Davita Vance-Cooks – D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Tech 2015

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Davita Vance-Cooks

Government Publishing Office

Davita Vance-Cooks, who is the first African-American and the first woman to head the GPO, led a strategy to modernize some of the legislative agency's systems.

When Vance-Cooks became the GPO's acting head in January 2012, she held a series of town hall meetings to make a case for updating the Federal Digital System, or FDsys – the agency's advanced search and content management system that provides free online access to official publications from all three branches of the federal government.

It wasn't a hard sell for GPO staffers, Vance-Cooks said. After all, “they saw it themselves. The volume of tangible print was declining," she said in an interview with FedScoop.

I hope that by being here that I've made a positive difference in the lives of my employees.

Under Vance-Cooks' leadership, GPO plans to release an update of FDsys, which will include usability improvements and a faster search engine, later this year. Already, FDsys houses 1 million titles and last year reached 1 billion retrievals, and also powers several apps, she said.

GPO also recently became the first legislative agency to move to the cloud.

For young women in science, technology, engineering and math fields, Vance-Cooks said the possibilities are endless.

“The biggest advice is: Go for it!" Vance-Cooks said. “There are always stereotypes about different positions that people are applying for or careers that they want to pursue. Don't let that get to you."

Vance-Cooks worked in the private sector for about 25 years before she entered public service a decade ago. Her motivation to make the switch? A desire to make a difference.

“My legacy is that I hope that by being here that I've made a positive difference in the lives of my employees," she said. “And I want to make sure I've made the organization better."

– Whitney Blair Wyckoff

Read the full story about this year's selection of D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Technology, and view the full list here.