Meet the 2020 Impact Fellows: Deploying Entrepreneurial Talent to Tackle Pressing Issues

December 28, 2020

Schmidt Futures is proud to support the Impact Fellowship, a one-year program that recruits and matches entrepreneurial software engineers, product managers, and designers with organizations around the country working on pressing societal issues. The fellowship is a program of the Federation for American Scientists, supported by Schmidt Futures and operated by Coding It Forward.

The first-ever cohort of Impact Fellows is tackling challenges ranging from sustainability to criminal justice reform. Meet the Fellows and learn more about the program below. 

The Impact Fellowship

Too often, due to a lack of entry-level and junior technology roles at social impact organizations, STEM graduates are forced to make a tradeoff between having an impact and growing their technical skills when starting their careers. With robust program support and professional development opportunities, the Impact Fellowship seeks to break this paradigm and create a scalable model for social impact organizations to attract top tech talent. 

The 2020 Impact Fellows

Amita Shukla
Product Manager
Code for America

At Code for America, Amita Shukla works on the Clear My Record team, building tools for government and community legal organizations to work toward automatic record clearance of eligible records for the 1 in 3 people in the U.S. with criminal records. She is also the product lead for Code for America’s unified accessible design system.

Amita graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science and a minor in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University. She has previously worked at the United Nations, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the American Civil Liberties Union on building better governance systems.


Chris Lee
Product Manager

At Recidiviz, Chris Lee leads the development of the case-level microsimulation population projection to empower leadership in the Department of Corrections to make more informed budget decisions and policy forecasts.

Chris holds a M.S. in Information Management from the University of Washington and a B.S. in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University. He previously worked at Kaiser Permanente Health Innovation and interned at Nike’s headquarters and Infosys in India.


Jonathan Mak
Software Engineer/Product Manager
UN Global Pulse

At UN Global Pulse, Jonathan Mak leads development of the Global Radio Monitoring Project, a new AI / machine learning initiative utilizing speech transcription models to track and analyze radio content for COVID-19 aid distribution in low- and middle-income countries (LIMI). 

Jonathan graduated from Stanford University with a M.S. and B.S. in Electrical Engineering with a focus in Signal Processing and Machine Learning. He previously worked at Apple on Motion Health Research, Amazon on the Photos Team, and DoNotPay as one of the first product managers and engineers developing chatbots.


Mayuka Sarukkai
Data Scientist

At Recidiviz, Mayuka Sarukkai is involved in a variety of data science research initiatives and products to characterize levers for change within the criminal justice system, quantify the impact of reform initiatives, and help states set and achieve high-impact decarceral goals.

Mayuka graduated with a M.S. in Computational Social Science and a B.S. in Symbolic Systems with a focus in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University. She has developed computer vision and machine learning techniques to measure urban neighborhood change, spearheaded an analytics initiative at the U.S. Census Bureau, and built tech tools to support housing justice advocacy at


Paola Martinez
Product Manager

At Enveritas, Paola Martinez leads the development of a platform that provides data driven insights to inform decisions around sustainability initiatives in the coffee sector. 

Paola holds a M.S. in Management Science and Engineering and a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, where she was also a Mayfield Fellow. She is interested in exploring the intersection between development and technology, which led her to work alongside shea nut farmers in Ghana to develop a product that increases their yield and therefore improves their family livelihood.


Spencer Yen
Software Engineer and Product Manager
MIT Media Lab – Social Machines

At the Lab for Social Machines, Spencer Yen works on building social media analytics tools to better understand misinformation and political fragmentation online. 

Spencer graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science and a minor in Sociology from Columbia University. He previously worked at Karuna Health, where he designed and built a mobile app for care managers, as well as Snackpass and Zynga, and was a Kleiner Perkins Engineering Fellow at DoorDash.