Arkansas Chief Technology Officer Yessica Jones announced Thursday that she’s stepping down after five years with the state Department of Information Systems, including the last three-and-a-half years as the agency’s director.
In an email to colleagues, Jones said her last day with Arkansas DIS will be Nov. 24, after accepting a private-sector offer. She wrote that she was sharing the news with a “mix of sadness and gratitude,” but that her new job will allow her to work from home and devote more time to her family.
“I am extremely proud of the significant accomplishments DIS was able to complete over the past several years,” she wrote. “I truly believe I will depart DIS with an exceptional team in place and with the agency in good overall fiscal health.”
Jones, who joined DIS following a stint in Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office, was named interim CTO in 2016, following the sudden and rocky exit of Mark Meyers. She was formally named CTO and the Department of Information Services’ director in March 2017. Since her appointment, Jones has overseen numerous major undertakings, including new governance for the state’s data management, a data center consolidation, a migration to Microsoft 365 productivity software and the development of cybersecurity training programs for state workers.
Most recently, Jones has been managing the Arkansas state government’s IT response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During a recent interview on StateScoop’s Priorities podcast, Jones said the health crisis — which has infected more than 128,000 Arkansans and killed 2,144 — has pressured the state to speed up its cloud migration and IT modernization processes.
“I think it drove home the importance of leveraging cloud services and being able to respond to rapidly changing IT needs during a pandemic or another national incident,” she said.
Prior to joining Hutchinson’s administration in 2015, Jones spent about 15 years in the private sector, including stints with Northrup Grumman, Pennzoil Quaker State and the database marketing firm Acxiom.
Arkansas officials have not named a replacement for Jones.