Wanda Gibson says she was a shy child growing up. That might be hard to believe considering her current role as the CTO and director of the Department of Information Technology (DIT) in Fairfax County, Va.

Gibson leads more than 450 employees and contract staff in the DIT and other agencies, advises executive management on IT matters and supervises developing an enterprise technology environment to serve county's population of more than 1 million residents.

Fortunately for Gibson, a modeling stint, a gas station gig and a retail job for a boutique - which helped pay for school at Howard University - forced her out of that introverted shell long ago.

"I'm a people person now. I'm very involved," she said. "To be successful, you have to be able to deal with a lot of different opinions and be conscious of what businesses you're serving."

Fairfax County experienced much success in the past decade, winning a slew of state and national awards for its innovative IT and e-government programs. The county was named one of the Best IT Places to Work in 2006, and consistently ranks high in the Center for Digital Government's Digital Counties Survey.

Since joining the county in 1999, Gibson has brought an undeniable dedication to government IT. Bolstered by a 25-year career as a technology executive, her job description illustrates a range of responsibilities: managing comprehensive technology architecture in all government business arenas; centralizing and automating the IT department; leading the e-government program; and organizing the county's IT investment portfolio.

Along with a devoted staff, Gibson said, success comes from her ability to be a hands-on manager who can find the tools needed to transform infrastructure. "We have probably 700 or more unique applications spread throughout 55 county agencies and divisions," she said. "It's county government without doors, walls or clocks."

Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer