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Leveraging Innovation to Further Emerging Technology Within Federal Agencies

From Leadership Connect

Innovation is key to success in adapting to the “new normal” brought on by COVID-19. A more virtual workforce opens opportunities for expanded recruiting, more solutions for managing, protecting, and archiving data, and overall higher efficiency. With new ways of working, new consumer behaviors and new business reorganization, there is a need for more powerful,  innovative tools and technology to rapidly increase your digital capabilities.

Tune into this panel to hear from topic experts on what it looks like to leverage innovation to further emerging technology within federal agencies. How does this help with interagency relationships? Listen as these panelists dive into the best practices on furthering Emerging Technology using innovation. What approaches help with this?


headshot2 Angela Gant-Curtis

Program Manager for Innovation and Emerging Technologies, Digital Experience Office. Office of the Chief Technology Officer
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Ms. Gant-Curtis is currently leading the new VA Office of Information and Technology (OIT) Innovation Unit in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. Through using her extensive leadership and program management experience, gained from over 36 years in the federal government, she has led efforts to implement innovative solutions and emerging technologies.  

Prior to this role, Ms. Gant-Curtis was the information technology program manager with the Department of Defense (DoD) Transition Assistance Program. She represented the DoD and VA IT subworking group chairs on the White House DoD-VA Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force.  

Ms. Gant-Curtis also served as an information technology project manager and Deputy Portfolio Program Manager to the former VA Chief Technology Officer from 2014 to 2017. She provided the strategic and operational support to help establish the first agency United States Digital Service team that has brought technical talent to VA who introduced modern development practices, modern software and commercial cloud computing.  

In 2021, Ms. Gant-Curtis received the VA Under Secretary for Health Robert L. Jesse Award for Excellence in Innovation becoming the first OIT, and non-Veterans Health Administration (VHA), employee to receive this prestigious recognition. In 2022, Ms. Gant-Curtis received both the Federal 100 Award and the Services to Citizens Award. 

 Over the last four years, she has partnered with the VHA Innovation Ecosystem to implement technology solutions that increased VA’s ability to provide Access to Care with solutions such as remote hearing aid adjustments using Bluetooth technology, the ability for Veterans to report symptoms or complete standardized screenings before their medical appointments using, and a common data science platform that provide virtual workstations in the cloud along with data analytics tools. During this same period of time, she has been supporting VA’s Digital Transformation and maturity with DevSecOps by providing modern tools on par with those in private industry, removing access barriers for new contractor staff, and improving their ability to contribute to product teams Integrating tools and reducing the need for manual entry into separate systems.  

Ms. Gant-Curtis is the mother of two amazing daughters and working to become a bona-fide foodie. In her free time, she enjoys travel, shopping and trying new food. 

mike headshot Mark Podoff

Information Technology Director, Office of the Executive Director, The Commission
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

Mark Podoff currently serves as the Information Technology Director for the Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission (FMSHRC).  In this role, Mark serves as the focal point for FMSHRC’s IT services and priorities, including cybersecurity and privacy programs, enterprise architecture, software application and development, capital planning and investment, infrastructure, and telecommunications support.

As a detail-oriented Information Technology leader, Mark brings over twenty years of experience leading a diverse range of highly complex technical projects to successful completion for Federal, state and local governments as well as the private sector.  By providing senior-level technical direction in the design and development of information systems, Mark has led multiple modernization efforts to help bridge technology and business goals.

Mark graduated with a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Kansas. He resides in Virginia with his wife and three children


2022 11 15 col saling Colonel Kristen Saling

Director of Innovation
U.S. Army Human Resources Command, G-1 Manpower and Reserve Affairs, United States Department of the Army

Kris Saling is a recognized leaders in the Army human capital enterprise who has been upgrading Army human resources decisions with analytics for the past seven years. A university- trained complexity scientist and industrial engineer and a self-taught big data analyst and technologist, she applies her understanding of computational and strategic analytic techniques to problems involving large data sets, and has a proven track record assembling and employing teams of diverse technical talent to act as digital response forces in the organizations she supports.

Over the past seven years, she has created and managed enhancements to the Army’s forecasting and strength management programs, created a data science functional team to support the Army’s Talent Management Task Force, established the Army People Analytics directorate, and is now building, operating, and leading the commanding General’s Innovation Cell for the US Army Human Resources Command. This cell serves as a digital commander’s action group supporting the HRC 2030 vision.

COL Saling is a 2001 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she earned her commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers. After deployments to OIF1 and OIF3, company command, and deployed staff time in the 25th Infantry Division, she attended graduate school at the University of Virginia in preparation to teach in the Department of Systems Engineering at West Point. There, she transferred from Engineers to Functional Area 49, Army Operations Research and Systems Analysis.

As an ORSA, COL Saling has received several analytic awards, including the Wayne P. Hughes Award for outstanding junior analyst, has published extensively, and speaks regularly on analytic topics and applications in the human domain. She and her team have pioneered new advancements in machine learning and natural language processing.

She is married to Mr. Scott Saling and mom to Marcus Saling. They currently live and work in Orlando, Florida.


Alan Thomas Appointed as Chief Solutions Officer

Alan B. Thomas Jr. 

Chief Solutions Officer
Leadership Connect

Alan is the Chief Solutions Officer at Leadership Connect.  He also serves as an Operating Advisor to Enlightenment Capital.  Prior to these roles, he was appointed and served as the Commissioner of the US General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service from June 2017 until November 2019.  As Commissioner, Alan led 3,500 people responsible for delivering $65B in acquisition and technology solutions annually to enable efficiencies across the federal government.  He also served as a founding member on two Congressionally mandated boards, the Technology Modernization Fund and the Federal Acquisition Security Council.  

Alan started his federal career as a Presidential Management Fellow, serving on both the Army staff and in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, where he earned the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence and the Vice President’s Hammer Award for innovation in public service.  Later in his career he returned to public service as a member of the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Iraq and on the staff of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. 

In the private sector, Alan held several leadership roles including Chief Operating Officer at both IntelliBridge and Berico Technologies, Vice President with Data Networks Corporation, and as a business unit leader at Unison.  Earlier in his career he held delivery and account management roles with Booz Allen Hamilton and FreeMarkets. 

Alan holds a Master of Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School, a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas’s LBJ School, and a Bachelor of Arts from Grinnell College.  He maintains an active security clearance. 

Alan provides guest commentary to Federal Computer Week and the Federal News Network.

Event Details

  • Date: May 4, 2023
  • Time: 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET
  • Live Webinar
RecordingTake Aways

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