Beth Anderson addresses reporters during a press conference at City Hall Park.
Mayor Miro Weinberger's pick for Burlington's first-ever chief innovation officer is a woman who went from working at enormous financial services firms in New York to directing operations at several Vermont nonprofits.
Pending city council approval, Beth Anderson will oversee the city's new Innovation & Technology Department.
Anderson and her staff will be charged with taking care of IT needs within city government and improving the collection and analysis of data.
What will that actually entail on a daily basis?
During the question-and-answer period following Thursday's press conference, Joel Banner Baird of the Burlington Free Press noted, "The job description is maybe kind of geeky. I mean, no offense."
Asked for specific examples of what the department might do with the data it collects, Weinberger brought up a project in Baltimore, where officials tracked how long it took to repair potholes and used the information to improve response times.
Anderson previously worked at multiple financial services firms, including Lehman Brothers and, more recently, Goldman Sachs. In 2009 she left the industry and moved to Burlington. She served as the director of operation at COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter) for a year and half. Since then, she has had the same job at the Vermont Oxford Network, which works to improve neonatal care.
Weinberger noted that Anderson doesn't have a technical background, but he made the case that this was a strength, not a weakness. He described her role as being a "bridge" between IT staff and other city employees.
The newly created department is the mayor's brainchild. When he presents his budget for fiscal year 2016, Weinberger will ask the city council to sign off on $1,155,000 for the department. That includes Anderson's salary, which will start at $105,103. Burlington currently has two IT employees, and they will move from the clerk/treasurer's office to the new department. Weinberger expects to hire one or two additional people.
The council previously approved funding for the department in the 2015 budget, and it has also signed off on the creation of the CIO position.