President Barack Obama last week named Megan Smith, former Google Vice President and out lesbian, to the highest ranking tech job in the White House.
Smith will serve as the new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Assistant to the President. Smith first joined Google more than a decade ago, serving as vice president of business development, then head of the Google[x] “moonshot” programs, but her accomplishments and experience in Silicon Valley extend beyond her Google tenure. Smith is a mechanical engineer, a Master’s graduate from MIT, and entrepreneur. For years, she led the Google team responsible for new business developments, acquisitions, and responsive tech like Google Earth, Google Maps, and the Google Crisis Response Project.
“Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment,” President Obama said Thursday. “I am confident that in her new role as America’s Chief Technology Officer, she will put her long record of leadership and exceptional skills to work on behalf of the American people.”
The White House praised Smith for her commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout her career, noting her involvement in the creation of Google’s “SolveForX” innovation community project and “WomenTechmakers.” Both initiatives create a safe-space for under-tapped talent in tech innovation. Smith is also the former CEO of LGBT website PlanetOUT.
Smith’s appointment is a step forward for women and LGBT folks in technology and government; she will make history as the first woman (and lesbian) to fill the fledgling role. President Obama created the CTO post on his first full day in office. Smith’s predecessor, Todd Park, spent much of his tenure managing the Administration’s HealthCare.gov initiative. The White House said Smith will guide the Administration’s information-technology policy and initiatives.
President Obama also named Alexander Macgillivray as Deputy US CTO. Macgillivray will focus on Internet policy, intellectual property policy, and “the intersection of big data, technology, and privacy.” Macgillivray was formerly an attorney at Google and most recently served as General Counsel and Head of Public Policy for Twitter.
Media Resources: Forbes 9/4/14; Washington Post 9/4/14; The White House Blog 9/4/14; Autostraddle 9/6/14; SolveForX; Google Developers WomenTechMakers