Two NYS IT Leaders Recognized by Government Technology for Outstanding Leadership

ITS Chief Technology Officer Rajiv Rao and ITS Chief Operations Officer Leslie Brennan are Honored as 2019 IT Leaders of the Year
Thursday, April 4, 2019

The New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) today announced that Government Technology recognized ITS Chief Technology Officer Rajiv Rao and ITS Chief Operations Officer Leslie Brennan for their exceptional leadership and contributions to public service in New York State.

Mr. Rao was honored as the 2019 New York State IT Leader of the Year for his dedication in finding innovative solutions to complex challenges and for his efforts to continuously drive New York State forward through the use of technology.

Mr. Rao, who is an IT executive with nearly 25 years of experience, is dedicated to leading New York State's innovative technology solutions and roadmap. He is responsible for building all core infrastructure services, engineering, architecture, and advancing standards. He also explores long-term technology objectives that deliver value to NYS such as containerization, data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Rajiv was the chief architect of the design and build of New York State's Excelsior Cloud, the primary consolidated data center located in the largest zero energy, multi-use facility in the world. The Excelsior Cloud provides high levels of resiliency and security for New York State's data and technology infrastructure.

Ms. Brennan was honored as the 2019 NY IT Leader of the Year for her unparalleled vision and outstanding accomplishment building a high-performance team credited with stabilizing and transforming New York State's vast technology environment that supports critical operations for New York.

Ms. Brennan's team operates and supports the enterprise data centers that comprise the Excelsior Cloud. Her team also manages the communications networks, enterprise platforms, and desktop and mobile technology that executive agencies depend on to support NYS government operations and 24 x 7 x 365 delivery of citizen and business services. Prior to her appointment as COO, Leslie served as the Deputy COO for Performance Improvement, CIO for the Environment and Energy Cluster, CIO for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the Director of DEC's Program Management Office, and an environmental engineer helping field staff ensure the integrity of the state's natural resources. These roles gave Leslie a deep appreciation for the value of genuine leadership and the important role leaders play in empowering and developing an organization's most important asset--its people.

"Leslie Brennan and Rajiv Rao are two of the top technology leaders not only in New York State, but in the nation, and they are both deserving of these awards," said Robert H. Samson, New York State Chief Information Officer. "Through their dedication and passion, they are delivering optimal services to our agency clients and helping to continuously drive New York State forward. ITS is fortunate to have them on our team. I am privileged to work alongside them as we strive to use technology to deploy innovation that matters...for all New Yorkers. Congratulations to both Leslie and Rajiv on this honor!"

"It has been our privilege to highlight the stories of innovation and success in digital government for over 25 years. Government Technology is honored to recognize outstanding IT leadership in New York. This year's winners represent the best in public sector leadership. Congratulations to Leslie and Rajiv," said Maureen Torncello, National Conference Director, Government Technology.

These awards recognize technology leaders from the public sector in New York State for their outstanding leadership, their commitment to developing future leaders, and their creation of strategies to promote information sharing and collaboration among government organizations. This year's IT leaders were honored in a special awards ceremony held during the 2019 New York State IT Leadership Academy, which took place on April 4 and 5, and was hosted by Government Technology in partnership with the State of New York.

"I am proud to be part of New York State's rich IT workforce leveraging technology to make a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers. Leadership is not a box on the organization chart, it's a gift given by the members of the team I have the pleasure to serve. Every day, I'm fortunate for the opportunity to earn that gift by doing all I can to enable and support our dynamic team of individuals who consistently go above and beyond to provide the best possible service and support to our agency clients and the citizens and businesses they serve. I'm grateful to Government Technology for this recognition and testament to the commitment, dedication and professionalism of each and every member of ITS," said Ms. Brennan.

"Thank you to Government Technology for this award. It is a privilege to be part of the executive team at ITS and work alongside such talented and dedicated employees. Technology is limitless in its potential to allow us to do great things. But it's always the people who have the biggest impact, and who help us fulfill our vision of using technology to create innovation that matters ... for all New Yorkers," said Mr. Rao.

During the awards ceremony, Government Technology also recognized 47 ITS managers as 2019 NY Outstanding IT Managers for their leadership in serving our clients. The Outstanding IT Manager Award recognizes individuals who demonstrate exemplary leadership, customer service, and public stewardship through team-leading, implementing innovative solutions and serving their agency and constituents.

2019 marked the thirteenth year that New York State has partnered with Government Technology on this annual IT Academy. This year's Academy was attended by more than 350 state and local government IT leaders and provided an opportunity for New York's senior level technology executives and those individuals striving to serve in senior IT roles to come together to focus on strategy and leadership, learn from nationally recognized industry leaders, and be better equipped to solve government's grand challenges.

About ITS

The New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) was created in 2012 to transform IT services in an effort to make New York State government work smarter for its citizens and enable the state to be accessible for businesses through the use of technology. ITS provides statewide IT strategic direction, directs IT policy and delivers centralized IT products and services that support the mission of the State. ITS operates data centers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to support statewide mission-critical applications for over 50 Agencies, over 17 million citizen accounts, 120,000 employee accounts, 60,000 phones, 99,000 desktops and laptops, and 3,433 Virtual Desktop remote connections. ITS operates a secure network of over 1,600 miles of fiber to deliver telecommunications, Internet and Intranet services, enterprise email systems and support, IT training, networking, data storage and processing to State government entities in addition to developing new services in support of citizens, businesses and State Agencies.

For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @nysits.