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Milwaukee Modernization Continues as CIO Nancy Olson Retires

Olson had served the city for 30 years, a dozen of those as CIO, when she retired this week. The mayor has nominated telecommunications manager David Henke to carry on her work upgrading legacy systems.

by / January 31, 2020
Milwaukee City Hall (Flickr/Paul Sableman)

Wisconsin’s largest city bid adieu this week to its chief information officer of 12 years, Nancy Olson, and her possible successor is already at work continuing her modernization of old systems.

Olson officially retired from Milwaukee’s Information and Technology Management Division on Thursday after 30 years working for the city in different roles, according to David Henke, a telecommunications manager who has been nominated by Mayor Tom Barrett to succeed Olson as CIO.

Government Technology named Olson one of its Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2012, along with former Milwaukee County CIO Laurie Panella, for their frequent collaboration and cost-saving measures.

Asked about Olson’s major contributions to Milwaukee’s IT over a dozen years, Henke said two major projects came to mind.

“When she started, each department had its own IT section, and that has largely been consolidated within the Department of Administration, gaining many cost savings and operational efficiencies,” he said. “Another one is, as part of those efforts, the modernization of several legacy systems we had that were 20 years or older onto modern platforms.”

That work seems likely to continue as Henke, a 45-year-old native of Milwaukee, awaits confirmation in February as the city’s next CIO.

Henke said he’s been with the city since 2007, first with the Department of Public Works managing the city’s communications network, including phones, DPW servers and desktop systems. Since 2013, he has been working with Olson and the Department of Administration on the aforementioned consolidation of IT units, as well as new network and phone upgrades for the city.

“One of our priorities is cybersecurity,” he said. “We’ve done a fair amount to increase our security, and we’ll continue to enhance those tools to protect against ransomware, phishing, that sort of thing. And we’ll continue with modernization of older systems, legacy systems, migrating them from on-premises solutions to cloud-based solutions.”

Check back with Government Technology for an update once Milwaukee’s new CIO has been confirmed.

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Andrew Westrope Staff Writer

Andrew Westrope is a staff writer for Government Technology. Before that, he was a reporter and editor at community newspapers for seven years. He has a Bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.

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