New Staff

New Staff

We welcomed quite a few new faces to our team over the last few months.

Casey Thomas joins us as a Software Developer on the Civic Apps Team. He graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in Geography with an emphasis on environmental planning. Prior to joining Azavea, he worked as a data journalist building news applications, creating visualizations, and analyzing data for the Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY, PlanPhilly, and AxisPhilly. Before working in journalism, Casey spent five years at the Philadelphia Water Department. There, he supported the City’s sustainability efforts by co-leading the planning and implementation of a new stormwater billing program. Casey spent a brief stint after college in Seattle riding the bus to the Cingular Wireless headquarters in Redmond, where he worked with regional and state level GIS staff to collect and analyze wireless coverage data. Outside of the office, Casey enjoys surfing at the beach and birding in the city.

Hector Castro joins us as an Operations Engineer. Previously, he was a Developer Advocate at Basho Technologies, the sponsors of Riak, an open-source distributed database. There, he built tooling to support Riak for projects like Docker, Datomic, Chef, Ansible, and Vagrant. Prior to that, he was a Software Engineer at Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS), where he worked on enabling full-text search for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents. He also co-organizes Philly DevOps, a DevOps user group in Philadelphia. Hector graduated with a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from Temple University. Outside of work, Hector enjoys eating delicious food, assembling good analogies, and reciting quotes from HBO’s The Wire.

Chip Koziara joins us as a Product Specialist for HunchLab, our predictive policing software. Chip joins Azavea as a 2014 Venture For America (VFA) Fellow. He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business. During school he spent a year working for Peter Allen & Associates where he created real estate development proposals for the State of Michigan’s economic development arm. Chip’s work included meeting with municipal and community stakeholders, presenting project ideas to these stakeholders, and projecting the financial viability of the projects. In his free time, he enjoys brewing coffee, reading biographies and business books, and learning Python.

Nathan Zimmerman joins us as a Software Developer on the Justice and Election Services team.  He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in History and Philosophy of Science. Nathan has worked with computers in a professional capacity off and on for the better part of 10 years beginning with high school summers spent working for his hometown hospital’s IT department. Before joining Azavea, Nathan helped his previous employer, Design Science Consulting, to develop its technical portfolio and embrace web 2.0 technologies and standards. Aside from his work with artificial languages, Nathan is a natural language expert with a specialization in English which he uses to play games, discuss philosophy, lift weights, and binge-consume serial media.

Sharp Hall joins Azavea as a Software Developer on the Justice and Election Services Team. Before he joined Azavea, Sharp worked as a System Administrator at Penn Law School for two years. While there, he worked on a video recording service, and an environmentally friendly computer wakeup web page to allow users to wake up their machines remotely, among other responsibilities. Earlier, Sharp worked as a web developer at GroovyDo, a now defunct startup whose product connected buyers and sellers of used items in a geographically aware way. He has a B.A. in Art from Guilford College. In his free time you can find Sharp trying a new cooking project, taking photos, tinkering with electronics, or playing the drums.

Jacob Schmidt joins Azavea as an OpenTreeMap Solution Specialist. Jacob graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Brigham Young University, and has worked with GIS technologies since 2008. He has used GIS to study demographics and communities’ socio-economic patterns and economic wellbeing. Jacob has also applied GIS to sales and marketing with the company he helped start called Envinsulate. He developed strategies to reach different groups of people while at the same time finding ways to better serve and relate with them. During Jacob’s free time you will find him spending time with his wife and kids. When he can, he enjoys reading about and playing with new technology — anything from smart phones to TV sets. He is a very dedicated Dream Theater fan so much so his wife rolls her eyes at him every time they release a new album.

Stephanie Zimmerman joins Azavea as a full-time research specialist on the Data Analytics team.  In addition to data, she will be taking over customer service, budgets, proposals and other tasks related to maintaining the Cicero database.  Stephanie graduated from Lehigh University in 2010 with an Honors degree in English. She spent the past three years working for a non-profit organization supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to become integrated into their communities. Focused on compliance with regulatory standards, Stephanie conducted internal audits, tracked utilization data, and interpreted new state regulations into usable internal systems. Stephanie enjoys hiking, cooking, writing, and reading anything and everything.


Nonye Madu joins the Cicero team for part-time research support during the mid-term elections.  She is studying Epidemiology at Drexel, where she is pursuing a Masters in Public Health.  Prior to Drexel, she studied Biology at Columbia.  This past summer, she worked at the Baltimore Health Department. Between her studies at Columbia and Drexel, she was a Public Health Laboratory Scientist for the Maryland Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she worked on evaluating the efficacy of newborn diagnostic screening tests.


Phaedra Tinder also joins the Cicero team for part-time research support during the mid-term elections.  She is currently working as an Analyst at The Center for Returning Citizens, where she maintains databases and does data analysis with ArcGIS and statistics tools.  Prior to that, she worked in Baton Rouge with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, where she did GIS analysis and developed a web map related to coastal restoration efforts.  She went to graduate school at Ohio State, where she studied Geology and wrote a thesis on ocean-ice interactions in Iceland.  Her undergraduate degree was at Bryn Mawr, where she also studied ice and climate change, including a summer in Svalbad, Norway.  Suffice it to say that she is into ice.  She’s also a volunteer with the Philadelphia Orchard Project.