Wednesday, June 05, 2019

By James Hirsch

The winners of the University of Iowa’s 2019 IT Leadership Award are Shari Lewison, university chief information security officer (CISO), and Isaac Podolefsky, senior project manager from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Technology Services team.

The award, co-sponsored by the IT Leadership Development Team and Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO) Steve Fleagle, was presented during the annual UI Tech Forum, attended by hundreds of IT professionals June 6 at the Iowa Memorial Union. It recognizes engagement, impact, initiative, and professional growth through leadership development.

Shari Lewison headshot
Lewison leads through change, builds bridges

The healthcare and academic security organizations merged in 2018, and Lewison was named university CISO. She successfully led the combined Information Security and Policy Office through a period of substantial change, enabling better, more effective collaboration among the members of those groups.

Lewison blended the two security groups into a single functioning team–the first successful initiative of the OneIT/Health Care Information Systems (HCIS) collaboration effort. Building a single integrated team involved blending the two existing teams and hiring a number of new staff to fill open positions which previously existed in both organizations. The joint security team evolved through a strategy of hiring emerging talent in a competitive job market, creating a team culture of mentoring where “everybody teaches, everybody learns,” and encouraging senior staff to expand their areas of expertise.

As a result, the capacity of operating as a combined team now exceeds the capabilities of the teams when they existed separately. From a technical standpoint, she led ISPO through integration of both systems and processes, ensuring that requirements of both OneIT and HCIS are satisfied by a “third way” approach, maintaining continuity of service and continued exceptional support.

Within the UI IT community, Lewison has been deeply engaged in OneIT initiatives, including the strategic planning effort, and serves as an informal bridge between OneIT and HCIS leadership teams. She was instrumental in promoting MOR leadership training to HCIS, resulting in joint cohorts. She has expanded her engagement beyond her role into outreach with the state Board of Regents institutions and the BTAA, including her efforts to bring healthcare CISOs into the BTAA Security Working Group for the first time and the establishment of a new BTAA Privacy Working Group.

Podolefsky innovates, collaborates
Isaac Podolefsky headshot

Podolefsky is known for finding new ways to solve problems, reduce costs, and increase effectiveness, and for engaging others to bring the ideas to fruition. His initiative involves the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in a variety of technology initiatives, many of which benefit the entire campus.

His fingerprints can be found all over campus with enterprise-level services, including an innovative idea to use cost-effective, energy-efficient Intel Compute Sticks to power digital signage, and installing Swipe kiosks that track attendance patterns all over campus. The Checkout@Iowa application he helped develop houses 40 checkout centers that have served nearly 9,000 users making 57,000 reservations.

Working collaboratively with colleagues in ITS, Podolefsky has led the CLAS transition to Skype for Business, focusing on cultivating end-user and departmental buy-in, overcoming barriers to change, and strategically investing in training and support to increase effective adoptions of the service.

Podolefsky has previously served as emcee and co-chair of the Tech Forum and routinely sits on the planning committee. He teamed up with colleagues and put his creativity and sense of humor to work to develop a UI-themed game (Cards Against IT) that is still used at events.

Recognizing excellent work is important to Podolefsky, and he strives to ensure that happens. He is a continuing member of the Improving Our Workplace Award (IOWA) Committee, and recruited other IT consultants to create a CLAS Leadership Award. He also proactively grows partnerships with peers at other institutions, including the University of Northern Iowa and North Carolina State University.