- The honor recognizes influential people in the state governments and the most innovative projects that advance services and solutions for residents.
Two Indian Americans — Nikhil Deshpande, Georgia’s chief digital officer, and Krishna Edathil, director of Enterprise Solution Services at the Texas Department of Information Resources — are among the winners of the StateScoop 50 Awards. The awards honor influential people in the state government community and the most innovative projects that advance services and solutions for residents.
The ninth annual awards were presented on May 1 at a reception in conjunction with the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Winners were chosen from 180 finalists selected from a pool of 1,000 leaders and projects; after which readers cast more than 3.5 million votes to select this year’s winners.
Jake Williams, the vice president of content and community of StateScoop and EdScoop called the winners “truly exceptional leaders” who “include innovative projects that are setting the stage for even more transformation in government.”
Indian American awardees:
Nikhil Deshpande, who received the award for State Leadership of the Year, has served as Georgia’s chief digital office for several years. He has played key roles in establishing Georgia’s social media presence and leading the move to an enterprisewide open-source publishing system. “We cannot just be offering online services with technology in mind, we have to cater the services with users at the center and then build the services around user needs,” he told StateScoop.
According to his official profile, Deshpande envisioned and led Georgia’s user-centric digital transition to an enterprise open-source web publishing system, GovHub. Under his direction, Georgia became the first state in the United States to use enterprise Drupal and meet the special needs of constituents with a range of disabilities. Before his career in digital government, Deshpande worked in advertising and digital media.
He has two master’s degrees in Visual Communications and Interaction Design from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IITB) and the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). He served as adjunct faculty at the Atlanta campus of SCAD for 10 years, where he taught graduate classes in Interaction Design and User Experience. He has won several national and international awards and recognition for his work in digital government, including Atlanta’s 40 under 40.
Krishna Edathil, the recipient of the State IT Leadership of the Year award, is the director of Enterprise Solution Services at the Texas Department of Information Resources. He also runs the Centers of Excellence program and has more than two decades in technology start-up and leadership roles.
Under his leadership, the Texas Department of Information Resources has in recent years created multiple centers of excellence — educational offices to support officials in learning new technologies — for cloud, AI and soon, robotic process automation. “We help Texas agencies who in turn help Texas people,” he told StateScoop. “We have to be fast and innovative and help people who don’t understand technology and how we improve the lives of people.”
Before going to work for the state, Edathil was a senior technology executive for Accenture’s Intelligent Software Engineering Services group. He has an executive certificate from MIT Sloan School of Management in Leadership and Management including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and the Internet of Things.