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Forging New Ground in Data Privacy

UW MIPM grad receives award for innovation in the public sector

Ginger Armbruster, Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management (MIPM)

As the chief privacy officer (CPO) for the City of Seattle, University of Washington Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management (MIPM) graduate, Ginger Armbruster, is on the forefront of shaping the rapidly evolving world of data privacy.

Ginger Armbruster is part of a new order of civic executives setting the standards around privacy practices in the public sector, helping to forge a future that utilizes the benefits of data-informed planning while maintaining individual privacy. Her efforts to improve the understanding of and best practices around data protection and privacy have recently garnered her national attention. Armbruster was recognized as one of the 2019 recipients of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers awards. This award honors individuals and teams who are working to make the public sector more efficient, data-driven and equitable for government and citizens alike.

“It is so gratifying to receive the attention of experts in the field and in the area of technology generally” Armbruster said. “My move to privacy was a mid-career change, and to have achieved this recognition for adding to the body of expertise for municipal privacy at the beginning of my privacy career is tremendous.”

Along with a team of privacy specialists, Armbruster is leading the efforts to strengthen data privacy for the City of Seattle, ensuring that the data collected and used to provide essential services across city departments is appropriately managed. As data analytics and predictive technology becomes more and more common in the public sector, citizen-collected data is increasingly used to inform the development of more efficient technologies and infrastructure for the benefit of the urban environment. Everything from mass transit to garbage collection is being informed by data, and the legal/ethical framework around managing all of this sensitive information can be complex. For local and state governments, the need to ensure adherence to privacy principles while building awareness around their importance, both internally and with the public, is essential.

Armbruster’s pathway into privacy and data protection began during her first year in the University of Washington MIPM program. The flexibility of MIPM’s online learning platform allowed her to gain valuable internship and work experiences at the City of Seattle while enrolled, bringing the classroom into a professional context. The opportunity to learn on the job while earning an advanced degree accelerated her career trajectory and opened new opportunities along the way.

“The MIPM program allowed me to get my degree while working and introduced me to the concepts and issues that really interest me both personally and professionally. I found a job that is intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling, and that would not have happened without the program content and opportunities to tailor my coursework. Practically, the master’s degree put me in line for more senior roles and higher pay” Armbruster said.

Central to Armbruster’s vision of success in her role as one of the first CPOs for the City of Seattle is the desire to help people. She cites the opportunity to encourage her fellow colleagues, both in Seattle and beyond, to grow in their understanding about privacy issues as one of the things of which she is most proud. In collaborating with other professionals across the country, Armbruster has shared lessons learned, helped to develop guiding materials, and supported the creation of new privacy programs in other municipalities, helping set the foundation for a stronger governmental network of informed data privacy practices.

To learn more about the Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management (MIPM) online degree program, please visit the MIPM Website


Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers awards
Government Technology’s profile of Ginger Armbruster – Chief Privacy Officer, Seattle