Steve Leibman BSE’97
Steve Leibman with family on hike

Steve Leibman grew up in Colorado where he heard about The Cooper Union from his high school art teacher.  He chose The Cooper Union because it is unique and has a talented student body.  He graduated from the Cooper Union in 1997 with a BSE degree.  He also has a master’s degree in the Computation for Design and Optimization program from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked mostly as a software developer.  During the COVID Pandemic he became an expert that state governments turned to as their websites crashed.

Prior to the pandemic, Steve has been the VP of Software Development at Zagster and at HomeTap. Steve built and ran the software engineering team for Zagster which is one of the first bike-share companies to incorporate Bluetooth technology.  More recently Steve has headed the engineering team for HomeTap.  He has built many software applications during his career including building scientific software platforms for aerodynamic modeling.

In late 2019, Steve began volunteering with “Code for America.” He was recruited to be a fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Tech Executive Leadership Initiative, a bootcamp program for senior executives in technology preparing to enter public service. That initiative was jointly organized by the Aspen Institute, Project Redesign, and the Tech Talent Project. Steve and some other Fellows in this program did a project where they explored ways for states to deliver unemployment services better. 

In mid-2020, Steve began volunteering his services with the U.S. Digital Response Organization (USDR).  This Federal government group was formed during the Obama Administration and originally brought together software professionals to help create the state websites where people find health insurance coverage. In 2020 the U.S. Digital Response Organization was seeking volunteers to meet the major challenges at that time.  They included procuring face masks and other medical equipment for the medical community and first responders, creating state web portals where citizens could find COVID testing information, the creation of tools for contact tracing, and the development of a mobile app that notifies people when they come in contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID. 

Google and Apple worked together to develop the App which works on both Android and Apple phones.  The Alert Notification app works with State supplied data, and some states needed help building the software architecture to support this new mobile application.

Steve Leibman provided support to the State of Colorado and a few other states.  He gathered and analyzed data to determine if the mobile application that provides contact alerts helped encourage people to get tested earlier, and whether the app changed human behavior.  Colorado has one of the largest participation percentage in the COVID Notification Program.  Steve worked with the data metrics and was able to show an inverse relationship between notification participation and rate of infection spread.  In the counties where the usage of the mobile app was higher, the rate of infection was less.

In July of 2021, Steve joined the United States Digital Service (USDS) and became a federal employee.  USDS originated with the group that was brought in from the private sector to fix the system during the Obama administration, and continues to be part of the Executive Office of the President in the White House. Steve describes this group as uniquely independent in the federal government, with the mandate to make the most impact for the most people. One of Steve’s current projects is to develop ways to improve the administration of the expanded Child Tax Credit that was introduced as part of the American Rescue Plan Act in 2020, with a goal of making sure that the benefit gets to all deserving parents, including those who don’t have enough income to be required to file taxes.