Mayor Scott Names Chief Data Officer, Broadband and Digital Equity Director
Monday Mar 22nd, 2021
BALTIMORE, MD (Monday, March 22, 2021) — Mayor Brandon M. Scott is continuing to build his core team by announcing today two key appointments tasked with modernizing City government and closing the digital divide. Justin Elszasz, currently Deputy Director and Analytics Lead for the Mayor’s Office of Performance & Innovation, will serve as the administration’s Chief Data Officer. Jason Hardebeck will join the Scott administration as the City’s first Director of Broadband and Digital Equity. Elszasz and Hardebeck officially assume their roles in the Scott administration this week and will report to the City Administrator.
With data and evidence-based decisions central to the Mayor’s approach, the role of Chief Data Officer is now a citywide position, moved from Baltimore City Information & Technology (BCIT) to a more central role in City government. Additionally, Baltimore City is one of the only cities with an executive-level Digital Equity Director. Like all new positions created by the Scott Administration, these positions will be funded through pre-existing resources and will not require the allocation of additional funds.
“Both the Chief Data Officer and Digital Equity Director will play integral roles on my team, working to improve data practices across the board and close the digital divide for Baltimore residents,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “My administration remains focused on modernizing the processes and practices of City government through a framework of equity and transparency, and I look forward to working closely with Justin and Jason to solve Baltimore’s most challenging problems in the years ahead.”
As Chief Data Officer, Justin Elszasz will work with city agencies to improve data practices across City government, mitigate the impacts of biased data on equity, and promote effective data use and transparency. He has initiated a new data governance framework for Baltimore and is developing the city’s first Open Checkbook, which will allow residents to explore city expenditures. Elszasz will also launch a formal data training program for city employees and engage with the Baltimore community around data and technology.
“Every day, I’m inspired to work in an administration that places data, equity, and transparency at the center of our work for residents, and am honored to continue serving the city in this new and broader capacity,” said Justin Elszasz, the Scott administration’s Chief Data Officer. “Many of our agencies are already engaged in meaningful and sophisticated work using data to better understand and improve operations on behalf of residents. I am excited to work closely with Mayor Scott and City Administrator Shorter to support and celebrate their tremendous efforts.”
Additionally, Jason Hardebeck will serve as the City’s first Director of Broadband and Digital Equity, a member of the Mayor’s Executive Team. In this position, Hardebeck will be Baltimore City’s primary representative for coordination with internal and external digital equity stakeholders, with the explicit purpose of closing the digital divide.
“I’m honored to serve the Scott administration as we work to close the digital divide once and for all,” said Jason Hardebeck, Director of Broadband and Digital Equity for the Scott administration. “Every Baltimorean must be able to participate fully in the digital economy to reach our true potential as a world-class city. I look forward to working with the Mayor and City Administrator to fundamentally transform our approach to digital access and connectivity and do so through a lens of equity.”
Justin Elszasz has served as Deputy Director and Analytics Lead for the Mayor’s Office of Performance & Innovation (OPI) since 2019. There, he led the CitiStat team, which he helped transition onto modern data tools and has been central to the COVID-19 response, and co-founded the Data Fellows program, which recruits and embeds data analysts in city agencies. Elszasz was a founding member of the city’s Innovation Team, tasked with delivering transformative results through data and human-centered design. Prior to serving the city, Justin supported the U.S. Department of Energy appliance standards program and led data science projects to improve the performance of residential utility energy efficiency programs. He holds an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Columbia University, where he was a National Science Foundation fellow.
Jason Hardebeck was the co-founder and CEO of The Foundery, a manufacturing technology incubator where he helped launch dozens of startups. He was also managing director of a health technology accelerator and executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council and Maryland Business Council. In his past work at City Hall, he collaborated with local and state agencies, anchor institutions, and businesses to develop a digital inclusion strategy for Baltimore. Hardebeck earned a M.S. in business from Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the United States Naval Academy. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy.
Hiring a Director of Broadband and Digital Equity to work towards closing the digital divide was one of the Mayor’s first 100 day priorities. The creation of this role was also recommended by the Mayor's transition team.