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CIO Academy Awards: And the Winners Are ...

Following are the public-sector awardees from this week’s California Public Sector CIO Academy, the annual industry gathering of public- and private-sector technology stakeholders.

Catherine Lanzaro, chief information officer for the Department of Child Support Services, has been named CIO of the Year at the California Public Sector CIO Academy.

At the marquee “CIO Academy Awards” event, presented every year by e.Republic*, Lanzaro was lauded for her leadership and vision in guiding the state department through technological transformation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catherine Lanzaro CIO.JPG
Catherine Lanzaro

The awards event Wednesday in Sacramento was emceed by Alan Cox, executive vice president of e.Republic and publisher of Government Technology, presenter of the annual gathering and Industry Insider — California sister publication. In announcing Lanzaro as the winner of the coveted award, Cox delivered the following testimonial:

“Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) CIO Catherine Lanzaro used strategic partnerships, planning, vision, and communication to lead DCSS staff, teams of vendors, and the California Department of Technology (CDT) to pioneer the migration of the California Child Support Enforcement (CSE) system from an IBM mainframe application to a Linux-based Microsoft Azure Cloud. Catherine kept the project on track and outcome-focused despite the pandemic’s potential to pull people to other projects.

“As one of California’s largest applications and the country’s largest child support enforcement system, with 1.2 million customers, 7,000-plus child support professionals, and millions of children who rely on child support, CSE refactoring and migration was a huge undertaking. CDT had never migrated an application so large and refactoring from IBM to Linux added complications. Migration was needed because the Y2K-era mainframe was costly ($16 million annually to CDT), slow and inflexible to change, slow to recover in a disaster, and required security improvements. The system would take weeks for disaster recovery and technical debt made it unresponsive to business needs, requiring excessive time to plan maintenance or improvements, unable to take advantage of the cloud’s self-service on demand model.

“As part of a program to move state applications to the Azure Government Cloud, Microsoft sponsored the cost to refactor and migrate CSE, providing consultative services with TriMax, a third-party Microsoft vendor, performing the migration services. Catherine’s early outreach to CDT helped them plan for revenue reduction and partner in the migration instead of resisting the change. Catherine and DCSS overcame significant obstacles: A previous DCSS proof of concept determined CSE could not successfully migrate to the cloud. Challenges included refactoring the IBM platform, changing legacy middleware components, meeting complex IRS requirements to move to the cloud, and re-training DCSS staff to run their own cloud environment. Constant communication and results-oriented communications overcame these obstacles utilizing partner input and skill sets.

“Catherine set clear expectations and constantly communicated with CDT, Microsoft, and DCSS staff. She engaged DCSS resources to understand staff needs and prioritized the CSE migration as DCSS’ highest technology focus throughout the project, allowing staff to focus exclusively on CSE migration. DCSS partnered with Microsoft Dec. 17, 2019, and held the kickoff February 2020, just as the pandemic began. After one in-person meeting, all other project meetings were remote.

“With Catherine’s leadership, CSE went live in Microsoft Azure Nov. 15, 2021, lifting the country’s largest CSE system from legacy IBM hardware into the cloud. This monumental transformation optimized DCSS’ mission critical application to reduce costs by up to $10 million annually, improve service levels and drive business agility. DCSS staff now run the cloud environment, allowing them to quickly make changes and scale the infrastructure based on needs: Functions that required 14 hours can be completed in a few. Refactoring the application eliminated technical debt while disaster recovery is possible in 48 hours instead of weeks. Most significantly, DCSS is enhancing the well-being of children by providing payment services to California families faster than ever before.”

Also at the awards ceremony, state technologists were honored with Leadership Awards for their service. These are the summaries as they appeared in the program for the event, which was presented by Industry Insider — California sister publication Government Technology. The award winners are: 

Alicia Johnson, IT Specialist I, Employment Development Department: Alicia Johnson played the role of Solution Architect for the Web Content Management System (CMS) and M365 Teams Implementation. The CMS is a shift to modernize the EDD Public Website using the EPiServer and enable us to better serve our customers. M365 Teams Implementation is rolling out to over 13,000 users, changing the way EDD staff meet and collaborate. While in this role, Alicia has taken less experienced staff under her wing, mentoring and providing excellent leadership. She is a shining example of stepping up, working hard and inspiring others to meet the ever-changing needs of EDD and Californians.

Amy Melendez, Lead Principal Technology Engineer, Department of Water Resources: Amy Melendez has provided outstanding leadership in the engineering, operations, and sustainability of the Department of Water Resources’ critical SAP technical ecosystem, which services multiple departmental lines of business. Amy has provided outstanding leadership in the improvement of DWR’s large SAP technical environment and its operations. Her ability to think strategically while providing tactical direction and solid system engineering leadership has allowed DWR to enhance and improve its overall SAP environment and effectiveness. She has effectively worked to identify new automation opportunities that yield a high return of efficiencies. She has provided outstanding coaching and mentorship to other system engineers.

Andy Wu, Chief Enterprise Architect, California Department of Public Health: Andy Wu is the chief Enterprise Architect for CDPH. He has been instrumental for the planning, development, implementation, and enhancement of the state public health COVID-19 systems including CalConnect, CCRS, Calredie, and all immunization systems. With his hard work and dedication, these systems were implemented in a secure and efficient way that ensures the effectiveness and compliance of the security and architecture standards. Andy worked hard with other state and vendor teams to provide the guidance and feedback which was instrumental to the success of creating these new services. He has a great attitude and work ethic that made him a key member of the CDPH IT team. He dedicated endless hours during the development of the COVID-19 systems. His dedication and sacrifices set an example and provided motivation for the rest of the teams.

Austin Walls-Barcellos, Enterprise Architect, Covered California: Austin led a series of strategic initiatives supporting Covered California’s COVID-19 pandemic workplace safety and productivity efforts, including: Covid-19 Tracker App, a mobile application that confirms staff are COVID-19 vaccinated and have not been exposed to nor are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms prior to traveling to the office for work; enterprise digital e-signature rollout, implemented a tool to digitize hundreds of paper documents and support work from home in an enterprise previously heavily reliant upon paper documentation, including digitizing DGS’ std200 telework form to support permanent work from home across Covered California.

Barbara Anderson, IT Supervisor II, Employment Development Department: During EDD’s response to COVID-19, Barbara led her team in implementing concurrent mission critical initiatives for the EDD’s Enterprise Contact Centers to better serve the public while teleworking. These high-profile initiatives varied from increasing the contact center’s footprint to adding various languages for Virtual Hold, After Call Surveys, to adding notifications for virtual meetings to meet the public’s needs. Barbara’s leadership demonstrated her ability to provide clear direction in implementing the many features and solutions in parallel. She kept her team focused and ensured we met all timeframes while providing superior customer support for the enterprise contact center customers.

Barbara Brumbaugh, Agency IT Customer Relationship Manager, California Natural Resources Agency: Barbara Brumbaugh has provided outstanding leadership, direction, and service to the 36 organizations under the California Natural Resources Agency. As Agency IT Customer Relationship Manager, Barbara works with the departments‚ businesses and technical staff to ensure that the agency IT strategic direction and technology services are aligning with program area objectives and delivering effective technology capabilities, capacity, and solutions to their departments. She provides outstanding project management for agency departmental digital transformation efforts. Barbara is an outstanding liaison and change agent. She works with executive, business, and technical leaders and staff to show how the use of cloud services, IT shared environments, and software and platform services make good business sense and benefit and effectively address the technology demands of their business areas. She teaches everyone, both business and technology, to think of information technology as a business enabler.

Bruce Henry, SAP/Business Information System Infrastructure and Data Manager - ITM I, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Primarily driven by COVID-19 urgent needs, Bruce led his team to stand up 21 new interfaces/data exchanges to bring various outside COVID-19 vendor test results into staff health records; push HR, vaccination, and test data to CDCR’s analytic and reporting groups; push test and vaccination data to the state’s systems; pull vaccination data from the state’s system; just to list a few. Bruce also led his team to significant and numerous SAP/BIS system upgrades of hardware and software during this same time. Bruce’s team’s efforts have dramatically contributed to CDCR’s ability to operate and track COVID-related business processes all while increasing the usability of the system.

Christopher Eddy, IT Specialist II, California Department of Technology: Christopher Eddy’s can-do attitude and lead-by-example actions were instrumental in implementing the California Digital Vaccine Record Portal. Chris rolled up his sleeves alongside his teammates to create processes to generate a reporting dashboard and created reusable, configurable code processing to enable or disable essential features on the fly. He was pivotal in implementing the project’s Advanced Encryption Standard that allowed digitally signed vaccine credentials. His dedication to the initiative‚ and to the DevOps team, and his innovative solutions to complex challenges helped release the portal in just four weeks. Today, 7 million Californians have downloaded 12 million digital records.

Chris Kahue, IT Manager I, California Department of Tax and Fee Administration: Chris Kahue was one of the founding team members of the Centralized Revenue Opportunity System (CROS) Project which started in 2010. He served as the technical manager on the project which included participating in the procurement phase, overseeing the data conversion and interface teams, and providing leadership to the technology team that would eventually take over responsibility of maintaining the system. His dedication and positive attitude have been valued by his staff and colleagues. Chris is well-deserving of this recognition for all his efforts on the CROS project.

Cindy Huynh, IT Supervisor II, Department of Transportation: As an IT supervisor II in the Enterprise Operational Support section, Cindy and team have delivered several Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) solutions for various program areas within Caltrans, including support for approximately 1,600 internal and 500 external forms. Cindy also manages the development of automated form submissions and complex workflows for nine different AEM applications. During the COVID-19 transition to telework, we were challenged to find a solution which enabled electronic signatures, the ability to route for signatures, authenticate signers, be accessible on mobile devices, and provide an audit trail. Cindy’s ability to coordinate with IT and business partners to evaluate multiple solutions allowed us to quickly select the correct tool. Her exemplary work and continued dedication to provide outstanding service to both IT and business allowed Caltrans to implement e-signature in time to satisfy the technology requirements. The successful statewide rollout required many layers of implementation to deploy the solution and make training accessible to over 20,000 Caltrans employees. This would not have been possible within the timeframe without Cindy’s leadership and commitment to deliver outcomes.

Daniel Signorotti, Enterprise Platforms Group Supervisor, Department of Health Care Access and Information: Daniel Signorotti led the implementation and migration of a grant and loan management system from a legacy on-premises solution to a software-as-a-service platform while also streamlining processes and enhancing the security posture of the solution. He also took on the additional responsibilities of managing our web modernization and leading a team in the maintenance and operations of a robust Data Request portal.

Dason McJimsey, Information Technology Manager II, California Public Employees’ Retirement System: Dason is known for his deep institutional knowledge and business processes acumen. Over the past year, he was instrumental in deploying telework equipment to all CalPERS team members and involved in proposing new equipment standards. Dason was influential in strategic initiatives that enhanced our remote endpoint support service model, implementing a technical infrastructure and developing a unified collaboration service to support team members. Dason works with multiple business groups with diverse needs. He demonstrates an excellent knowledge of customer needs and proposes and implements solutions that are optimal. He is also an excellent mentor to CalPERS team members.

Dirk Unger, Development Services Group Supervisor, Department of Health Care Access and Information: Dirk Unger led the migration and modernization of the legacy Medical Information Reporting for California system to HCAI’s data collection platform. He was instrumental in keeping the project on time and within budget. The new system sped up the data validation time from 45 minutes to under 1 minute and improved usability.

Dr. Hisham Rana, IT Manager I, Quality Manager, Department of Health Care Services: Dr. Hisham Rana is a technology enthusiast leading the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), California Medicaid Management Information System (CA-MMIS) Operations Division by delivering real-time solutions in support of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Dr. Rana transitioned multi-disciplinary teams from waterfall to agile, keeping pace with ever-changing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and government policies for COVID-19. Under Dr. Rana’s tireless leadership, Medi-Cal was able to reimburse medical claims for vaccine administration costs in sync with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine authorization date. DHCS led many other health-care payers in this area and gained positive recognition from the provider community.

Eileen Hue, Principal Network Engineer, Department of Water Resources: Eileen Hue has been instrumental in the California Natural Resources Agency’s and Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) networking modernization efforts. Eileen has provided outstanding leadership and technical direction in the design, development, implementation and support of a modernized shared network environment that services the Natural Resources Agency organizations, including DWR. Through her dedicated service and technical expertise, she and the network team have been able to increase and enhance technology capabilities and capacity for the organizations in support of their business and operational missions. Her ability to plan, organize, and execute tactically engineered solutions for today and the future has facilitated the capabilities to provide critical services through state-of-the-art methodologies and technologies.

Helen Chau, Principle Acquisition Engineer, Department of Water Resources: Helen Chau has provided outstanding leadership and services for the California Natural Resources Agency’s and the Department of Water Resources’ enterprise and agency-wide technology acquisitions of goods, services, and shared business enabling solutions. Helen has done an outstanding job in the utilization of the state’s leverage contract methods and of agency-wide purchasing volume powers to ensure that the Agency and DWR receive a return on technology investments. Her ability to effectively manage multiple efforts and maintain a time-to-market approach to acquisitions is outstanding. Helen’s abilities ensure that the Agency and DWR can create and maintain a great technology ecosystem that serves the organizations’ business missions. Helen’s leadership ability allows her to be an effective coach and mentor to managers and staff members.

Ian Sanford, Chief Security Operation, California Department of Public Health: Ian is the leader of the CDPH security operation. With his leadership, experience and guidance, CDPH was able to implement many large COVID-19 systems with the highest level of security and protection. Ian provided critical guidance and troubleshooting when CDPH was having difficulties with the large amount of data and services that CDPH had to provide during the COVID-19 pandemic. His hard work and dedication helped deliver some of most secured systems in the state. He helped CDPH go through several security assessments during COVID-19 and came out with results that are the top among all state organizations. His work ethic and willingness to help others gained him a great reputation among all internal and external teams. Ian is truly a great asset to the state.

Jason Hallford, Enterprise Systems Architect, Franchise Tax Board: As FTB’s Enterprise Systems Architect, Jason is responsible for providing strategic technical leadership and expertise that drives the architectural integrity for the entire department. Jason was instrumental in the implementation of FTB’s Healthcare Mandate program, which facilitates the reporting of health-care coverage information to the Franchise Tax Board through a RESTful application programming interface (API) to support bulk file exchanges, form validation, and data delivery to partner applications. With only nine months to design, develop, and test the solution, Jason led multiple cross-functional agile teams that successfully delivered a modular, scalable system inspired by the existing IRS system but aligned with current industry standards. Being the innovator that he is, this project featured Jason’s vision of the adoption of application containerization technology and a fully integrated and automated build and deploy process. This is a vision that Jason continues to champion as he serves as a principal architect for FTB’s next tax modernization project, EDR2. As a consummate professional, Jason is the complete package of technical and people skills. Always with a desire to improve the customer experience, he continually brings his best to FTB and the state of California.

Jean Crow, Enterprise Management Section, CAM I Supervisor, California Department of General Services: Jean Crow has modeled exceptional dedication, operational vision, and technical guidance to support the Office of State Publishing (OSP) at the Department of General Services. She has demonstrated excellent leadership
by managing with trust and empowering her team to take initiative and find creative, cost-saving solutions to critical modernization efforts including mainframe to digital printing, migration to the cloud, and migrating print archive files from a five-terabyte file server to SharePoint Online. Jean has also exemplified outstanding customer service working with OSP customers to timely address their challenging printing needs.

John Moua, Enterprise Voice Engineer, Covered California: John implemented a new call center platform without vendor support and for zero cost to Covered California. The platform supports three business areas — Legal, Appeals, and our IT Service Desk. The solution provides secure call recording and playback from any location (critical to our long-term WFH strategy), enabling the Legal and Appeals departments to meet state and federal mandates while ensuring consumers gain the legal support they seek. The IT service desk benefits include improved call management including dashboards and reports providing key insight including customer call wait time, longest call-in queue, and the number of staff answering calls.

Jon Wegsteen, Project Lead, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: To address security concerns, subpoena and auditing requests, multi-factor authentication, support issues, and meet the demand of the current business requirements, the LEADS (Law Enforcement Automated Data System) user interface was refactored using Progressive Web Application. This effort provided the first beta version, October 2021, with the intent of a full deployment for all users in March 2022. This work was the first significant change in LEADS since it was released on March 1, 1997. LEADS provides local law enforcement agencies with current information about parolees being supervised by CDCR.

Josh Perkins, Infrastructure Architect, Franchise Tax Board: Josh Perkins, as the Infrastructure Architect for Franchise Tax Board, is key in every major IT infrastructure success that we achieve. He is a technical leader able to balance the many difficult and demanding aspects of this role. Josh’s uncanny level of technical expertise spans the many disciplines of the IT infrastructure. It’s the way that Josh applies that expertise and leads teams that really stands out, though. Josh has the ability to push boundaries and stretch vision in a way that challenges teams yet keeps them grounded. He asks the hard questions, collaborates on innovative solutions, empowers teams to solve challenges, and when he sees teams struggling to find answers he will step in and direct resources to guide the team back on track. Josh keeps the business interests of the organization, the state, and taxpayers at the forefront of everything he does. But he always approaches team members as people first, then IT professionals and stewards of the state thereafter. Through the relationships he’s built with our teams and customers, the respect he’s earned across the department, and adjusting his leadership style to the situation at hand, he continuously benefits everyone he works with and the Californians we serve.

Joy Guzman, Information Technology Manager II, California Public Employees' Retirement System: Joy has devoted her career to public service. As a CalPERS leader, Joy has earned the full support and trust of her team and colleagues. She is committed to transparency, compliance, cost optimization, consistency, service levels, continuous development of her team, and has the significant responsibility of keeping the business side of the IT department running smoothly. Recently, Joy led the implementation of a cost optimization strategic initiative that resulted in seven-figure cost savings. In the words of her team, Joy leads by example and is constantly looking for ways to help her team members succeed and improve internal processes.

Kevin Baroni, Middle Tier Project Lead, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: The EIS-Middle Tier is a CDCR-built and -supported API platform representing the backbone of the next generation of highly performant, device-agnostic applications currently in development at the CDCR. This new API platform can support all application development efforts, including PWA, internal and external data requests, and provide the lowest cost and fastest time to market for implementation of COTS products that use existing departmental application data. The EIS-Middle Tier consolidates multiple EIS efforts into a new zero-trust security model for API access that includes multifactor authentication. The EIS-Middle Tier is highly scalable, fault-tolerant, with high availability, provides auditing, is highly secure, customizable, and is based on technology in the current EIS road map. The project leverages identity management, multifactor authentication, and is connected to monitoring, providing an audit trail. The project supports DevOps Services and our agile project management and development automation processes.

Khanh Dinh, Information Technology Supervisor II, CalPERS: As manager of our Business Relationship Management team, Khanh Dinh is integral in maintaining IT’s commitment to a culture of collaboration, creativity, innovation, and value with our many partners and customers. Khanh is responsible for understanding the business, shaping efforts that support the organizational strategy, and ensuring solutions align with technology. Highly respected by her peers, partners, and customers, Khan’s blend of leadership, communication, and professional acumen imbues her with the ability to collaborate with all levels within CalPERS. Khanh is a valued member of the IT leadership team and key to the ongoing success of the IT strategic mission.

Kristofer Robles, IT Manager I, Kristofer Robles, IT Manager I for Contraband Interdiction and Safety Solutions in the Enterprise Information Services Division at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), was instrumental in the expedient implementation of video surveillance technology at six adult institutions in order to comply with a recent court order. Fixed cameras were ordered to be installed in all areas to which incarcerated people have access and the use of body-worn cameras for all correctional officers and sergeants. CDCR was further ordered to retain footage for a minimum of 90 days. Kristofer’s leadership and dedication made this implementation a success.

Kwan Kim, Information Technology Manager II; Network Operations Chief, California Department of Motor Vehicles: As the Network Operations Section Chief, and after assisting and leading efforts to move the DMV workforce to a mobile environment in 2020 during the pandemic, Kwan continues to lead infrastructure efforts to modernize the DMV for the future. This includes upgrading data centers, networks, cloud environments, servers and storage and legacy infrastructure environments. The DMV continues to innovate with modern and mobile applications, and Kwan leads teams building out the infrastructure to support these business applications. Kwan works with the business divisions in supporting their needs to modernize the DMV. Kwan’s “get it done” approach has inspired his teams to transform the DMV.

Lak Ramakrishnan, Information Technology Manager I, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Lak led the effort to upgrade CDCR’s mission critical legacy reporting sub-systems to improve security, availability, performance and provide modern analytics experience for about 11,000 users. This project involved a complete overhaul of the hardware, networking and software components and it was completed on time and within budget. The transition to the new system was seamless and did not cause any program interruption.

Lynn Lee, IT Specialist III, Functional Lead, Department of Health Care Services: Lynn Lee provides outstanding leadership to a team of highly technical professionals in the areas of infrastructure, cybersecurity, application development, and service management for the Department of Health Care Services, California Medicaid Management Information System (CA-MMIS) Operations Division. She consistently exceeds expectations while moving CA-MMIS toward best-of-breed solutions in IT service management and delivery. Under Lynn’s leadership, the team enhanced CA-MMIS core capabilities by implementing solutions across multiple platforms. Her exemplary leadership continues to advance CA-MMIS’ role as the system integrator for the Medi-Cal fee-for-service claims payment system.

Marina Guerra, Manager Business Technology Management, Department of Water Resources: Marina Guerra has provided outstanding leadership, direction, and service to the Department of Water Resources. As Head of the Enterprise Business Technology Management, Marina works with the department’s business and technical staff to ensure that the technology strategic and tactical direction(s) are aligned with and support the business objectives of the department. Marina is an outstanding liaison and change agent; she provides excellent leadership and services to business management, and technology leaders and staff in the critical business technology management areas of acquisition and procurement, IT business analysis, process re-engineering, talent management, and IT Governance. She is excellent at communicating what makes good business sense and will effectively benefit and address the technology demands of the business areas. She teaches everyone, both business and technology, to think of information technology as a business enabler.

Martin Perez, IT Manager I, Employment Development Department: Martin Perez is a manager in the Employment Development Department (EDD) and manages a group of 25 staff responsible for developing, implementing, and supporting critical EDD business applications. Martin and his team recently developed a custom .NET application called Enterprise Time Reporting (ETR) that will replace EDD’s current paper-based timekeeping process with a modern web application that approximately ten thousand staff will use to submit leave requests and monthly timesheets electronically. ETR will also automate timekeeping functions including manager approval of leave requests and timesheets as well as reconciliation with State Controller Office employee leave balances.

Nancy Smith, Enterprise Services Sections, Systems Analyst Manager and ServiceNow Team Supervisor, Department of General Services: In 2021-2022, Nancy Smith demonstrated outstanding leadership as manager of the team responsible for ServiceNow for the California Department of General Services (DGS). With the ongoing challenges of the pandemic response and increased workload, Nancy’s integrity and expertise were critical to success. She championed dedication to the customer and her team while managing service for 24,000+ customers that process millions of transactions per month. She oversees the ServiceNow user group with 400 business and technology members across 44 California departments. Nancy exemplifies leadership, public sector innovation in workflow, and the delivery of cost-effective solutions for the state and its citizens.

Nate Johnson, A/V Team Lead, Covered California: Nate Johnson led his team of skilled and creative audiovisual engineers to quickly design and implement innovative streaming options to keep Covered California’s public outreach alive and publicly accessible during a time when health care was critical. Nate was an active leader who listened, custom-built innovative solutions through technology, and worked collaboratively across several technical teams to deliver these solutions. Covered California was able to expand our media events by thousands and virtually reached a very diverse consumer base through a variety of social media channels and broke down the barriers of geographic dispersed participants. This facilitated Covered California’s continued success in our outreach to consumers that benefited from new subsidies within the program.

Nishan Sandhar, Chief Technology Officer (IT Manager II), California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC): Nishan was responsible for DMHC’s successful transition to telework for all 425-plus employees, within 48 hours of Gov. Newsom’s shelter-in-place orders. He provided leadership to the Technology Services Division (TSD) and Infrastructure Services Division (ISD) that was key to successfully transitioning the workforce to telework, without any major interruptions to DMHC programs. The effort began with two weeks of disaster planning for a worst-case scenario, should shelter-in-place be ordered. He and the teams spent many additional hours of work readying the department to shift to telework, and then worked side by side with them to prepare the department’s VPN and VDI infrastructure for a huge influx of users to ensure all DMHC employees had at minimum “basic” access to the services they required each day to perform their job functions. The ISD team took the initiative to find creative ways to acquire additional technology to support telework, including acquisition of additional servers from other departments to support expanding VDI infrastructure, and enhancing the VPN infrastructure. Nishan’s leadership directly ensured that the department was able to continue executing its mission to protect consumers’ health-care rights during a most critical moment in history (COVID-19 pandemic), when access to health care was more critical than ever. And the efforts allowed DMHC program staff to ensure a stable health-care delivery system by making sure all DMHC staff had the technology, connectivity, IT support and data needed to continue to do their jobs from their home offices.

Pamela White, IT Specialist I, Employment Development Department: COVID-19 disrupted EDD’s normal desktop hardware refresh process. Coping with office lockdowns and COVID-19 outbreaks, Pam recognized EDD had a real need to upgrade aging desktop hardware to enable EDD program teams to process unprecedented workloads. Pam worked in partnership with our vendors, state technical staff, and customers to implement a low-contact, drive-through deployment process while maintaining the integrity of asset accountability. Pam organized the teams and communicated the plan to deploy 8,000+ devices in over 150 locations across California during the 2021 calendar year. She accomplished all of this while maintaining the health and safety of all involved.

Patrick Ryan, Information Security Officer, California High-Speed Rail Authority: As the Information Security Officer and Chief Technology Officer, Patrick provides leadership to a diverse team of security specialists, network and cloud engineers, server administrators, and client support professionals. He represents the authority on a variety of agency and statewide committees and maintains collaborative relationships with colleagues across many departments, as well as with external partners. Internally, he is a trusted adviser and valued partner, frequently called upon to provide perspective or guidance. Patrick is a great communicator, problem-solver, and change agent. He is committed to the success of the organization and those he leads.

Paul Vang, IT Supervisor I, Department of Toxic Substances Control: Paul Vang models the way as a public servant and servant leader for the team. He consistently works above and beyond the call of duty to advance the mission of our department by leading our team of business analysts and serving in other capacities to get critical assignments and projects completed. Paul exemplifies servant leadership and believes in providing five-star customer service to everyone he serves. His core values and dedication to serve our department, communities, and citizens is something to be admired. Paul Vang is the definition of stewardship, and this nomination is well deserved.

Richard Harmonson, Security Operations Center Officer, California Natural Resources Agency: As Security Operations Center Officer, Richard Harmonson has provided outstanding leadership and direction related to the creation and operations of the agencywide Security Operations Center. Richard has been instrumental in the agency’s ability to create and maintain an effective security operations center that provides security monitoring, vulnerability and threat scanning and analysis, and many more proactive security activities that help protect and increase the overall security posture for the agency. His leadership, knowledge, coaching and mentorship of security engineers and security analysts have resulted in the effective operations and sustainability of a secure information technology environment. Richard has done an outstanding job in providing both strategic and tactical direction for the overall security program improvement efforts. He has provided leadership and direction to the Natural Resources Agency departments in onboarding to the security operations and utilization of modern security tools, resulting in improved agencywide information security capabilities and capacity. Richard also serves as an effective change agent, working with business and technology management and staff and educating them in the need for and use of proactivity security methods and services that make good business sense and provide protection for the organizations’ information and technology ecosystem assets.

Robert Blesi, Chief Technology Officer, California Department of Parks and Recreation: Robert Blesi is the Chief Technology Officer for the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). During the COVID-19 response, Robert worked tirelessly to enable DPR staff to work safely from home. DPR opened a department operations center to serve as a hub for managing the crisis statewide. Robert manned the D.O.C. as the IT representative six days a week and provided excellent on-the-spot management of any and all IT issues that arose from the pandemic. Under Robert’s leadership the DPR Technical Team implemented a virtual desktop environment and expanded the existing services. Both were critical in allowing for a smooth transition to telework for DPR business areas that had never been able to work from home prior to the pandemic. Robert’s thoughtfulness and knowledge have served DPR in countless ways.

Rohit Chaurasia, IT Specialist III, Information Technology Services Division, AI Project Management Office, California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS): The COVID-19 pandemic affected the prison system disproportionately, as the congregate setting puts inmates and employees at greater risk of contracting and spreading the virus than the general population. The COVID-19 vaccines have been a critical tool to reduce illnesses, prevent future outbreaks, and save lives. Rohit Chaurasia, a certified project manager, was selected to lead the project to vaccinate staff and inmates because of his exemplary leadership skills and ability to manage complex, large-scale projects. He led CCHCS’ COVID-19 task force vaccination committee and created plans for receiving, distributing and administering vaccines at 35 adult prisons, five youth correctional facilities, and 13 re-entry facilities.

Runora Francesconi, Information Technology Manager I, Electronic Health Record System (EHRS) Operations Manager, California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS): Runora Francesconi is the Operations Manager for the Electronic Health Record System for CCHCS. She led the implementation of the JAWS EHRS Digital Aide, which allows visually impaired users to complete workflows in the EHRS without human assistance. The Digital Aide helps CCHCS maintain a qualified workforce and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. She also led the implementation of Patient Letter, Cross Encounter Reconciliation, Psychiatry Summary and Suicide Rounding MPages. These solutions save time, reduce user error and the number of keystrokes needed to document care, and allow health-care providers to focus more time on patient care.

Samuel Retta, Information Technology Manager I; End User Management Group, California Department of Motor Vehicles: Demonstrating strong leadership skills, Samuel was able to make significant contributions to improving the DMV this past year. Samuel has continued to lead team efforts to modernize the DMV endpoint and end-user infrastructure platform. This includes PC and laptop, desktop and printer refresh. In today’s teleworking environment, Samuel continues to lead efforts to move to a mobile cellphone and softphone environment eliminating the need for desk phones, working with vendors to enhance DMV HQ cellphone coverage with a distributed antenna system. Samuel has been instrumental in standardization of the DMV desktop infrastructure as there were PCs in the department reaching 10-plus years old. This along with many other accomplishments and leadership skills assisting DMV in moving forward shows that Samuel is deserving of the IT Leadership award this year.

Simi Keechilot, Agency Enterprise Project Manager, California Natural Resources Agency: Simi Keechilot has provided outstanding leadership and direction for the California Natural Resources Agency departments’ large and sensitive projects. Simi’s ability to think strategically while providing tactically and formal project manager leadership has allowed the Resources Agency departments to successfully implement business enabling solutions that have led to improved business performance and delivery of critical services. Simi has been instrumental in the growth of Natural Resources Agency’s project management mature-level and in the successful completion of many enterprise projects ensuring that the desired business results for these efforts were achieved. She has provided outstanding project management leadership, coaching, and mentorship to other agency/departmental project staff and to the Resources Agency senior management.

Sivakumar Murugesan, IT Specialist III, Employment Development Department: Sivakumar promotes trust, collaboration, and innovation while leading a high-performing Enterprise Database Services Mainframe team that consistently delivers results. He has been instrumental in re-designing, developing and successfully implementing a complex data synchronization process that improved the performance of the process considerably. Siva’s untiring efforts and can-do attitude have resulted in delivering solutions that have resulted in increased productivity across EDD’s lines of business and achieved respect from his peers, teammates and customers.

Stephen Crandall, Acting Chief Information Security Officer, CalPERS: As the acting Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) since February 2021, Steve demonstrated tremendous leadership and management capabilities. During this tenure, he has navigated the ever-changing security landscape while maintaining positive direction to his engineering and privacy teams. His successes are demonstrated through his ability to institute clear and effective outcomes and garner support and esteem from all organizational levels. Highly respected by both team members and team leaders, Steve works well with all IT teams and collaborates professionally with stakeholders at the executive level.

Steve Borba, Network Architect (ITS III), Employment Development Department: Steve Borba demonstrates leadership and a commitment to excellence every day. As EDD’s Network Architect and Chairperson of the Design and Architecture Review Team, he led complex projects including deployment of a scalable VPN solution to support onboarding of several thousand remote workers during the pandemic, architecture and deployment of firewalls, and the automation and creation of virtual private clouds. His day job is in Network Engineering, but Steve engages wherever his expertise is needed and has been instrumental in leading teams through design and problem-solving, and is a major force behind EDD’s cloud strategies.

Sultan Khan, Manager of Enterprise System Technology Engineering, California Natural Resources Agency: Sultan Khan has been instrumental in the California Natural Resources Agency’s private cloud services and software-defined infrastructure environments creation and operations. His leadership abilities and engineering skills were a critical success factor in the design and deployment of a scalable and flexible new Natural Resources Agency software-defined data center that provides critical private cloud and virtual compute resources to all agency organizations. Sultan has provided outstanding leadership and direction in the architecture, delivery, operations, and sustainability of a state-of-the-art hybrid technology environment at the new agency’s Technology Operations Center, which services 36 departments, commissions, boards, and conservancies. Sultan has done an outstanding job in providing strategic and tactical direction, as well as great coaching and mentorship to staff. His work has led to improved IT services and improvement in IT operations. He has provided leadership and direction to all parties in the utilization of cloud and shared services, resulting in improved agencywide technology capabilities and capacity at a reduced cost. Through his leadership, his team has been able to increase and enhance technology capabilities and capacity for all agency organizations.

Tammy Cason, Business Information System Manager, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR): Under significant pressure from court mandates and other third-party jurisdictions for CDCR to be more transparent with staff allegations and their dispositions, Tammy led a top priority IT project to understand the ever-changing business requirements, develop and test the functionality, and train and deploy the system to hundreds of new users, all within six months to meet the Jan. 1 deadline. Her experience and drive, along with her and her team’s exhaustive dedication, brought this important project in on time and within budget.

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