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Pittsburgh CIO of the Year 2020

Cover Story

Every year, the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC) and Greater Pittsburgh CIO Group join up to honor the Pittsburgh region’s top chief information officers, chief information security officers and top tech execs.

In particular, the PTC and Greater CIO Group look to recognize individuals for their innovation and creativity in planning and deploying their enterprise systems, future technology goals, management philosophies and service to the industry and community. The PTC’s partnership with the Greater CIO Group ensures the awards reach every corner of the industry to uncover the most talented professionals.”

“Honoring the accomplishments and contributions of these often unsung heroes of business is a priority for the Tech Council,” said Audrey Russo, President and CEO of the PTC. “We have extraordinary talent in our region and the CIO of the Year Awards is the perfect setting to recognizing this talent and have cause for a true celebration. Even though we had to make it a virtual event this year, the enthusiasm and excitement were not diminished!”

Chris Kowalsky: A Pioneer of IT Excellence and Innovation

Over more than four decades, Chris Kowalsky has not only made IT his career, he made it his passion.

A quick rundown of his resume is impressive with roles ranging from a Programmer/Developer at an IBM scientific methods service subsidiary to heading up IT at major hospitals like St. Francis Health System, Allegheny Hospital (AHERF) and St. Clair Hospital over a 22-year period.

And let’s not forget about Chris’s roles as CIO of EDMC, Head of IT at CORE (Center for Organ Recovery and Education) and serving as Adjunct Professor of Information Technology Management at Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College and Dietrich College for more than 32 years, including the CMU Heinz College Executive Education CIO and CISO Programs.

From the early days, Chris says he loved programming and worked with some of the best in the business. “I stayed interested due to opportunities and continued modernization of technologies, approaches, innovations and abilities to succeed in ways not done before,” says Chris. “There have been exciting times over the past five decades.”

Chris recounts some of his top accomplishments over the past half century:

In the 1980s, he led the first hospital digital transformations for results, orders, chart notes, ancillary computer integrations and automated complex medical service billings.

In the 1990s, he helped pioneer big digital transformations: first email and internet websites, region wide video conferencing (first telemedicine) and radiology picture archiving systems, among others.

In the early 2000s, he was on the frontier of more wide-spread digital transformations: development of the shared electronic medical records achieving the “Most Wired” award, online and on ground college education for specialty skills throughout the country resulting in creating one of the largest for-profit education companies Education Management Corporation EDMC, with which his team won a PTC Tech 50 Award. He was also designated as one of the top 100 Computerworld CIOs.

In the 2010s, he led life-saving digital transformations: building communication and electronic medical database infrastructure to assist in saving and healing lives by organ donation and transplant regionally and nationally at CORE.

For these reasons and so much more, Chris Kowalsky was named the 2020 CIO Choice Award Winner!


CIO Government/Non-Profit

Winner: John Cassidy, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh

John Cassidy joined FHLB of Pittsburgh in 1999 and is responsible for all aspects of information technology, including cybersecurity. Prior to joining FHLB, he held IT leadership positions at DuPont, GMAC Mortgage and Electronic Data Systems (EDS). Before assuming his current role, John served FHLB in other capacities including Director of Business Solutions and IT Director. Through his contributions, he has enabled the organization to evolve and grow its technology capabilities.

From day-to-day management to championing significant platform and technology transformations, John has both the acumen and willingness to guide and assist every level of his team through continuous adaptation to the evolving technology landscape, as well as embracing new approaches and practices. From phishing and cyberattacks to bio recognition software and Agile methodologies, John continues to help FHLB navigate the evolving industry and embrace a vision that will ensure sustained viability. 


Ryan Conover

Director of Information Services, Oncology Nursing Society (ONS)

For 10-plus years, Ryan Conover has served as the senior IT leader at Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) and is passionate about leveraging technology to improve the lives of those with cancer. He is responsible for ONS’s Information Services, a hybrid IT/Product Development team that encompasses software development, infrastructure, business analysis and program management. The team oversees the development of ONS’s digital presence that serves 500,000+ users in the oncology community along with supporting the organization’s internal IT operations.

Ryan’s technical acumen has enabled his team to propel ONS’s causes, including developing the digital channels and products that provide oncology nursing guidelines, education, training and certification to an international customer base of oncology nurses. Additionally, Ryan is a member of the ONS Center for Innovation that leverages technology and explores markets to develop and deploy new products to assist the oncology community’s delivery of quality care and improved patient outcomes.

Jeffrey Devlin

Chief Information Officer, Port Authority of Allegheny County

Jeffrey Devlin has been active in the IT field for more than 28 years—with a majority of these in a leadership capacity—and has recently made the transition from education (college/university sector) to the transportation industry. Jeffrey has positioned the Port Authority of Allegheny County team to ensure a focus not only on the core aspects of infrastructure and applications, but also on the important role of transportation technology as it directly serves the customer experience. This is highlighted in recent publicly visible initiatives such as Wi-Fi on vehicles, digital signage, real-time and trip planning tool upgrades, data initiatives and mobile ticketing.

As senior member of the Port Authority team, Jeffrey is also actively engaged in all aspects of the tactical and strategic improvements of the agency. 

Greg Dumont

Chief Information Officer, Carlow University

With more than 25 years of leadership experience in higher education technology organizations, Greg Dumont is a responsible, dedicated, creative, collaborative and a solid decision-maker. He understands the important role that technology plays in staff, faculty and student success, and focuses on creating services that meet user needs. In his day-to-day role at Carlow University, Greg consistently utilizes his skills, education and experience to have a positive impact for a higher education institution.

Greg successfully developed a plan to rebuild his department—including improving support across the entire service catalog by reconstructing teams and services—and achieved his goal of deriving maximum value from all technology solutions and positioning business offices across campus to be optimally productive in leveraging technology within their processes.

Katherine Karolick

Senior Vice President of Information Technology, Allegheny County Airport Authority

As head of IT for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which owns and operates Pittsburgh International and Allegheny County Airports, Katherine Karolick is responsible for implementing innovative technologies that enhance the customer experience in the terminal, providing strategic direction for the airport’s Terminal Modernization Program and overall management of the IT team.

For Katherine, working to transform IT at Pittsburgh International Airport is much more than just modernizing—it’s about serving the Pittsburgh region and advancing the aviation industry. With more than 20 years’ experience in IT leadership, including CIO for Wind River Systems, Inc. (now an Intel company) and as a former consulting executive, Katherine has designed and led transformative initiatives leveraging information technology to drive sustainable business benefits.

Richard Wilkie

Chief Information Officer, SAE

Since joining SAE in 2018, Rich Wilkie has worked to connect engineers and scientists around the world in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries by building information products to bring about safe, clean and accessible mobility solutions. With a strong track record in starting and leading teams of creative engineers, Rich is accomplished in showing significant improvements in software product management, IT operations, process development, product quality, cost structures, time-to-market and feature velocity.

He is responsible for supporting SAE’s strategic goals through technology products, applications and infrastructure. Prior to joining SAE International, Rich held executive IT management roles at several Fortune 500 companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Nortel Networks, ECI Telecom, Apollo Education Group and Opus Global.


CIO Megabyte

Winner: Jason “JJ” James, Chief Information Officer, Net Health

Jason James (JJ) is a transformational leader with more than 20 years of leadership experience and 20 years’ experience managing global SaaS solutions, strategy, security, infrastructure, DevOps and operations. Working to modernize IT organizations to ensure the highest level of performance, JJ leads the development and digital transformation of all IT applications, infrastructure, support and operations at Net Health. Prior to joining Optima (acquired by Net Health in 2019), JJ directed IT for several fast-growth technology companies including EarthLink and PRGX. He is devoted to keeping clinicians connected to the technology they rely on at the point-of-care so they can stay connected to their patients.

Not only did JJ take over Net Health’s IT department, formerly without a CIO or CISO, he did it during a merger between the two organizations. His leadership aligned two separate IT teams to allow a rapid plan integration—bringing the entire company into unified platforms.


Mangal Anandan

VP, Products & Solutions, First Insight, Inc.

While leading First Insight’s Engineering and IT team globally, Mangal Anandan is responsible for delivering new products and solutions that help retailers make better product decisions while equipping First Insight with the tools and IT infrastructure needed to deliver and scale these solutions.

After leading the project to create a whole new office and team in India, Mangal was also able to significantly build out the development team in North America. The combined IT unit is now over four times larger than when he took the helm in 2017.

Prior to First Insight, Mangal was a co-founder at Synasoft Solutions and a consultant at Infosys Technologies. 

Ron Baxter

Director of Technology, J.V. Manufacturing

Since joining J.V. Manufacturing in 1991 as part of the Engineering department, Ron Baxter endeavored to fill the gap between IT and Engineering and was asked to bridge the communication between departments. After working with IT for years, Ron became J.V. Manufacturing’s first Director of Technology and his true strengths and leadership are evident within the IT team. His team provides solutions almost instantly within the organization while making behind-the-scenes IT development look seamless.

Ron often takes on projects that are outside of his comfort zone and diligently works for the better of J.V. Manufacturing by providing solid practical advice and tools for improving the facility’s overall effectiveness through technology. 

Dena Ghilani

CIO, SESCO Enterprises

Dena Ghilani is an accomplished, business-focused tech executive with a proven track record aligning technology to drive business results. Having worked for Fortune 500 companies and information technology consulting, Dena has cultivated robust industry experience spanning Financial Services, Life Sciences, Pharmaceuticals, Federal Civilian and Defense organizations. Her diverse background enables her to bring best practices and lessons learned to identify industry-specific opportunities or trends, as well as ensure sound technology performance, adherence to service level expectations and business continuity.

Dena has been in the IT field for 22 years. Since joining SESCO in 2018, she has been focused on the execution of her technology strategy comprised of transformational initiatives to shift technology to become the cornerstone of the business and a competitive advantage. She applies her experience to her current position by introducing new technology and state-of-the-art equipment, software and processes. 

Cindy Lesker

Chairman of the Board & CIO, Kurt J. Lesker Company

Cindy Lesker is responsible for all aspects of IT and Systems at Kurt J. Lesker Company, a global technology firm and a family company. With a main area of expertise in process design, primarily ERP systems and transactional areas of the business, Cindy continues to focus on the relationship between business needs and practical solutions as they relate to technology and successful implementations. With more than 40 years’ experience, her biggest accomplishments include growing and revolutionizing the business on several occasions.

Her overall IT mission and strategy have been in place for years and continue to be part of the underlying philosophy at KJLC: improve effectiveness and efficiency for all employees while protecting corporate resources. 

Richard Mackey

SVP, Technology & Products, Intalere

With the Product and Project Management teams, Richard Mackey is responsible for leading IT and product development functions—focused on establishing a differentiated analytics and software solutions capability—and overseeing applications that support Intalere’s core and ancillary businesses. Richard brings significant program and product management experience highlighted by his leadership in building new digital and analytics capabilities in technology and finance functions, with an emphasis on contract management systems focusing on supply chain efficiency.

In his former role with Accenture, he led IT sourcing project activities to identify and contract with IT software, infra-structure, services, and telecommunications providers. Richard has led technology transformation initiatives at both national and global companies including Mylan, Philips Respironics, Novartis and Pfizer, and has earned numerous leadership and customer service awards.


CIO Gigabyte

Winner: Craig Dean, Chief Technology Officer, Orrick

In his current role at Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, a global AmLaw 100 law firm, Craig Dean is responsible for the firm’s global technology services. He develops and deploys dynamic and innovative technology to meet the firm’s business challenges and offer sophisticated legal solutions to clients. Craig leads the firm’s technology efforts worldwide, supporting 2,600 lawyers and staff in 25 offices across the United States, Europe and Asia.

Global law firms are under enormous pressure to compete for clients amid the rapid growth of in-house legal departments and alternative legal service providers, while also juggling the complexities of offices across multiple continents. In addition to the challenge of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, law firms—housing a wealth of confidential client information—are a high-value target for cybercriminals.

Within this tough and rapidly changing environment, Craig leads Orrick’s efforts to use technology to counter these pressures and solve problems for both Orrick and its clients. 


Roger Lutz

Chief Information Officer, Butler Health System

With nearly 30 years’ experience in IT, Roger Lutz is equal parts IT guy, businessman and health care advocate. Under his current leadership at Butler Health System, he has made strategic investments in new programs, services and technology—all key to keeping premium medical care services close to home.

Roger works to enable physicians and nurses through technology in a replacement of the electronic health record (EHR) system across the enterprise—a business solution that impacts every clinician, patient and employee, all designed to serve the community through technology-enabled access like telemedicine and mobile apps. 

When Lutz isn’t working to empower health care operations through technology to improve patient care and enhance fiscal and system efficiencies, he’s teaching health informatics courses at Slippery Rock University, a program that ranks ninth in the nation for top 50 Master’s in Health Informatics offerings. 

Michael Smetana

VP, Information Technology, Michael Baker International

While Michael Baker International has experienced an ownership transition, Mike Smetana has been instrumental in maintaining leadership consistency while continuing to achieve drastic improvement in internal processes, coworker collaboration and overall IT transformation. Through Mike’s leadership, the company remained positioned to support its team members and, just as importantly, both current and future clients.

He has spent his entire 18-year career with Michael Baker International, and is a dedicated professional, a true collaborative innovator and a leader who acts without bias to ensure goals and successful business outcomes. He continues to focus on self-improvement, never being satisfied with the status quo. 


CIO Terabyte

Winner: Richard Smith, Vice President, CIO, Wabtec Corporation

With more than 35 years’ experience, and after serving in increasing IT roles at respected global companies, Rick Smith joined Wabtec in 2013 and has continued to steadily build the business. Under Rick’s leadership, the organization has grown from a worldwide staff of 240 to one with roughly 1,200 IT employees.

As a respected and visionary leader in all aspects of IT executive management, Rick created a new IT organization structure by combining the talents of two distinctly different organizations following a successful Wabtec/GE merger in 2019. He has a proven ability to deliver large scale, transformational projects and has demonstrated expertise in strategic planning and operational execution. Rick is a valued member of cross-functional management teams with a strong understanding of the business and technology relationship.


John Cisco Sanchez

Senior Vice President, Information Technology, FedEx Ground

In his role at FedEx Ground, Cisco Sanchez is responsible for the strategic direction and execution of IT solutions based out of Pittsburgh. As a technical leader who partnered with the FedEx Ground business very quickly, Cisco created unstoppable momentum to compete aggressively in the constantly-evolving shipping environment where continued growth in e-commerce demands significant changes and disrupts how shipping carriers have traditionally conducted business.

The pace of FedEx Ground’s breakthrough strategic initiatives to address rapid e-commerce changes, including an influx of large items that consumers are now comfortable ordering online, is being made possible by the highly collaborative business IT engagement fostered extensively by Cisco. Over the past year, under Cisco’s leadership, FedEx Ground has proven the SAFe/Agile framework is vital to a rapid move from strategy to execution, leading with business and technical architecture and embracing an analytics culture in which clarity drives results. FedEx Ground’s application development and launch discipline is the best across all FedEx operating segments and continues to be held up as the enterprise role model.


CISO Education/ Non-Profit

Winner: Mary Ann Blair, Assistant Vice President, Chief Information Security Officer, Carnegie Mellon University

Mary Ann Blair is responsible for the Carnegie Mellon University’s information security program and identity and access management services. Prior to establishing the Information Security Office, Mary Ann served as Director of Administrative Computing at CMU, leading various applications development, systems integration and systems maintenance projects over a 15-year period.

Mary Ann is active in EDUCAUSE and its partner programs. She has served in numerous capacities including: EDUCAUSE/Internet2 Security Task Force; Program Committee for the Annual and Security Professionals Conferences; and CUMREC Board of Directors. 


Robert “Bucky” Buckingham

Senior Director Information Services, Presbyterian SeniorCare Network

With 35-plus years’ experience in IT, Robert “Bucky” Buckingham has extensive knowledge in Information Security, Project Management, and IT functions with a proven record in IT governance, global security, frameworks and privacy regulations (HIPAA, SOX, HITECH, ITIL, PCI, COBIT, NIST, ISO, GLB, etc.), with additional experience remediating audit recommendations. 

Bucky works to create policies and procedures to adhere to regulations while balancing risk management and security concerns with best practices and business needs to achieve appropriate infrastructure, application functionality and data security. He showcases strong team management and prioritization skills with the ability to work across all levels of management, stakeholders, IT and vendors.

Bucky is technically proficient with expertise in security, project management, strategic planning, crisis management, problem solving, vendor negotiations, policy/procedures, disaster recovery, budgeting and design. 

Jim Mahony

CISO, Robert Morris University

Jim Mahony is responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining a comprehensive risk-based Information Security Program that addresses information security, privacy, integrity and availability and provides input into Robert Morris University’s Enterprise Risk Management program. While developing this framework and enforcing university-wide security policies, Jim drives the metrics that support the program.

Through his leadership and guidance regarding security best practices for application development, access control, incident response, security awareness, governance and administration, he provides and coordinates the IT response to external audits and maintains and updates the security vendor management process. 

With over 20 years’ experience in the IT space, Jim has had a long and successful career. He continues to work hard not only with his IT team but provides on-the-job training to RMU’s students.


CISO Public Company

Winner: Ryan Shaw, CISO, Arconic

During his past three years with Arconic, Ryan has elevated cybersecurity capabilities, protections and strategy to a level beyond typical manufacturing companies. His ability to balance cyber needs and business needs is unique amongst his peers. He has implemented several global enterprise technologies and practices that have significant impact to Arconic, i.e., DLP, Microsoft EMS, data classification, and identity management.

As a Security Engineer who specializes in digital forensics and incident response, Ryan leads the company’s global incident response team. With more than 10 years’ experience in the Information Security space, Ryan previously excelled in his roles at Alcoa and CERT with an additional Adjunct Faculty role at Carnegie Mellon University. 


Jay Saludis

Director, Information Security, 84 Lumber

Jay Saludis is responsible for developing security strategy and implementing security systems and protocols that safeguard and comply with established policies, procedures and standards in various IT areas at 84 Lumber. He manages risks related to information security, policy development and enforcement, identity management, crisis management, privacy and compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements. He also actively collaborates across IT and business areas to ensure successful results.

With more than 30 years’ experience across various disciplines throughout the information technology lifecycle, Jay has had a successful career with companies such as Academy Sports & Outdoors, Dick’s Sporting Goods and 84 Lumber.

Justin Swanson, Director – Information Services and Security, Careform

Justin Swanson is a strategic technology leader with expertise in driving financial and operational results through secure infrastructure design and effective IT practices. With more than 14 years’ experience refining systems and processes to support business strategy, he improves bottom-line savings and optimizes human capital while delivering multiple concurrent large-scale projects on time and budget. By understanding operational maturity levels and the challenges these bring to an organization, Justin applies business acumen to define corporate strategies that move organizations through the process of scaling, optimizing and innovating.

At Careform, Justin continuously works to foster an environment conducive to teamwork and innovation, focusing on professional development and championing technical concepts to a broad audience and reinforcing inter-departmental communication resulting in a high degree of customer and employee loyalty.


Rising Star

Winner: Angela Foglia, IT Director, Howmet Structure Systems

Angela Foglia is a results-oriented professional combining leadership, process transformation, technology and entrepreneurial skills to manage risk, increase revenue and control costs. She employs excellent skills in creating and meeting strategic and financial goals, vendor management and developing business opportunities. Able to grasp concepts quickly and immediately produce results, Angela is an extremely dedicate IT professional.

After beginning her career with Alcoa in 2002 and growing with the company through major transitions for more than 16 years, she has continued to excel in a male-dominated industry—propelling her career in 2014 to Arconic, and now to IT Director of Arconic’s Howmet Structure Systems business unit.


Jim Bisti

Manager, Analytics and Atlassian, MSA Safety

In his role at MSA Safety, Jim Bisti is involved in many aspects of IT, but is primarily responsible for data analytics strategy, leadership and execution. Jim has played a pivotal role in establishing MSA Safety’s data analytics program, fostering a data-driven culture, increasing data utilization, cultivating data literacy and empowering associates with self-service. Jim seamlessly blends deep technical knowledge with a high level of business savvy, emotional intelligence, grit and mindset. His contagious passion for technology, strong disdain for the status quo, and ability to build partnerships have established Jim as a trusted advisor and technology thought leader across the MSA Safety organization.

John Kotchey

Assistant Vice President, Application Development, Dollar Bank

John has provided more than 11 years’ experience in Network Communications, Application Development and Application Security at Dollar Bank. He is a leader of multiple development teams that produce quality solutions that satisfy the needs of the bank, and he is also a contributor to the management of IT risk and security. Additionally, John has been and continues to be instrumental in the successful implementation of the Application Security Program, Software Development Life Cycle, and the Vulnerability Management Program at Dollar Bank.

John has been able to utilize his professional expertise to create and improve upon multiple functions of Dollar Bank’s IT division, with his leadership capabilities showing during the maturation of Dollar Bank’s Application Security program. He was able to enhance and tightly integrate the Secure Coding Standards, Application Vulnerability Scanning Process, and the Vulnerability Remediation Process into the bank’s Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) to ensure the secure development and deployment of Dollar Bank applications. He also successfully improved an outdated and unsuccessful Vulnerability Management Program by applying the same methodologies used in the Application Security Program to provide vulnerability remediation assurance to Senior Management.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems/Information Technology from the University of Pittsburgh and is a certified GIAC Web Application Penetration Tester (GWAPT).