Virginia adds technology official to oversee cybersecurity and smart-cities initiatives

Richmond Technology Council executive Robby Demeria will be the secretary of commerce and trade for technology and innovation, one of two positions Gov. Ralph Northam created in a reorganization of the state's tech leadership.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday the first of two new appointments to lead the commonwealth’s technology policy. Robby Demeria, who had been the executive director of the Richmond Technology Council (also known as RVATECH), will be the deputy secretary of commerce and trade for technology.

In the new position, Demeira will be responsible for developing programs related to cybersecurity, unmanned systems and smart-cities initiatives. The state recently won one of the Smart Cities Council’s Readiness Challenge Grants for projects including rural broadband expansion and the creation of a statewide cybersecurity plan.

Demeria will be greeted in his job with a fresh cybersecurity challenge: state officials are trying to identify party behind a recent hack of the Department of Environmental Quality’s website.

Demeria’s position was created after Northam reorganized Virginia’s technology offices after his January inauguration. That included eliminating the cabinet-level role that had been filled by former Technology Secretary Karen Jackson, who left office along with Northam’s predecessor, Terry McAuliffe. Jackson’s oversight and operational duties were transferred to the state’s Department of Administration, while the Center for Innovative Technology was moved to the Department of Commerce and Trade, where it will be under Demeria’s purview.


Northam is expected to appoint a second deputy secretary to Department of Administration to oversee other aspects of technology policy, but no names have been floated publicly for that position yet.

In March, Northam also reappointed Virginia Chief Information Officer Nelson Moe, who is currently in the process of ending the state’s 13-year IT contract with Northrop Grumman in favor of a new multi-vendor approach.

Demeria, who could not be reached for comment about his new job, joined the Richmond Technology Council in 2011. The organization, which promotes the Richmond metropolitan area as a destination for tech companies, includes more than 175 companies across multiple sectors. Before joining the Richmond group, Demeria was a vice president at the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. He also worked for former Rep. Jim Moran, a Northern Virginia Democrat.

Demeria’s first day is July 2.

Benjamin Freed

Written by Benjamin Freed

Benjamin Freed was the managing editor of StateScoop and EdScoop, covering cybersecurity issues affecting state and local governments across the country. He wrote extensively about ransomware, election security and the federal government’s role in assisting states and cities with information security.

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