White House Appoints Past Keynote Speaker Megan Smith to CTO of the USA

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Big news for one of our past keynote speakers from the Women 2.0 Conference: Las Vegas Edition. Megan Smith is now officially of CTO of the United States!

By Jake Guidry (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

Megan Smith, VP of Google[x] and former keynote speaker for Women 2.0, enters a new phase of her storied tech career as the White House announced today that she will become CTO of the United States. The announcement comes a week after Todd Park stepped down from the role to become President Obama’s technology advisor.

Smith is just the third person to hold the title of CTO of the United States, a position that was introduced in 2009, Obama’s inaugural year. While the position so far has not been clearly defined, under Smith it is “expected to re-focus on being agenda-setting and forward-looking -- something of the technological equivalent of the President's Science Advisor,” the Washington Post reports.

Smith received her master’s degree from MIT in 1988 and has since spent her entire career in the tech world. Before eventually taking the role of VP at Google[x], the company’s hush-hush innovation lab, she served as Google’s VP of business development, spent time at Apple Japan, and helped launch Planet Out, a media and entertainment company targeting the LGBT community. Her appointment as CTO for the United States represents the administration’s hopes for innovative solutions to its technological shortcomings.

Said Obama in a statement:

“Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment. 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. I am grateful for her commitment to serve, and I look forward to working with her and with our new Deputy U.S. CTO, Alexander Macgillivray, in the weeks and months ahead.”

Surely Smith’s experience in Silicon Valley will inform her approach to her new role, and it will be exciting to see how and where her expertise is employed. One area we expect to see her focus on is education.

“The state of education in the U.S. is pretty depressing,” Smith told us in July 2013. “We have wonderful, wonderful teachers who can’t disrupt their industry because it’s so constrained and bureaucratic, so what are the ways that we use the internet in our own country with our own kids?”

As technology continues to become seamlessly integrated into everyone’s lives, sectors like education will come under increased scrutiny if it fails to adapt. Hopefully Smith’s passion and vast experience will make a powerful and positive impact, creating greater significance for a government position that has existed little more than five years.

Megan Smith's Keynote at the Women 2.0 Conference: Las Vegas Edition

Megan Smith Keynote - November 14, 2013 from Women 2.0 on Vimeo.

Highlights from Megan Smith's Keynote

LVConf 2013 Highlights from Women 2.0 on Vimeo.

Backstage Interview with Megan Smith

Photo: Megan Smith by Joi Ito via Flickr


About the author: Jake Guidry is a freelance writer and DJ living in Chicago. His passions are craft beer, baseball and making people dance. Follow him on Twitter at @jakeguidry.