StateScoop's Top Women in Technology 2018

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Yejin Jang

Yejin Jang

Director, Government Affairs
National Association of State Chief Information Officers

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

Were really excited about the progress weve made on federal cyber regulation harmonization and we look forward to the progress to come. Trying to map federal regulations against each other has been an arduous task but its one that weve been able to do with the help of our great membership.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I dont know that theres one piece of advice that I could point to, but I continually learn from the example set by others like my boss Doug Robinson. He always puts people first, treats EVERYONE fairly and with respect, and encourages all of us on his staff to keep learning. Ive learned a lot from his consistent example and Im very grateful for that.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

Im excited to see how governments are embracing technology to better serve its citizens. Its great working for an association that represents state CIOs who are driven by the same mission to improve the lives of state citizens through IT/technology. It also doesnt hurt that I work with a creative and dedicated team at NASCIO (Doug, Lisa, Meredith, Amy, Emily, Eric, Danielle, Kayla, Lori) where we constantly search for innovative ideas and best practices to share with our membership.


Yessica Jones

Yessica Jones

Chief Technology Officer
State of Arkansas

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

My proudest achievement is the completion of the two-year project to transform the states K-12 computer network from outdated technology to a highly secure, all fiber, high speed broadband network built to provide our students and teachers with the connectivity speed they need for digital learning today and into the future. At 200 kbps/user, todays APSCN doubles national standards for internet infrastructure capabilities. Monthly vendor costs for connectivity were reduced from $76.70 per meg to $3.70 per meg. The project was a huge financial win-win for the state, for the school districts and for the taxpayers of Arkansas. It took Arkansas from the bottom of the nation in K-12 connectivity to the top.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the tech workforce?

Being a woman in tech is an honor. I think it puts me in a unique position to serve as a role model to other young women pursuing a career in what is considered to be a male-dominated sector.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by a highly qualified, competent, capable and dedicated team of IT professionals that consists of both men and women. It is empowering to know I have their knowledge andabilities to lean on and learn from when challenges arise. My job is a constantly evolving process where I learnsomething new every day and, with the support of my team, I feel as though I am learning from the best.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

The best career advice I have ever received is to stay true to yourself, to find a mentor, learn from others, see things from different perspectives,to set your pace and dont forget to have a good work life balance.

It is important to take care of ourselves and our families and to unplug so that every day you can start fresh and recharged. Build strong partnerships and surround yourself with people that lift you up.

Be a great listener, a true listener. Build trust and maintain it.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

I am excited about our project to consolidate the IT infrastructure across executive agencies. The governor authorized us to proceed along a Gartner-recommended five-year roadmap by approving the initial funding proposal that will enable us to implement new IT service and financial management systems, establish a co-location data center to migrate data assets into the cloud, conduct network infrastructure upgrades to enable secure access from agencies to a DIS-managed data center and establish a program management office dedicated to the data center consolidation effort. I am also excited to see the state realize an estimated savings of $1.4 million annually resulting from a new statewide enterprise agreement with Microsoft that will consolidate licenses into a single agreement.


Lisa Kent

Lisa Kent

Chief Information Officer
City of Houston

Lisa Kent, Houstons chief information officer, has more than 20 years of experience in technology from her time as the chief technology officer for the Houston Airport System and has helped Houston take greatstrides in information technology since taking office in October 2016.

In her role at the city, Kent oversees a team of 215 employees in Houstons Information Technology Services Departmentand is responsible for providing technology systems and services for 21,000 municipal employees throughout the city.

During Hurricane Harvey, which hit Houston late last August, Kent and her team were responsible for managinginfrastructure like the public safety radio system, support for police and fire systems and public-facing online platforms, which provided critical updates to citizens and first responders.

Kent and her team have also been supportive of medical telehealth. Kent has helped Houston support Ethan, a video conferencing solution that helps connect emergency medical service professionals with physicians to improve immediate patient care.


Agnes Kirk

Agnes Kirk

Chief Information Security Officer
State of Washington

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

The Office of Cyber Security invested a significant amount of time this past year in outreach, including continuing to educate the state legislature on privacy and security issues, conducting training exercises for state agency executives, being a resource to local governments on cybersecurity issues, participating with our private sector partners in capture the flag and other cyber defense competitions for high school and college age participants and developing new strategies to help mid-career, transitioning veterans and graduating high schoolers to become cyber professionals.

We also are moving ahead with a program this year to provide secure coding training to state agency application developers as well as a Developers Academy and Static Application Security Testing tools to help find security flaws. It will provide a consistent approach to ensure the states online interactions with our citizens and business is convenient and secure.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the tech workforce?

I have been very fortunate to have worked in IT most of my career and seen it evolve. When I started my career, IT was predominately male dominated but that is no longer true in my experience. Work ethic and abilities generally outweigh gender today.It has been fascinating to see how technology has changed the world, both good and not so good. Cybersecurity is a team sport based on trust and I think that helps foster relationships across states, industries and genders.I love being in technology right now it’s ever-changing.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Probably a couple pieces of advice stand out: trust, integrity and collaboration are the keys to success. The second was: never be too good to do any type of work to get a job done.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

There is a growing understanding that everyone has a role in security Congress and our federal partners; state and local governments; small to mid-sized business that fuel the local economy;and our critical infrastructure partners. The reality is every citizen in this country has a role. As we better define those roles, we will become more effective not only in protecting personal information and privacy, but also in finding new ways to enable business.


Debra Lam

Debra Lam

Managing Director, Smart Cities & Inclusive Innovation
Georgia Institute of Technology

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

Launching the Georgia Smart Community Challenge with a coalition of wonderful external partners and the kind support and advice of Georgia Tech. I am grateful for everyone who supported this new concept and took a risk to work together on it. Georgia can be a model for smart development.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the tech workforce?

Unfortunately, I am still a part of too many meetings, panels, teams that are largely homogeneous.This is rapidly changing and done with positive intention. I do see much better work coming out of diverse teams and discussions. It is a win-win.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I havent quite mastered it yet, but I have been hearing more recently about forgiveness and how we must be more forgiving of ourselves. Our expectations of ourselves and work are often extraordinary high, and we are often forging new frontiers where there is no guidebook. Not everything will succeed or be perfect. Rather than curb your expectations or play safe, learn to forgive yourself to continue to aim high and pursuit your top goals. Dont be afraid and forgive yourself along the way.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

Really trying to bring inclusive into smart cities. What does smart cities for all look like and how can we bring additional use cases that is relevant to more people. I am also excited to start looking at international collaborations and comparisons on smart communities development. As smart communities is process driven, the journey continues!


Kim Majerus

Kim Majerus

General Manager, State & Local Government
Amazon Web Services

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

At Amazon Web Services (AWS), our leadership principles guide how we engage with our customers. When we strive to think big and remain customer obsessed, we mean it! When I reflect on the past year, I am proud of the innovative ways our state and local government customers have used AWS to tackle tough challenges and make the world a better and safer place.

For example, were seeing our state and local customers using technology to implement smart city solutions around energy efficiency, air quality, intelligent transportation, public safety, public healthand other programs focused on improving quality of life for your citizens.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the tech workforce?

Technology continues to change at a rapid pace,andwithout the desire tocontinue to learn,you can quickly find yourself behind. Over the past twenty years, Ive found ways to stay current and relevant in this changing environment. As a woman in the tech workforce, I also look for ways to give back and get young girls engaged in technology at an early age through organizations like Girls Who Code and ourWe Power Techprogram, which focuses on building a pool of technologists as diverse as our world.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Staytrue to your word anddeliveronthe commitmentsyoumake. Thisshould be an important part of yourpersonalbrandto earn trust with your customers and co-workers.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

Im passionate about making an impact in the communities we serve. Working with state and local governmentsprovides me with a unique opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than myself.Weve seen our government customers use the cloud as a springboard tosolvetheirgreatest challenges. From open data initiatives and public safety modernization to education reform and citizen service improvements, there will be even more opportunities to serve solutions to the public at scale. I am excited to see what our customers are able to achieve next with the AWS Cloud.


Kate Mason Kinnison

Kate Mason Kinnison

Innovation Manager
San Antonio, Texas

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

Becoming a mom and learning the art of being a working mother.Taking the leap from career-driven female to career-driven mom taught me a lot about myself and my resiliency.Deepening my meditation practice,staying true to myself,and guidance from mentors made this a transformative year.Ive changed my approach to work and feel more creative and effective than ever before.Its inspired me to bring mindfulness to my colleagues to help them unlock their potential and build organizational resiliency.

It was during this time of transition that, with Geekdom and the Innovation team, I developed CivTechSA, a civic innovation program.CivTechSA connects local government with tech and entrepreneurial talentin middle/high schools, universities and startupsto collaborate on city challenges while fueling San Antonios startup ecosystem.Its a unique program that fosters civically-minded startups who will give back to our community for years to come.So, while it certainly was a challenging year, Im proud to say its been a fruitful one.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the tech workforce?

I’ve worked in a wide spectrum of roles in the private, public and non-profit sectors from law and politics to the arts and community organizing and I’ve never encountered such talented and inspiring women as I have in tech.Im lucky to work with these bright women and men in our startups, at Geekdom, and the City’s Innovation and Information Technology Departments.I learn so much from them every day.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

To be kind and respectful to oneself and others.Mindfulness helps with this during tough times.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

I’m interested in using technology to bringequity.Government has an opportunity to take the lead in utilizing technology to level the playing field for those at a disadvantage.The City of San Antonio’s SmartSA and CivTechSA programs have set us on that path, but there is more to be done.I am excited to see that unfold.


Susan Miller

Susan Miller

Geographic Information Officer
State of Georgia

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

I am extremely proud of the collaborative teams Ive been privileged to create over the past year, all of which are helping to spatially enabling Georgia government. These cross-cutting teams of technology specialists and decision-makers are saving Georgia taxpayer dollars, and making the data and information we use to support our citizens just that much better.After all, better data equalsbetter decision-making. These teams, which are made up of a cross section of government and our private sector partners, are working on all kinds of projects from mapping Georgias local roads and infrastructure, to collecting statewide data such as 6-in aerial photography and elevation data, to better inform critical activities like floodplain mapping and facilitating mitigation and resiliency from natural disasters.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the tech workforce?

Its been wonderful, but unbalanced. Ive been so fortunate to work specifically in the geospatial technology world my entire career, and while I dont have any quantitative data to back this up, I believe there have always been more women in geospatial technologies than in other tech industries and I have to wonder if thats because it is such a holistic science. This is not to say there are enough women in our fieldwe need so, so, so many more. Ive been privileged to work with truly outstanding, brilliant women and men, and I appreciate the many viewpoints we all bring when approaching the myriad of challenges and solutions being developed using spatial technologies geography truly is the common language that ties everything together.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I have a bad tendency to take the weight of the world on my shoulders, and a mentor once said to me, You should stop doing that.Youre simply not important enough to warrant such a task.I was slightly put-off at first, but he went on to explain that I needed to step back and realize that I would be more effective and efficient, and do a better job, at my job, if I were to slow down and breathe, and acknowledge the world was not going to stop spinning if I stopped trying to hold it up. Unfortunately, I have yet to master the art of not letting work overwhelm me, mostly because I have so much I want to do to empower those around me, but almost every day I remind myself of this advice. It was a gift, and it continues to hold me up and bring me peace today, and most days.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue to bring geospatial technologies to bear for all of Georgia government. This technology, and the collaborative teams you need to have in place to realize a statewide geospatial strategy, are already achieving ridiculous economies of scale by bringing better data to every level of government throughout the state, and were saving millions of valuable taxpayer dollars while doing it. I hope our next big programs focus on preparing the state for Next Generation 911, executing a successful 2020 U.S. Census, and in creating a governance body to help prioritize and facilitate the significant efforts of Georgias GIO.


Suma Nallapati

Suma Nallapati

Chief Information Officer
State of Colorado

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

My proudest achievement last year was the transformation of the OIT workforce. Our ground level teams are energized and empowered to adopt emerging technologies such as cloud, and our discussions are at a deeper, more customer-focused level.

Additionally, OITs employee engagement has improved vastly compared to even the private sector, and it is so great to see a beautiful #customerobsessed culture shaping up.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the tech workforce?

I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing women leaders at all levels of interaction in my career. We cherish a culture where women are respected and their leadership is nurtured.

My experience has been that women speaking up more and more, and letting their voices be heard at a national level. It is great to be a woman leader during this time, especially a tech woman leader since every industry is now tech-enabled.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Listen to your issues and dont run away from them. Things are tough but be persistent and tenacious and you will see solutions.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

Blockchain. Colorado is among a handful of states in the nation that have introduced a bill around this. We are working on identifying use cases for this technology and the possibilities are endless.


Stacey Napier

Stacey Napier

Executive Director, Department of Information Resources
State of Texas

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year?

We have a lot of accomplishments we can be proud of at the Department of Information Resources (DIR) over the last year but I think what stands out the most is successfully procuring two new enterprise services contracts that seek to modernize our shared services offerings. We are now in transition on both of these awards with a go-live date later this year, so we still have much work to do, but I was so proud of the effort put forth by our entire team.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the tech workforce?

I find that generally the technology industry is very supportive of increasing opportunities for women. Texas recently partnered with a private sector entity to encourage high school girls to participate in a cybersecurity contest. I have been very heartened to see an increase in STEM activities,including a recent move by the Girl Scouts to have a cybersecurity badge!

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I have been very fortunate I have received a lot of great career advice over the last 20 years. But recently, I took some advice from someone I admire, but dont know personally. I recently re-read some of Colin Powells leadership advice, and two quotes come to mind. First, There is no end to the good you can do if you dont care who gets the credit. And, There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Both of these quotes now sit on my desk to remind me to share the credit for good workand always work hard.

What’s something you’re excited about going forward, working in government technology?

Im excited to be part of the team that will procure a new data center services contract for Texas in 2020. Of course, on a contract of this size and scope, work is already underway. We are looking forward to embracing new capabilities and technologies that will ultimately benefit our customers, and the people of the great State of Texas.

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