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5 Public Officials Making a Difference in State and Local Gov Tech

From digital inclusion to AI innovation, we take a look at Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers and how five of these government technologists are making an impact on state and local policies.

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The podcast cover image for this The Future in Context (TFIC) episode features an AI-generated image of a futuristic government work environment (DALL-E 3).
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The editors of Governing's sister publication, Government Technology, recently released their annual Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers for this year. The class of 2024 is noteworthy for continuing a multiyear trend toward gender equity among recipients, with women making up 44 percent of the group. The cross section of public leaders is recognized for their work on digital inclusion, government modernization, innovative application of generative AI, and a collective commitment to improving government services.

The episode focuses on five recipients, emphasizing their dedication and humility and underscoring their role in driving positive change at the local, state and national levels. The hosts are joined by Government Technology Managing Editor Lauren Kinkade, Associate Editor Zack Quaintance, Senior Staff Writer Thad Rueter and Data Reporter Nikki Davidson.

Show Notes

  • Amy Huffman, policy director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), stands as a crucial adviser to localities in vying for slices of the federal government’s historic investment of $65 billion in broadband and $2.75 billion in digital equity. The funds are now trickling down to states, where the monumental task of allocation lies. Huffman is helping to guide states in effectively utilizing the funds, facilitating coordination through NDIA’s toolkit and state cohorts.
  • Rob Mancini leads Prince William County, Va.’s IT department, which topped the 2023 Digital Counties Survey, following strong placements in previous years. He helmed the county’s modernization efforts and fostered an inclusive work environment. Mancini's focus is now on enhancing government services, including the implementation of a new AI-powered 311 platform, as part of ongoing efforts to transform the county’s IT infrastructure.
  • Sam Orth, chief technology officer and director of technology in Columbus, Ohio, owes his career trajectory to an early interest in personal computers and a stint at a local computer store in the 1980s. His private-sector sales background informs his current role, emphasizing customer-centricity and the understanding that technology drives change and business outcomes. Orth’s approach, rooted in intrinsic motivation and a focus on trust and authentic communication, shapes initiatives like deploying body cameras for police and establishing the city’s data analytics program, highlighting the importance of people alongside technological tools in building successful IT programs.
  • Kenyatta Powers-Rucker, Maryland Department of Human Services CIO, highlights the absence of mentorship as a significant hurdle in her tech journey — emphasizing the importance of support, particularly for underrepresented groups. With more than 12 years in leadership, Powers-Rucker’s commitment lies in facilitating access to tech resources for those in need while advocating for greater diversity in the industry through speaking engagements, networking and mentorship initiatives.
  • Katy Ruckle, Washington’s chief privacy officer, has spearheaded the state’s privacy initiatives, establishing foundational principles and training programs while leveraging grants for workforce upskilling. In her role since January 2020, Ruckle aims to navigate the evolving landscape of technology, particularly AI, by fostering responsible data usage through collaborative partnerships and community engagement — ensuring Washington remains at the forefront of privacy standards.

Related Links to items referenced in the episode:

Our editors used ChatGPT 4.0 to summarize the episode in bullet form to help create the show notes. The main image for this story was created using DALL-E 3. Government Technology is a sister site to Governing. Both are divisions of e.Republic.

Previous Episodes
Paul W. Taylor is the Senior Editor of e.Republic Editorial and of its flagship titles - Government Technology and Governing.
Ashley Silver is a staff writer for <i>Government Technology. </i>She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Montevallo and a graduate degree in public relations from Kent State University. Silver is also a published author with a wide range of experience in editing, communications and public relations.
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