Paul Swider: Pioneer of Tech@State

Name: Paul Swider

Age: 48

Organization: State Department

Title: Foreign Service Officer

Nominated for: Engineering the creation of Tech@State, which brings together technology leaders and innovators from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to work on the U.S. diplomacy and development agenda.

First IT mentor: My brother, Greg, who let me "play" on the mainframe at Fermilab while he was working on particle physics research there in the '80s. The ability to explore technology without fear was my biggest takeaway.

Latest accomplishment on the job: I was part of a team at the Office of eDiplomacy that helps bring novel thinking to the oldest federal agency. In particular, we built a networking event, Tech@State, that has opened many in the IT community to the possibilities of applying their wares to the field of international affairs.

Career highlight: In 1996, while I was a Peace Corps volunteer, I connected business-school students in the United States with entrepreneurial clients and students in Bulgaria. I accomplished this using only a 1200 baud dial-up modem.

Your advice for a government IT wannabe: Think through and carefully explain the value proposition, and even the craziest idea can come true.

What you enjoy most about working in government IT: It is a target-rich environment for innovation, not because government IT is stagnant but because bureaucracy keeps it from the cutting edge. There is always room for improvement and for creative thinkers.

Three favorite job-related bookmarks:,,

Dream non-IT-related job: Wildlife photographer

Read the next Rising Star profile or view the full list of winners.

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