Brenna Berman
Chief Information Officer
City of Chicago

Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Commissioner and CIO, Brenna Berman joined the Emanuel administration in 2011. In that time, she has focused on transforming the team at DoIT to provide the skills and expertise to implement the Mayor’s commitment to leveraging data and technology to create a more efficient, effective and innovative City government. This has meant adding new skills to the team to increase the focus on software engineering and analytics, improving the department’s commercial partnerships to drive savings for the City and identifying ground-breaking civic partnerships.
Over the past several years, Commissioner Berman and the team at DoIT has delivered on the Mayor’s commitment to a robust open data program, integrated advanced analytics and real-time data-driven decision making across the city, driven IoT innovation for the City through unique partnerships at UILabs and, in partnership with the University of Chicago, realized the vision of urban scale sensing with the Array of Things.

Prior to joining the Emanuel Administration, Comm. Berman built a career promoting government innovation over 10 years at IBM, where she worked closely with government agencies in cities and countries across the world to leverage technology and analytics to improve the services they provide to their residents. She advised governments on a variety of issues, from targeting personalized services through analytics to normalizing program offerings to simplify the delivery process and make them understandable to residents. Throughout her time at IBM, Ms. Berman tailored cutting-edge business and data models, from processes to analytic algorithms for large government organizations in order to accelerate their own modernization efforts, providing an incredibly valuable skill set for the work she continues at DoIT.

Brenna earned her bachelor’s degree and Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Portrait Photos of hardik Bhatt, State of Illinois CIO

Hardik Bhatt
CIO and Secretary Designate, Department of Innovation and Technology
State of Illinois
Hardik Bhatt is the Secretary Designate of the newly formed Department of Innovation and Technology and the Illinois State CIO in Governor Rauner’s cabinet. Hardik leads 1,700 IT employees and over $1B of technology budget, including a P&L, for digital transformation of Illinois Government.

Previously, Hardik was Senior Director with Cisco and led Global market development of Internet of Everything for public sector. He worked with Mayors, Governors and Prime Ministers around the globe to extract value by connecting public assets. Prior to that, Hardik was the CIO for the City of Chicago and Commissioner for Department of Innovation and Technology. Hardik also built and lead the Smart Chicago program, which is considered a national model. Before joining City of Chicago, Hardik worked with Oracle Corporation in the US and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India.

Hardik has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Computer Science) from India.

Pat Quinn 150

Patrick “Pat” Quinn, Jr.
Former Governor
State of Illinois
Pat Quinn served as the 41st Governor of Illinois. A member of the Democratic Party, Quinn began his career as an activist by founding the Coalition for Political Honesty and served as Governor from 2009 until 2015.

In 2014, then-Governor Quinn announced the completion of a nearly $100 million, four-year project to install more than 1,000 new miles of high-speed fiber-optic broadband infrastructure across 55 Illinois counties. According to the Governor’s office, the new network directly connects approximately 400 anchor institutions, including community colleges, universities, libraries, health facilities, K-12 schools and public safety agencies.

“Governor Quinn’s role in bringing together State, Federal and Local resources, from private and public sectors, in the pursuit of improved digital literacy and internet connectivity to Illinois anchor institutions is a model for all public officials,” said John Windhausen, Executive Director of SHLB Coalition (Schools, Health, Library Broadband)

Governor Quinn currently working on Take Charge Chicago, a petition for referendums to term limit the Mayor of Chicago and create an elected Consumer Advocate in the city.


Vijay Sammeta
CEO, Civic Foundry
Former CIO, City of San Jose

Vijay Sammeta is the Chief Executive Officer for Civic Foundry, a civic innovation and technology consulting firm focused on the advancement of smart cities. With over 25 years of experience driving innovation in the public, private and non-profit high tech sectors, Vijay is able to deliver best-of-breed solutions to his clients.

Vijay was the recipient of the White House’s Smart America Challenge Award, and his other successes with smart cities have been widely recognized by many other leaders in the field including the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Public Technology Institute. Vijay is an advisor to a select group of high potential startups as well as larger, more established firms such Accenture Global 2000 customers through his work on the Accenture External Advisory Board. In addition, Vijay co-founded the Wireless Broadband Alliance Connected City Advisory Board which brings together public sector CIOs to share knowledge and develop a blueprint framework for building smart and connected communities. Vijay was also a founding member of the Cisco IoT World Forum Steering Committee and served on the board for more than 3 years.

Prior to his role at Civic Foundry, Vijay served as Chief Information Officer for the City of San Jose, overseeing and setting the strategic direction of technology investments for the nation’s 10th largest City and $3.2 billion Capital of Silicon Valley. He has also worked for notable Silicon Valley technology firms Hewlett-Packard and, as well as the fiercely competitive world of advertising.

Among his many notable projects, Vijay is credited with the rebirth of municipal wireless implementations, having built a first of its kind “next generation” community WiFi network serving residents, businesses, visitors, and a city’s own operations with a single infrastructure. Vijay views infrastructure as more than simply supporting operations of a city; he views it as a platform for building sustainable business models that drive a strong local economy, enhance quality of life for residents and engages them is a more meaningful relationship within community.


Karen Rhodes
SLED Chief Technologist
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

As the SLED Chief Technologist for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Karen has spent the past 6 years in the public sector in various capacities, and brings the latest HPE innovation and solutions to this unique set of customers.

Prior to her current role, Karen was a Datacenter Architect for the Central US focusing on SDDC technologies and interoperability, Consulting Architect for the Americas specializing in Software Defined Networking and  was a Solutions Architect for HPN in the TOLA region.

Prior to joining HP Karen spent 10 years in the Hosting industry working for The Planet and then Layered Technologies.  As the Chief Architect of Layered Technologies,  with 15,000+ HP servers in 7 datacenters supporting over 1% of all Internet websites she focused the organization’s strategy on hosting virtualization solutions based on VMware, Hyper-V,  KVM, Solaris and AppLogic/Xen based cloud environments.

Karen has spent the last 20 years in networking as an engineer/architect and has held the following certifications: Converged Infrastructure MASE, Network Infrastructure MASE, Wireless MASE, Security ASE, VCP3,4, 5, and VCP-NV, CCNA, CCNP, CCDA, CCDP. She is a member of the network ambassadors team where she works with the worldwide Hewlett Packard Enterprise  R&D and Executive  teams.


Pete Beckman
Co-director of the Northwestern-Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering
Senior Fellow in University of Chicago’s Computation Institute

Pete Beckman is a recognized global expert in high-end computing systems. During the past 25 years, his research has been focused on software and architectures for large-scale parallel and distributed computing systems. Pete enjoys the challenging step of moving novel research software into production on extreme-scale systems. After receiving his Ph.D. degree in computer science from Indiana University, he helped found the University’s Extreme Computing Laboratory, which focused on parallel languages, portable run-time systems, and collaboration technology. In 1997 Pete joined the Advanced Computing Laboratory at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he founded the ACL’s Linux cluster team and launched the Extreme Linux series of workshops and activities that helped catalyze the high-performance Linux computing cluster community.

Pete has also been a leader within the industry. In 2000 he founded a Turbolinux-sponsored research laboratory in Santa Fe that developed the world’s first dynamic provisioning system for cloud computing and HPC clusters. The following year, Pete became Vice President of Turbolinux’s worldwide engineering efforts, managing development offices in the US, Japan, China, Korea, and Slovenia.

Pete joined Argonne National Laboratory in 2002, and worked as Director of Engineering, and later as Chief Architect for the TeraGrid. He led the design and deployment team that created the world’s most powerful Grid computing system for linking production HPC computing centers for the National Science Foundation. After the TeraGrid became fully operational, Pete started a research team focusing on petascale high-performance software systems, Linux, fault tolerance, wireless sensors, and the SPRUCE system to provide urgent computing for critical, time-sensitive decision support.

In 2008 he became the Director for the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, and managed the deployment of Intrepid, which, at the time, debuted as the world’s fastest open science supercomputer in production. As Director, he lead the Argonne team working with IBM on the design of Mira, a 10 Petaflop BG/Q to be installed in 2012. He also brought together a group of scientists and engineers and co-founded the International Exascale Software Project (, which has built an international software roadmap for exascale software and co-design.


Charlie Catlett
Senior Computer Scientist
Argonne National Laboratory

Charlie Catlett is a Senior Computer Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy scientific research laboratory. Catlett is also a Senior Fellow at the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, and a Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His current research focus areas include urban data science, cyber security and privacy, mobile devices and social networks, and the use of mobile and embedded computing to create intelligent infrastructure. He served as Argonne’s Chief Information Officer from 2007-2011.

From 2004 through 2007 he was director of the TeraGrid Initiative, a national-scale facility supported by the National Science Foundation.

In 1999 Charlie co-founded the Global Grid Forum, (now Open Grid Forum) serving as its founding chair from October 1999 through September 2004. Concurrently, he directed the State of Illinois funded I-WIRE optical network project, deploying dark fiber and transport infrastructure to ten institutions in Illinois. I-WIRE today provides over 200 Gb/s of lambda and dark fiber resources to major projects including TeraGrid, the Starlight international optical network hub, Optiputer, and ESnet.

Prior to joining Argonne in 2000, Charlie was Chief Technology Officer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). As part of the original team that established NCSA in 1985, Charlie participated in design, deployment, and evolution of NSFNET, which was one of several early national networks that collectively evolved into today’s Internet. Beginning in 1992 his team designed and operated NCSAs web infrastructure during the exponential growth of the web following NCSA’s release of the Mosaic web browser.