After a six-month search, the City of Kansas City, Mo., has found a candidate to lead its various tech and innovation initiatives.
Kansas City hired Bob Bennett, a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army, as the city’s second-ever chief innovation officer and will begin leading the City of Fountains’ various tech operations in January. Bennett succeeds Ashley Hand who left the post in June.
City officials said that Bennett — now an instructor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth — will be tasked with finding innovative ways to solve city problems and improve citizen satisfaction. Among the programs that Bennett will lead for the city are: the KCStat initiative; the implementation of the KC Digital Roadmap; the Cisco Smart City initiative; work with the Mayor’s Challenge Cabinet to enhance civic engagement; and “create a culture of innovation within City Hall.”
Kansas City Mayor Sly James said that he was impressed with Bennett’s leadership.
“Bob’s experience leading process improvement strategies and efficiencies at the highest military levels will renew efforts throughout city government to make Kansas City more effective for all citizens,” James said in a release. “His talent and enthusiasm will focus the City’s efficiency and digital momentum to even greater success.”
A graduate of West Point, Bennett’s more than two decades of service includes some impressive accolades and experience.
Bennett, 47, has planned a variety of combat, humanitarian and training operations for hundreds of troops in Iraq, the city said. He commanded a support battalion for a 6,000-soldier brigade deployed to Iraq with trained replacements, medical support for wounded soldiers and care of families whose soldiers were deployed. Also while in Iraq, he wrote and implemented threat strategies affecting the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Agency of International Development.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to transition the planning and innovation skills that I developed in support of Army operations around the world to my hometown,” Bennett said in a release. “To be able to join the Mayor and City Manager’s team in Kansas City and work to accelerate and maximize Kansas City’s technological and innovation prowess is a dream come true.”
In addition, the Kansas City-native previously served as chief of operations for U.S. Army Africa, planning more than 500 annual military and humanitarian assistance operations, including development of digital tracking systems for Army personnel travelling on the continent.
Bennett is also active as a volunteer with the Heart of America Council, Boy Scouts of America and VFW Post 7356.