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DC’s Top 50 Women in Tech - Page 6

By Colby Hochmuth and Camille Tuutti · Tuesday, March 18, 2014

FedScoop highlights the vibrant, talented and forward-thinking women who shape the conversation on technology in D.C. These 50 women are movers and shakers, all with diverse backgrounds, representing government, Congress, the commercial sector, defense and academia. What they all have in common is their passion for using tech as a force multiplier to push government and industry to the next level by leveraging and improving information technology services in unprecedented ways. Read the full introduction here.

Davita Vance-Cooks CEO Government Printing Office

"It's important to consciously surround yourself with leaders who know their job; I surround myself with people who are really focused and have vision. And people who are willing to work hard to reach that vision."

In her nearly 10 years at GPO, Davita Vance-Cooks has witnessed first-hand how the agency's role has transformed. The concept of printing is undergoing a metamorphosis, Vance-Cooks said, and it's her job to lead the agency aligned with that change. One of her biggest projects at GPO is the Federal Digital System, which provides free online access to official publications from the trio of federal branches. It houses a total of 900,000 titles -- 40,000 downloaded each month. Vance-Cooks' biggest project in the upcoming year will be the next generation of FDSys and improving the system's usability by using feedback from the public. She has been heavily involved in the open data task force, and is working with members of Congress to get legislative data released in bulk format to make available to the public. Prior to coming to GPO in 2004, Vance-Cooks spent 25 years in the private sector, working for a number of dot-com companies.

Beth Noveck Director The Governance Lab New York University

"[I] haven't begun to succeed. The project of designing more effective and legitimate government is a lifelong endeavor. I keep at it because I love the joy that comes from doing work that matters. I love my brilliant and compassionate colleagues at the GovLab. I love the insights and ideas that come from collaboration across disciplines and sectors. And, ultimately, I believe in the evolutionary project of democracy."

In 2005, Beth Noveck designed and built Peer to Patent, the first platform to connect knowledgeable volunteers with the federal patent office to help inform how it made decisions and improve the quality of issued patents. That platform created impetus for what later became the open government initiative. But it wasn't Noveck's only project that combined novel technology and policy to improve how problems are addressed. In 1999, Noveck designed and ran Unchat, the first platform for real-time democratic deliberation. That work focused on combining human and machine intelligence to solve public problems and create stronger, more effective democratic institutions. In 2014, the GovLab aims to experiment with diverse strategies for using collective intelligence for governance. The way advertisers and campaign consultants use new technology to ensure the right people see ads for a product or a candidate and to "convert" those eyeballs into a sale or a donation, the GovLab is studying how similar techniques for targeting requests to participate might promote democratic engagement, Noveck said.

Lisa Schlosser Deputy associate administrator Office of E-Government and Information Technology Office of Management and Budget

"Overall, I have made it a practice to take the hard jobs, and to collaborate with many stakeholders at all level of government and industry to continuously learn and try to improve my professional and personal skills as a public servant."

Lisa Schlosser's career in government began in the U.S. Army for one of the initial information systems security evaluation units. After she left, she consulted for government and industry clients, primarily on cybersecurity, but that grew into broader IT roles. While she enjoyed consulting, she always wanted to return to public service. She said she was fortunate to be selected as a CISO at DOT, which launched her SES career in 2001. In 2014, she says her focus will be on continued work with agencies to create efficiencies in delivering IT, while also ensuring IT is delivered effectively to support programmatic and mission priorities. When she needs inspiration, Schlosser looks to those with a good head on their shoulders. In general, she said, she respect those who can keep their cool under extremely tough circumstances, who are not afraid to take risks, and who stay optimistic in the face of adversity.

Anthea Watson Strong Civic innovation Google

"It's about making sure everyone around me has the tools to be successful. Being team oriented, and wanting other people on my team to be great, that's what makes the work we do so awesome."

Anthea Watson Strong got her start in community organizing, but was bitten by the technology bug when she saw the power technology has in shining a light on important issues. Watson Strong has been in civic innovation at Google for nearly two years. Before that, she worked on Obama for America's technology team as director of voter experience. In Google's Civic Innovation Team, Watson Strong spends much of her time dissecting data, talking to stakeholders and disseminating information. Watson Strong has been evangelizing data since she arrived in D.C. in 2009, collaborating with policymakers for greater data standardization.

Janet Gentry Chief enterprise architect Food and Drug Administration

"It's important to always focus on the integrity of the data, especially in an agency like FDA, which has such a critical mission. People need to have access to that data."

When FDA sought to speed up the review process for medical devices, Janet Gentry, the agency's chief enterprise architect, and her team had a novel idea: create an online collaboration space in the cloud to facilitate the process. And that's just one of many IT buckets Gentry has her hand in at the agency. Her work includes high-computing performance in the cloud, scientific computing and implementing the White House open data initiative, which includes the OpenFDA Initiative. Gentry prides herself on working outside of the box, and credits her initial career successes to her ability to see the bigger picture and come up with unexpected solutions. A useful quality for Gentry, considering a large part of her role at FDA is to set the target state of architecture for the agency for coming years.

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