IE11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Techwire One-on-One

As part of Techwire’s ongoing efforts to educate readers on state agencies, their IT plans and initiatives, here’s the latest in our periodic series of interviews with departmental IT and cybersecurity leaders.
“I believe that FI$Cal will continue to push the envelope and lead the way for California government entities in the adoption and use of modern technologies, systems and practices,” says Miriam Ingenito, director of the Financial Information System for California.
“I have a passion for this job. I really do. I look at every day as an opportunity and a blessing to make a change for the county and help support and improve business processes across the organization. It’s definitely a privilege and an honor to serve in this position,” says Rami Zakaria, CIO and director of the Department of Technology for Sacramento County.
“The CISO role is now seen as a trusted adviser for the organization, that serves as a thought partner to manage enterprise risk and how technology can enable the organization. ... CISOs of today must understand the business goals of the organization and how cyber risk fits in the overall organization’s strategy,” says Robert Leon, chief information security officer for Covered California.
As part of Techwire’s ongoing efforts to educate readers on state agencies, their IT plans and initiatives, here’s the latest in our periodic series of interviews with departmental IT and cybersecurity leaders.
As part of Techwire’s ongoing efforts to educate readers on state agencies, their IT plans and initiatives, here’s the latest in our periodic series of interviews with departmental IT and cybersecurity leaders.
“I guess I would say I’m kind of equal parts technology evangelist, strategist/futurist and project manager. I think in the big picture, (I) really focus on pushing forward the importance of technology as a whole and often in an environment which is resistant to change or adapting some old processes to technology,” says Nate Greenberg, IT director for Mono County and the town of Mammoth Lakes.
“I try to share with my staff that evidence of we are doing a great job is when we are invisible, and our coworkers get their job done seamlessly,” says Jorge Henneke, chief information officer for the California Conservation Corps.
“So, digital transformation for us — is digital services, basically, making sure your constituents have everything they need. They don’t have to drive down to City Hall for anything. They can do everything online. And we’ve come a long way as far as our department is concerned,” says Bryon Horn, chief information officer for the city of Fresno and director of its Information Services Department.
“So, beyond the typical responsibilities of a CIO, which include being responsible for the vision, strategic direction, and policy development and management of our IT systems and supporting infrastructure, our program partners require IT to be innovative, flexible, and adaptable to meet their changing needs,” says Jennifer Chan, chief information officer at the California State Lottery.
“We ... see digital transformation as a continuous process of improvement. Importantly, we take a human-centered-design perspective. It focuses on accessibility and takes many forms of customer feedback to direct our improvements. In this way, all new city digital services are built for and by city residents,” says Linda Gerull, chief information officer and executive director of San Francisco’s Department of Technology.
“We have the technology road map, where we want to go, how we want to invest in the technology, how it will reduce our technical debt, how it will help improve and make some consistent business processes and programs. A lot of these things are part of the digital transformation aspect – but I need that culture change,” says Rob Peterson, agency information officer at the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
“With different events every week and our big event, the California State Fair, every July, my role as IT manager is closely tied to the operation of our events. I don’t think my role differs all that much from a CIO’s role in that I am given the opportunity to play a big part in strategic planning,” says Pat Conner, IT manager for the California Exposition and State Fair.
“We tried the cloud five years ago and it just wasn’t there yet. It was too expensive and too slow; there were too many limitations. But I think it’s ready now and my big commitment here for the county is, I want to take our business continuity plan to a whole other level,” says Jim Smith, chief information officer for Riverside County.
“My role acts as oversight of the department’s internal IT governance process and I also coordinate with the AIO, other CIOs within CalEPA and CDT as needed,” says Michael Wanser, CIO and assistant director at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
“A CIO’s role is to ensure that the appropriate technology is being delivered to meet the needs of not just the department but the customer who’s relying on those services. I think it’s important that you’re in tune with what’s going on with the business,” says Steve Nash, chief information officer for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The newsletter’s regular series spotlights state and local government IT leaders, their changing roles and their new and ongoing technology projects.
“Now, a year into the pandemic, our department has relied on more cloud solutions and remote work (AKA telecommute or telework) as the recent adoption during the emergency pandemic. For me, the risk focus has changed from a traditional office to that of a virtual one,” says Ernest Shih, agency information security officer at the California Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The CIO must be a broker of collaboration, bringing people together so that technology can provide intended value. I make critical technology decisions, but those decisions cannot be made with blinders on,” says Marc Shorr, chief information officer at Contra Costa County.
“Working with vendors to discuss emerging technologies and services will be valuable in my role at DSS. I look forward to leveraging those vendor partner relationships to bring future innovation and efficiency to DSS,” said Richard Gillespie.
“Digital transformation will never be finished. In my mind, it’s aligning people and process and technology to enable government to deliver new services in new ways. Including digital of course, taking advantage of those emerging technologies that continue to come out. And that’s why it’s never going to be over,” says Lea Eriksen, chief information officer at the city of Long Beach.
The newly appointed state chief technology officer opens up with Techwire about leadership, public service, her black belt in karate, and how she balances being a mentor with being a lifelong learner.
“Technology is a part of everything that we do personally and in our day jobs. The role of the CIO has changed from a technologist to really understanding and collaborating (with) our program areas,” said Cheryl Larson, chief information officer for California Correctional Health Care Services.
“At the end of the day, I would categorize my job as a risk manager. It’s my job to help the organization make good risk-based decisions that minimize or mitigate adverse impacts to our business,” says Nadean Shavor, chief security officer for the California Franchise Tax Board.
“For the county, digital transformation represents the strategic position of integrating innovative technologies and approaches across the organization to modernize IT and improve the end-user experience, which improves the services provided to the public,” says Larry Ainsworth, chief information officer for San Bernardino County.
“Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. We are navigating another technology transformation, requiring us to move past some of our previous practices and integrate and support technology as a cross-functional business process,” says Steve Grogan, chief information officer and chief of the Office of Information Services at the state of California Air Resources Board.
“When we consider that compute translates to data transformation and exchange and better insights to make decisions — information technologies are the fundamental enablers of our present and future, and the end of growth is still not in sight,” says Imre Kabai, chief information officer for Santa Clara County.
“We are focused on being a true business partner; we have to work side by side with our executives and peers if we’re going to move business forward. Because it’s all about moving the business forward and changing the program with technology,” says Catherine Lanzaro, CIO and deputy director of the Technology Services Division for the California Department of Child Support Services.
“I am results-focused, have higher than average expectations, and will work with anyone that is putting in the effort,” says Ventura County CIO Terry Theobald. “I believe in accountability in the sense those I work with and I are both accountable.”
“In IT, we understand the critical nature of our role to provide solutions for the problems that the business is trying to solve. Without truly understanding those problems and partnering with business to create the solutions, success is more difficult to achieve. The pandemic has really highlighted the importance of that partnership,” says Heather L. Pettit, chief information officer for the Judicial Council of California.