The Role of Communities in Innovation

1-Hour Breakout Session
Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. ET
ECQ 5: Results Driven
Attendees Can Earn 1 CPE Credit

No one innovates alone. Or at least they shouldn’t. But how do you get buy-in for your new idea? You need to create a team and a true community of innovators. 

Key Takeaway: In this session, you will hear from a panel of government innovators about the roles, responsibilities and processes they put in place to create their innovation teams and turn their ideas into action. 

Relevant Competencies: Leveraging Diversity, Developing Others, Team Building, Continual Learning


Barbara C. Morton, Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer, VA

Barbara C. Morton assumed her current duties in July 2016 as Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer, Veterans Experience Office (VEO), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In this role, Barbara co-leads VEO, the Secretary’s customer experience (CX) insight engine supporting and enabling the Department in providing the highest quality experiences in the delivery of care, benefits and memorial services to Service members, Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. Barbara is responsible for building a lasting CX capability at VA and sharing best practices across sister Federal Agencies, including The Customer Experience Cookbook, which serves as a CX practitioner’s guide to stand up and mature customer experience capabilities in government. She is a recipient of the 2021 Service to the Citizen Award for Government Executive of the Year (2021), the 2019 Service to the Citizen Award and the 2019 Gears of Government President’s Award for her role in transforming VA’s capabilities to provide Veterans with an excellent customer experience.

Barbara joined VA in 2006 as a Staff Attorney at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board). She served the Board in a variety of other capacities, including Special Counsel to the Appellate Group, Special Assistant to the Vice Chairman, Executive Assistant to the Chairman, and Executive Director for the Office of Management, Planning & Analysis. While at the Board, Barbara stood up and led the Board’s Appeals Modernization OIT efforts, which included securing industry technologists from United States Digital Service to develop and launch new appeals platforms.

A native of Massachusetts, Barbara attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, earning a degree in psychology and philosophy. After receiving her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, Barbara completed two clerkships in the New England area and thereafter pursued an LL.M. in constitutional law at Georgetown Law. She has published a variety of law review articles, including two pieces relating to posttraumatic stress disorder.


Blair Corcoran de Castillo, Director of STARs Studio, Opportunity@Work

Blair joins Opportunity@Work with a background in and a passion for community-building and co-design. Her career has been focused on using participatory methods and human-centered design to drive collective action, most often in areas related to family economic opportunity and mobility. She has well over a decade of experience using these approaches to inform strategy, research, policy, program and learning design for public sector and mission-oriented organizations.

Most recently at Fannie Mae, she led a team of designers focused on fostering Fannie Mae’s design maturity, spreading the design thinking mindset across the enterprise, and co-designing innovative solutions in the affordable housing space. Prior to that, she designed and facilitated design education training offerings for public servants, managed multiple design projects with federal agencies, and convened events on public sector innovation at The Lab at the Office of Personnel Management. At the US Department of Health and Human Services, Blair worked with grantees to explore, develop, and implement new approaches to family economic security and wellbeing through careers in the healthcare field and brought human-centered design to her federal program office.

Outside of work, Blair enjoys exploring the many parks and museums of the DC area with her family and sharing her love of plants with her little ones.