Catching up with Jason Scharf, now a Data Program Manager with the City of Syracuse!

Hack Upstate
4 min readMar 3, 2022


Many of you know Jason Scharf as our student success representative at Careers in Code. In his role, he helps our students navigate and eliminate potential barriers, challenges, hurdles, or problems they might have throughout our program. In addition to his role at Careers in Code, we’d like to congratulate him on his new position at the City of Syracuse as a Data Program Manager!

Join us in congratulating him and read on to learn more about his new role.

Jason is incredibly excited for his new role as Data Program Manager with the City of Syracuse Office of Accountability, Performance, and Innovation (api). Some of his responsibilities include helping to manage Syracuse’s open data portal This includes getting data from City Department’s, cleaning the data if needed, creating or updating data dictionaries and metadata to help describe the data in the dataset. His responsibilities include updating the layout of the website and adding new content. One of the things that he really enjoys is being an advocate for open data and giving talks or presentations on different ways that open data can be used at Hackathons and to other community partners.

The role has other aspects, such as assisting with the City of Syracuse’s Surveillance Technology Working Group to help review new technology requests that are made by departments in the City of Syracuse. This is an initiative of Mayor Walsh’s after the police reform changes that the City of Syracuse initiated in 2020. Part of his work is also assisting the City of Syracuse’s API team in the next application round for the What Works Cities certification through Bloomberg Philanthropies. The city achieved Silver Certification in 2021 and Syracuse’s API team is actively looking to build on past years and further improve data driven policies and culture at the City of Syracuse.

One of the things that Jason has been most excited about in his new role, is for the Syracuse API team being able to help sponsor a local Hackathon, CuseHacks 2022 Hackathon. Here Nico Diaz (Chief Innovation and Data Officer) and Jason gave a breakout session on the Open Data portal and different ways that this can be accessed, many of the hackers, as well as some teams that used Syracuse open datasets in their projects. It was incredibly rewarding for Jason to see two of these teams that used open data go on to win awards at this year’s CuseHacks event.

Hack Upstate and Careers in Code have been instrumental in Jason developing a passion for coding and community and ultimately getting this new role. After his first Hackathon (Hack Upstate XIII in Spring 2019) where I was on the Rezzy team that helped build a chatbot that helped you build a resume, he was hooked. Through being a team member of the first Careers in Code cohort in 2019, I continued to see the power of passionate individuals working together to learn new skills and work for positive change. I still vividly remember being inspired by Kaitlyn Warboy’s 2019 Capstone presentation, Cuse Connects, where she made a web app that would take your address and tell you which city quadrant you were in and what day your trash pick up was.

After the 2019 Careers in Code cohort ended, and Jason was eager to continue learning code and building innovative and helpful web based projects in a community, some friends and I started Code for Syracuse, a Code for America Brigade. Hack Upstate graciously helped sponsor our new meetup. Through Hack Upstate’s sponsorship, Jason was able to start learn more about civic technology from Sam Edelstein (previous Chief Data Officer at the City of Syracuse) and Mark Headd (previous Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia), learn more about Tableau from Amanda Darcangelo (previous Data Engineer at the City of Syracuse), learn more Javascript and GitHub from Ryan Gaus (Software Engineer at Density), learn more about a love for data from Jennifer Tran (Blockchain developer at Mintgate) and learn from so many others as well.

Another fun memory for Jason is attending Hack Upstate XIV in Fall of 2019 with his son, Jaiden, and being on a team that made Fat Foot Feetball (an awesome video game made with Unity), which is still playable HERE. Through all of these different Hackathons, meetups, and Coding bootcamps, Jason shares that the influence of the Hack Upstate and Careers in Code community cannot be overstated. Jason shares that without the skills that he learned through the Hack Upstate and Careers in Code community, the projects that he made, and the mentoring that he received from this community, he does not think he would have been able to be offered the job with the Syracuse API team.

He is looking forward to continuing to advocate for open data, local government transparency, and working in the community to create awesome things. If you have projects that you have made with City of Syracuse Open Data, have a dataset that you would like to see released, or you would like someone to come to your organization to talk about Syracuse’s open data, please reach out to the open data team at



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