Cincy Data-Analytics Leader Leigh Tami Heads to NYC Parks

Tami, who spent four years helping Cincinnati build its data and analytics work into some of the most robust of any mid-sized U.S. city, has accepted a similar position with the New York City parks department.

by / February 11, 2019

Leigh Tami, the chief performance officer for Cincinnati who helped build up the city’s robust data and analytics program from scratch, has accepted a new position as director of data analytics for New York City Parks and Recreation.

Tami said she is currently finishing up her time with Cincinnati so she can start imminently with New York. Nicollette Staton, who is Cincinnati’s analytics and innovation manager as well as a longtime collaborator of Tami’s, will serve as her replacement in an interim capacity. As Tami departs, she said the work in Cincinnati could not be in better hands, and that her work in Ohio was set up to be not only permanent, but continuously improving well into the future.

“My goal here was to build something that could run on its own,” Tami said. “In Cincinnati now we have something up and running that can support itself. It’s reached that level: The media uses it, operations uses it, and the culture here has really changed.”

Indeed, Cincinnati's Office of Performance and Innovation ranks among the most visible, prolific and broad of any mid-sized city in the country, largely due to the CincyInsights data portal and all that it is capable of. That platform is a leader in the space for cities the size of Cincinnati, featuring myriad data sets that are updated in real time and offered for use by the public as well as by internal city staff in formats that are both searchable and easy to use. In addition, the platform is also home to other functionalities such as performance dashboards, benchmarks and visualizations capable of showing even neophytes why open data is important.

And Tami has been there since day one. In fact, she remembers when she first started work for the city as an analyst four years ago, the Cincinnati Office of Performance and Data Analytics was about as new as it could get.

“My first day in the office was the first day our current office was even ready,” Tami said. “The paint was still wet and all our stuff was in boxes.”

Tami helped to build the initial structure for the city’s stat program, and within nine months, she was named chief performance officer. She said from there, she made it a priority to ensure that open data was embraced citywide, essentially working to ensure that she wasn’t the only one with access to key operational information like how long it took a pothole to be filled or how many service requests came into the city.

“I realized we could put it all on open data, but that that wouldn’t make it accessible to most people,” Tami said. “That’s when I started thinking about CincyInsights.”

CincyInsights, to be reductive, was a massive consolidation effort that funneled all of the city’s data into one place: the Web portal. Since its creation, it has gone through many new iterations under Tami’s leadership, and the number of data sets have increased exponentially, as have the dashboards and user functionalities.

Tami said she is confident the work will continue with Staton and the rest of the team. She is also excited to use all that she has learned in Cincinnati doing similar work for the parks department of the largest city in the country, learning from her counterparts there in other departments, and essentially being at the forefront of civic technology work in the country.

Zack Quaintance Assistant News Editor

Zack Quaintance is the assistant news editor for Government Technology. His background includes writing for daily newspapers across the country and developing content for a software company in Austin, Texas. He is now based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached via email.