Kristin Russell, CIO, Colorado

In February, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper named Kristin Russell as the state’s CIO and secretary of technology. After serving as vice president of global IT service operations at Oracle, Russell comes to the public sector with more than 15 years’ experience in operations leadership, customer service, and organizational design and development.

You had a very important position at Oracle, why switch to the public sector?

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I truly enjoyed my time at Oracle. It’s an incredible company with true vision and strategy around technology and enterprise computing. [But] this job is coming at a unique time in Colorado’s history in terms of the need to really understand technology’s role in the state’s economic development and recovery plan. I’m kind of the quintessential learner. I like to take on new challenges, and so it’s one of those times in one’s career where you have to take a step back, look at those opportunities and take advantage of them.

What will be some challenges with taking on this role in government?

I think there is tons of opportunity. There are areas of IT service that need to be hardened and worked on from a reliability, performance and stability standpoint. That’s typical in a lot of IT jobs. But this is a huge opportunity to leverage what we’re doing around economic development and looking at how technology can be key to that. I look at technology as something that can join people from a digital-divide perspective and bring communities together, so that’s probably what I’m most excited about.

What do you hope to accomplish by the end of 2011?

I’m working on my 90-day plan, and I’m getting a lot of counsel on the things, from a transition standpoint, that have been done. There’s a great, very hard-working Office of Information Technology within the state that’s been working on a lot of transformational activities up until this point, and I want to continue and build on that momentum.

Have you worked with Gov. John Hickenlooper before on any projects?

No. This is my first time meeting and working with him, which I think is a real testament to his leadership and making sure he’s reaching out to a broad base of people to ensure that he gets the right people on his cabinet.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.