Faculty Member Shannon Tufts Receives 2021 Bryan Public Service Award

The School of Government is proud to announce that Shannon H. Tufts has been selected as the faculty recipient of the 2021 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award by the Carolina Center for Public Service. The Bryan Award recognizes individual students, faculty, staff, and organizations at UNC-Chapel Hill for extraordinary public service and engagement. 

Tufts currently serves as the director of the School’s Center for Public Technology (CPT) and teaches and advises on public sector information systems as a faculty member at the School. She has been selected for this honor in recognition of this outstanding expertise and her masterful direction of the CPT—specifically regarding her work to assist public officials in responding to cyber threats across the state. 

Tufts was presented the award on Thursday, April 15, in a virtual ceremony held by the Center for Public Service. In his opening remarks, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said, “It's important to recognize those who have gone above and beyond and taking the grand challenges of our time and seeking to make the world a better place.”

Tufts has spent the last two decades addressing the needs of information technology professionals working in local and state government. In her role as CPT director, she provides education and training for public sector leaders, managers, and staff professionals on the strategic use of technology and its application to the business of government. The Center also provides technical assistance on technology-related matters in the public sector, such as responding to cyberattacks on local governments, among other functions.

“Shannon represents the very best of the School and its work,” said School of Government Dean Mike Smith.


Early on in her career at the University, Tufts recognized that she could play an important role by steadily elevating the visibility and importance of information technology in the public sector. She designed and implemented the first local government Certified Government Chief Information Officers (CGCIO™) program in the United States and continues to run CGCIO™ programs for local government, state agency, K-12, and community college IT professionals across the United States. The various CGCIO™ programs have graduated hundreds of IT professionals across the country.

In her role as associate professor at the School, Tufts teaches courses on public sector information systems—including IT investment strategies, embracing technology, project management, and stakeholder engagement in technology-enabled government. Her students include public sector CIOs, court officials, newly elected legislators, and municipal and county administrators and officials, from clerks to attorneys to HR directors to property tax assessors. She also teaches as a core faculty member in the School’s Master of Public Administration program.

In 2019, Tufts was invited to join the NCLGISA IT Strike Team to help local government staff in the wake of natural disasters and cyberattacks. Now, she works in concert with the NC Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) Enterprise Security and Risk Management Office, the North Carolina National Guard’s cyber response team, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This past fall, Tufts discussed the passion she has for her work with The Well. “I absolutely love my job. I’ve been here for 20 years, and I would never want to go anywhere else,” she said. “I love our mission. I love that we serve our communities in this state. Every single day, the School of Government helps make the work of our public servants more meaningful and more informed.”

A North Carolina native, Tufts said she feels a special connection and sense of pride of the outcomes of her work.

“I think the mission of the University and really focusing on public service is unbelievably important and we should do as much as we can,” said Tufts in her award acceptance remarks. "Everything that we do in the field we bring back into the classroom…because the goal is, ultimately, to secure all of our North Carolinian information in the best possible way.”

The School extends its congratulations to Shannon Tufts for receiving this honor and its gratitude for her indelible work helping local governments become champions of the complex field of IT and elevating this important profession in communities across North Carolina and beyond.