March 20, 2013 By Jessica Mulholland
Approximately four months after Riverside, Calif.'s longtime Chief Innovation Officer, Steve Reneker, announced his departure, City Manager Scott Barber named his successor: Lea Deesing has been appointed as Riverside's new Chief Innovation Officer, effective April 8.
Deesing has worked in IT for 24 years, most recently as Associate Vice Chancellor of Information Services for the Riverside Community College District, according to a press release from the city. During her career, Deesing says she has developed a “seven point path” to successful leadership -- a path she will follow while serving as Riverside's Chief Innovation Officer.
"Government IT leadership requires much more than management," Deesing said. "It involves having an in-depth understanding of the government technology field, conveying a passionate drive to lead the organization to success, serving as an advocate for city-wide technology projects, committing to success, following through to drive change, building trust between the department and project stakeholders, and then publicizing successes."
Deesing, pictured at left, also points out that publicity is critical to building departmental credibility. "Some IT leaders want to stay under the radar and avoid publicity at any cost," she said. "I believe the modern CIO must drive their team to success, then let the world know about it. This helps build a trusted relationship between the department, the organization and the community."
As for the difference between the traditional Chief Information Officer and the more recent Chief Innovation Officer, Deesing says she believes the Chief Innovation Officer title raises the bar. "Using the word 'innovation' makes the position a superset of the typical Chief Information Officer. It says, 'We know you can manage information, but we want more. We want you to partner with the organization to drive innovative change throughout the organization, the community and beyond.'”
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.