11 Apr Wisconsin IT association names Gee president, CEO
Madison, Wis. – John Gee knows the Bay Area and Silicon Valley very well, but he thinks Wisconsin will have to apply its own value proposition to building a thriving technology industry, and it starts with building strategic partnerships.
Gee has been named president and CEO of the Information Technology Association of Wisconsin, succeeding interim president and CEO William C. Mortimore, who has been serving in place of former chief executive Jim Rice. Mortimore will remain with the organization as chairman of its board of directors.
Among Gee’s first priorities will be to develop a plan for ITAWi’s next phase, but even though he has ties to the Bay Area, he won’t try to copy the Silicon Valley model.
“Wisconsin won’t improve its business climate by following the Silicon Valley model, which even Silicon Valley doesn’t follow anymore because of the Internet,” he said. “I think Wisconsin will have to use its own unique attributes to do that.”
To Gee, that means establishing strategic partnerships between small and large companies, government and private institutions, and other forms of collaboraton to maximize the state’s resources.
Gee, the brother of University of Wisconsin-Madison professor James Gee, has contributed to the development of more than a dozen companies, but comes to ITAWi after working on business development for the Academic Advanced Digital Co-Lab, which is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin System. The lab develops advanced digital learning applications.
Prior to his work with the Co-Lab, Gee founded and directed the NASA Ames Technology Commercialization Center, a business incubator in Sunnyvale, Calif. that assisted new ventures such as eBay and iPrint.
He also headed two start-up businesses engaged in Web-and-television convergence and Web-based healthcare, and played a role in developing Beaver Creek, Colo., a private city and ski resort that is part of Vail Associates, Inc. Gee also has held executive positions in county and school district governments in Colorado.
Gee said ITAWi, launched in June 2005 to focus on the needs of the state’s information technology sector, would continue to focus on IT workforce development, legislative advocacy, and networking. He also plans to emphasize the statewide nature of ITAWi and establish an organizational presence in the Milwaukee, Madison, the Fox Valley, and the Chippewa Valley.
He hopes to have facilities and a person in each geographic region to coordinate association events and activities for each area, and he would like to connect all four regions through teleconferencing so that members don’t necessarily have to travel to participate in statewide programs.
In terms of legislative advocacy, Gee has worked for Republicans and Democrats in California, including Ron Gonzales, the former mayor of San Jose, and he believes he has the skills to build bipartisan support for the Wisconsin technology industry.
But first and foremost, Gee describes himself as an entrepreneurial advocate. “I’m really excited about being able to do this job,” he said, “because it brings together my interest in business and social good.”
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