilbert)

Gilbert’s Office of Digital Government, the communications and marketing arm of the town, has received the second annual Sharman Stein Award for Storytelling Changemakers.

The award, named after What Works Cities’ founding director of communications, recognizes a city team or official who draws on the power of public communication to cultivate trust and collaboration between local government and residents.

Results for America, a group that helps cities use evidence and data to tackle their most pressing challenges, gave the award. What Works Cities is a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that Results for America partners with.

Gilbert’s digital government team, which has 13 members, was selected as the winner of this year’s award because it epitomizes Stein’s call for cities to tell stories of progress so as to build trust and invite the public to actively engage in civic life, according to Results for America.

“Gilbert’s robust and innovative digital communications strategy has helped the city connect with residents, share data on the government’s performance, and increase civic engagement,” Michele Jolin, CEO and co-founder of Results for America, said in a release.

The award cited team accomplishments, including:

  • Creating regular COVID-19 update videos with former Mayor Jenn Daniels and City Manager Patrick Banger to ensure residents have immediate, accurate information to stay safe

  • The creation of the annual Digital State of the Town to replace the State of the Town address

  • The creation of the Government Gone Digital podcast

  • Launching Alex, Gilbert’s open data portal

  • Executing a communications strategy that includes more than 30 social media channels with an audience of more than 170,000 followers

  • Creating a Data Content Strategist role, formalizing the city’s culture of telling stories with data to maintain strong two-way engagement with residents

  • Sharing its knowledge and expertise with other cities working to create a culture of resident-focused digital communications

“Through storytelling we have the ability to showcase how government works and to engage our community,” Gilbert Chief Digital Officer Dana Berchman said in the release. “Amplifying our messaging by using all of our outreach channels to tell meaningful stories impacts lives and builds trust in our government when our community needs it most. I’m so proud to be a part of a team that’s focused on doing exactly that.”
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.