Dean creates Office of Innovation

Sadly, it is not led by someone who bears the title "chief innovator":

Mayor Karl Dean today announced the creation of a new Office of Innovation.  The office will capture the entrepreneurial and creative energy of Nashville to make Metro Government more transparent, efficient and responsive.

Nashville joins local, state and federal government agencies across the country, as well as private sector organizations, that have created offices of innovation in recent years to take advantage of new technology and business practices to improve constituent services and streamline operations.

The office will also work in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development on business recruitment and job creation efforts. It will also work with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods to create opportunities for more efficient interdepartmental response to constituent needs.

“Nashville has a wealth of universities, nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs, and this new Office of Innovation will help formalize how Metro works in partnership with them, as well as our citizens, to improve economic development, technology and efficiencies in government services across the city,” Mayor Dean said. “The ultimate goal of this office is to tackle the challenge of how to make local government function at its best and continue Nashville on its upward trajectory of being a place where families, neighbors and businesses want to be.”

To lead the Office of Innovation, Mayor Dean appointed Kristine LaLonde, formerly director of Belmont University’s Leadership Studies Program, and Yiaway Yeh, former mayor of Palo Alto, Calif., as Co-Chief Innovation Officers.

“Kristine and Yiaway bring different life and professional experiences that will benefit this office, but what they share in common is that both are forward-thinking leaders who will promote excellence and creativity not only in Metro, but in the community at large,” Mayor Dean said.

LaLonde will focus on establishing innovative systems to help individuals and families with social service and economic needs achieve self-sufficiency. LaLonde serves as the chair of the Nashville Poverty Council, a collaborative effort of Metro Government and non-profit agencies.

At Belmont University’s Honors Leadership Studies Program, LaLonde brought the energy and creativity of Belmont students to the community through non-profit partnerships. She has presented research on best practices in teamwork and outcomes-based assessment at international and national conferences. She holds a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Virginia. LaLonde served as the District 18 representative to the Metropolitan Council from 2009-2011.

“Ultimately innovation is about creating real results in new ways, and the Office of Innovation will allow us to combine the creativity and compassion of our city to address our challenges and opportunities,” LaLonde said.

Yeh will focus on developing innovative ways for Metro Government agencies to improve cross-department collaboration. He will also concentrate on partnering with entrepreneurs on new approaches to budget, finance, technology and open government initiatives.

Yeh has broad experience in municipal operations and financial management. Prior to his appointment, he was the Assistant City Auditor of Oakland, CA, and previous positions include management consultant to the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles and public finance banker at Morgan Stanley. He also served in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso.

Yeh recently moved to Nashville after completing his term as mayor of Palo Alto, Calif., which received the Alliance for Innovation’s 2013 Excellence in Local Government Award for its series of community hackathons. Yeh holds a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

“By creating the Office of Innovation, Mayor Dean has established a clear vision for how Metro Government must partner and co-create solutions with the broader community in an environment of fiscal constraints,” Yeh said. “It will be a significant undertaking as we explore the potential for what governance and civic participation can be with new technology and partnering across professional sectors.”