1 City Hall Square
Room 703Boston, MA 02201
Santiago 'Santi' Garces
As a kid growing up in Bogotá, Colombia, Santiago “Santi” Garces witnessed the near collapse of the national government and the general disillusionment of national politics, along with creative and unconventional approaches to solve issues at the local level. Those experiences developed a lifelong passion for making government more efficient and effective for citizens. Santi joined the City of Boston as Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) to help push forward Mayor Wu’s vision of building a government that earns the trust of its people.
As CIO, Santi oversees the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and a team of nearly 150 employees. DoIT provides and maintains mission-critical technologies for the City’s more than 18,000 employees and hundreds of thousands of constituents.
In the last few decades, DoIT has been an enabler of progress in Boston. Santi’s goal is to create a new chapter in that history so that DoIT can continue to be an engine of transformation in the service of residents and employees. Through data science, statistics, and human-centered design, Santi will empower his staff to deliver more dignified experiences for residents and optimize the role of government. He also plans to leverage the City’s relationships with academia, local industries, and civic organizations to make sure big decisions reflect the many voices of Boston.
Before becoming CIO of Boston, Santi was the Executive Director of the Department of Community Investment in South Bend, Indiana, and formerly served as CIO of South Bend and of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In South Bend, Santi oversaw planning, zoning, housing, and sustainability, leading a generational transformation in housing investments in the city. He also spearheaded the largest neighborhood planning effort in South Bend’s history, as well as $1 billion in economic development projects. As CIO of South Bend, Santi won national recognition, including the Bloomberg’s Mayor’s Challenge for the Commuter’s Trust, for creating an innovative platform that allowed companies, the government, and individuals to provide transportation and secure workers with reliable options to get to work. He also helped create CLICK centers, which were a partnership between libraries, the City, and other nonprofits to provide access to computers and training within a 15-minute walk of low-income residents.
As CIO of Pittsburgh, Santi transformed its Department of Innovation and Performance into a service-oriented organization. This work led to improvements to core infrastructure in the City and included everything from establishing a citywide network to migrating Pittsburgh’s data center to the cloud. He also spearheaded negotiations with cable franchises that helped convert existing recreation centers into technology-enhanced Rec2Tech Centers for residents.
Before working in civic tech, Santi helped found enFocus, a nonprofit dedicated to providing innovative solutions for government and industry. He is a graduate of Notre Dame with degrees in Electrical Engineering, Political Science, and a master’s degree in Technology Entrepreneurship.
As a lover of languages, Santi speaks fluently in Spanish, English, some French, and dabbles in Portuguese, Italian, German, Quechua, and Irish while trying to learn Chinese. Santi enjoys learning programming languages as well, including C/C++, Python, Ruby, Julia, and R. As a new Chinatown resident, he’s open to any and all recommendations for neighborhood cuisine. He also really likes Corgis.