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December 4, 2013


Randy CressRandy Cress, a Certified Government Chief Information Officer with more than a decade of local government management experience, has been named Catawba County’s new Chief Information Officer (CIO). He will begin his new duties on January 2, 2014.

Cress, 37, succeeds Terry Bledsoe, who retired on November 1, 2013 after more than seven years of service to Catawba County. As Catawba County's CIO, Cress will serve as department director for Information Technology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the 911 Communications Center, supervising 56 employees. He will oversee development of new technologies and identify, plan and implement strategies to improve access to information and efficiency of service delivery to the citizens of Catawba County. Cress will also manage several existing technology-related partnerships between the County and the municipalities in Catawba County.

Cress has served since January 2001 as Systems and Network Manager for Rowan County, North Carolina. In that capacity, he recommended and implemented technology solutions for all Rowan County departments, managed a team providing technology support to 750 county staff, and engineered and implemented a network of over 200 virtual servers across two data centers. Cress identified and implemented cost-saving measures such as county-wide application and desktop virtualization projects, provided contract management for a wide array of service contracts, and nurtured relationships with outside partners and municipalities.

“Catawba County's commitment to building positive partnerships with external agencies, municipalities and the community, as well as the presence of a strong, progressive organizational culture with a logical and well-planned structure, was my primary attraction in seeking this position,” Cress said. “In working with Catawba County’s Human Resources staff, several department heads and the management team during the interview process, I could see that this theme runs deep through the organization and compliments my outlook of how a Technology department should be fully aligned to operate effectively and, ultimately, provide excellence in public service.”

“We are excited to welcome Randy to the Catawba County team,” said Assistant County Manager Mary Furtado, who led the

search process for the new CIO and oversees the County’s Technology services on a day to day basis. “Through his experience, he has demonstrated an ability to think strategically, drive innovation while controlling costs, and collaborate with both internal departments and outside agencies. Randy is energetic and engaging, and we believe his mix of skills is the right one to lead Technology forward while maintaining the already strong base of services that currently exists.”

Prior to working with Rowan County, Cress was owner of Jaguaria Networks, Inc., which provided technology system design and engineering for new and replacement systems, and worked as a Network Engineer for The Memory Bank, developing business solutions and maintaining support for small to mid-size organizations.

Cress earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Catawba College in 2006 and then a Masters of Public Administration from Appalachian State University in 2012. In 2007, he graduated from the Certified Government Chief Information Officer’s School at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government in Chapel Hill.

Cress is currently serving on the professional development and security committees of the North Carolina Local Government Information Systems Association (NCLGISA), which fosters collaboration and sharing of technical knowledge among North Carolina local governments and school systems. He received the Association’s James S. Cooper Award in November 2013for his willingness to share knowledge and help fellow members of NCLGISA.

Cress said he is looking forward to working with Catawba County at a time of great opportunities as related to technology.

“With the rapid pace of ‘click and choose’ IT services available to everyone, the greatest opportunities are hidden within the challenges coming from departments, citizens, and businesses expecting more access to timely and relevant information,” Cress added. “My goal, as CIO, is to build and develop partnerships to jointly discover these technology-based services reliably, consistently and within an overall strategy that aligns with the organization. A challenge with this strategy is to adapt to the fast-moving pace of these services while maintaining existing tried and true systems that evolve incrementally.”

When asked about what he will first focus on as he begins work for Catawba County, Cress said, “My initial goals will be to understand staff strengths and related departmental needs and expectations to provide business outcome alignment. I would expect to understand existing projects and how they relate, overall, to other potential opportunities.”

Cress and his wife, Dacia, have a 9-year old daughter, Rianna. They have two rescued indoor cats they consider their “other children” and six chickens. The family loves the outdoors and exploring nature. “Catawba County's parks and trails will become an extension of our backyard,” Cress added. “I am an avid competitive road cyclist and mid-distance trail runner, so I look forward to riding with fellow cyclists on the road and engaging in group runs at Catawba County's beautiful parks and greenways.”