IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Sabra Schneider

CIO, Bellevue, Wash.

Sabra Schneider, CIO, Bellevue, Wash.
When leading IT for a city like Bellevue, Wash., with high-tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon at its doorstep, a culture of innovation gets baked into the job. Citizens expect city services to evolve alongside hardware, software and technological norms of the time. As CIO for nearly eight years, SSabra Schneider has made a point of embracing those expectations, as reflected in her department’s motto, “PIE”: partner, innovate, evolve.

“It’s not an accident that ‘partner’ is first. We really want to work with our customers, internally and externally, so that we are driving technology with them, not doing something to them,” she said.

In addition to helping her city earn regular appearances in the Center for Digital Government’s* annual Digital Cities awards, this focus on purpose-driven innovation has allowed Schneider to prioritize impactful work. Over the past 12 months specifically, she got the city on board with a new enterprise technology strategic plan that will guide their decision-making and budgeting over the next five years, worked with the city’s parks department to replace their entire registration system on short notice, and implemented a pair of low-risk pilot projects to test the potential of artificial intelligence: a program to simplify the building permit process and a chatbot on the city’s website.

Bellevue being a majority-minority city, Schneider has also prioritized equity in her work, starting a project last year to bring free connectivity to affordable housing properties in the area.

What every project has in common is that it’s not about the bits and bytes. It’s about technology serving people and the democratically elected stewards of their city.

“I, and we as a department, really have to be champions of the organization’s mission and goals,” she said. “I think about how we can leverage innovative technology to help the council achieve its vision, help the city achieve its goals, drive more information to the community, or better services to the community, and I think that has served us very well.”

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to read the full digital edition online.

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.
Andrew Westrope is managing editor of the Center for Digital Education. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology, and previously was a reporter and editor at community newspapers. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.