Meet the ‘View From The Top’ IT Experts

GCIO Magazine’s new video series shines spotlight on federal IT modernization.

For the past three weeks, the GovernmentCIO Magazine team has been interviewing C-level government and organization executives who specialize in IT, cybersecurity and modernization. These interviews are the foundation of our new video series, “View From The Top: How IT Can Modernize Government.” 

The high-quality series showcases these leaders’ effort to increase citizen access and transparency, streamline operations and services and unleash the potential of technology as it makes modernization a reality. The series will include a montage centered around governmentwide IT themes, and the separate interviews with the participants. Stay tuned for the final product to be published mid-to-late August. 

Meet the 12 participants of “View From The Top: How IT Can Modernize Government”: 

Merritt Baer is a cybersecurity expert in Washington, D.C. She has served in all three branches of government, and more recently was the senior cybersecurity adviser in the Homeland Security Department's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. Prior to joining government, she started a business advisory and legal practice working with emerging tech companies. Baer is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College, a fellow at the East-West Institute, a founder of women’s tech advocacy group Tech & Roses and an adjunct professor of cybersecurity at the University of Maryland. 

Dr. David A. Bray is the chief information officer for the Federal Communications Commission, where he’s been leading the IT transformation since 2013. His extensive career in government began at the age of 15 on computer simulations at a physics facility, and later expanded into the Defense Department, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. intelligence community. He served as senior national intelligence service executive in 2010, and executive director for the National Commission for Review of Research and Development Programs of the Intelligence Community in 2012. He holds a Ph.D. from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and two post-doctoral associateships from MIT and Harvard.

Dr. Paul R. Cordts is the director and functional champion for the Military Health System at the Defense Health Agency. Cordts is responsible for overseeing the execution of Defense Department clinical policies and programs, quality assessment and improvement efforts and safe health care delivery throughout MHS. He assists the director in management of operations, readiness, clinical support, TRICARE Health Plan, pharmacy, warrior care and public health. Cordts graduated from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences with a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1984. After serving as an Army officer at every level, he retired from the Army as a colonel after 30 years of service, with his last position as lead physician for Army Medicine’s Performance Triad.

Brigadier General Dennis A. Crall is the director – Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Headquarters Marine Corps, and the CIO of the Marine Corps. Crall is a career aviation command and control officer who has commanded at the squadron and group levels. He also has multiple joint assignments for the U.S. Central Command, including chief of the Joint Cyberspace Center and the division chief of information operations. Crall is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, earned a Master of Science in Military Operational Art and Science at the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and an M.S. in National Security Strategy at the National War College.

Dominic Cussatt is the acting chief information security officer for the Veterans Affairs Department. He is an executive of the VA Office of Information and Technology’s Enterprise Cybersecurity Strategy team, and prior to joining VA, was a deputy CISO with the Defense Department. As acting CISO, Cussatt is focused on ensuring the protection of veteran data by developing a plan for VA’s information security posture. 

Parham Eftekhari is the co-founder and senior fellow of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank working to bridge the gap between the private sector, federal agencies and the legislative community. Eftekhari also co-founded the Government Technology Research Alliance and serves on the DHS Healthcare and Public Health Sector Coordinating Council as the ICIT representative. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Grainger School of Business at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Bruce Greenstein is the chief technology officer of the Health and Human Services Department, where he focuses on using data, technology and innovation effectively to improve citizens’ lives and the performance of all HHS operating divisions. He joined HHS after serving as president-west of Quartet Health, a technology company transforming behavioral health. He also served as secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals in Louisiana, was an executive at Microsoft and held senior positions at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and in the Florida state government.

Beth Killoran is the CIO of the Health and Human Services Department. Prior to joining HHS, she spent 11 years at the Homeland Security Department in various management positions covering investment management, risk management and program management of the DHS acquisition portfolio and IT investments. Killoran also served nine years at the Treasury Department, providing IT infrastructure support and operations. She has a Master of Science in Technology Management from University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a certificate in personnel management from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Maria Roat is the CIO of the Small Business Administration. Roat has 30 years of professional IT experience. Prior to SBA, she spent two years as CTO for the Transportation Department and 10 years at the Homeland Security Department in a range of positions including Federal Risk Management and Authorization Program director, Federal Emergency Management Agency deputy CIO and chief of staff for the DHS CIO. Roat also spent five years in the private sector in IT-related roles and has 26 years of active duty and reserve service in the U.S. Navy.

Todd Simpson is the CIO of the Food and Drug Administration, where he is responsible for providing IT services and support throughout the administration and its contractors. He began his career serving six years in the U.S. Air Force, and held various IT-related positions in the private sector for 18 years, including CIO. Simpson joined the government in 2010 as the CIO for the Justice Department’s Justice Criminal Division. In 2014, he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service as the associate CIO at the Transportation Department, where he served until joining FDA. 

Ron Thompson is the director of IT and the CIO at the Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. His responsibilities include maintaining automated systems for processing, directing the administration of IT security, and developing and maintaining effective relationships with the USDA Office of the CIO and other federal agencies. Thompson has more than 25 years of experience in IT service design, engineering, operational management, governance and leadership. Before joining USDA, Thompson held positions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services and the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Dr. Barry West is the senior adviser and senior accountable official for risk management at the Homeland Security Department. Before this role at DHS, West was the CIO and chief privacy officer of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and held other various positions within industry. Between 2002 and 2007, West served as CIO at the National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Commerce Department. 

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