Written by Jessie Rubin, City Performance, Office of the Controller, City and County of San Francisco


I am a proud data nerd.  That’s what City Performance does to you.

City Performance is the team I have worked with since May 2014 at San Francisco’s Office of the Controller.  Our mandate is to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of City operations and services.  We work as internal management consultants for City departments, lending them a hand in managing projects, analyzing data, and improving processes.

It is, quite frankly, my dream job.

One of the projects I’ve loved most during my time at City Performance is creating the City’s Data Academy.  It is a training program for City staff developed in collaboration with the City’s Chief Data Officer (Joy Bonaguro) and her incredible team.  This extremely popular free training program is designed for City employees that are interested in enhancing their skills in data analysis and visualization.

SF Data Academy

We started realizing that there was a real thirst for this type of knowledge among City employees when a couple of our rockstar analysts (Celeste Berg and Faran Sikandar) were asked to teach a few ad-hoc data analysis trainings for specific groups of employees.  Word spread from there and we suddenly had more requests for trainings than we could handle without some kind of infrastructural support!  The Data Academy grew from there and we now teach courses on Excel, Tableau, R, data usability, leveraging the City’s data portal, business process mapping, information design, and design thinking.  In three years, we have taught 52 courses to over 1100 attendees and nearly all of the courses have sold out (several in less than five minutes!).  We have a growing member listserv (over 800 City employees at last count!) and over 90% of survey respondents rate our courses as “good” or “excellent.”

One of the best parts about working with the Data Academy is witnessing the “aha!” moments that many of our students (and instructors!) experience in the classroom.  It doesn’t matter if you’re new to Excel or if you’ve been working with it forever – there is always a new shortcut to learn that will save you ridiculous amounts of time!  We strive to keep our classes fun, engaging, and immediately applicable.  We’re generating one big data nerd community here in San Francisco and loving every minute of it!

We are excited to work with Denver Peak to improve the Data Academy.  We have already begun making a concerted effort to identify and remove waste from our administrative processes (thanks, Denver Peak, for teaching us how to do that!).  We’re looking forward to integrating lessons from Denver Peak into our curriculum – Peak staff will teach a course on data analysis for the Data Academy in a few months and our team is working on creating a new and improved Lean training (inspired by Denver Peak’s training) to be taught through the Data Academy in the near future.

Thanks, Denver Peak, for joining us in spreading the data love!  Can’t wait to see you!



Jessie Rubin oversees the development and administration of the City & County of San Francisco’s Data Academy.  She loves watching students get excited about using analytical tools to improve the efficiency of department operations and the efficacy of City services.  She uses Tableau, Excel, Access, and Microsoft Project on a daily basis while working on projects that serve to benefit a wide array of City service areas, such as public safety, public health, and recreation.  Prior to joining the Controller’s Office, Jessie worked for San Francisco’s Office of the Public Defender as a paralegal.  She also spent three years working with nonprofits in Central America – as an organizational development consultant in Panama and a Fulbright Scholar in Nicaragua.  She has an MA in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and a BA in Government from Smith College.

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