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Municipal government / Technology

Meet Amaya Capellán, Pennsylvania’s new chief information officer

The former Comcast VP joined state gov this July with a mission to use technology to streamline services and processes for state residents and employees.

Amaya Capellán. (Courtesy photo)
After spending the bulk of her career working in the private sector at both tech startups and corporate giants, Philadelphia-based Amaya Capellán is taking a step into state government.

In July, Capellán became the new chief information officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her job, housed within the state’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), is to ensure statewide agencies have the technology they need to make their services accessible to 13 million Pennsylvanians, as well as ensure the commonwealth’s 80,000 employees have the tools they need to do their jobs.

Capellán comes to state government following six years of VP and director-level product management roles at Center City-headquartered Comcast, as well as three years as VP of product and client success at former Philly B2B company PeopleLinx.

She told she wanted to take on this role because of the opportunity to implement digital transformation, especially after seeing how important it is to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s plans. That includes the new Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience, or CODE PA, launched earlier this year with a goal to make it easier for constituents to access digital services — say, voting, signing up for unemployment or registering a business.

“Amaya is a proven leader with an impressive track record of digital transformation throughout her career,” Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver said in an announcement. “Her breadth of experience delivering results in the private sector will help us advance the Shapiro Administration’s priorities for digital transformation and customer service, and further solidify Pennsylvania’s place as a leader among states in information technology.”

As CIO, Capellán will also work closely with the Pennsylvania’s chief data officer and chief information security officer. Data and security are important not only to ensure people’s information stays safe, she said, but because well-managed data and security can create a more positive user experience.

Capellán considers herself a “people-first” leader, and said there is already excitement in OIT as CODE PA and related projects get off the ground. She wants to make OIT one of the best places to build a technical skill set and make sure that the diversity of the team adequately represents the population of the state.

“I have been given this awesome opportunity to lead a large organization,” Capellán said. “It all starts with getting to understand the team that I have, what they’ve been asked to do, the challenges they have, maybe some of those ideas that they haven’t had the chance to see through that are kind of right there that I can help them deliver.”

Back at Comcast, Capellán said her number-one focus had been on customer needs, which can be maintained when employees are on the same page and eager to do the work. She plans to bring this mindset into her new role as she gets to know her team and understand what systems need to be adjusted.

Overall, she said, building systems that make government services run smoothly — and tracking progress — matters because it builds trust between the government and residents.

“What I’m looking to hear is that, generally speaking, when we ask our residents how we’re doing, and we ask our employees, ‘How easy is it to work with us?’ that, number one, we measure that information and everyone knows it, and that we see that it continues to get better,” she said.

Follow OIT’s work here and find open CODE PA roles here.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Comcast / PeopleLinx / State of Pennsylvania
Series: Power Moves

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