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John Soat
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Former Homeland Security CIO Gets Board Position

Steve Cooper, former Homeland Security CIO, was appointed to the board of a nonprofit organization working on interoperability standards among emergency responders. Chalk up another small victory for CIO credibility.

Steve Cooper, former Homeland Security CIO, was appointed to the board of a nonprofit organization working on interoperability standards among emergency responders. Chalk up another small victory for CIO credibility.One of the indicators of how seriously the business community takes CIOs as strategic business partners is the number of CIOs that are serving on boards -- or lack thereof. While the CIO position has managed to win a certain grudging respect in the last several years, as the prime-mover status of IT has become apparent to almost all business executives, one area where acknowledgement is lacking is at the board level. Current or former CIOs on the boards of directors of companies or organizations -- either internally, at their own companies, or externally, at third parties --- are still a rare sight.

So each appointment is a step in the right direction. Steve Cooper has taken that step. Cooper has been elected to the board of directors of a nonprofit organization called Comcare, which is "dedicated to advancing emergency communications" and is trying to get companies and agencies to "plan for and implement leading-edge technologies that will revolutionize emergency preparedness, response and recovery processes used for all hazards -- mass casualty and day-to-day events," according to its Web site.

Cooper, the former CIO at glass maker Corning Inc. in Corning, N.Y., was the Department of Homeland Security's first CIO, appointed by President Bush in 2003. He left Homeland Security in 2005 to be CIO at the American Red Cross, just in time to experience Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

If that kind of experience doesn't prepare you for a board-level position, nothing will.

"Comcare prides itself on its unique collaboration of the broad range of emergency response and technology leaders from the public and private organizations involved in safety," said Richard Taylor, chairman of Comcare and executive director of the North Carolina 9-1-1 Board, in a statement. "Steve's wide range of experience in and out of government will strengthen the diversity Comcare represents."

"Our goal is to achieve voice and data interoperability across emergency professions," said Cooper, who's now listed as a partner and founding member of something called Strativest LLC. "I was impressed with Comcare when I worked with its members on emergency standards development, core services, and other initiatives while at DHS and the American Red Cross. I look forward to helping lead this effort as a member of its board of directors."

Why aren't more CIOs serving in board-level positions? Let us know what you think.

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