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Alina Walters – City of Lakewood 

Shaping the tech-driven vision of Lakewood 

The chief information officer for a large city oversees the technology infrastructure and digital strategy that drives the city’s operations and services. With a deep understanding of a bustling metropolis’s unique challenges, the CIO works closely with various departments to leverage technology solutions that enhance efficiency, boost cybersecurity, and improve the overall community experience.  

Alina Walters | Chief Information Officer | City of Lakewood 

Alina Walters | Chief Information Officer | City of Lakewood

Alina Walters is the chief information officer of Lakewood, Colorado, and she holds an important role in shaping the city’s technological landscape. As the CIO of Colorado’s fifth-largest city, serving around 156,000 residents, Walters leads a team that plays a crucial role in building a better city and community, ensuring continuous transformation and growth. 

“As Lakewood’s CIO, I’m dedicated to weaving technology seamlessly into the fabric of our community. Together with my team, we strive to create a digital experience where innovation meets the everyday needs of our residents and the community. It’s about building connections, ensuring efficiency, and shaping a future where everyone can thrive,” Walters says. 

IT resilience and evolution 

One of the significant contributions Walters has made is in continuing the momentum of the initial transformation of the IT department, a process initiated by her predecessor. As business transformation manager, she led a philosophy change within the department, transitioning from an in-house software development shop to collaborating with external partners, embracing a cloud-first perspective.  

Her expertise and vision were recognized by the former CIO, who brought her in to assist in the department’s transformation and establish a new division. This foundational change laid the groundwork for a cohesive, inquisitive, high-performance, and driven culture within the department. 

Alina Walters | Chief Information Officer | City of Lakewood 

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges, and Walters and her team played a crucial role in navigating this difficult period.  

“The entire organization had to shift to a remote work environment, and the IT department’s hard work, city manager’s support and leadership team’s partnership made this transition possible,” Walters recalls.  

Walters attributes the department’s ability to offer services remotely and securely to the transformative work undertaken before the pandemic. Their efforts ensured that the IT department did not add to the chaos of the pandemic but instead allowed for continued engagement between the city and the community. 

Walters says the department is committed to core values, focusing on being employee and community-centric, excelling as a technology utility provider, and building a future-ready Lakewood. This North Star approach guides the department in its interactions internally and externally, fostering a culture of collaboration and excellence in technology service delivery, she says.  

Learning from the past & looking to the future 

Reflecting on her journey with the city, Walters acknowledges the significant lessons learned from her predecessor, Mark Pray. His vision to transform the IT department into a business value-added partner set the stage for organizational trust, improved service delivery, and enhanced relationships.  

Walters’s focus on cohesive teams, intentional organizational change management, and staying abreast of emerging technologies has translated into three core focus areas for the department: employee and community centricity, excellence in technology service delivery, and forward-focused preparation for a business-driven and future-ready Lakewood. 

Alina Walters | Chief Information Officer | City of Lakewood 

The COVID-19 pandemic tested the resilience of the IT department, and Walters emphasizes the importance of being guided by the department’s core values during such challenging times. The ability to adapt quickly, strengthen cybersecurity measures, and ensure the continuity of city operations reflected the department’s commitment to its mission. 

Looking ahead to 2024, Walters outlines the IT department’s priorities, emphasizing the need to address cyber threats, manage data effectively, strengthen infrastructure, and stay abreast of emerging technologies, like generative AI. Initiatives include building resiliency, fortifying cybersecurity posture, and driving enterprise-wide efficiencies through technology resource management. Collaboration with other city departments and a focus on digital services accessibility ensure further alignment with the city’s operational goals for the year. 

“As we embrace 2024, we’re geared towards bolstering our city’s digital resilience. With a collaborative spirit and a focus on accessible digital services, we’re set to support the city’s goals for the year ahead successfully,” Walters says. 

The city’s tech infrastructure, a hybrid model, is set for optimization through pragmatic upgrades and transitioning to cloud services. Recent projects, including implementing Workday for HR and finance, modernization of recreation management, and upgrades in the police department’s systems, showcase the commitment to enhancing city services and engagement. 

Securing the city’s data is a top priority, and Walters highlights the proactive and holistic defense-in-depth approach to cybersecurity. Implementing multiple layers of security measures, promoting a culture of cybersecurity awareness, and conducting regular training sessions contribute to the city’s cyber resilience. 

Love for tech 

Walters earned a degree in English and French from the University of Connecticut and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. She spent over 20 years in various project manager roles and consulting positions before joining Lakewood in December 2015. She was promoted to her current role in January 2021.  

“During college, I benefitted from the genesis of many new technologies, sparking my interest and curiosity in this field. Professionally, my journey working for various public and private sector companies helped me realize how purposeful it is to support a community and, more specifically, for a municipal government agency,” Walters says.  

Alina Walters | Chief Information Officer | City of Lakewood 

Walters’ interest in technology has been consistent throughout her diverse career. From starting her own graphic design business to working in federal government consulting, her journey led her to Lakewood, where she found a sense of purpose in contributing to something greater. Working in municipal government allows her to benefit the community directly, making her role as CIO incredibly rewarding. 

“Technology is the thread that ties my professional journey together. In my current role, I am grateful to lead a high-performing team whose work directly contributes to helping the city make lasting and positive impacts on our community, making every moment rewarding,” Walters says. 

View this feature in the Winter I 2024 Edition here.

Published on: February 19, 2024

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