Mayor Andre Sayegh announced the hiring of chief data officer Harsha Mallajosyula, one of two men making up his Innovation Team, on Thursday afternoon.
“I bring with me 14 years of professional experience, working in a variety of Silicon Valley startups, non-profits, and local governments,” Mallajosyula, a former senior data scientist on Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti’s Data and Innovation Team, said. “There, I worked on some of the most pertinent issues of our time including homelessness, housing affordability, future of work, policing and sustainability.”
Mallajosyula joins chief innovation officer Edward Boze, who was hired a month ago. Sayegh said the chief data officer will help to “create a data culture” in the municipal government.
“I believe Harsha has the experience and knowledge perfectly suited to this challenge,” the mayor said.
The Innovation Team sprang from the mayor’s participation in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. Both members of the Innovation Team were hired by the Passaic County Community College. Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation issued a $750,000 grant over the next three years to the college for the initiative.
“We know that investments in data and innovation pay important dividends for cities and their residents,” said Katie Appel Duda of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We’re excited to see the City of Paterson continue to apply the lessons they have learned through their participation in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative as they expand the capacity of their team, and look forward to the impact this will yield in the months and years to come.”
Mallajosyula and Boze were each hired at an annual salary of $100,000. Both men will work out of offices in City Hall.
The Innovation Team is tasked with coming up with solutions to the city’s myriad problems.
“Data in itself is not a cure all; it has biases and imperfections. However, when it is married with qualitative insights – real experiences from Patersonians – it can truly transform local governance. As an immigrant myself, I am humbled to join this community of immigrants and dreamers,” Mallajosyula said.