Professional Development
Career development / Municipal government / Tech jobs / Women in tech

Philly Power Moves: Software dev expert chosen as new city CIO after 9-month search

Plus, SEPTA appoints its first CTO and Glitter launches a new trash cleanup effort in Mt. Airy.

Philadelphia Chief Information Officer Melissa Scott (Courtesy the City of Philadelphia)

Philadelphia saw two major tech leaders appointed over the last month: a new chief information officer for the city, and the first-ever chief technology officer for SEPTA.

Also, trash tech startup Glitter launched a new collaboration with Mt. Airy CDC to clean blocks and reduce violence in Northwest Philly. Get all the details on these and other local power moves below.

Philly has a new chief information officer

IT veteran Melissa Scott is Philadelphia’s new top tech staffer.

After a 9-month search, Mayor Cherelle Parker last month appointed her the city’s chief information officer. Scott takes over from Sandra Carter, who served as interim CIO following the departure of long-tenured CIO Mark Wheeler, who left the position last summer.

In her new role, Scott leads the Office of Innovation and Technology and develops strategies and initiatives relevant to technology, digital access and information security across Philadelphia.

Scott has worked for the city since 2015, serving as director of information technology, information technology program manager and a senior IT project manager. During this time she led the team responsible for the Office of Licenses and Inspections’ mobile application.

Her expertise is in software development, security planning and operations management, per the announcement, and she also has experience in the private sector — as an IT project manager at health tech company Accolade and a project manager at Drexel University. e has a bachelor’s in business administration from Howard University, attended Chestnut Hill College for computer and information sciences and support services, and attended Eastern University for business administration and management.

“I am confident my experience, expertise in IT management and software development and passion for collaboration will support my ability to lead the Parker administration’s technology strategy over the next four years,” Scott said.

SEPTA appoints first-ever CTO

SEPTA has appointed its first ever chief technology officer. Elisa Cunningham will lead the transportation authority’s information technology department and develop a long-term tech strategy that aligns with SEPTA Forward, the authority’s five-year strategic plan.

Transit officials say the move shows their commitment to improving the agency’s technology and digital capabilities — where glitches and cost overruns have long been the punchline to jokes for riders throughout the region.

Cunningham was previously CTO of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority. She has 20 years of IT experience including as assistant VP of technology and information management and deputy chief information officer at Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Before the transportation industry, Cunningham was the senior information technology manager for L-3 Communications, senior information technology manager for the City of Dallas, and information technology manager for the County of Dallas.

“I am looking forward to joining the team at SEPTA and ensuring the Authority is ready to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead,” Cunningham said. “I am excited to work on initiatives that will further modernize the system and enhance the customer and employee experience.”

Glitter partners with Mt. Airy CDC for violence reduction program

Block cleanup service Glitter and the Mt. Airy CDC won an $800,000 grant from Pennsylvania’s Commission on Crime and Delinquency to launch the “Safe Steps Northwest” program. This program will focus on violent crime reduction in East Germantown and East Mt. Airy through litter cleanup on 335 blocks.

Founded in 2021, Glitter uses technology to coordinate trash cleanup services for over 300 blocks around Philadelphia. Neighbors can pitch in together to cover the cost of having their block cleaned and the startup’s platform tracks activity on covered blocks.

Safe Steps Northwest will be a 5-month weekly cleaning program that starts in June. The funding will support cleaning services, neighborhood outreach, community outreach and impact evaluation. Glitter’s current staff includes people who have overcome barriers to work and this program will allow the company to hire more cleaners.

More Power Moves:

  • Independence Health CEO and President Gregory E. Deavens will be the next chair of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. His term begins in October.
  • Artificial Intelligence company BioPhy has a new SVP of sales: Scott Kayobashi, who previously founded life sciences consulting firm Delta Project Management.
  • Rittenhouse Communications Group partnered with SALTO Systems on its PropKey platform. This platform allows tenants in multifamily residential buildings to put in maintenance requests, track package deliveries, message property management, book amenities and other services.
Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 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: City of Philadelphia / Office of Innovation and Technology / SEPTA
Series: Power Moves
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