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City’s Outgoing Innovation Chief Reflects on ‘Immense Journey’

“For my next ‘act,’ I am looking to build tech tools that help public servants do more with less,” he told Industry Insider — California.

When San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo passes the gavel to Mayor-elect Matt Mahan on Jan. 1, it means other changes in city administration — one in particular that affects technology.

The city’s chief innovation officer, Clay Garner, is leaving his role as well. The CINO job, which is a citywide position, is part of the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI).
Clay Garner.
Clay Garner

“It’s been the biggest privilege to serve as Chief Innovation Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Tech & Innovation in San Jose,” Garner wrote this week in a LinkedIn post. “From joining as the newest hire in 2019 to ultimately leading the team as the youngest ‘CINO’ of a major city, this has been an immense journey of personal and professional growth. Through turbulence and calm, I am so grateful for the trust and guidance of Mayor Sam Liccardo, my teammates, community leaders, and residents who have helped me focus on what matters.”

Garner has held the position since January, when he was named to succeed Jordan Sun, who has joined the private sector. The city’s deputy CINO and senior adviser to Liccardo is Stephen Caines.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in San Jose,” Garner told Industry Insider California, “expanding digital opportunity for underserved communities and ensuring that the city makes meaningful strides towards strengthening privacy and transparency. For my next ‘act,’ I am looking to build tech tools that help public servants do more with less.”

According to a report in Government Technology, sister publication to Industry Insider, Garner has been involved in a number of digital equity initiatives including the city’s efforts to expand a community Wi-Fi program to cover some 300,000 residents.

Before joining the city, Garner worked in product marketing for Google. His bio on the city website says he has consulted on mobile health projects for the United Nations Population Fund. “He holds a Master of Global Affairs from Tsinghua University in China, where he was a Schwarzman Scholar, and a B.A. from Stanford University. He speaks fluent Chinese and Spanish,” his bio says.

The city has not posted a notice of recruitment for the position.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies including USA Today in Washington, D.C.