2019 GMIS MEETS Speaker
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Keynote Speakers

How is the Weather in your Kingdom?

Dan Cockerell

Dan was born in Chicago in 1969. His father was an executive with the Marriott Corporation and as a result, Dan moved frequently across the United States while growing up. He attended Boston University, graduating in 1991, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. An avid rugby player, he was selected for the 1990 and 1991 USA Collegiate All-American Rugby team, and was Captain for the 1991 team.

Dan’s first experience working for Disney was as a participant in the Walt Disney World College Program in Orlando in the summer of 1989, when he worked as a front desk host at the Contemporary Resort. Upon graduation from Boston University in 1991, Dan moved to Florida and participated in the Disneyland Paris Management Trainee Program. In January of 1992, three months before the opening of Disneyland Paris, he was transferred to France, where he remained for five years in various management roles.

Dan held various management and executive operations roles at the Walt Disney World Resort, both in the theme parks and resort hotels, and was the sixth executive to hold the position of Vice President, Magic Kingdom since the park opened in 1971. He earned his MBA in 2001 at the Crummer School of Business at Rollins College.

During his fulfilling and exciting 26-year career with the Walt Disney Company, Dan put great value on spending time in the operation and frequently spent time in the park, assisting cast members and interacting with guests. He believed that building relationships is critical for leadership success, and his approachability in the workplace was a testament to his people-first philosophy.

Much like the weather, culture influences our mood and ultimately our behavior. Great leaders understand the importance of creating and sustaining great culture in order to establish an environment where employees can thrive. When they feel confident, respected, trusted and valued, employees deliver stellar results and ensure the success of their organization.

Dan will share what he learned about leading a purpose-driven culture during his 26 year career at the Walt Disney Company culminating in leading 12,000 cast members in the largest theme park in the world, the Magic Kingdom.

'Impossible' is Just a Word: Why Innovation is More Fun When You Think Like a Magician

John Duke Logan

John is a professional modern day magician who received a standing ovation on 'America's Got Talent' and was nicknamed by the media “The Team Magician” for the New England Patriots. All GMIS MEETS government attendees will receive a copy of John's book, "The Perfect Illusion: Life." www.JohnDukeLogan.com

Meet the magician who will teach you how to change the world! In his inspiring and entertaining keynote session, John Duke Logan will demonstrate how understanding perception can be the key to unlocking your potential in life. At the end, you will learn five practical collaboration strategies you can do with your team members to look at challenges from a different perspective, brainstorm new ideas, and achieve personal and professional goals.

Session Speakers

Next Gen Network Technology

Lou Melograna - Chief Technology Officer, StarNet Solutions

Lou Melograna started in WAN technology back in the early 1990s. Since then he has worked with every major vendor in the field and has been involved in thousands of installations, troubleshoots and consulting jobs. He started StarNet Solutions 15 years ago to provide customers with a superb experience with a company that puts their customers' needs first. Our goal is to truly provide the best possible solution with the best customer service possible with open communication.

Coming Soon.

Communicating with Confidence the Value of IT to Non-technical People

Marc Thorson - Executive Director of Regional Technology Services, Northern Illinois University

Marc Thorson is the Executive Director for Regional Technology Services in the Division of Information Technology (DoIT). He oversees all aspects of Northern Illinois University’s broadband, Internet service, and technology service offerings to communities, school districts, and other government and nonprofits organizations.

Prior to joining NIU, Marc has worked in the local government Information Technology field in just about every capacity for over 20 years including desktop support, application developer, network administrator, network engineer, compliance lead, and director.  He is passionate about Information Security and data-driven decision making in environments with resource challenges.

Marc is also an adjunct instructor for the nationally-ranked Northern Illinois University Master of Public Administration program. The course focus is educating future local government and nonprofit leadership on what Information Technology does, why it is a critical competency for public organizations, and how to utilize it to its greatest potential in an era of shrinking budgets.

Marc has a Master of Business Administration from Northern Illinois University with a focus on Management of Information Services and Marketing.  He is the Marketing Director GMIS International, Committee Chairperson for GMIS Accreditation, and Past President for GMIS Illinois.

Omar Sandoval photo

Omar Sandoval - Director of Information Technology, Naperville Park District

Omar started with the Naperville Park District in February of 2008 as a part time IT Helpdesk Technician. He was promoted to Network Engineer/Network Administrator in June of 2010, and in 2014, when the District was determining the future of their IT Department, Omar was promoted to IT Manager. During this time, Omar worked to solidify value of IT in the Naperville Park District. In January of 2017 he was promoted to Director of Information Technology.

Omar was honored by the Naperville Jaycees in March of 2016 with the "Distinguished Services Award - Public Employee," an award celebrating extraordinary service of individuals and organizations in the Naperville community. In April of 2018 he was name as one of the recipient of the “Four Under 40 Achievement Award.” This award is given by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and recognizes young professionals in the Naperville community who demonstrate excellence in the following: Leadership in Community, Leadership in Business, Excellence in Career and Life Balance. In addition to these accomplishments, Omar conceptualized, developed, tested, and released what became the Park District's first mobile app for IOS and Android, which was later copyrighted and patented.

Understanding that government organizations are businesses, and even though they are not profit driven there are still returns on investment that need to be articulated. This talk goes through understanding the evolution of IT and provides practical steps and discussion to help everyone work toward the modern local government IT.

Getting Hacked

Janice Zelnock - Supervisor of IT, Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority

IT Team leader at a regional Municipal Utility Authority. Manage operational and strategic planning, including fostering innovation, planning projects, and organizing and negotiating the allocation of resources. Coordinate and supervise technical staff providing information technology support to all departments within the organization.

Eugene Kipniss - Senior Program Specialist, Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC)

Eugene Kipniss is a Senior Program Specialist for the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a division of the Center for Internet Security. He works on the Stakeholder Engagement team with our nation’s State, Local, Territorial, and Tribal (SLTT) governments in order to provide them with access to the many MS-ISAC services and information products which support organizational security posture and awareness. Eugene focuses on managing the accounts of hundreds of MS-ISAC member governments and organizations across the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. Additionally, he co-chairs the MS-ISAC’s Education and Awareness working group that focuses on bringing cybersecurity knowledge to both end-users and IT staff alike.

In this session, Janice will present a case study describing events relating to a cyber incident at a local Municipal Utility Authority. The presentation will focus on events leading up to the identification of the attack, steps taken to inform public officials and employees of the attack, challenges associated with keeping critical business functions running, challenges associated with virus containment and remediation, and steps taken to fully recover from the attack. Included will be a discussion on the IT team critical role in network protection and data security, and the importance of conducting end user cyber security training. The presentation will close with a summary of things we ‘did wrong’ and ‘did right,' along with insight from MS-ISAC regarding tools to help keep your organization safe. A conclusion will provide recommendations such as the importance of maintaining a reliable backup system, the need to isolate critical infrastructure from other networks, the value of using third-party experts for evaluation/assistance, and the need to maintain a written cyber incident response plan.

Is Ransomware in your Budget? How to Justify the Cost of Data Protection

Kevin Fuller - CTO & President, ThinkGard

Kevin Fuller is Co-Founder and President of ThinkGard, a Birmingham, Alabama based organization focused solely on Disaster Recovery as a Service. Over the past 5 years, the majority of his attention has been on local and county governments and how they can help better protect them from the myriad of situations that can lead to downtime and data loss. As an MBA graduate and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Kevin offers a unique ability to understand business needs and the technologies that facilitate them. Over the course of his career Kevin has created and implemented Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans for companies of all sizes and has a proven ability to work effectively with both technical teams and business executives. He has spent the majority of his 17 year technology career focused on Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity for organizations ranging from large publicly-traded companies to small 1 or 2 person organizations. Kevin received both his Undergraduate and Masters Degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

While providing data protection to Public Sector IT Departments for years, we’ve noticed a huge problem. Specifically, it’s more times than less, when you can’t have the budget you need to protect your data, but you can have all the blame when something goes wrong. In this session we’ll discuss the costs facing cities and counties related to lack of preparation and funding for disasters (Ransomware, Fire, Flood, etc.) and how to better communicate your needs as a department to administration officials who may not understand just how much risk is involved, both from a cost standpoint and a political one. We’ll accomplish this using real-world examples and situations that we’ve experienced first-hand. In fact, we’ll provide you with a list of these unfortunate events so when you present your budget, you’ll have real-life examples of what, how and why things went wrong and what could have been done to prevent disaster.

Inspiring Results: How Impactful Leaders Catalyze Change in a Multi-Generational Workforce

Jen Roberts - CEO, Difference Consulting

As CEO of Difference Consulting, Jen is a leading expert helping organizations strategically build, develop and leverage the unique talents of their leaders and teams. Having successfully led corporate initiatives and advised senior leaders on organizational development, talent management, and succession planning in the private and public sector for more than 17 years, Jen knows what sets successful organizations and leaders apart from the competition.

When she left her corporate job in 2011, Jen founded Difference Consulting using her insider knowledge to quickly land some of the top brands in the country as her own clients.

Over the past seven years, she and her consulting team have worked with over 500 organizational leaders across more than 30 industries, helping them implement aligned and cohesive people development approaches that encourage greater collaboration and engagement within their organizations.

Jen takes a “no BS, calls-it-like-she-sees-it” approach with leaders who are used to calling the shots. Clients appreciate the compassion, humor, and integrity she brings to her work as much as a good butt-kicking. Her clients have increased leadership alignment and engagement by up to 60%, improved communication within their team up to 70% and reduced turnover up to 50%.

In 2015, Jen was inducted into the Forbes Coaches Council. She is an accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coach Federation (ICF). Jen is a certified master practitioner in The Leadership Circle Profile™ (TLCP 360 and Leadership Culture Survey), Everything DiSC Workplace®, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™ (MBTI), and Energy Leadership™ Index. She earned her Master’s degree in psychology from Radford University and her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Tech.

Jen and her family live just outside of Savannah, GA, where they can often be found on a soccer field or a nearby beach. Jen is a horror movie buff, and loves traveling, hiking, and celebrating life with a glass of bubbly.

Let's face it: Change initiatives can be difficult even in the most progressive organizations, and local government is no exception. As a key enabling function, the mission of IT departments is often to create and sustain seamless, innovative and efficient information technology environments. However, impactful leaders know how important it is to inspire not only results, but also the people who produce them. Adaptability and agility are key practices to remaining relevant and competitive as organizations evolve to meet the changing needs of a multi-generational workforce and customers looking to utilize government services with ease. This session will focus on helping IT leaders catalyze change by cultivating more inclusive and collaborative change approach strategies within their respective organizations. Participants will walk through a robust three-step process to learn how to most effectively lead change initiatives: Sharing the Strategic Vision, Building Alignment, and Fostering Collaborative Execution.

SecureSuite/Configuration Assessment Tools and the Malicious Code Analysis Platform

Eugene Kipniss - Senior Program Specialist, Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC)

Eugene Kipniss is a Senior Program Specialist for the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a division of the Center for Internet Security. He works on the Stakeholder Engagement team with our nation’s State, Local, Territorial, and Tribal (SLTT) governments in order to provide them with access to the many MS-ISAC services and information products which support organizational security posture and awareness. Eugene focuses on managing the accounts of hundreds of MS-ISAC member governments and organizations across the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. Additionally, he co-chairs the MS-ISAC’s Education and Awareness working group that focuses on bringing cybersecurity knowledge to both end-users and IT staff alike.

Attend this session to see demonstrations of MS-ISAC's SecureSuite/Configuration Assessment Tools and the Malicious Code Analysis Platform. The CIS Configuration Assessment Tool is our no-cost tool for assessing systems against our best practice benchmarks for secure configuration. For example, IT professionals can check to see how securely configured their Windows 10 systems are and then deploy changes to better lock down the systems. The Malicious Code Analysis Platform is our free, browser based sandbox environment for analyzing suspicious attachments, other files, and URLs. This is a self service platform that offers the opportunity to get one of our CERT analysts to take a look at your submission as well. It provides videos of URLs resolving, and also indicates for files if any AV software would have a matching hash.

Developing an Accessibility Driven Digital Strategy for Government

Thomas Logan - Chief Access Advisor, SeamlessDocs

Bio Coming Soon.

Web accessibility has become a key priority in the realm of government innovation. With the rise in ADA lawsuits over the past few years, state and local governments are increasingly seeking out technology partners that will help them meet web accessibility guidelines. But many governments don't realize how deeply entrenched inaccessibility is in their digital offerings. Most governments host hundreds of PDF forms and applications on their web pages, posing major challenges for disabled users who cannot easily see the text or modify it for assistive technologies. Additionally, these applications often need to be physically brought into a municipal office, posing major challenges for people with mobility impairments. Now more than ever, governments are seeking technology solutions that allow them to provide fully accessible online services.

This session will describe the implications of web accessibility for government, while exploring best practices for providing accessible online services. Drawing from SeamlessDocs' experience powering ADA, Section 508 & WCAG 2.1 compliant digital solutions, this session will describe key takeaways for governments seeking to become accessible, while also describing the risks associated with compliance failures. The goal of this session is to provide tools and resources for government employees in the audience to develop an accessibility-driven digital strategy.

The Proper Care and Feeding of your IT Team: Employee Retention Strategies

James C. Duckett - Technology Division Manager, City of St. George

James C Duckett has been the head geek at the City of St. George (Southern Utah) for 12 years. He hasn't needed to replace an employee for over a year. He's receiving his CGCIO at this conference. Recovering micro-manager. Once took third place in a self-deprecating contest. He's never sure what to write about himself but is flattered that you've stuck it out this far.

Employee turnover is expensive and time consuming. High employee retention will save any manager money, time, and needless stress. This class will discuss strategies for finding and retaining the best employees, including:
  • Creating a pro-employee culture
  • Hiring the right employees
  • Firing the wrong employees
  • Supporting, empowering, and growing your employees
  • Attracting great employees with more than a paycheck
  • And more...

Are We High Tech Enough to be a Smart City?

Bernadette Kucharczuk, CGCIO - Director of Information Technology, City of Jersey City

Bernadette is a Certified Government Chief Information Officer currently serving the City of Jersey City as Director of Information Technology. She is a long-time Rotarian, an Adjunct Professor for the Masters of Public Administration Program at Saint Peter's University, and the Chapter President of NJ GMIS, an association of Government IT Leaders.

She previously served as IT director in Atlantic City and in East Orange, New Jersey as well as Sutter County, California. Prior to her role managing local government technology departments, she served as Deputy County Administrator in Sutter County and Assistant Director of Public Works in Tehama County, California. Before her career in local government, she served as a decorated officer and navigator aboard KC-135 airplanes in the United States Air Force. Bernadette holds a BS in Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle University.

Tolonda Griffin-Ross - Administrative Analyst, City of Jersey City

Bio Coming Soon.

What does it mean to be a “smart city?” Follow the journey of Jersey City toward becoming a Smart City. Start developing a framework of policies, assess your infrastructure and organizational strengths and weaknesses, find the low-hanging fruit and communicate your success. Can you be a smart community without an unlimited budget? Do you have the ability to gather the kind of data that will enable applications designed to make our communities more livable? What can the IT department do to facilitate the transition? Learn how one community is laying the technology foundation to be as “smart” as it can be.

How to Become a Data Storyteller

Brian Aylward - Manager, Association Marketing, Tyler Technologies

Brian Aylward manages association marketing for Tyler Technologies and formerly at Socrata. Prior to working with public sector software, he spent 10 years in public health education and community development, working at non-profit and private sector agencies, helping to advance access to healthcare. In his role at Tyler, Brian works with public sector employees from across the country and internal subject matter experts to generate compelling content and speaking engagements that bring to light new areas of performance and innovation. He connects state and local governments to industry partners to tell their stories of advancing strategic initiatives and program outcomes, focusing on what matters most to the everyday lives of government leaders. Brian holds a Bachelor of Science in Community Health from Western Washington University and a Graduate Certificate in Marketing Management from the University of Washington.

Justin C. Bruce photo

Justin C. Bruce - Project Manager & Performance Management Practice Leader, Tyler Technologies

Mr. Justin C. Bruce is an innovative, creative leader born and raised in the Jackson metro area of Mississippi. Bruce served as the first Director of Innovation and Performance for the City of Jackson after holding management positions in retail and telecom companies. While holding this position, Jackson started down the path of becoming a data-driven government. Bruce and Jackson successfully implemented an open data program, JackStats performance management program, and developed a culture of process improvement through simple data analytics. Jackson’s work has been highlighted by major universities, public and private sector entities, and leading practitioners across the country.

Justin was selected as a Next Generation Leader in 2015 through his work with the African American Mayors Association. Most recently, he received the 2017 Emerging Leader Award from the American Society of Public Administration’s Center for Accountability and Performance.

The Open Government Data Act has ensured that data will continue to be at the center of public sector conversations. This session will explore – through new and exciting use cases – how modern technology can enable effective, data-driven storytelling. Storytelling allows governments to create narratives that not only engage and resonate with stakeholders, but that provide context around datasets to increase usage and spur innovation. Beginning with user-friendly webpages that make understanding complex information easier, technology can help internal and external users understand what specific data means, where it came from, and how it connects to other related resources. This results in better outcomes inside agencies and in communities.

Speakers will detail how cities have used data stories to facilitate innovation, for example, cases in which residents have used data to create new lines of business, applications, and services that propel economic growth. Other use cases highlight how researchers glean new insights from data, leading to new products or innovative solutions to societal issues. The continued evolution of data transparency requires that governments move data from information to empowerment. Pairing modern technology with the timeless art of storytelling is a key way to overcome current public sector challenges and solve real-world problems.

Thank you to our 2019 GMIS MEETS Sponsors

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