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Hillary Hartley to Lead U.S. Digital Response as CEO

Hartley, a veteran of public-sector technology with more than a decade of experience within government, is the group’s new CEO, describing the position as “the perfect next step.”

Hillary Hartley
Hillary Hartley, CEO of the U.S. Digital Response.
Ben Miller/Government Tech
The U.S. Digital Response (USDR) has found its next CEO in Hillary Hartley, an influential public-sector technologist with more than a decade of government service to her name.

Hartley joins USDR leadership at a key moment, both for the organization and for the country. The group continues to evolve from a volunteer pandemic effort into a major support pillar for government in the United States, while at the same time a historic amount of federal funding is currently available to state and local government agencies. The USDR, now three years old, is continuing to focus on government sustainability, and part of that is supporting local governments' ability to find grants, get grants and reduce the related administrative burden throughout the process, which can be hefty, said former USDR interim CEO Tina Walha, who is now transitioning to the group’s chief partnership officer.

“As someone who was previously in government, I’ll tell you — these moments don’t come around often when the landscape is flush with federal funding,” Walha said. “We don’t want to just make the most of it right now. Something we think a lot about is sustainability and digital resilience.”

With that in mind, Hartley is being tapped to help lead the future of that work. Essentially, Hartley is joining the group as it continues to go from focusing on immediate crisis response to helping government prepare for the next crisis, whatever that crisis may be.

“USDR has such an important and unique role to play with its 8,000-person community that has raised its hand and said, ‘If you need me, I’m here to help,’” Hartley said Tuesday in a conversation with Government Technology, noting she wasn’t initially looking for a new position but was intrigued by this one after speaking with members of the team.

Hartley most recently spent six years in Canada with the Ontario Public Service, serving as chief digital and data officer. In that position, she helped create and expand the Ontario Digital Service, an innovation team that built out capacity there, redesigning government services around user needs. Before that, she was a co-founder of the public-sector tech organization 18F, which is housed in the U.S. federal government’s General Services Administration. Hartley was the deputy executive director of that group as it grew from 10 staffers into a team of 250 designers, developers and product managers.

Before that, Hartley was in the private sector with companies adjacent to government. She is now joining a USDR executive team that also includes Chief Technology Officer Alex Allain, Chief Experience Officer Jessica Watson, and Walha.

At the same time, USDR’s guiding board is also now welcoming Avni Shah, who will join Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka and Janette Fong.

“This is really the perfect next step for me,” Hartley said, “having been inside government for almost a decade now and having been outside government before that for 15 years or so, I’m very excited about this new lens and this new angle and new opportunity to continue to push and help and serve from the outside.”
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.