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Jonathan Feldman

CIO, Asheville, N.C.

Jonathan Feldman CIO Asheville NC
David Kidd/Government Technology
When Asheville, N.C., CIO Jonathan Feldman began his career with the city, he planned to stay three to five years, at most. But 15 years later, what’s kept him there is the fact that he’s still having an impact on the community and city operations.

In that time, he’s helped evolve the IT organization from one solely focused on providing services to city staff to one that considers how projects impact city residents. To facilitate departmental change, Feldman began prioritizing IT work, because without a clear list of priorities, every IT request carries the same weight.

“A funny thing happens when you start prioritizing what the organization needs,” he said. “You start getting things that are meaningful accomplished for the organization and then you build credibility, and credibility is what you need if you want more resources.”

Feldman established modern governance processes for IT that include strategically incorporating new technologies into the city’s infrastructure not for their own sake, but in cases where they can help achieve the city’s digital inclusion and accessibility goals.

Cloud services — Asheville uses the Google Suite — are an example of a tech investment that helps empower other departments to be more self-sufficient, enabling them to do simple tasks like create websites and surveys. Feldman also provides departments with checklists to use during the procurement process that ensure IT standards — like being mobile-friendly — are met. These tools help departments make informed decisions without relying on a consultation with his department, allowing IT staff to focus on more complex technical work.

“There are two kinds of CIOs,” Feldman said. “The kind that faces into the data center and the kind that faces out of the data center. You want to be the kind looking out. That was advice I got when I first got to be a director.”
Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.