Industry group gets a new leader

Kenneth Allen, an experienced executive in the high-tech world, was chosen last week as executive director of the American Council for Technology (ACT) and the Industry Advisory Council (IAC), the industry/government association.

Allen joins the dual organization as it is growing but still facing the challenge of attracting more government members. He replaces Joiwind Ronen, who served in the job for two years and announced last December that she was returning to her focus on humanitarian social justice issues.

“I’m coming into an organization that has nothing but tremendous opportunities,” Allen said. “We need to increase our government involvement, let more people know what IAC and ACT bring to the table. The forum is unique among Washington [D.C.] organizations, where government and industry are working on a common vision.”

The biggest challenge is to demonstrate to more people the forum’s benefit and “how to do a better job of using technology to do a better job to improve government services,” he said.

Allen is executive director of the Partnership for Public Warning, a public/

private partnership in which government and industry leaders work together to improve U.S. public warning systems. Technology plays a large part in the alert systems that the partnership has been advocating since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

His résumé reflects a wealth of government and nongovernment experience.

“His knowledge of government will be a valuable asset to the organization as we move into the future,” said Barry West, president of ACT. “More importantly, he understands the value of public/private partnerships and knows how to forge effective relationships with leaders in both government and industry.”

ACT is a nonprofit organization committed to helping the information technology community improve government. The organization provides education, programming and networking opportunities for IT professionals. It represents more than 50,000 IT professionals worldwide.

IAC represents approximately 470 IT companies, up from 400 a year ago. Its mission is to bring industry and government executives together to network and build partnerships.

Balancing the needs of the two independent yet connected organizations will be Allen’s toughest challenge, said Bob Woods, president of Topside Consulting, who was a member of the team that searched for a new director.

“We do face a stretch where the job has gotten a lot more complicated,” Woods said. “We’re trying to grow ACT on one side and see a fairly substantial growth for IAC. It’s two challenging jobs that are growing.”

The organizations are appealing to many newcomers to the federal IT market who want to get a foot in the door and need to learn how the market works.

“Selling to the government continues to be a key thing that a lot of companies coming into IAC want to learn about,” West said. “We can have a value-add. I continue to run into companies that are asking, ‘What are the best practices and what is their niche?’ ”

Allen, who starts his new post March 28, said he is uncertain about the future of the Partnership for Public Warning. Although the organization is likely to be discontinued, he said he hoped to find other organizations that could pick up its functions.

The Kenneth Allen file

New job: Executive director of the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council.

Previous experience: Allen has served as executive director of the Partnership for Public Warning; executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Newspaper Association; senior vice president for government relations and president of the Information Industry Association, which represents more than 800 technology companies; and senior staff member in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.

Education: He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in management and administration from George Washington University.

Quote: “I have always been on the cusp of government and industry. I am a strong believer in public/private partnerships.”

NEXT STORY: Lorentz joins FSG

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