CIO Moves: Who Went Where in 2015

The swearing in of 11 new governors contributed to numerous state CIO changes -- and the C suite continues to evolve as roles around data, privacy and innovation are found increasingly throughout the country.

by / December 10, 2015

This was not the year that IT stood still. 2015 saw a big shakeup of technology leadership at all levels, but the swearing in of 11 new governors contributed to numerous CIO changes at the state level. And the C suite continues to evolve as roles around data, privacy and innovation are found increasingly throughout the country. Another trend seen consistently in 2015 — that may cause a ripple effect at the state and local levels — is the White House’s focus on bringing experts from Silicon Valley and other tech-savvy hubs to help transform federal IT. Here’s our recap of the major career changes of 2015.


January ///////////////////////////////////

Moving from Minnesota Department of Human Services CIO to state CIO, Tom Baden transitioned to his new role to build upon an employee and IT consolidation effort that began in 2011. Baden adds his 30-plus years of experience that included work as the state’s chief enterprise architect. He replaces former state CIO Carolyn Parnell, who retired last December.

Tom Baden began leading Minnesota's IT in early 2015.

When Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley left to launch his presidential campaign, so did a trio of state IT officials. Chief Innovation Officer Mike Powell, CIO and Secretary for the Department of Information Technology Isabel FitzGerald, and Director of Cybersecurity Elliot Schlanger made a joint exit from their state positions. The three did not say if the change of leadership was a factor in their decisions.

After the retirement of Karen Robinson in December 2014, Todd Kimbriel was named interim executive director for the Texas Department of Information Resources. Kimbriel previously served as the department’s deputy executive director, its chief operations officer and its director of E-government and IT Services.

Former Illinois CIO Sean Vinck agreed to assist Oregon this year with what could be called an IT intervention. After a failed state health-care exchange and messy lawsuits with Oracle as fallout, Vinck now serves as Oregon’s enterprise IT transformation director. Arkansas’ Mark Myers now holds the titles of chief technology officer and director of the state’s Department of Information Systems. Appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Myers plans to focus on broadband development and technology services for education and economic development.


February ////////////////////////////////

In 2015 the White House brought in a spate of Silicon Valley experts. Among them, D.J. Patil, LinkedIn’s former head of data products, and Tony Scott, an executive at VMware. Patil serves as the White House’s first chief data scientist and has focused efforts on developing the data science behind precision medicine, an initiative to cultivate medicines and therapies customized to individual genomes. As federal CIO, Scott replaces Steve VanRoekel, and acts as an administrator for the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology.

The White House turned to Silicon Valley for many of its tech hires, including naming D.J. Patil, formerly of LinkedIn, its first chief data scientist. Photo courtesy of AAAS.ORG.

The Texas Department of Information Resources lost Brian Engle, who served for nearly two years as the state’s chief information security officer and Texas cybersecurity coordinator. He departed to work for a nonprofit specializing in retail intelligence.

Sam Nixon, director of Virginia’s Information Technologies Agency, left the post to be chief administrative officer at the State Corporation Commission, an entity handling state regulatory issues. Two of his accolades included creating a cross-agency identity management platform and rescuing a mired $2.3 billion IT outsourcing deal.

In February Rob Mancini quietly wrapped up a 12-year run in government, with his final four as Washington, D.C.’s CTO. Under Mancini’s leadership, the city doubled its fiber network from 350 miles to 700 miles and became the first jurisdiction in the capital region to construct a state and local cybersecurity operations center.


March ///////////////////////////////////

2014 Government Technology Doer, Dreamer and Driver Tony Encinias’ seven years as CIO of Pennsylvania came to an end in March. Notable achievements include advances in cybersecurity, hardware and contract consolidation, and a nearly $700 million contract for hybrid cloud services with Unisys, one of the largest cloud contracts yet seen in state government. Just a few days after his resignation, a replacement was announced in John MacMillan, a three-decade IT veteran with experience in both the public and private spheres.

President Obama named David Recordon, an engineering director from Facebook, the nation’s first director of White House Information Technology. Already a consultant to the U.S. Digital Service, the appointment made Recordon a permanent fixture in the administration’s expanding innovation corps drawn from the private sector.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan appointed David Garcia the state’s newest secretary of the Department of Technology. Garcia is known as a customer-centric innovator and entrepreneur, having founded one of the nation’s fastest growing private companies, NMR Consulting.

The General Services Administration lost CIO Sonny Hashmi in March to a managing director position at file sharing and cloud management company Box. Hashmi was replaced by GSA’s David Shive, a former District of Columbia CIO.

The designation of Ian Kalin as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s first chief data officer is a sign of the times. The department’s 47,000 workers gather more data than ever, and the former Socrata open data director and presidential innovation fellow was tapped by the feds in an effort to get organized.

Washington, D.C., launched a Technology and Innovation Hub, and hired two new officials. Tony Saudek leads as chief performance officer and director of CapStat, the district’s cross-agency accountability initiative, while Tegene Baharu serves as chief technology officer. A partnership through the hub between D.C. and Howard University directs university resources to support local, middle- to late-stage tech startups. In May, Matt Bailey joined the team as the district’s first director of technology innovation.


April /////////////////////////////////////////

The New Hampshire Department of Information Technology nabbed long-time private-sector IT pro Denis Goulet for its commissioner slot. Goulet plies a “people and process” approach to technology as the state leads programs like Live Free and Start, a startup incubator.

After a five-year run as Nevada’s CIO, David Gustafson resigned. Notable achievements during his time with thestate include the launch of a statewide cybersecurity program that included live attack monitoring.

Illinois found a new state CIO in Hardik Bhatt, an IT manager who once served as CIO of Chicago. Before his appointment by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Bhatt spent five years with Cisco, where he specialized in bringing Internet of Things (IoT) technology to local governments around the world.

Chicago's former CIO, Hardik Bhatt, took the helm of Illinois' technology in April. Photo by David Kidd.

The Texas Department of Information Resources promoted interim CISO Edward Block to full-on CISO. Block gained his interim status following the departure of Brian Engle.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige named Todd Nacapuy the new state CIO, a musical-chairs replacement to Keone Kali, who replaced Sonny Bhagowalia in an acting capacity in 2014. Nacapuy’s private-sector experience prior to joining the state includes stints at Microsoft and Electronic Data Systems.

Corpus Christi, Texas, CIO and 41-year public-sector veteran Michael Armstrong retired, citing health reasons. A Government Technology Top 25 honoree in 2003, Armstrong managed one of the nation’s largest Wi-Fi networks in Corpus Christi while leading data center operations, cloud computing and mobile efforts.

Philadelphia created a new position — the digital government service architect — and filled it with former Code for America fellow Mjumbe Poe. The new addition works alongside Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid, conceiving new ways for the city to serve its citizens.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee named Alex Alben the state’s first chief privacy officer. Recommended for the post by CIO Michael Cockrill, Alben is a former congressional candidate and technology consultant charged with examining the evolving technology landscape and the privacy challenges that surface as a result.

Massachusetts made Katie Stebbins its assistant secretary of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. Bringing significant economic development experience to the role, Stebbins describes her task as keeping the state’s technology, economic development and political agendas bound together.


May //////////////////////////////////////////

Steve Reneker, Los Angeles Information and Technology Agency general manager, announced his resignation effective May 1 to return to his former role as CIO of Riverside County, Calif. Under Reneker’s leadership, L.A. was recognized in Government Technology’s Best of the Web competition for initiatives like its expenditure portal, the 311 service platform and the deployment of a Cyber Intrusion Command Center.

May 8 marked Chief Technology Officer Kishor Bagul’s final day with the New York Office of Information and Technology. The CTO had logged three years with the public agency and pushed to introduce cloud technology in the state, but Bagul said he had his sights set on entrepreneurship, the cloud and IoT.

The White House announced the appointment of Princeton professor Ed Felten as the deputy U.S. chief technology officer on May 11. Felten is best known for his role in the 2005 Sony copy protection scandal and the discovery of security flaws in the Diebold Election Systems voting machine with the help of his students.

Chris Cruz, formerly with the California Department of Health Care Services, was appointed as the Department of Technology’s chief deputy director by Gov. Jerry Brown. Cruz replaced Ron Hughes, who retired from public service in July 2014. In his role with Health Care Services, Cruz oversaw a $1 billion project portfolio and some of the state’s largest IT initiatives.

Susannah Fox was named as the replacement for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services CTO Bryan Sivak, who was known for being a thought leader in open data disruption and out-of-the-box procurement methods, and left the agency in late April. Fox formerly served as entrepreneur in residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and spent 14 years at the Pew Research Center. She plans to focus on open data, cross-agency collaboration and civic engagement.

Bryan Sastokas was announced as the new director of technology and innovation for Long Beach, Calif. Prior to taking this position, he served as Oakland, Calif.’s first CIO and sought to walk a fine line between keeping the city’s IT infrastructure up and running, and taking steps to innovate. Sastokas was recognized as one of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers this year for leading what some consider a tech renaissance in Oakland.

Bryan Sastokas
Bryan Sastokas moved to Southern California, leaving Oakland to become Long Beach's Technology and Innovation Director.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the appointment of Nelson Moe to the state’s CIO seat following Nixon’s departure in March. Moe served 17 years in the U.S. Navy, was the CIO for the House of Representatives and has a background in network engineering in the private sector.

Will Pelgrin, president and CEO of the Center for Internet Security (CIS), retired on May 31 after a long and influential cybersecurity career. The cybersecurity advocate also served as the national leader and chair of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Jane Holl Lute took the helm of CIS, bringing a resume packed with high-ranking government roles to her new position as CEO. She most recently served as president and CEO of the Council on CyberSecurity, which integrated with CIS in January.


June ////////////////////////////////////////

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts appointed Ed Toner to the state’s CIO role on June 9. Toner replaced Brenda Decker, who served in the position for 10 years and helped the state build a broadband network with the lowest Internet costs in the nation. Prior to the governor’s appointment, Toner was IT director of global infrastructure operations at Omaha-based payments company First Data Corp.

Gail Roper, CIO of Raleigh, N.C., announced her resignation in early June. Roper, who was named one of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers for her work in Kansas City, Mo., had been with Raleigh since 2006. She took a job directing technology strategy for the St. Joe Company in Watersound, Fla.

Michelle Gore was named Colorado’s chief data officer. In addition to leading the state’s open data efforts, Gore has also assumed leadership of the Government Data Advisory Board, which develops data strategy and policy. The data officer had previously served as the senior manager of business intelligence and analytics for Denver Public Schools.

News traveled fast when NASCIO reported the retirement of Massachusetts CIO Bill Oates via Twitter on June 30. Oates took on the role in January 2014 after serving as the CIO of Boston for seven years, where he said he fostered a culture of innovation “enabled by IT tools.” He continued that line of thinking at the state level, with the launch of several recent initiatives, including a smart streetlight program and a data dashboard called the Massachusetts’ Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System.


July /////////////////////////////////////////

Portland, Ore., announced that Jeff Baer would be taking over for CTO Ben Berry, who resigned from the post in the spring. Baer had previously worked for the city’s Bureau of Purchases before briefly accepting a position in Southern California. His new role took effect July 1.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appointed Phil Wittmer to take over as chief information technology officer in July after three-year CITO Anthony Schlinsog resigned in 2014. Wittmer has more than two decades of IT experience in the private sector, including 13 years as president of the technology investment firm and consultancy Lead-IT.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh turned to tech to solve problems related to city transportation, appointing Chris Osgood of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics to the newly created position of chief of streets. In the role, he will be tasked with planning, designing and maintaining Boston’s roads. Walsh appointed Kris Carter, a two-year veteran of the New Urban Mechanics Office, to fill Osgood’s previous role as co-chair.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Ted Ross, already serving as the interim general manager for the city’s Information Technology Agency, to the permanent job on July 30. Ross, known for leading the development of Los Angeles’ open data portal, will oversee a 460-person staff and an $85 million budget.


August ///////////////////////////////////

Davood Ghods, a public-sector employee for 25 years, retired as leader of California’s Office of Technology Services. In his year-and-a-half tenure, Ghods sought to focus the office more on customer service and increase the number of people using the state’s private cloud project, CalCloud.

The First Responder Network Authority, which is in the process of setting up an interoperable nationwide public safety network, created the positions of CEO and president and filled them both on Aug. 17. Michael Poth, who has worked in Oregon and Arizona police departments, as well as at HP Enterprise Services, took the CEO job, while FirstNet Acting Executive Director TJ Kennedy stepped in as president.

Jacksonville CIO Usha Mohan resigned abruptly on Aug. 21 soon after a new mayor took office. Mohan served as CIO for three years and helped the city save $200,000 annually with a gigabit fiber network. During her tenure, Jacksonville also launched an open data website, Jaxscore 1.0.

After 18 years as the CIO of Las Vegas, 2008 Government Technology Doer, Dreamer and Driver Joseph Marcella retired in August. Marcella’s major goal during his career was to integrate city offices and make them work more seamlessly together — much in the same way the controls of fighter jets he used to fly work together.

On Aug. 26, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake hired a startup entrepreneur to help launch a citywide broadband plan. As broadband coordinator, Jason Hardebeck is tasked with extending the city’s existing fiber-optic network. Hardebeck is managing partner of the social network company WhoGlue and of the makerspace Baltimore Machine Works.

Illinois left its CISO position open or occupied part time for three years before hiring Kirk Lonbom, who is leading a statewide cyberstrategy transformation. Before joining as CISO, Lonbom served for more than five years as CIO and chief of technology for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.


September ////////////////////////////

Jeff Mowry left his role as CIO of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on Sept. 25 to return to his roots in the Detroit automotive industry. Starting with Cuyahoga County in 2011, Mowry was previously the CIO of Broward County, Fla., and spent 20 years in the private sector with automotive giant Chrysler as an IT executive before his public-service career.

Calling his time with Los Angeles “illuminating, educational and useful,” Chief Data Officer and former Code for America co-director Abhi Nemani left the city in late September following one year of opening data sets and coordinating open data efforts.

Robert Schmidt, CIO of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, was appointed chief of the state Department of Technology’s Office of Technology Services by Gov. Jerry Brown. The new role includes leading a team of more than 600 employees and managing the state’s data center, which operates on behalf of 200-plus state and local departments throughout California.


October //////////////////////////////////

Recognized nationally for helping to improve Indiana’s infant mortality and child fatality rates using data analytics and launching open data-based innovation initiatives, Paul Baltzell moved to the private sector after serving as state CIO since 2013. Gov. Mike Pence named Dewand Neely the new CIO and director of the Office of Technology, noting that he was one of the office’s initial employees.

Shannon Rahming got to drop “interim” from her title on Oct. 8 when she became the official replacement for Nevada CIO David Gustafson. Having served as interim CIO since March, Rahming is leading big projects across the state — including the launch of a multiyear modernization for several criminal justice systems — and looking for chances to collaborate.

Arizona filled its CIO post, naming Morgan Reed the permanent replacement to Aaron Sandeen, who left the state in November 2014. Reed brings private-sector IT experience at a number of companies to his new role, most recently as data center services director at travel site Expedia.

Charles Thompson stepped down from his post as CIO of Houston and accepted the same position with the Port of Houston Authority. With the city since early 2012, Thompson focused on IT governance and upgrading several large systems, including an updated CRM system.


November ///////////////////////////////

Missouri CIO Tim Robyn stepped down in mid-November after working with the state since 2005. Named a 2015 Government Technology Doer, Dreamer and Driver, Robyn recently embarked on a major modernization effort to replace the state’s workers’ compensation, offender management, tax collection and unemployment insurance systems. Robyn was replaced by Rich Kliethermes, previously the IT director for the Missouri Department of Economic Development.   

Having served as Utah’s CIO since 2012, Mark VanOrden retired in mid-November. Prior to leading the state’s Department of Technology Services, VanOrden spent six years as IT director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Recent accomplishments include the launch of an open data portal on Jan. 1, and VanOrden was aiming to push a big data initiative into this year’s budget cycle. Gov. Gary Herbert announced in October that Mike Hussey, an IT manager and technologist who worked at the University of Utah, would take on the role of state CIO. Hussey helped create the largest CD-ROM database network in the U.S., a central component of the University of Utah’s research efforts.

Raleigh, N.C., named a new CIO to replace Gail Roper. D. Darnell Smith will leave his position as vice president of Group IT for the Raleigh-based Elster Group to be the city’s IT chief in early 2016.

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