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Pennsylvania Draws Talent from AWS for Its New CISO

Amazon Web Services’ James Sipe will replace acting CISO Chris Dressler on Nov. 27. Sipe is the first permanent appointment to the role since the departure of longtime CISO Erik Avakian last year.

Headshot of James Sipe dressed in maroon button-up and smiling, in front of gray wood-paneled wall.
James Sipe
Pennsylvania has a new permanent CISO in Amazon Web Services' (AWS) James Sipe. The commonwealth was being served by acting CISO Chris Dressler following the departure of longtime CISO Erik Avakian last year.

Sipe comes from AWS, where he was security practice leader for strategic accounts, according to his LinkedIn, and he previously served as an IT security executive for digital communications and marketing company MessageBird. Sipe brings private-sector experience leading cybersecurity and compliance for global companies across a number of industries, including building technology, hospitality and entertainment, weather and environmental monitoring and others, per a state press release.

Sipe will officially start in the new role on Nov. 27. He isn’t the only recent C-suite appointment: Pennsylvania hired its CIO in July.

As CISO, Sipe will be charged with defending the state IT systems and data, and maintaining executive branch agencies’ cybersecurity posture, strategy and standards. Among other responsibilities, he’ll oversee risk management and vulnerability and threat management, security awareness outreach, identity and access management and forensic investigations.

His work won’t just focus on state government, but also include providing shared cybersecurity services to local governments. His office will collaborate with local government associations and other state agencies to maintain and expand such services, as part of a strategy created under the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program.

“I am excited to bring my 20-plus years of experience leading, advising and working on cybersecurity and compliance for some of the world’s largest companies to my new role as CISO for the commonwealth,” Sipe said in a press release statement. “I look forward to building on the strong foundations of collaboration and leadership that are already in place to keep Pennsylvania at the forefront among states for cybersecurity.”