Author - Gail M. Roper
Recognized as a high-level innovator known for aligning technology with business goals and community-based advantages Roper has literally built her entire career around her belief that technology can be a tool for community enablement. She believes that the ability to use technology effectively can bring communities together, empower individuals and communities, and provide economic development opportunities. Roper has a national reputation for contributing to the technology community with a major emphasis on addressing social and academic issues associated with the digital divide. Roper has over 30 years experience in the technology industry in the public and private sectors. She has participated in national and international speaking engagements and conferences on technology strategy and innovative solutions for the government sector. Her perspective was sought for The World Summit on the Information Society and the role of Local Authorities in Bilbao, Spain, and as a panel member at the UK’s first conference on government reform in London, England. Roper served as Chief Information Officer for the City of Raleigh, Kansas City, Missouri and Austin, Texas and has been a C-level executive for over 17 years.
In 2006, Roper joined the City of Raleigh as Raleigh’s first Chief Information Officer. As an executive administrator with a reputation for the most strategic use of available resources—resulting in cost containment and innovative savings—Gail’s work has been instrumental in bringing award winning technology solutions to the Raleigh organization. She has brought leading Internet, database, and management reporting capabilities significantly impacting the success of departmental systems and city services. Roper has effectively raised IT’s visibility within the organization and nationally by bringing technology decisions and issues to the forefront of crucial executive committee discussions at the strategic level.
In 2009, Roper was promoted to the Raleigh City Manager’s Office as Raleigh’s Community Relations/Chief Information Officer. She currently has responsibility for the Information Technology, Human Resources, and Community Services departments. She manages a combined budget of $21,118,914 in operational funds, $5,690,370 in project funds, and $9,627,448 in capital project funds. She understands the importance of financial accountability in challenging times and the need to find ways to maximize on the organization’s investment portfolio. In her role with the manager’s office, all three of her reporting departments realized cost savings and submitted balanced budgets during all three years of her leadership.
Roper is the founder and fundraiser for the Raleigh Digital Connector Program. In 2009, her efforts secured $1.5 million in federal stimulus funding to bring broadband access to underserved homes in Raleigh and to provide a youth program that promotes 21st Century digital literacy, leadership skills, and to promote a lifestyle of community volunteerism with students from 14-21 years of age. The Digital Connector’s program addresses the impact of the digital divide and works to close the gap on inequalities for youth in the Wake County school district. The students give over 150 service hours to the community throughout the school year. The student classes are held in the high tech classroom in Raleigh’s Teen Center, and are the result of a public private partnership—coordinated by Roper with Cisco Systems Incorporated. The program provides classroom instruction, two days per week, for the entire school year. Digital Connector’s focuses on the value and education of access/use/knowledge of information and communication technologies. Roper is also the local representative for the national Gig.U effort to establish a university broadband infrastructure to serve Raleigh area communities, health IT and academic institutions in the region. Recognized for her commitment to youth, she was appointed by the Governor to the Governor’s Education Transformation Commission in 2011.
As a high energy, fiscally conscious, and goal driven executive, Gail has excelled nationally as a leader. Roper has received distinguished awards in the area of technology innovation including the Distinguished Professional of the Year and The Administrator of the Year award from the American Association of Public Administrators. She has the honor of receiving the 2006 Black Family Technology Present Day Technology Leader award, The Technology Leadership Award from the Public Technology Institute, the In the Arena award from the Center for Digital Government, and the Government Technology Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers award. Public CIO magazine noted her as one of the top women CIO leaders in the nation. The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), one of the nation’s oldest institutions, honored her last year in Raleigh. Most recently the Triangle Business Journal listed her as a recognized CIO in the inaugural CIO award ceremony, and in a feature story about her career.
While serving as Community Relations/Chief Information Officer with the City of Raleigh, Roper facilitated a high rate of community focused efforts including the development of a strategic plan for the Raleigh Business and Technology Center, recruiting of key personnel including the hiring of a human resource director after a retirement, and hosting the first broadband symposium in the Raleigh area to dialogue on the impact of the digital divide. Her contribution to change management and cultural change has been noted by her peers. Her work in the effort of centralizing key business systems, defining strategies for the use of social media, and taking ownership of situations with a goal of being risk adverse has been highly beneficial to the organization. Gail has risen through positions throughout her career that allow her a perspective of leadership from many levels; she has established strong, professional rapport with employees at all levels in the organization. She is one of few technologists who have been able to take technology out of the data center and into the community. She is a people person with the aptitude to swiftly apply systems thinking to situations that require complex analysis.
Gail holds a Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis on business from Rockhurst University School of Graduate and Professional Studies. She earned the prestigious National Certified Government Chief Information Officer (NCGCIO) from the University of North Carolina School of Government – Chapel Hill. Gail remains active in the CIO Technology Executive Network, the Working Council of CIOs, and the CIO Executive Summit, and serves on the Public Technology Institute as a board member and fellow.