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Affinity groups, working groups, guilds, and other communities

TTS has a collection of communities that connect employees based on shared interests or identities.

These groups are a valued part of TTS (and in some cases, across government!). They:

  • Foster belonging through relationship-building.
  • Provide learning and training opportunities.
  • Help employees apply best practices and solve thorny issues.
  • Encourage exposure to new thoughts and ideas.

Affinity Groups in TTS

Affinity groups are spaces where employees of similar identities can talk freely amongst themselves and come together based on shared identities.

Some groups are available by invitation-only. If you do not share that identity, show your allyship by respecting those private gatherings and giving space for people to gather and talk freely amongst themselves. The Diversity Guild is always available as a place to ask questions and show your support.

The open affinity groups, which are available to all TTS staff, are:

  • LGBTQQIAAP — is for anyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, or pansexual.
  • Aging parents — is support for people with aging parents.
  • Parents — is for parents... and friends of parents.
  • Womxn — is an intersectional TTS employee resource group for womxn that provides a safe place to share their experiences and support one another.
  • Self-care — is for sharing tips for taking care of yourself with a focus on mental health.
  • Vets - is for Veterans and colleagues with a Veteran affinity.
  • Neurodiversity - is a place to share and discuss lived experiences of neurodiversity.

The invite-only affinity groups are:

  • Latinx — A space for people who identify as Latinx, Hispanic, Chicanx, Boricua, Cubano, etc.
  • Asian and Pacific Islanders — A place for Asian and Pacific Islander TTS staff members to hang out and talk.
  • Working While Black — A space for Black TTS staff members.
  • Shalom Jews — A space for TTS employees that consider themselves Jewish, Jew-ish, Jew-curious, culturally Jewish, or anything else!
  • People with Disabilities (PwD) — Private channel for anyone who identifies themselves as disabled.
  • Not Your Dude — Private channel for cis women, trans women, trans men, non-binary people, and those who are otherwise marginalized (i.e., non-hegemonic masculine folks).

For an invitation to these groups, please see this Slack post, which includes contact people for each invite-only group.

Working groups in TTS

A working group brings TTS employees together to investigate a particular problem and achieve specific goals. They are usually self-organized and spin up or down, depending on organizational needs. Some working groups are short-lived, because the group has solved a problem it was formed for.

Working groups typically create Slack channels to coordinate efforts, and the channels have a wg- prefix. Feel free to jump into any of these channels to participate or ask questions.

Current working groups

Government careers A place to share federal job and detail postings that may interest your colleagues.
#wg-gov-career
Hiring Improving hiring practices and materials for all of TTS.
#wg-tts-hiring
Onboarding Improving the first 7, 30 and 90 days for new TTS members.
#wg-onboarding
User Research Compensation Operationalizing user research compensation at TTS.
#wg-user-research-compensation

The TTS Working Groups & Guilds Calendar can help you find working group meeting times.

Guilds in TTS

Guilds seek to implement long-term, positive change within TTS. They offer training and promotion of best practices in their subject area.

Guilds are typically long-running and are sponsored by the TTS Chief of Staff.

Guild Slack channels have a g- before the name. Like working groups, you do not need permission to participate: just jump right in.

Guild meeting times can also be found on the TTS Working Groups & Guilds Calendar.

Current guilds

Accessibility We help TTS develop good, accessible products from the start of production in order to provide an excellent user experience for everyone.
18F Accessibility Guide#g-accessibility
Jia Gu - 18F
Justen Proctor - OA
Consulting We develop and support the practice of consulting at TTS.
#g-consulting
Matt Cloyd - 18F
Content We promote concise, elegant, user-centered content.
18F Content Guide#g-content
Michelle Rago - 18F
Diversity We help make TTS a great place to work for people of all backgrounds.
#g-diversity
Pia Scott - Solutions
Magdaline Derosena - 18F
Engineering Practices We promote smart and scalable engineering practices across the frontend and backend.
Eng Guide repo#dev
Sven Aas - U.S. Digital Corps
Kimball Bighorse - 18F
Research We envision a world where government agencies use research to shape their decision making processes.
#g-research
Becky Slogeris - PIF
Dave Luetger - 18F
Megan Moser - CoE
Security & Compliance Our mission is to reduce the security and compliance barrier for all Federal and State government projects.
#g-security-compliance
Sue Frederick - TTS

Guild leadership

Guilds should be led by people from different parts of TTS. They should expect to spend a few hours per week on guild leadership, meetings, and preparation. Individual guilds can set their own leadership terms, with the most common being one year.

Guild leadership is recognized by a staff member’s supervisor as a responsibility and they should be reviewed on their performance. However, it is an informal role. There are no administrative supervisory duties attached and there is no GS-level or previous leadership requirement.

Typically guilds follow a lightweight leadership selection process:

  1. The guild asks for nominations via email and Slack posting. Guilds can choose to allow self-nomination only, or accept nominations by other people with confirmation of interest by the nominee. Nominees should have the verbal approval of their supervisor. Written nominations totalling no more than 400 words are recommended; guilds choose nomination questions.
  2. A panel of one-three people made up of guild leadership, other guild members and/or leadership from other guilds conduct brief (no more than 30 minute) interviews of candidates and make a selection.
  3. A current guild leader announces the new leader, who takes up the position immediately.

Collectives in 18F

A collective is a group of 18F staff that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest and work together to achieve a common objective.

Collectives started as an experiment in how 18F can support important practices and focus areas long-term within the tight constraints of a cost-recoverable organization. They remain a way for 18F to experiment with whether a group serves a sustained need.

Collectives organize in Slack channels beginning with a c- prefix. You can join any that you find interesting.

Current 18F Collectives:

Data Princess Ojiaku & Peter Rowland #c-data
Ethics in Tech Matt Henry & Tiffany Andrews #c-ethics-in-tech
Project Leadership Edwin Torres & Logan McDonald #c-18f-project-leadership
Project Resources Vacant #c-project-resources
Tech Talks Sarah Withee & Julia Allen #tech-talks

Communities of Practice across government

A Community of Practice (CoP) provides for government-wide knowledge-sharing. They attract members from across government agencies, and provide a good opportunity for Guilds to connect with others in government and influence best practices beyond TTS.

Digital.gov hosts the Communities of Practice.

Organizing external (non-gov) speakers

At times, TTS groups may invite external speakers through their personal networks. When inviting non-government employees, the event organizer must be careful not to endorse any publication, product or service. This would give the appearance of preferential treatment, about which the government has strict policies. Speakers should also be kindly reminded not to endorse their product by saying where it can be purchased or by offering discounts to government employees.

Here is a correct versus incorrect way to announce a guest speaker for an upcoming event.

Do say:

This Friday, the Accessibility Guild welcomes Jane Doe, who will present how research frameworks can help implement Inclusive Design in our digital projects...

Don't say:

This Friday, the Accessibility Guild welcomes Jane Doe, author of my favorite book ABCD Framework for Inclusive Design. Everyone should read it!

We also avoid giving an unfair advantage to someone involved in a bid in progress with GSA. To avoid any ethical or legal conflict, please check with the Office of General Counsel before booking a speaker.

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