Former City of Pittsburgh Chief Innovation Officer Joins IPaT as Managing Director for Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation

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Debra Lam has joined Georgia Tech’s Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) as the Managing Director for Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation. Lam brings to Georgia Tech over a decade of experience in urban innovation and resilience, strategy and management. 

“Debra brings rich and unique experience in building partnerships between municipalities, companies, and universities,” said Steve Cross, Georgia Tech executive vice president for research. “We are proud to welcome her and look forward to her leadership as Georgia Tech continues to forge a path of innovation and next-generation planning and data analytics that will help transform cities throughout the world, including Atlanta, into smarter, more efficient places to live and work.”

Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Lam served as Chief Innovation and Performance Officer for the City of Pittsburgh where she led the City's developments in innovation, open data, and resilience; successfully creating and executing the City's first comprehensive plan on inclusive innovation. Lam led a series of major initiatives and programs including Pittsburgh Roadmap for Inclusive  Innovation and PGH Lab, a program bringing the City and local startup companies together. Lam was also instrumental in forging city-university partnerships. In 2015, she championed regional data center in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center provides technological and legal infrastructure to support research, analysis, decision-making, and community engagement.

During her service, Lam also expanded free public  Wi-Fi  across Pittsburgh, supported digital literacy and led civic engagement work including social media presence, public outreach, and thought leadership.

“We are thrilled to bring Debra Lam to Georgia Tech and welcome her leadership and expertise in Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation,” said Elizabeth Mynatt, executive director of IPaT. “Debra is known world wide and her perspective on how to integrate new technology innovations with meeting the societal needs of our cities and communities is key to Georgia Tech’s strategy. Inclusive innovation is a powerful concept that will lead us to exceed goals for smarter cities as we create more dynamic, entrepreneurial, sustainable and equitable communities overall.”

“We welcome Debra Lam to Atlanta and look forward to working with her on our smart cities initiatives,” said Samir Saini, Chief Information Officer for the City of Atlanta. “We are excited to work with Ms. Lam to further our partnership with Georgia Tech, bringing synergy to the Institute’s research projects and the City of Atlanta’s operational innovation projects, most notably the North Avenue Smart Corridor Project.”

Lam is a founding leader of the  MetroLab  Network and serves on their executive steering committee. She’s also a World Cities Summit Young Leader, a Leadership Pittsburgh alumni, and has spoken nationally and internationally on inclusive innovation, performance management, data-driven decision-making, and cultural change. Management Today named Lam to its “35 Women Under 35” list. She was also a finalist for Women of the Future, Science and Technology.

"It is an honor to be a Yellow Jacket and join one of the world's leading research university," said Lam. "Georgia Tech's public mission, entrepreneurial spirit, and collaborative, interdisciplinary approach places them at the forefront of driving smart cities and inclusive innovation. I am excited to be part of the team."

Lam graduated cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Alyson Key
  • Created:01/25/2017
  • Modified By:Alyson Key
  • Modified:10/07/2019