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Private Sector Beckons Montana CISO Lynne Pizzini

The state's chief information security officer and deputy chief information officer has decamped for the private sector after a 25-year career in government.

by / December 20, 2017

The state of Montana will likely start the new year with a temporary but rather large void in its technology sector.

That’s because Dec. 15 was the last day of work for Lynne Pizzini, the state’s second highest-ranking technology official, as she follows a well-defined path for C-level officials that heads to the private sector.

Pizzini’s LinkedIn profile already reflects her next move.

The former Montana chief information security officer and deputy chief information officer is joining Washington-based Cerium Networks as its cybersecurity director.

There, she is expected to help small and medium-sized businesses better incorporate security into their companies, the state said in a news release.

But the former deputy CIO and CISO spent more than 25 years in the public sector — including 17 years at the Montana Department of Administration’s (DOA) State Information Technology Services Division (SITSD) — where she is credited with having helped create, implement and build the state’s cybersecurity program.

Her tenure as deputy CIO and CISO spanned more than nine years. In the process, Pizzini served under six governors, saw the state build data centers from the ground up, and, of course, survived Y2K. One of her favorite memories, the state said, was of working throughout the night on Dec. 31, 1999, as staffers in what’s now SITSD braced for a system shutdown that never came.

She emphasized the importance of communication during breaches or incidents during a conversation with Government Technology in October.

“I believe organizations really do need to have a very firm plan on how they're going to carry out any type of notification after an incident,” Pizzini said at the time.

“Lynne Pizzini has devoted her career to security, and the State of Montana has been the great beneficiary of that devotion,” Montana Chief Information Officer Ron Baldwin said in a statement.

“As she retires from public service, I wish her the very best and know that her passion for security will continue to benefit the public sector, our state and our nation,” Baldwin added.

In an August blog post, Pizzini talked to Splunk, the San Francisco-based big data company, about the crucial nature of data securitization, and how integral technology is to state agencies.

“It’s my job to protect the state citizens’ data, and it’s not just the citizens of the state – it’s my data; it’s my mom’s data; it’s my friends’ data. So, it’s my responsibility to make sure their data is protected, and also to ensure that our systems work properly,” Pizzini told Splunk.

“Since most business processes are related to technology in some fashion, it’s also my job to make sure all of our business processes are working at top efficiency,” she added.

No stranger to the statehouse, Pizzini addressed the Montana House State Adminstration Commmittee during the 2015 Legislative Session, with an update on IT security; and further information on DOA-SITSD’s request for nearly $1.9 million to continue the “Data Protection Initiative," aimed at addressing the ongoing need for improvement of data security on state systems.

As a result of the Initiative, launched in 2013 with a $2 million appropriation from the 2013 Legislature, the state had already conducted an enterprise risk assessment and created a “road map” for improvements.

John Lewis, director of the State Department of Administration, called Pizzini a “valuable and integral” part of SITSD and a “pillar of public service” whose reputation precedes her into the private sector.

No additional details were available about her replacement as of press time.

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Theo Douglas Staff Writer

Theo Douglas is a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.

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