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January 2, 2015



Rick Pilato, Catawba County CIOMichael R. (Rick) Pilato, who has been with Catawba County for seventeen years and has extensive experience in leadership and management in a number of fields, has been named Catawba County’s new Chief Information Officer or CIO. He has been serving as Interim CIO since September 2014.

As CIO, Pilato will serve as department director for Information Technology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), supervising 27 employees. He will oversee development of new technologies and identify, plan and implement strategies to improve access to information and service efficiency for the citizens of Catawba County. Pilato will also manage several existing technology-related partnerships between the County and the municipalities within Catawba County.

“Over the course of his tenure with Catawba County, Rick has established himself as a values-based leader with strong management acumen and a focus on customer service,” said Mary Furtado, Assistant County Manager, who supervises Technology. “Rick has a depth of experience in business process improvement, a skill set fundamental to any strong technology leader and has shown a penchant for learning, which will prove useful in staying on top of new developments in the technology field.”

Pilato has lived in North Carolina for twenty-five years. He began working for Catawba County Social Services in 1998 as a Business Manager overseeing the fiscal aspects of the agency’s Children and Family Services section. He was responsible for overall financial management of a $15 million budget including budgeting, forecasting, analysis, modeling, and reporting for areas under management.

Pilato rose steadily through the ranks at Catawba County Social Services, adding on responsibility for management of Social Services’ Information Technology function in 2001 and becoming Assistant Social Services Director in 2008. This included responsibility for the internal operations of accounting and finance, information technology, human resources, and facilities, as well as the programmatic areas of Aging and Economic Support services. In that capacity, Pilato directed all programming aspects of services such as Adult Protective Services, Guardianship, Senior Nutrition, Medicaid, Food Assistance and Work First. Additionally, he continued to lead the agency's yearly budget process, ongoing rolling forecasts, strategic planning efforts, including creation of a Capital Improvement Plan, year-end closing/reconciliation, internal/external audits and business process re-engineering.

“Over the last twelve years I have been responsible for Business Process Reengineering at Social Services, coupling technology with process improvement initiatives,” Pilato said. “This is challenging work that I really enjoy. The CIO position will allow me the opportunity to focus on this work in a broader county-wide environment while continuing to serve the citizens of our community.

“Catawba County has a very unique working environment,” Pilato added, “which allows employees to build on their existing skill sets in a way that many organizations do not. Additionally, Catawba County employs excellent people who work hard to serve the citizens. Early on I had excellent mentors who taught me a great deal and challenged me at every level.”

Pilato earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master’s of Business Administration from Appalachian State University, with concentrations in Financial Management with both degrees. He has since completed additional training toward the Local Government Finance Officer designation, and obtained leadership and management training through the State of North Carolina and Human Services Legal Training from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Government. He also completed advanced accounting courses at Lenoir-Rhyne University and is a certified Six Sigma / LEAN black belt.

When asked about projects he will be working on as he permanently assumes the role of CIO, Pilato said he and his staff will be focusing on the County’s ongoing IT relationship with several of the municipalities, exploring other potential partnerships, and strengthening the County’s web presence through an enhanced mobile-optimized web app.

Pilato and his wife, Allison, live in Granite Falls with their two children, Nicholas and Caden. He has been very involved in the community, serving on the Corporate Board of the YMCA of Catawba Valley from 2011 to 2014, the Leadership Catawba program of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, including a year as Leadership Catawba Chair in 2010, and is currently a member of First Citizen's Robert Carlisle Foundation Trust Board of Directors. He and his family are members at Calvary Advent Christian Church, where he currently serves as Treasurer.