The technology industry is always changing, but one constant in Virginia state government has been Karen Jackson.
Jackson began working for the state in the mid-1990s at the Center for Innovative Technology, a quasi-public agency that assists tech companies. Many of the programs she developed two decades ago are still in place today. When densely populated parts of the state demanded telework advancement and rural areas needed broadband access, she played a key role in the establishment of the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance to satisfy both diverse constituencies. Many of her efforts over the past 15 years have focused on expanding broadband access; Virginia was one of the first states to create a broadband coverage map.
Jackson served as deputy secretary of technology under Govs. Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell; in 2013, Gov. Terry McAuliffe promoted her to secretary of technology, making her the first woman to hold the position. Jackson credits part of her longevity in government to her background in the private sector prior to joining the Center for Innovative Technology. “Being able to look at a problem from a business perspective rather than a political party perspective,” she says, “has allowed me to work on issues with both sides of the aisle.”