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23 Years of GovTech’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers

Our 2024 class of award winners is a talented group of not only technologists, but state and local leaders pushing the bounds of what it means to serve residents.

GovTech's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers 2024
What do a nonprofit policy director, a fire chief, a state chief privacy officer and a county chief information officer have in common? Plenty. And not just the fact that they’re all honorees in this Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers issue. For 23 years, we’ve selected 25 inspiring leaders whose work is focused on serving the public, powered by effective use of technology.

Some people on our list wouldn’t describe themselves as technologists. That’s become more common over the years as technology has grown so central to public service as to become almost invisible.

As the human-centered design movement has spread across government in the last decade, a facet of that work has emerged as a priority: digital accessibility. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 42.5 million Americans with disabilities as of 2021. Top 25 honoree Heather Weir, director of the Strategy, Performance and Administration Office in the Colorado Office of Information Technology, points out that elevators and ramps are pretty common in most buildings, but making digital services accessible to all is not common practice — yet. Weir and her team have some interesting pilots underway, as well as foundational governance work to help state agencies embed accessibility into everything they do.

Three awardees on the 2024 Top 25 hold the title of chief information security officer. Ubiquitous at the state level and gaining ground in cities and counties, successful CISOs are developing agile security practices that evolve with the times. Cybersecurity was perhaps the most popular early use case for artificial intelligence, helping teams flag suspicious intrusions for further investigation. But the rise of generative AI has changed the game again. Virginia CISO Mike Watson noted that the technology almost instantly rendered his phishing detection training obsolete, making an updated program a priority.

But what’s the best way to try to stay ahead of constantly changing threats? No approach is foolproof, but more and more CISOs are looking outward. San Francisco’s Michael Makstman helped found a network of local IT security leaders that meet to share information and otherwise contribute to each other’s success. Coalitions like these are growing in number and influence, with Makstman’s group now in charge of public-sector day at RSA. North Dakota CISO Michael Gregg, also on this year’s list (and gracing our cover), did something similar at the state level, working to remove legislative barriers on interstate collaboration in order to make it happen.

Convincing a talented candidate that government IT is a great place to spend some of their career can be tough. But not always. CIOs say that the public sector is uniquely suited to provide a vast array of experience with different technologies. Opportunities to innovate abound. Just ask Prince William County, Va., CIO Rob Mancini. On the heels of a major IT modernization effort that totally revamped the county’s digital infrastructure, he is now turning to various government experience endeavors in tandem with the county’s transformation team. Mancini expects that it’ll take about a decade to get IT where he wants it, but he’s excited about the journey and the team that will help him get there.

“When you do innovative things and you’re using modern technology, what self-respecting technologist doesn’t want to be a part of that?” Mancini asked.

Our hope is that you’ll read about our honorees and find inspiration in their stories to embrace these same values through the work you do in your organization. In that spirit, is there work you’re doing that other GT readers should know about? Drop me a note at and/or connect with me on LinkedIn. I’d love to hear from you.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to read the full digital edition online.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.