USAFacts President Poppy MacDonald testifying before the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress at a hearing held Oct. 27, 2021 titled: “Strengthening the Lawmaking Process: How Data can Inform and Improve Policy.” (USAFacts Photo)

This article originally appeared in GeekWire.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series profiling six of the Seattle region’s “Uncommon Thinkers”: inventors, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs transforming industries and driving positive change in the world. They will be recognized at the GeekWire Gala on Dec. 6. Uncommon Thinkers is presented in partnership with Greater Seattle Partners. Read the other profiles here.


In a time fraught with political discord and cynicism, Poppy MacDonald is a champion for the shining ideal of democracy — namely a government that’s striving to improve the lives of its citizens.

“Citizens can only make a decision about [whether] the government is serving me,” she said, “if they have access to transparent information about what is happening.”

As president at USAFacts, a nonpartisan clearinghouse of federal, state and local government data, MacDonald is working to provide that information, whether it’s trends in firearm deaths, changes in U.S. lifespans, or foreign aid.

The not-for-profit offers insights into current events and an annual data-driven “State of the Union” report. In partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, the organization recently launched a recurring nine-week data analysis bootcamp that’s free to U.S. congressional staff members. Last year it created America’s Midterm Map, an interactive site for voters researching candidates for local and federal races, which helped USAFacts land on Fast Company’s list of 10 most innovative nonprofits of 2023.

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