JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Office of Administration announced on Wednesday that Mike Cheles, a longtime information technology leader, will be the new State of Missouri Chief Information Officer and lead the OA Information Technology Services Division, the state’s consolidated IT organization.
Cheles will lead a team of almost 1,000 IT professionals that support the IT systems and services used by 14 executive departments and three statewide-elected officials in their daily operations. He will officially take over as CIO on Oct. 22.
An innovative and strategic IT leader, Cheles comes to the State of Missouri with global experience delivering technology solutions as both a CIO and consultant. He has previously fulfilled major IT roles at companies with regional, national, and global impact.
“I’m excited to bring my skills, diverse experience, and dedication to the State of Missouri and ITSD,” said Mike Cheles, new State of Missouri CIO. “The state’s ITSD plays a critical role in the performance of Missouri state government. I’m ready to partner with State of Missouri leadership to identify ways to improve and modernize the state’s IT systems and capabilities while also continuing ITSD’s track record of innovation.”
In his decades of experience, Cheles has worked extensively on IT challenges in which application portfolios had become dated, unsupportable, or excessively redundant and required optimization. Cheles also has experience quickly turning around IT organizations that were underperforming and experiencing structural issues affecting business operations.
Cheles previously served in the CIO role for Gibson Guitar Corp., Hussmann Corp. in Bridgeton, Missouri, and MEMC Electronic Materials in St. Peters, Missouri. Most recently, Cheles was the Director of Quality and Enterprise Projects at Centene Corporation, a St. Louis-based healthcare company serving millions of people across the U.S. and internationally.
“Having the right IT and digital capabilities is critical to our state government’s success,” said Drew Erdmann, State of Missouri Chief Operating Officer. “Our citizens expect their state government to deliver results like other 21st century organizations. Our dedicated public servants need the right IT and digital systems to work in the most efficient environment possible and deliver for our citizens. I am excited that Mike Cheles is joining our management team to lead the next chapter in transforming how the State of Missouri uses technology to serve better Missouri’s citizens.”
“The search for the state’s next CIO was extremely important to the Office of Administration and to all the departments the IT division serves,” said Sarah Steelman, Office of Administration Commissioner. “We found the right fit with Mike Cheles. He’s a strategic thinker who also has a proven history of finding and delivering creative technology solutions that make organizations perform better.”
“I am excited to see the IT division moving in a new and positive direction. As budget chairman, I look forward to working with the new CIO to bring stability to the tens of millions of dollars worth of IT projects underway in state government,” said Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, chairman of the House Budget Committee. “I believe this new leadership will help inspire confidence in the IT division among legislators who appropriate money for, and state agencies who rely on, the services of the division.”
Cheles takes over ITSD from Acting CIO Rich Kliethermes, who has lead the technology division since November 2015 to become a nationally-recognized IT organization. The State of Missouri earned a prestigious “A” grade in 2014, 2016, and 2018 from the Center for Digital Government Digital States Survey, which evaluates state governments’ use of digital technologies to better serve their citizens and streamline operations. Kliethermes will become acting deputy director of ITSD.
“My sincere thanks and admiration go out to Rich, who has served the state as Acting CIO for nearly the last three years with tremendous dedication,” Steelman said. “He cares deeply about the ITSD team and has lead it to many successes. We owe him our sincere gratitude for his tireless commitment.”
Cheles earned his bachelor’s degree in supply chain management from Michigan State University. He also earned his master’s degree in business administration with honors from Washington University in St. Louis.