Chief Information Officer
Department of Labor
Dawn Leaf leads the office that provides IT infrastructure and enterprise application services for all 28 Department of Labor component agencies and offices, as well as the oversight of their IT operations.
Since her appointment in November 2012, Leaf's main role has been to consolidate Labor's IT operations and infrastructure, which are fragmented throughout the country. When she joined, there were nine massive network and security infrastructures used throughout the department.
“We've been consolidating at the rate of about two agencies per year," with hopes to complete the mission by 2016, she said.
You're really building a plane and learning to fly it at the same time.
The biggest challenge she's faced has been “trying to move to new technologies and capabilities that we don't have now all at the same time," Leaf said. “You're really building a plane and learning to fly it at the same time. You're subjecting the department and all of the staff to changes with the technology, and you're adapting to that."
Leaf, with a degree in economics, initially set out to sell computers but later decided to pursue a career as an engineer. After working as a contractor, she made the move to government where she could “build the biggest systems that anybody builds."
Leaf said while she is a champion of diversity and equality in the workplace, which is, in fact, a reason she moved to the federal space.
“The skill sets you need are the same regardless," she said. “The same attributes that I would propose for anyone – you definitely need those, whether you're a woman or a man, to succeed."
– Billy Mitchell