Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of 2018: Honoring the Innovation Ecosystem

This year's awardees are building a gov tech legacy from inside and outside the CIO's office.

by / April/May 2018

Nobody gets into government IT for the money or the glory. Many share a desire to leverage their technology expertise for the public good: maximizing taxpayer resources by helping government to operate as efficiently as possible and, increasingly, making sure government is truly serving its people.

This month, we honor 25 people and teams with the distinction of a Government Technology Top 25 Doer, Dreamer and Driver award — a program started in 2002 to recognize those technology leaders putting their knowledge to work to solve problems and serve their communities. Their commitment to public service is admirable. It’s often not an easy road.

Many of this year’s honorees hold the title of chief information (or technology) officer, as you might expect. There are four local CIOs, seven state CIOs, and four others hold the top technology spot at the agency level. Luke Stowe of Evanston, Ill., and Jeff Stovall of Charlotte, N.C., share another distinction — they’re the first CIOs in their jurisdictions. But over the years, the number and diversity of roles represented on this list has grown. A handful of others we are recognizing for 2018 hold some of the newer titles that are growing in frequency on government payrolls. Two chief innovation officers — Shireen Santosham of San Jose, Calif., and Bob Bennett of Kansas City, Mo. — represent a position that’s becoming more common in state and local government. But their work, much like that of Chicago Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk and Gilbert, Ariz., Chief Digital Officer Dana Berchman, has a pretty significant technology component to it.

The breadth of this year’s list is a sign that the world of tech in government is growing. Some of the 2018 Top 25 hold titles that don’t alone reveal much of a connection to tech. I hope you’ll read their stories to see why these Doers, Dreamers and Drivers deserve accolades as leaders in the movement to improve government using technology — technology that’s inclusive and transformative.

One final note on this year’s list: A few months pass between when the Top 25 are chosen and when their stories are published in the magazine, so there’s often a few people who leave theirpositions where their work caught our attention. This year, that list is longer than usual.

We honor Michael Mattmiller, who left his post as Seattle’s chief technology officer in early February. As we went to press, he hadn’t yet announced his next gig. Montana CIO Ron Baldwin also made a big impact during his nearly 10-year run with the state but departed in January for a position with Deloitte. Alisha Griffin retired as director of the California Department of Child Support Services earlier this year, after redesigning the state’s child support system as she did in New Jersey. Finally, former FirstNet President TJ Kennedy earned a spot on our list for his stewardship of the nationwide network for first responders, which hit a remarkable milestone at the end of last year — unanimous opt-ins from every state in the country. We celebrate their achievements inside and outside of government.  

Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.