April 22, 1980
Tustin, California, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (2016–present)|
|Republican (before 2016)|
Alison Grigonis (m. 2017)
|Residence||Lake Forest, California|
|Education||University of California, Los Angeles (BA)|
London Business School (MBA)
|Occupation||Social entrepreneur, politician|
Brian Forde (born April 22, 1980) is an American entrepreneur and political candidate who was a White House senior advisor in the Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Presidency of Barack Obama. Forde helped lead projects like TechHire and President Obama's Climate Data Initiative. After leaving the White House staff, Forde became influential in the area of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology while heading MIT's Digital Currency Initiative.
On July 19, 2017, Brian Forde announced he would challenge incumbent Mimi Walters for her seat representing California’s 45th congressional district in United States Congress. Forde, who grew up in the district in the city of Tustin, California, has said he is running to ensure his district’s constituents have a representative who reflects their values. He has expressed concern about current policies on health care, immigration, technology and civil rights.
Early life and education
Forde was born on April 22, 1980, in Tustin, California to James Forde  and a Scottish-American mother. He grew up attending public schools in Orange County, California and excelled in the sciences and social sciences, winning a countywide science fair and participating on the Tustin High School Model United Nations team. In high school, Forde enrolled in technical courses at Irvine Valley College and the University of California, Irvine, which he credits as the launchpad for his career in technology. Forde received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied sociology and played ice hockey.
After graduating from university, Forde joined the Peace Corps as a business and technology volunteer in Nicaragua. During his service, he worked as a high school teacher and assisted the World Bank with the construction of a computer lab. In 2005, Forde started a company to provide low-cost telephony services to rural Nicaraguans using voice over IP technology. Forde’s business, Llamadas S.A., was recognized by SEVEN Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank with the Pioneers of Prosperity award as one of the leading organizations in the fight against global poverty.
While an MBA student at London Business School, Forde accepted a position with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama White House. Forde served in the White House from 2011 to 2015 as a senior advisor on mobile and data innovation. Projects Forde led or collaborated on include: TechHire, an initiative to expand access to technical training across the United States through partnerships with businesses and educational organizations; the Equal Pay App Challenge, a campaign to improve the transparency of pay data and increase awareness of the gender pay gap; and the Climate Data Initiative, a project to promote private sector application of Federal climate data resources to prepare for climate change. Forde also led teams to improve the federal government’s response to natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy and to help revitalize the city of Detroit following the Great Recession.
After writing the White House memo on cryptocurrencies, Forde co-founded the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, a research group focused on cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies. In 2015, he was recognized as one of the world’s most influential people on bitcoin and blockchain. Forde’s insights on public sector applications of cryptocurrencies are frequently cited by business, technology, and news publications.
2018 Congressional campaign
As a politician and former White House technology advisor, Forde has praised the 45th district’s universities and technology companies as examples of the type of innovation policy makers should encourage. He has also warned of the need to elect more technically literate legislators to Congress to address critical national interests affected by technology. In November 2017, the Forde campaign organized a forum in the district with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales to discuss the fight against “fake news”.
California's 45th congressional district has been identified as one of the most vulnerable House seats in the upcoming 2018 election. While registered Republicans continue to outnumber registered Democrats and No Party Preference voters in the district, in 2016, the Republican candidate for President lost the district by 5 percent. Forde, who was once a registered member of the Republican Party, has said that he plans to run a big tent campaign that emphasizes the values and interests shared in common by his district’s constituents. Forde is also the only Spanish-speaking candidate in a district that is more than 20% Hispanic.
In the third quarter of 2017, the Forde campaign raised over $400,000 in individual contributions, more than any other candidate in the race, including the incumbent, Mimi Walters. Forde also raised more funds in the third quarter of 2017 than any congressional challenger across the state of California.
Forde’s knowledge of, and experience with, cryptocurrencies has attracted the attention of investors and enthusiasts who have contributed towards his political campaign. Forde has expressed concern about how the U.S. government tackles crypto, and he said that wants to make sure that overly aggressive regulation doesn’t drive the U.S. industry overseas. In February 2018, a Bloomberg Businessweek article quoted Forde as saying: “You have to protect consumer rights and consumer safety, but we also need to allow for innovation. You want to create ‘regulatory sandboxes’ for these emerging technologies to grow. My concern is that when you apply strict regulations to small startups, they’ll be forced to apply so many resources to compliance that they won’t have the resources to build and innovate."
Brian Forde is married to Alison Grigonis, a lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney LLP specializing in federal Indian law and policy. Grigonis previously served as the Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs in the White House during the Obama Administration and as a senior policy advisor in the United States Department of the Interior.
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- "Pioneers of Prosperity - Central America". Vimeo. DDC International. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
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- "Brian Forde joins the MIT Media Lab as director of digital currency". MIT News. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
- "MIT Digital Currency Initiative @ the Media Lab". Retrieved 24 December 2017.
- Forde, Brian (31 March 2017). "Using Blockchain to Keep Public Data Public". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
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- Clark, Liat (7 July 2015). "Bitcoin innovations will come from developing countries". WIRED. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
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- Green, Joshua. "The Crypto Candidate for Congress". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- "Experienced Indian and Alaska Native Regulatory Lawyer Alison Grigonis Joins Dorsey". BusinessWire. 2 October 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
- Tirado, Michelle (11 June 2015). "Alison Grigonis named Senior Director, Cabinet Affairs". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
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