Power to the Public: The Promise of Public Interest Technology


As the speed and complexity of the world increases, governments and nonprofit organizations need new ways to effectively tackle the critical challenges of our time—from pandemics and global warming to social media warfare. In Power to the Public, Tara Dawson McGuinness and Hana Schank describe a revolutionary new approach—public interest technology—that has the potential to transform the way governments and nonprofits around the world solve problems. Through inspiring stories about successful projects ranging from a texting service for teenagers in crisis to a streamlined foster care system, the authors show how public interest technology can make the delivery of services to the public more effective and efficient.

Clear-eyed yet profoundly optimistic, Power to the Public presents a powerful blueprint for how government and nonprofits can help solve society’s most serious problems.


A Discussion about the Promise of Public Interest Technology (video)

Power to the Public: Tackling Homelessness (video)

Power to the Public: Tackling Benefits Delivery (video)

Shorenstein Center/ Harvard Kennedy School

Google Book Talk (video)


Public Interest Technology to the Rescue (Gov Web Works)

Tech for the Public Good (Stanford Social Innovation Review)

Introducing the Public Interest Internet (EFF)

Power to the Public: New Book Makes Case for Public-Sector Tech (Government Technology)

Everything Is a Public Interest Tech Story, Authors Argue (State Scoop)


What Happened When the U.S. Government Tried to Make the Immigration System Digital (Slate)

What Brooklyn rats can teach us about designing cities for everyone (Fast Company)


The Government Fix: How to innovate in government

When it comes to redesigning how government functions, most of the common assumptions about innovation don’t hold up. Hana Schank and Sara Hudson conducted nearly 70 interviews with people inside of government at the federal, state, county and city level, to understand the common threads for successful innovation projects. They found that innovation at its most basic level has nothing to do with what is typically called “innovative.” Instead, they discovered who the real change-makers are, what successful projects look like, and why redesigning government can sometimes feel so very hard. In this book, they share what they’ve learned about how to truly make change.


The Ambition Decisions: What women know about work, family, and the path to building a life



Excerpts and interviews

Inside women’s “Ambition Decisions” interview with Salon

5 hard truths about doing what you love while earning the money you need  Business Insider

Opting out of a career doesn’t make you less ambitious  Quartz

The authors of ‘The Ambition Decisions’ on women’s goals  Interview with Grok Nation 

Opt Outer, Flex Lifer or High Achiever—Which ‘Ambition Path’ is Right for You? Interview with Working Mother 

What Women Want Interview with US News and World Report


Reviews and Lists

One of Hello Giggles’ 14 Books That Will Help You Embrace Your Inner #Girlboss at Work and in Life

Elle included The Ambition Decisions in their list of 30 Best Summer Reads

Booklist says The Ambition Decisions provides “a fascinating look at how ambition is not easily contained or defined. Schank and Wallace examine broad questions, such as the relationship between passion and work, alongside practical questions, like why each woman they spoke to made her child’s doctors’ appointments, no matter her career status. Readers of all generations will learn from the authors’ road map through life’s transitions.”

The Wall Street Journal discusses how in The Ambition Decisions the “authors note that work can be meaningful in all sorts of ways, not always glamorous.”

The Washington Post selected The Ambition Decisions for their summer reading list.



HerMoney with Jean Chatzky



Praise for The Ambition Decisions

“These are the ‘know your value’ conversations that we need to have. These women–their challenges, choices, and successes–are all of us.” ––Mika Brzezinski, co-host MSNBC’s Morning Joe

The Ambition Decisions is willing to confront the possibility that perhaps the shape and sum of female ambition offers a better road map for all human beings, men as well as women. The lively and engaging stories that emerge from the authors’ interviews add up to a larger point. Why should we all not be able to choose lives that allow for ambition of different kinds at different times?”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author of Unfinished Business

“Every woman who feels paralyzed by her life decisions should read this honest, insightful, and surprising book that explores the challenges of ‘working while female’—and provides helpful advice on how to craft the life you want.”
—Jancee Dunn, author of How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids

“Schank and Wallace take readers on a heartfelt journey to discover whether and how it’s possible for women to meaningfully combine work and life without losing our sanity, our health, or our souls. The Ambition Decisions reassures us we’re not alone in our struggle, offers practical guideposts to forge our own paths, and reminds us that defining and redefining success and ambition on our own terms as we grow and change will light the way forward.”
—Brigid Schulte, New York Times bestselling author of Overwhelmed



The Edge of Normal

415-M15A5JLThe Edge of Normal – Kindle Single, 2015

What is normal? Everything in Hana Schank’s life is going according to plan — career, marriage and a growing family. But when her second child is born with albinism, a rare genetic condition whose most striking characteristics are white blonde hair, pale skin and impaired vision, she discovers that the very definition of normal is up for grabs. A moving memoir with flashes of humor, this essay tells one mother’s story of navigating the spectrum of ability and disability, filled with both heartbreak and joy. And how ultimately she and her daughter learn to balance together on the edge of normal.

The Edge of Normal was selected for Amazon’s Kindle Singles of the Year. It is available for free for Kindle Unlimited customers and Amazon Prime members, and was also selected to be a part of New York City’s Subway Books series (free short books you can borrow from the New York Pubic library while on the subway …. I’m not sure I get it either, but apparently it’s there).



My Daughter is the Fairest of Them All, Sunday Times Magazine (UK), 8/15

A Whiter Shade of Pale, OZY, 8/15

In the Grand Scheme of Things, Longreads, 7/15

Some unsolicited Amazon reviews from people I am not related to

“You don’t have to have a kid with albinism to relate to this. Just a person living a life. It lays out the broad fact that none of us are living perfect lives – we are all on edge of normal, and that can be a truly wonderful thing when you finally come to terms with whatever it is you happen to have the misfortune of dealing with at the moment. Loved this essay.”

“I was surprised how captivating it was. Couldn’t put it down! The author is a caring mother dealing with her daughter’s diagnosis and challenges. I don’t even have kids and I was so engrossed in this book.”

“This is not your standard “mommy blogging” memoir. It is a wonderful, honest and at moments funny story of a woman coming to terms with an unexpected turn in her parenting plans when faced with a rare diagnosis. An excellent read that will stick with you.”

“As a mother of two sons with Aspergers, I can relate to everything this mother has endured. Beautifully written and poignantly expressed!”

“Life is more random than we all like to admit. My coworker used to say normal is just a setting on a dryer. Author’s writing is a beautiful, honest, tough, page turning, memorable account. Thank you for writing this book.”


A More Perfect Union

31lXf-nELmL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_A More Perfect Union: How I Survived the Happiest Day of My Life – Atria, 2006

My wedding planning memoir was a Discover Great New Writers selection.

Here’s what Barnes and Noble had to say about it:

Every 21st-century woman faced with planning her wedding thinks she’s going to do things her own way. Schank was no exception. However, as she watched herself slowly succumbing to the succubus of “bridezilla,” she wrote this nifty little book, that will not only educate but also entertain readers along the way.

Just a few weeks after her engagement, Schank realized that the rock she now sported on her ring finger and her wedding plans had become her “new vital statistics.” What she did for a living, where she lived, what she hoped to accomplish in life: “all these facts had now become secondary to the single, all-encompassing fact that soon I would be someone’s wife.” She discovers the joys of poring through the racks of bridal magazines, selecting a dress at Kleinfeld’s, and finding the perfect location. As she stares into the mirror, clothed in the first “princess” wedding gown she tried on, Schank sees instead a woman “young and innocent and eager to share her meat loaf recipe with you.” Her reaction to this transformation? “I think I’m going to hurl.” Approaching a wedding registry her fiancé says, “If we have to register for something, let’s register for something good. Like CDs.”

For brides-to-be, brides-perhaps-someday-to-be, brides-that-were, and anyone else interested in the conflicting feelings this sacred rite brings up for the modern woman, A More Perfect Union is the perfect companion. (Summer 2006 Selection)