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Following Hack, New Haven’s Leadership Will Focus on Cybersecurity

A new chief technology officer takes over after a recent cyber attack in which the city lost $5.9 million. The city has also hired a new director to help its most vulnerable residents.

For more than 25 years, most recently as vice president of community and family engagement at Clifford Beers Community Care Center, in New Haven, Conn., Tirzah Kemp has overseen initiatives to stabilize and support some of the most vulnerable members of the local community.

Now she'll put her experience supporting vulnerable individuals, families and communities to work as the new director of the city's Department of Community Resilience.

"Many New Haven residents face a myriad of challenges, from housing and food insecurity to community violence and economic instability, all of which contribute to poor outcomes," Kemp said an earlier release. "Yet, I am emboldened by these challenges, seeing them as opportunities for collective action and collaboration."

In her new job, Kemp will plan, coordinate and direct programs to serve some of New Haven's most vulnerable residents, including people experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges and substance abuse, as well as victims and perpetrators of violence and people returning from incarceration.

"I am deeply honored to assume the Department of Community Resilience director role," said Kemp, who will replace Carlos Sosa-Lombardo, the inaugural director of the department when it was created in 2022.

But in her second week on the job, Kemp thinks the most important thing she can do is to listen and "absorb all the great work that's being done," she said.

"I'm really wrapping my head around all of the services that we already offer," she said.

She especially has an eye on how the department can collaborate better and provide better services for the community.

Kemp said she also looks forward to "hearing from providers in the community and what they think the gaps are" in the services the city provides.

"I am confident that by harnessing the strength of our community and the dedication of service providers and the families we support, we can overcome these obstacles together, ensuring a thriving future for all," she said in the release.

The Department of Community Resilience oversees more than 70 services and includes the Office of Housing and Homelessness Services, the Office of Community Mental Health Initiatives, and the Office of Violence Prevention. It also supports the Elm City COMPASS crisis response team.

"This appointment holds personal significance for me, marking a culmination of my commitment to serving the residents of New Haven across various capacities throughout my career," Kemp said earlier in a release.

At Clifford Beers, Kemp led a team of 35 people and oversaw all community and school-based care coordination and specialized community-based programming. That included STOP School Violence, the Community Healing Support Team, the Victim Services Support Network, care coordination for Project Longevity, fatherhood engagement, and community support for Families.

She earned a bachelor's of arts degree in sociology and social work and a master's of science degree in management and organizational leadership from Albertus Magnus College.

Kemp is one of two new department heads recently announced by Mayor Justin Elicker. The other is Michael Simeone, the city's new chief technology officer.

"New Haven residents will be well-served by these two experienced and dedicated professionals who are stepping into critical roles in our administration," Elicker said in the release.

"While very different jobs, each one serves an important role in city government," Elicker said. "I'm grateful to Tirzah Kemp and Michael Simeone for stepping into these positions and bringing their knowledge and experience to help support our residents and our city."

Simeone's new position as chief technology officer might normally be out of the limelight.

But Simeone, who has more than 25 years of IT experience, most recently as chief information officer for Bendett & McHugh, P.C., one of Connecticut's largest law firms, takes over in the wake of an incident last June in which hackers stole $5.9 million in city funds related to a New Haven Public Schools bus contract, of which city and federal officials expected to recover at least $4.7 million.

Two Board of Education employees, the director of information technology and the senior IT information specialist, were put on paid leave in February as a result of "performance-related concerns" in the wake of that breach, a NHPS spokesman said at the time.

Simeone's position is under the mayor's office and reports to Elicker, but also works closely with Superintendent Madeline Negrón.

"I am honored to serve as the city's new chief technology officer and to work alongside Mayor Elicker, Dr. Negrón, other members of the Board of Education and the city's dedicated information technology employees," Simeone said.

"I look forward to applying my information technology and cyber security expertise to guide the city's day-to-day technology operations, help support the city's continued technology and efficiency goals, and most importantly to serve New Haven residents in this critical role," he said.

Simeone received a bachelor's of science degree in management and finance from Sacred Heart University and an associate of science degree in computer science from South Central Community College, which is now Gateway Community College.

(c)2024 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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