30 State and Local Government IT Influencers Worth a Follow in 2022
As state and local IT officials emerge from the difficult terrain of the past few years, they are looking forward with renewed optimism. In some cases, strengthened budgets have produced fresh opportunities, and officials across the country are pushing tech projects to improve the lives of their constituents.
StateTech has tracked flourishing tech trends in government this year, and the officials on this list have led the charge in many areas, including broadband expansion, data analysis, data center optimization, hybrid work environments, and identity and access management.
We present our annual list of bloggers, Twitter personalities, and those who otherwise use their social channels to influence the conversation. This list captures a segment of ambitious leaders who cut across state, county and city governments, as well as those active in government tech associations and a few tech vendors big in the public sector space. We also have named several of our favorite podcasts focusing on state and local government technology challenges, as we do every year.
We hope these 30 state and local IT influencers, listed in alphabetical order by first name or organization name, will guide readers to insights and opinions on the latest in government technology. If you’re on the list, spread the news and grab our IT Influencer cover image for your social media pages or websites.
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Aaron Snow is interim executive director and a fellow at the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, where he works on projects including the Digital Service Network and the Intergovernmental Software Collaborative. The Beeck Center tackles projects involving data, design, technology and policy in support of improved outcomes for citizens. Snow was a first leader of 18F, the U.S. government’s digital services consultancy, which he co-founded in 2014.
Alex Whitaker is the director of government affairs for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, which represents the interests of state government technology officials and their agencies. In this role, he spearheads communications to federal policymakers regarding the association’s national priorities, including awareness of state IT policy issues.
Andrew Halbrook is the public works utilities manager for the city of Ruston, La. He manages large infrastructure projects from inception through completion while exploring smart city solutions to enhance operational efficiencies and improve the user experience. Since 2018, he has been heavily involved in grant proposals for the city of Ruston, which have collectively secured over $30 million.
Cindy Barbera-Brelle was appointed as the first Illinois Statewide 9-1-1 administrator in 2016, and she was reappointed for two-year terms in 2017 and 2019. She was previously the executive director of the Northwest Central Dispatch System. In this role, she oversaw the day-to-day technical, administrative and operational functions of the multijurisdictional 911 communications center, which serves 11 communities in Cook County.
Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Cisco Systems is a technology solutions company that originally produced a pioneering router. Over the past 40 years, it has grown into an IT and networking giant with an array of hardware and software products and tech services. On its government blog, Cisco provides thought leadership on technology applications to improve government operations and efficiencies through IT.
Crystal Cody is the public safety technology director for Charlotte, N.C., and is responsible for all technology related to police, fire and the regional radio network. Cody previously held the role of computer technology solutions manager for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. In her 20-year career with the city of Charlotte, she has been responsible for the selection, design, implementation and management of all software applications used by the police department and, more recently, public safety agencies.
Dave Fletcher is CTO for the state of Utah. For more than 16 years, Fletcher has served the Utah Department of Technology Services, overseeing broad technology initiatives including artificial intelligence, open data and technical architecture. He has a long-running passion for digital government, having created his first government website in 1993 while serving as the director of general services for the state. He is now on the forefront of state government data center and AI operations.
David Graham is the chief innovation officer for the city of Carlsbad, Calif. Having worked for the city and county of San Diego, Graham is a veteran local government adviser. He has worked on civic innovation initiatives including Smart Cities San Diego, Cleantech San Diego and the national MetroLab Network. As the official in charge of Connected Carlsbad, he applies IT to increase efficiency, communication, transparency and the overall quality of government service.
Nebraska CIO Ed Toner was appointed to his role in 2015. Since then, Toner has consolidated key IT systems, resources and services, which has positioned the state to provide quality support at lower costs. StateTech refreshes Toner to our annual list in part due to his award-winning blog, which is a must-read for state technology officials.
Gladys Gonzalez is CIO of Doral, Fla. She has served in that role since 2015, orchestrating business solutions while controlling costs and managing risks. She recently oversaw her city’s green data center consolidation and also leads Doral’s smart city initiative.
Government Technology’s “In Case You Missed It” is a video series exploring the latest trends, innovations and market moves in the world of government technology. “ICYMI” is hosted by e.Republic executives Dustin Haisler and Joe Morris.
The Govlaunch podcast explores initiatives from cities and towns around the world with a focus on innovation. Local government leaders share how they crafted projects to improve citizen services and the general quality of life for their constituents. Govlaunch helps government leaders learn from the experiences of others — whether their efforts were successful or not.
The GovLove podcast showcases local government officials and their career experiences. This informative series features chats with everyone from city managers to student interns about how they confront public policy challenges and develop civic solutions for improvement.
J.R. Sloan joined the state of Arizona in 2013 after working in the technology industry for over 20 years. As state CIO, Sloan oversees technology innovation development and IT policies. He also serves as chair of the State of Arizona Information Technology Authorization Committee, which approves and monitors high-cost technology projects statewide. Focused on digital transformation for Arizona, Sloan first stood up AzRAMP, then recently helped launch StateRAMP to implement a standardized approach to the cybersecurity standards required from service providers working with state and local governments.
Jim Richberg is Fortinet’s field CISO for public sector, a job that leverages his 35 years of experience driving innovation in cybersecurity and threat intelligence. Before joining Fortinet in 2019, he served as the national intelligence manager for cyber as the senior federal executive focused on cyber intelligence for the U.S. intelligence community. He also oversaw the implementation of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Ken Pfeil is chief data officer for the state of Virginia, a role he undertook earlier this year. He is a security and finance industry veteran, formerly serving as vice president and managing director of data protection and governance at OneMain Financial. Prior to OneMain, he served as chief security officer for MFS Investment Management. His IT and security experience spans over three decades, with strategic, technical and executive experience at companies including Microsoft and Merrill Lynch.
Kevin Gilbertson was appointed CIO of the state of Montana in March 2021. He brings three decades of tech and business consulting experience to the position. He has focused on helping organizations transform their customer experiences for the past 20 years. Gilbertson also has worked for a number of Software as a Service vendors and consulting organizations providing customer experience software and expertise to public and private sector clients.
Kevin Tunks is a chief architect and national technology adviser for state and local government and education for Red Hat, aligning modern technologies with critical public sector needs. With more than 20 years of tech experience, Tunks balances citizen desires and end-user goals.
Lessa Kanani‘opua Pelayo-Lozada is executive director of the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association and president of the American Library Association. She has long been an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, having chaired the association’s diversity, literacy and outreach committee and served on the ALA Council and executive board. Pelayo-Lozada is currently an assistant manager at the Palos Verdes Library District in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.
Liana Bailey-Crimmins was appointed in June 2022 as California state CIO and director of the California Department of Technology. She has more than 30 years of state government technology experience. She is tasked with improving technology performance as an investment in California’s future and advising the governor on the strategic management of the state’s technology resources. She also is working to close the state’s digital divide as chair of the Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative’s advisory committee.
Since 2018, Marlin McDaniel has served as innovation program manager for Jefferson County, Colo. He leads a team of innovation analysts and interns who spearhead process and technology improvements for county departments and their customers. Marlin’s projects have saved millions of dollars, improved service quality and created efficiencies that help deliver an exceptional digital customer experience to residents.
Michael Leahy was named secretary of the Maryland Department of Information Technology in 2018. The department works with the governor, multiple state agencies, coordinating offices and a rich vendor community to provide technology guidance and support and foster a customer-focused culture. Additionally, DoIT develops, maintains, revises and enforces IT policies, procedures and standards throughout state government. Leahy also serves as the current president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.
Nancy Rainosek is CISO for the state of Texas. She has over 35 years of IT experience in Texas state government and private sector consulting. Prior to joining the Texas Department of Information Resources, she served as deputy CISO and enterprise security operations manager for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. She also was an IT audit manager and information resource manager at the Texas State Auditor’s Office.
Nathaniel Ford is CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority in Jacksonville, Fla. His career in public transportation spans nearly four decades and includes time leading the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. Ford is a champion for innovative multimodal transportation solutions, complete streets, walkable neighborhoods, public-private partnerships and transit-oriented development. He is often tapped by national and international groups to share his industry-leading insight on transportation matters through trade and study missions around the world.
Noel Hacegaba is deputy executive director and COO of California’s Port of Long Beach, responsible for managing the day-to-day administration and operations of the port. Previously, he served as the port’s chief commercial officer and successfully managed its commercial operations during a period of significant industry realignment. He also led the recovery of its largest terminal following the biggest bankruptcy in shipping line industry history. Hacegaba has more than 24 years of public and private sector experience spanning a variety of industries.
Peter Wallace is CIO of Virginia Beach, Va. Since taking the helm at the city’s IT department in 2017, Wallace has implemented several successful digital transformation initiatives. His efforts continue to secure local, national and global awards for Virginia Beach. Wallace’s big-picture insights influence a broad portfolio of initiatives including include smart cities, digital equity, regional broadband and economic development.
Shawnzia Thomas is CIO for the state of Georgia and executive director of the Georgia Technology Authority. Thomas has worked for the state for more than a decade, with an emphasis on integrating technology in all sectors of state government to improve constituent services and better serve Georgians. She previously served as assistant deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services. She also was executive director of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity and director of the Georgia Corporations Division.
Sindhu Menon is CIO of Harris County, Texas, leading Harris County Universal Services. With over 22 years of experience in technology, Menon has expertise in executing complex projects, building collaboration, creating disaster recovery plans, and boosting community engagement and innovation. Prior to joining Harris County, she was CIO of Raleigh, N.C., and was previously CIO of College Station, Texas.
Ted Ross is CIO for the city of Los Angeles. He leads the Los Angeles Information Technology Agency, managing more than 400 employees and a $105 million annual operating budget. Ross has over 20 years of private and public sector technology experience. A Los Angeles native, he has worked for the city since 2004, previously serving as assistant general manager for ITA and in IT leadership roles under the city comptroller and at Los Angeles World Airports. He played key roles in replacing the city’s financial management system and instituting the mayor’s open data portal.
Vince Williams is mayor of Union City, Ga. He first became mayor pro tem in 2013, and he was elected mayor later that year. In 2007, Williams joined the City Council. Williams is a past president of the Georgia Municipal Association and president of the National League of Cities.