The end of a GovFresh era

This will sound crazy coming off the heels of one of the best professional experiences I’ve had in my entire life (see manor.govfresh), but it’s time for me to change gears as far as GovFresh is concerned.

For the past 15 months, this has been a civic adventure driven by pure patriotic adrenaline. It has been an amazing learning experience, and I have met the most incredible, passionate, patriotic group of people I’m proud to now call friends.

Over the past few months, I’ve tried to work on establishing a sustainable business model, but the challenge around building an immediate solid foundation has turned into a case of ‘too little, too late.’

I’ll have more information about what will happen to GovFresh once I have a little more time, but just wanted to relay this as soon I reasonably could. For now, I must step away and seek professional opportunities more focused and sustainable (contact me at if you have ideas).

Thank you to everyone who’s believed in what we’ve done with GovFresh. This has been as much yours as it’s been mine.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity and advises civic leaders and businesses on how to best leverage digital strategies to create more effective, collaborative governments. He has written about civic technology for Federal Computer Week, NextGov, FedScoop, StateScoop and FierceGovernment, and has been referenced by the Washington Post and Fast Company on civic technology issues. Other projects/affiliations include Agile Government Leadership, CivicActions, HashtagGov, GovTechExec, GovPress and CityCamp. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

29 Responses

  1. Luke, I deeply understand what you are saying, both from the professional point of view and the emotional one.
    Gov Fresh taught me a lot of things, stimulated ideas.
    I am living your same feeling. And I can say that is not easy for anybody to combine a deep rooted civic passion and a sustainability job.
    Thanks for everything.
    Hope to have some ideas to share with you in the near future.

  2. Luke, I’m saddened to hear this from an industry perspective, but hopefully this is a positive personal move for you and your family. As we’ve discussed, I think having your voice involved in the growing cacophony surrounding “Gov 2.0” has been a great thing the past few months, especially as you were leading that effort from the left coast vs the D.C. corridor.

    Thanks also for your help with GovTwit, from creating the current logo, to launching a more robust blog ( built off your GovFresh theme, and the help for as well.

    Anxious to hear more, but wanted to wish you the absolute best as you move forward.

  3. First off – congrats on what sounds like it was a wonderful event in Manor! So glad some of my colleagues were able to attend and contribute.

    Second – I have full faith that the community you’ve created here will take care of this. Understandable that you can’t devote yourself full-time, but your fans will help out with whatever you need.

    Raise some cash for server costs, let all your fabulous contributors keep contributing, and just generally stay cool. It will all be fine. :)

  4. Margarita Quihuis

    I am so sorry to hear this and yet I understand perfectly. You and Dustin did an amazing job with manor.govfresh. It really changed the attendees and opened their eyes to what is possible.

    The issue of sustainability, especially financial sustainability for civic entrepreneurs needs to be recognized and addressed if Gov2.0 is to have any lasting impact.

    Thank you for all that you’ve done.


  5. Sorry to hear this. Glad we got to connect over GovFresh. Thanks for cultivating and supporting the open government space. Also, thanks so much for the exposure for SeeClickFix!


  6. Well, if you’re trying to follow that old dictum to leave at the top of your game, then you’ve certainly succeeded! As I told you in Manor, I thought Manor.GovFresh was among the absolute best events I’ve attended in the last 2-3 years…and I meant it, buddy.

    Of course, even Michael Jordan, Brett Favre and other titans in their respective emerged from “retirement” to have a significant impact…and I can’t imagine you stepping away for long given the energy you’ve poured into the Gov 2.0/Open Gov movement over the last year or so.

    So this ain’t “so long.” I have a funny feeling it’s a “see you around!” ;)

  7. Cliff Tyllick

    Luke, I followed manor.govfresh from nearby but over the Web, as Jennifer went to the event for our office. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you and others in person, but I’m happy that the event went so well. From what I hear, the event made a big impression on everyone who attended.

    I’d like to second the idea that we keep this site going. If money is an issue, let’s set up a place for folks to chip in to cover the costs. And I’m sure you have to devote time and energy to other pursuits, so let someone else — perhaps even a small group of us — step forward to keep the content fresh.

    Govfresh has made too big of an impact to disappear on us. Let’s not let that happen, please.

  8. Luke,

    Thanks for your service and your role as a catalyst in getting the Gov2.0 movement off to a great start. The community seems to be morphing now. I wonder what the dialog will be like a year from now.

    Stay in touch,


  9. Luke-

    Love the passion you brought to the Gov 2.0 community. I hope you continue to be an active part of the #gov20 and #opengov community.

    Would hope to hear you continue to blog and share ideas. We’d love to hear them blogging on and I’m sure there are plenty of sites that would be eager to as well.

    Let me know how I can help.

    Steve Ressler

  10. Hi Luke,

    Bummer! I do understand the need to “seek professional opportunities” but there seems to me to be a real need in coordination of governments and private developers. Could we figure out how to recreate what Apple has done for apps for civic apps? Would Apple want to take part in the formation of this coordinator position? I even think it could extend to include PR, staying on top of getting updated data and putting developers together (like you have) to collaborate. There has to be a rev model here.

    I’m very appreciative of your efforts, thank you.

  11. Hi Luke,

    Bummer! I do understand the need to “seek professional opportunities” but there seems to me to be a real need in coordination of governments and private developers. Could we figure out how to recreate what Apple has done for apps for civic apps? Would Apple want to take part in the formation of this coordinator position? I even think it could extend to include PR, staying on top of getting updated data and putting developers together (like you have) to collaborate. There has to be a rev model here.

    I’m very appreciative of your efforts, thank you.

  12. I’m just glad I got to see you in person @ Manor. I have no idea why I hugged you on the way out but you looked pretty flushed so I figured you needed one.

    You have been a true patriot and have given a lot time and dedication to little start-ups like mine that also want to do great things for this country and the world at large.

    Whatever you are doing next, please keep in touch. Wish you the best in your next chapter!


    Team CiviGuard.

  13. Luke, it has been great to connect with you over the last year or so, to video blog a little for GovFresh, and to visit with you in SF. Good luck, and let me know what you’re up to! Mark

  14. Luke,

    Thank you for doing this in the first place. Efforts like this are at the heart of being a responsible citizen in a democracy.

    But there’s nothing like a paycheck when you have family responsibilities.

    Wishing you all the best!

  15. KC

    Luke, it’s a shame that you are moving on especially since I just found this site this morning because I am trying to get my organization to move to Drupal and other open-source applications. I hope you at least leave the site up for a while so I can grab as much as I can :)

    Good luck with your next project. From what I read so far on this site I know it will do well in whatever the next step for you is.

  16. Luke, thanks so much for all of the work that you put into this! I am personally grateful that you allowed me to do a guest post back in June. Hoping your future is a bright one!


  17. So sad to hear this. Just want to reiterate the comments above. This blog has been an immense resource to me in understanding what is happening in the Open Government movement.

    All the best for the future.

  18. Luke, thank you for being a great voice and advocate for the gov 2.0 movement. We wish you the best in your next move. Let me know what I can do and how we can stay in touch.


  19. sanchezjb

    Luke, you’ll be missed. I’ve appreciated and learned from your perspective on government. You clearly were and are passionate about making government work better. I’m looking forward to the next chapters you’ll script. Thank you for making this experience a better one.


  20. Wow, I feel *very* grateful to have made it to Manor, TX, to meet you and see GovFresh in its finest hour. What a remarkable set of people and ideas!

    I might say ‘you’ll be missed’ but in fact I suspect you will not be missed, you’ll remain front and center, you’re best work ahead of you.

  21. Luke,
    Whoa! I just logged in to say thank you for an outstanding Manor Govfresh event to learn of your move for more sustainable professional opportunities.
    First, let me say thank you again and add me to any network support list on whatever your next steps are.
    Secondly, I agree with Margarita Quihuis and Leigh Budlong that as a community of practice we attend to sharing our knowledge and resources that support civic entrepreneurship.
    In Solidarity

  22. Posted as hopeful inspiration.

    From President Obama’s speech of September 23rd, 2010, to the United Nations General Assembly:

    “In all parts of the world, we see the promise of innovation to make government more open and accountable. And now, we must build on that progress. And when we gather back here next year, we should bring specific commitments to promote transparency; to fight corruption; to energize civic engagement; to leverage new technologies so that we strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries, while living up to the ideals that can light the world.”

    Luke, thanks again for your dedication and hard work!


  23. Hi Luke,

    I’m very sorry to hear this. You did a great job with GovFresh bringing out the Gov20 news and acting as a platform for people to meet. Your website and effort will be missed.

    Good luck with your new projects and hope to run into you at some conference across the country soon!


  24. […] At the same time as people like Vivek Wadhwa are finding a “Goldmine of Opportunities in Gov 2.0″ – there are significant forces at work to try to stop some of those very entrepreneurs from succeeding. The very contests that are of such popularity right now actually harm the entrepreneur. Why you ask? Because instead of creating market opportunities – they become giant idea vacuum cleaners. This does not make a market for a product (usually.) It does turn a commercial product into something else, something more vague, less tangible. Luke Fretwell recently wrote about this. […]