Kenyatta Powers is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Maryland’s Department of Human Services (DHS), which helps vulnerable Marylanders buy healthy foods, pay energy bills, obtain medical assistance and provide stable environments for at-risk children and adults.
Kenyatta’s strategic vision and commitment to customer service supports the principles upon which the agency’s mission is based. She combines her leadership skills with her technical expertise to drive business solutions forward with an eye for growing the agency service outcomes while simultaneously growing her team’s skills at every level. Kenyatta manages the Office of Technology for Human Services (OTHS) that has an annual budget of $70 million with approximately 400 IT staff across 15 different Units. OTHS is a department within DHS that is responsible for the overall management and direction of DHS’ information systems, telecommunications, and infrastructure that includes network, help desk, and desktop support services. Kenyatta leads the agency-wide IT Advisory Council, the governance body established to oversee the agency’s portfolio of IT projects that engage multiple vendors located around the country.
Kenyatta has served at DHS for almost 20 years as both a consultant and an employee. In her role as CIO, Kenyatta is the thought leader responsible for all systems delivering social service benefits and financial services to the citizens of Maryland. Kenyatta manages the Enterprise environment that provides technology support services for approximately 40 applications, serving over 7000 end users in over 100 locations across the state. In 2015, Kenyatta oversaw a modernization effort to transition the agency’s mainframe legacy applications to a new Data Center designed to improve the customer experience and optimize processes for client-facing staff.
Under Kenyatta’s leadership, from the project that funded the multi-year $195 million Modernization initiative, she required the inclusion of new opportunities for her team and state staff agency-wide. She spearheaded the Project Management Methodology Transformation initiative which transformed the Department from Waterfall to the Agile Methodology. This allowed her to present learning and advancement opportunities for staff to grow and learn the new methodology as well as the new technology in the Modernization Project. Kenyatta requires training as part of her teams performance evaluations to ensure the team remains relevant in the industry to maintain the vision and sustain the agency long term.
Kenyatta is also a speaker and a mentor with a focus on motivation, guiding principles in Technology, Professional Development and Leadership. She is an advocate for exposing women, children and underrepresented minorities to the field of Computer Science and Technology. She aims to increase the number of women and minorities in the digital space by empowering them to become innovators in STEM and by providing resources and opportunities to learn about computer programming and engineering.
In addition to being a mentor in the Departments Mentor Program and consistently mentoring her staff, Kenyatta also leads initiatives that utilize youth interns to give them the opportunity to experience work in an actual IT environment. It allows them to better understand and appreciate the world of technology and its advantages. Job shadowing is offered to the mentees and the interns as well as lessons learned and question and answers sessions to all OTHS leadership.
She is also a contributor to the Computer Science Education and Professional Development Findings Report which was requested by Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan. The report provides recommendations to help create innovative and sustainable ways to address gender and racial disparities in the STEM and IT fields. Kenyatta is the primary contact of a team of other contributors with an overall goal to identify disparity gaps, and work with organizations that engage the underrepresented to determine what’s needed to close the disparity gap.
She is a member of several Executive Information Technology (IT) Advisory Boards and was recently recognized for Outstanding Leadership in Information Technology. Kenyatta is also a leader in ministry and her passion for empowering and supporting Community Development initiatives through ministry assignments has made her a staple in the community.