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Chicago CIO DuMerer Leaves City Service to Lead Aquarium IT

CIO and Commissioner Danielle DuMerer has parted ways with the city for a role as the vice president of technology for the Chicago-based Shedd Aquarium. Her last day with the city was July 12.

Chicago’s CIO and Commissioner and Danielle DuMerer has left the city for an opportunity in the private sector. 

She has accepted a job as vice president of technology at the Chicago-based Shedd Aquarium. Her last day with the city was July 12. 

The aquarium does more than showcase various sea creatures, including saving endangered species and their habitats; rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife; restoring the Great Lakes; and setting water and energy conservation efforts, according to its website.

DuMerer said in an email to Government Technology that it has been her honor to serve the people of Chicago for more than decade, and said her greatest achievements as CIO was the creation of an open data portal and design office, implementing programs that expanded people's access to technology and digital skills training, and striving to ensure IT investments reflected the city of Chicago's priorities.

"I am most proud of our work to modernize the city’s 311 non-emergency management system during my time as CIO," she said. "It's the heart of city operations and the primary way our residents interact with government."

She cited the effort as a prime example of leveraging partnerships to improve users' experience and give city staff the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.

"We built the new system with Chicagoans for Chicagoans — residents, council members, and the teams that deliver critical services throughout the City — and continue to improve it based on feedback we collect by engaging online and in person," she said.

Chief Technology Officer and First Deputy Commissioner Carleton Nolan will serve as the interim CIO until the city finds DuMerer's permanent replacement. 

The move comes as the city transitions to a new administration. Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently took over for two-term mayor, Rahm Emanuel. 

Before her last day, DuMerer reached out to Evanston, Ill., CIO Luke Stowe to inform him about her departure and who he’d be collaborating with going forward. Stowe said he has worked with DuMerer since he was promoted to the Evanston CIO position in 2016.

“I’ve always found Danielle to be intelligent, thoughtful and generous with her time, which I greatly appreciated,” Stowe told Government Technology. “There were a couple of times where we were working through an issue and we reached out to her and either Danielle and/or her staff [was] helpful in providing some input and guidance for us going forward.”

He said CIO turnover, which is a common occurrence in the largely appointed position, poses the challenge of building new relationships, but he is excited for the opportunity to get to know Nolan. He said Evanston, Chicago, the state and other IT agencies are hoping to adapt a mutual aid cybersecurity plan as the threat of ransomware continues to pervade local government.

“I think there’s always been a friendly competition," Stowe said. "Chicago has always been a long-time leader in open data so I think it’s been good in a sense to have a national leader next door, because I think it makes us want to up our game, as well, even though we’re much smaller, to try to do the very best that we can given our resources.”

DuMerer will begin her new position at the Shedd Aquarium on Aug. 12.

After several inquiry attempts, questions about DuMerer’s departure and how the city will fill its CIO role remained unanswered by the Mayor’s Press Office at the time of this article’s publication.

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.