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Jeff Mazur: Breaking barriers, busting guts

Jeff Mazur, the executive director of Launch Code, joined the #moleg podcast crew on Tuesday morning as a part of their Autumn of the Attorney series to discuss his lauded reputation in both the public and private sectors.

The Georgetown law graduate has been active in the political scene, working in the offices of New Jersey’s U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, Oregon’s U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. He also represented the National Treasury Employees Union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees in Council 72, and a couple of months ago, he became the executive director of Launch Code.

Launch Code is an educational non-profit that offers their students a free education in coding and computer science. At the end of the program, students are placed into an apprenticeship with companies working in a various information sector positions. At the end of their apprenticeships, the once-students will transition into a position at that particular company.

“So forget about taking somebody four years to get a CS (Computer Science) degree to make them a software developer for Amazon [for example.] You need to find a way – in six months – to get someone from wherever they are, to get the skills, the job readiness, to be able to step in and be successful,” Mazur said. “That’s what we do at Launch Code. The sort of systems that we build are geared towards scaling rapidly and training people on an accelerated basis for these jobs.”

According to Launch Code’s website, applicants do not need to meet any prior education requirements and since their founding in 2013, more than 80 percent have a permanent job after three months. On average, Launch Code students were able to double their previous salary.

“Tech gets talked about all the time as a democratizing influence and force. [People say that tech allows] people have access to the economy, but that is only true to the extent that people can actually use technology to find a career and step into that world and gain the skills to do it,” Mazur said. “If they can’t do that, then [such a claim] becomes a ruse. We’re trying to break down that barrier and that’s where we’re really focused.”

Outside of his working life in St. Louis-based private sector, many still acknowledge his impact in Jefferson City. In his free time, Mazur has been known to take to Twitter to add his witty commentary on the workings of Missouri politics.

Podcast host Rachael Herndon Dunn remarked that because of his propensity to have “good posts online,” she could not recall anyone who did not like his Twitter commentary. Though some of his tweets have been notably partisan, she was not aware of anyone who did not appreciate his jokes.

Mazur disagreed. “I can show you a list,” he retorted.