New Jersey names former White House adviser as innovation chief, appoints first chief AI strategist

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy appointed former Obama adviser Dave Cole as the state's new chief innovation officer, replacing Beth Noveck, who now serves as New Jersey's first chief AI strategist.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that Dave Cole, who served as a White House adviser during Barack Obama’s first term, is the state’s new chief innovation officer.

In a press release shared with StateScoop, the state’s Office of Innovation said that Cole is now responsible for improving the “design and delivery of policies and services to the state’s residents, businesses and institutions.” Cole takes the place of Beth Noveck, who’d served as the state’s first innovation chief since 2018, and was appointed Jan. 9 as the state’s first chief AI strategist.

“When we deliver government services that are responsive to residents’ needs, we restore trust and lift up our communities,” Cole said in the release. “In addition to our efforts to improve state benefits and services for residents, Governor Murphy’s day-one commitment to establishing New Jersey as the Innovation State has made it possible for us to make it easier than ever to start and operate a local business, enabling economic growth across our state.”

After serving as a data director on Obama’s presidential campaign and then a deputy director of new media technology and senior technology adviser in the White House, Cole spent nearly three years at the software firm Mapbox. In 2015, he did a yearlong stint as a software engineer for the General Services Administration’s 18F program, the consulting office that helps other agencies develop digital services.


In 2014, Cole ran in the Democratic congressional primary and in 2016 sought election to the U.S. House as a New Jersey Democrat. In 2016 he returned to Mapbox for an additional four-year stint, primarily serving as global vice president of operations and strategy.

In 2020, Cole was hired by New Jersey. Starting as an innovation fellow, Cole helped lead the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program, and he co-founded the Resident Experience Initiative, a project that aims to help streamline the state’s digital services.

Noveck, the state’s former innovation chief, transitioned into her new role as the state’s chief AI strategist the same day that Murphy announced her appointment during his State of the State address on Jan. 9.

“Thanks to [Noveck] … we have already begun training thousands of our government workers to use generative AI to help New Jerseyans access benefits and services,” Murphy said in his address. “And that scope will only grow in years to come. … The future of generative AI has yet to be different. And New Jersey can be the author. This is not just an economic opportunity for our families — it is, frankly, an imperative.”


In the news release, Noveck said she wants to implement Murphy’s vision of having the state “lead the nation in the advancement of AI in both the private and public sectors.”

“Dave’s applied experience and expertise will be an integral addition to my team and I am confident that he will successfully guide the Office of Innovation’s work to design and develop iterative, continuous improvements to State programs,” Murphy said in the release. “I want to also thank Beth Noveck for her service to the State as its first Chief Innovation Officer, and look forward to her success as our first-ever Chief AI Strategist.”

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