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Michigan CISO Jumps from State Service to Presidential Campaign

After more than a year as Michigan's CISO, Chris DeRusha is now working for the Biden presidential campaign. DeRusha has served a number of high-profile organizations, including the White House and Ford Motor Company.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden formally launches his 2020 presidential campaign during a rally May 18, 2019 in Philadelphia.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden formally launches his 2020 presidential campaign during a rally May 18, 2019 in Philadelphia.
Shutterstock/Matt Smith Photographer
Last week Chris DeRusha, former chief information security officer of Michigan, took over cybersecurity for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.  

DeRusha had been Michigan’s CISO since February 2019. The cybersecurity veteran has a distinguished resume, having served as senior cybersecurity adviser to the White House, cybersecurity strategist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and manager of enterprise vulnerability management and application security for Ford Motor Company. 

The campaign also hired Jacky Chang, who worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Convention in 2018, as its chief technology officer. 

“Biden for President takes cybersecurity seriously and is proud to have hired high quality personnel with a diverse breadth of experience, knowledge, and expertise to ensure our campaign remains secure,” said an emailed statement from the Biden campaign. “Jacky and Chris will be central to strengthening the infrastructure we've built to mitigate cyberthreats, bolster our voter protection efforts, and enhance the overall efficiency and security of the entire campaign.”

In an emailed statement, Michigan CIO Brom Stibitz summed up DeRusha’s impact in his last role. 

“The state of Michigan is recognized as a national leader among states in cybersecurity practices, planning, and innovation, and Chris DeRusha was integral in building and maintaining that status during his time as Michigan’s Chief Security Officer,” Stibitz wrote. “The processes and expertise that we have in place will allow us to keep progressing in the ongoing effort to keep Michigan’s systems and data safe from cyberthreats.”

After making Crain’s Detroit Business’ 40 under 40 list for 2019, DeRusha said being a state CISO was his “favorite job.” 

“I’m not sure I'll ever feel like I’ve found success, because I'll just want to solve the next problem," DeRusha told Crain’s Detroit Business. "(But) public service is success. If you’re helping people in some way, I think you're successful.”

As noted in Politico, “[c]ampaign CISOs are still something of a novelty,” as Pete Buttigieg was the only Democratic primary candidate known to have hired a CISO. 

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.