Top 25 Most Fascinating Communicators in Government IT

Over the past several years, I’ve spent much of my time bringing leaders from government and the IT industry together to exchange best practices and collaborate with each other.

Being involved in these sessions gave me a unique opportunity to hear from many of the most interesting executives in DC. Some of the conversations surprised me, others intrigued me, but all of them taught me something.

Though the list of interesting speakers that I have had the pleasure to learn from could go on for days, here’s my list of the Top 25 Most Fascinating Communicators in Government IT:

(Government and Industry execs- in alphabetical order)

Anne Armstrong Anne Armstrong
1105 Government Information Group

Charlie ArmstrongCharlie Armstrong
Custom Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security

Nigel BallardNigel Ballard
Director of Federal Marketing

Teresa CarlsonTeresa Carlson
Vice President
Microsoft Federal

Aneesh ChopraAneesh Chopra
Federal CTO

Casey ColemanCasey Coleman
General Services Administration

Peter CorbettPeter Corbett

Linda CuretonLinda Cureton
NASA Goddard

Christopher DorobekChristopher Dorobek
Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief

Martha DorrisMartha Dorris
Deputy Associate Administrator
General Services Administration

Karen EvansKaren Evans
Former Administrator of e-Government
Office of Management & Budget

Gary GallowayGary Galloway
Deputy Director information Assurance
Department of State

John GaringJohn Garing

Bob GourleyBob Gourley
Crucial Point LLC

Jason KatzJason Katz
Director of Sales Strategy
Microsoft Public Sector

Dr. Robert KolodnerDr. Robert Kolodner
National Coordinator for Health IT
Health & Human Services

Mark KrzyskoMark Krzysko
Assistant Deputy Under Secretary
Defense Strategic Sourcing and Acquisition Processes

Vivek KundraVivek Kundra
Federal CIO

Dan MintzDan Mintz
Former CIO, DOT
Current CTO Civil & Health Services Group CSC

Molly O’NeillMolly O’Neill
Former CIO
Environmental Protection Agency

Alec RossAlec Ross
Sr. Advisor for Innovation
Department of State

Tim SchmidtTim Schmidt
Department of Transportation

Lewis ShepherdLewis Shepherd
Microsoft Institute for Advanced Technology in Government

Peter TseronisPeter Tseronis
Deputy Associate CIO
Department of Energy

David WennergrenDavid Wennergren
Deputy CIO
Department of Defense

About Goldy Kamali

Goldy Kamali is a Government IT business development strategist, specializing in strategic marketing and management. She is Founder and President of FedScoop. Connect with Goldy on Twitter.

15 Responses

  1. How about telling us why these people are fascinating, how they are contributing to innovation OR communications and why they are movers and shakers. Instead, you’re namedropping a bunch of people because, at least it appears, many of them are on Twitter.

    All flash, no substance. Put up.

  2. jay

    Wow Aaron,
    Your point is valid, but a little too sharply delivered.

    Maybe you should let Goldy reply to your first question before you start following up with the bitter speculation.

    I can vouch for at least a few here, that they’re fantastic people working in Gov. on a great many problems!

  3. Aaron,

    Fair enough to ask for explanations of the choices, but frankly I’ve heard just about every person on this list speak and I’ve talked with many of them, and they’re great. Interestingly, you didn’t seem to be at any of the (many) events where I met these movers and shakers. (Goldi often was FWIW.) So perhaps while Goldi explains why she chose these people, you might also explain which people you think are only flash and have no substance.


  4. Hey Guys. I’m trying to figure out what the point is…of this list. Taking that it is a list of “Communicators” I can appreciate the delicate link between 2.0 and the fact that they are on Twitter.

    Here’s my problem (not related to Aaron :)). There’s a lot of communicating going on – at a relatively high-level, where the ideas/concepts of Gov2.0 are spreading. But, like Aaron, I want to know what these individuals are doing/have done for their organizations as far as “implementing” 2.0 ideals. That’s all. It would be nice to figure how to internalize the pragmatic practices of 2.0-ish communications without having to listen to a speech at a symposium conference. Keep in mind the people that are _doing_ 2.0 probably aren’t getting funded to attend these events.

    That said – it is good to see the activity at the Cxx levels.

  5. +1 to Aaron and Kit

    This list would be much more useful (or maybe useful at all) if something was said about these people beyond a title.

    What are their particular areas of interests?

    What are they trying to accomplish?

    Where have they had successes?

    *Why* are the “movers and shakers”?

  6. Kit, good point regarding funding for attendance at events.

    Mark, I don’t believe Aaron said any of these people were “All flash, no substance.” I think the remark (Aaron, correct me if I’m wrong) was aimed at this page. It is a list of peoples names and titles with no explanation for their inclusion or links to any fascinating communication.

    As a citizen concerned with transparency in government, I applaud all efforts to modernize and improve communication within government entities and between government and ‘the rest of us’. I would love to learn what these (no doubt fascinating) people have done in this area.

  7. No relation

    Aneesh Chopra (Federal CTO) tweeted, in his first and only, “Hi”. That’s all. Is someone having a laugh here?

  8. Mark: I am not interested in attending conferences for communicators unless I’m speaking. I’m actually doing work and innovating. I have no problem with communications but communicating is not fascinating to me. Like Kit, I want to know why they are interesting. What are they doing? Is it that they are on Twitter? That’s not interesting to me.

    Gov 2.0, god curse the name, has always had at it’s core the concept of innovation. Innovation is doing, not talking.

    As a correlating point, communicators are always the last wave. A trend is generally over when communicators figure it all out. No offense, again, to communicators.

  9. Thanks for all of the comments. Allow me to clarify a few points, as it seems we somehow got off topic.

    First, this posting is not about Twitter. Some of the people on this list have accounts some don’t- and some (as was noted in one comment) have accounts that are not active. The reason for including the Twitter names was simply to give each reader the option to follow those on the list that may post things of interest to them.

    Next, the subject of my post was not The Most Innovative People in Government IT (though many of the people on this list would certainly make that list). The topic was The 25 Most Fascinating Communicators in Government IT, and it was based on my personal experience. As I touched on in the post, I’ve spent the past several years arranging high level round table and panel discussions between many of the most influential leaders in the government IT community including most of the Deputy CIOs, CTOs, White House Administration staff, and senior executives from the high tech industry. Consider this list more like a movie critic’s Top 25. There are clearly many more than just 25 great communicators in this space. This is simply a list of my personal top 25 favorite communicators selected from the hundreds of fantastic speakers in the government IT community that I’ve heard from and learned from at my events or other events in town. These are all people who can explain complex issues in simple terms and make non-sexy topics exciting. They are able to speak to the heart of a matter without mincing words and have the ability to inspire and motivate people to take action on a particular issue or cause. Emerson said, “Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”

    Gifted communicators can motivate others to achieve greatness. Exceptional communicators can unite people to accomplish extraordinary things together.

  10. jay


    “Mark: I am not interested in attending conferences for communicators unless I’m speaking. I’m actually doing work and innovating.”

    I think that presumes an attitude which I don’t think you hold, that one is unlikely to learn from anyone else. Or that conference attendees don’t say things worth hearing.

    It sounds like something that would be said by someone in “broadcast only” which I don’t take to be the case from your thoughtful posts, which show you’ve absorbed (and condensed) a lot of external thoughts.

    I consider myself fairly knowledegable about Cloud Computing (I was told by one of the Google reps that I knew more than he did) but I attended a conference a few months ago and was exposed to some great lessons and developed some new ideas


  11. Am I to believe the most fascinating communicators in government information technology circles are CIOs and CTOs? I’d think they are merely the folks tapped to speak at conferences–where the masses can hear them, as other commenters noted. What about the career bureaucrats serving below the top echelon? Are they not fascinating, if not moreso?

  12. Claire

    Hi Alex,
    Nice work ! However I do not share the following:

    “Open data is not, however, as the author of the Future Gov article suggests, a “branch movement” for either Gov 2.0 or open government at all: it’s a core component of building powerful government platforms for innovation, on the order of weather data, GPS or the Internet itself. Watch for how health data provisions new businesses in that evolution.”

    English is not my first language so maybe I understand it wrong but I read: Opendata is not a branch of gov20 or opengov ?
    Opening up data does not “only” imply new services and innovation, it’s also about using web 2.0 tools to produce better access and transparency that will generate dialogue between administrations and reusers. Dialogue, involvement, coproduction are some of the consequences and these aspects belong to your definitions of both gov20 and opengov.