People and processesElla Mae Lewis, Director of Product, Apolitical.co

Ella Mae Lewis, Director of Product, Apolitical.co

Ella Mae Lewis, Director of Product, Apolitical.co

Ella Mae is a founding team member and current Director of Product for Apolitical – the global platform for government. She was educated at the University of Oxford on a full opportunities bursary for students from low income backgrounds, where she read Modern History with an emphasis on politics and intellectual history, deciding early on that she wanted to work on policy and human rights abuses.

She worked as a researcher into slavery in supply chains for an Australian foundation and briefly with the UK House of Lords lobbying on the Modern Slavery Bill, before moving to Washington DC to become the lead field advisor on human trafficking in Africa for the Global Fund to End Slavery. She conducted in-country research into sex trafficking and child labour in Ghana, South Africa and Mozambique. It was there that she became interested in supportive data and technology solutions to problems traditionally solved by methods such as law enforcement and training.

Time and again it seemed that different governments were trying to solve these same problems in similar contexts, but not aware of one another’s work, or able to quickly tap into the expertise of others. Technology had solved these kinds of issues in other sectors, but government – arguably the biggest impact mechanism in the world – was woefully underserved.

After she met two impressive female entrepreneurs who were considering a tech business for connecting policymakers, she helped set up Apolitical – an international policy platform for governments, to help them access and share information, meet their peers abroad and collaborate on shared challenges. Founded in 2015, it is an international policy publishing platform with a fully integrated network, now used by thousands public servants in 120+ countries. It is a for profit company backed by governments, such as the UK and Canada, and investment capital.

During a year as their Head of Research, interviewing public servants to understand the problem, she taught herself to code Python and Ruby on Rails, enrolled in UX school online and moved into the role of Director of Product. She now oversees the design, membership, data and engineering teams. Her favourite projects at Apolitical currently involve using machine learning to build a more powerful and intelligent policy recommendation engine for government, and the design phase for a listings product to help other govtech start-ups understand and connect with government.

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