D.C.’s Top 50 Women In Tech Page 2

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Janet FouttyChief Executive OfficerDeloitte Consulting

Janet Foutty is chairwoman and chief executive officer of Deloitte Consulting LLP, named to the role last December after leading the consulting firm’s federal practice. Over her three years overseeing federal, she helped the company navigate sequestration and a government shutdown while growing revenues and improving profitability. During her 25-year tenure with Deloitte, Foutty has worked on veterans’ issues, millennials in public service and STEM education.

Joyce HunterDeputy Chief Information Officer, Policy and PlanningDepartment of Agriculture

“There is nothing more important than your integrity — nothing. Your reputation is everything.”

Joyce Hunter serves as deputy CIO for the Department of Agriculture, which has a $3.4 billion IT budget. In her role, she handles the management, security and operations of the department.

She came to the government after serving as CEO of the IT strategic planning company Vulcan Enterprises. She also holds an MBA in marketing from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Currently, she said she’s focused on four critical initiatives: boosting cybersecurity; driving infrastructure and network modernization; implementing sweeping FITARA legislation; and making sure USDA attracts, maintains and retains IT professionals.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced in your career?

Probably one of the most challenging projects was the data warehousing project [I worked on when I served as a consultant] at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2006.

CMS was looking at a way to consolidate all of their claims into one area. They had several different databases, and a lot of their databases were based in COBOL. And so they wanted to come up with a solution where they could do ad hoc queries yet be agile enough so they could load things in and have it show up in the database so that people could have access to it.

There were a lot of people in CMS who wanted to keep their information in their own database. So we had to go around and convince each one of the 10 to 12 business units that it would make sense for this information to be in one specific database rather than multiple databases.

It was a lot of data. People think you can just forklift stuff up and then drop it in — and all off a sudden, “auto-magically,” it starts to work. [But] it took like three years to get everything in because you had to get the data, you had to clean it up and then you had to make sure it would run the way it was suppose to run.

What advice do you have for young women pursuing a STEM career?

For young women going into STEM: Be persistent. Be determined. And don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Find something that is interesting to you — whether it is science, technology or aspects of engineering. For us, it’s STEAM — science, technology, engineering, agriculture and math.

There are a lot of agriculture careers that are not riding a tractor, they’re not being a farmer, producer or rancher. Like being a data scientist, analyzing the soil data, analyzing the land data that you have.

Who or what inspired you to get into your field?

I’ve had so many excellent mentors along the way that it’s very difficult for me to pick one. 

There’s only one I can think of who wasn’t in technology. She inspired me for being able to provide technology and tools to underserved populations. She is the CEO of Summit Health Institute for Research and Education. She provided health IT education to physicians and consumers in underserved communities — especially [in the wake of] the Affordable Care Act. She recommended me for this job.

… I’m still doing the outreach in underserved communities and doing the education piece. One area in which we have pushed that forward is our open data STEAM summer camp. We have local students, through the whole month of July, working on open data solutions. These are kids who would have never had any exposure to agriculture science, first of all. Second, open data and the opportunities of open data and what they can do with data — and even potential careers.

Penny PritzkerSecretary Department of Commerce

Penny Pritzker has taken it upon herself to brand the Commerce Department as “America’s Data Agency.” The agency she leads is responsible for some of the most valuable data the government gathers — from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and National Telecommunications and Information Administration are constantly creating new data indicators and measures for the public to use. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration alone produces 2 terabytes of weather and ocean data every day.

Additionally, Pritzker has been traveling the world, recently heading to Cuba and Argentina with President Barack Obama to discuss economic challenges. She also spent time working on renewable energy and climate change, as well as citizen security.

Renee MacklinDirector of IT Shared ServicesDepartment of Commerce

As the administration focuses on promoting governmentwide shared services, Renee Macklin is leading that charge inside the Commerce Department. Macklin heads Commerce’s shared services office, where she supports the department’s IT tools for acquisition, human resources and finance.

Macklin has previously served as CIO of the Small Business Administration, and had a long tenure as CIO of the International Trade Administration.

Karen DeSalvoNational Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Acting Assistant Secretary for HealthDepartment of Health and Human Services

"It’s about putting the consumer first, and seeing that data is not trapped in silos."

Karen DeSalvo, the national coordinator for health and IT, knows how data is intertwined with medicine. She was recently in Flint, Michigan, overseeing lead exposure testing in children and community members after news broke about long-term contamination in the city’s water supply. 

“This community is pretty wired with respect to health technology,” said DeSalvo, whose office has a $92 million budget. “They have an emerging health information exchange. One of the doctors here mined her electronic health record to find this pattern of elevated blood levels, and that led to awareness and the response that we’re undertaking.”

In her day-to-day job, DeSalvo coordinates federal health care policy and technology, in partnership with the private sector, for the government. She said major vendors and organizations that use or supply health technology have agreed to “work towards a new world where consumers will have access to their electronic information.”

“It’s about putting the consumer first,” she said.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced in your career?

The biggest challenge was the destruction of my city, New Orleans, by the flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. We quickly saw opportunity in that tragedy to revive the city’s health system not as it was, but as it should be to maximize the opportunity for health for everyone. We successfully transformed the city into one with access to affordable, primary care, that is IT enabled, and working with revitalized local public health [officials] to address the medical and social determinants of health.

What advice do you have for young women pursuing a STEM career?

I grew up poor, and my parents were not in medicine or science. So my strong role models were my teachers and plenty of people along the way who were willing to mentor me and give me a chance. I’ve been able to go to medical school and have a career that was all STEM focused, so I don’t think any young woman or guy should feel like just because it doesn’t run in their family, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the opportunity to do it. 

Most people in the STEM world are very interested in mentoring others, and the other piece is more philosophical — science is hard. It’s supposed to be, but it’s so rewarding because you’re part of discovery. You’re part of creating new ways of, in my case, delivering care or bringing health to communities. So that reward on the other end of challenge is so high, and I can’t say enough to encourage people to get into science fields.

Who or what inspired you to get into your field?

It comes squarely from my early days of wanting to be a doctor. I learned that pretty early — I was in my early teens, and I knew I wanted to go into service. And over the course of that journey, it became clear to me that my brain and my heart are in “systems thinking.” Taking care of a patient, I love, but sometimes you realize that there are system-level issues getting in the way of quality or better outcomes. So over the course of my career, that led me to other work that was about making the system of health better. It’s hard to bring good health to an individual or community without a strong information model, so I’m passionate about having a strong health technology underpinning.

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