NASTD Names Karen Robinson 2020 Corporate Affiliate Committee chair: Texas IT Veteran Known for Building Bridges Between Public & Private Sectors

About Us

We don’t just open doors; we provide the best approach for our clients to open the right doors for their goals by connecting ideas, IT solutions and industry leaders.

Founded by the former CIO for America’s second largest state, KWR Acuity Consulting exists to help state-level decision makers connect with the vendors uniquely suited to solve their IT challenges. Building on three decades of experience in state government, Karen Robinson has made herself indispensable to clients on both sides of the IT acquisition gap with her mix of old-school relationship building and new-school technology know-how.

KWR Acuity Strategies helps organizations achieve their goals by:

  • Establishing collaborative, mutually beneficial relationships;
  • Reaching across the aisles of both public and private business sectors;
  • Combining and leveraging relationship competencies with precision; and
  • Connecting technology solutions with innovative strategies for building cross-sector teams

Karen W. Robinson


As CIO for the State of Texas, Ms. Robinson served on numerous national boards and committees fostering relationships across the state and country. Before leaving state government, received the Texas CIO of the Year award, Texas Public Sector Executive of the Year, and recognized nationally by State Scoop Top 50 as a Golden Government State Executive of the Year.
During TX CIO position, served as a member of the Dell President’s Advisory Board and named as a Computer World Premier 100 IT Leader.

Currently serves as immediate past Chair of the National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) Corporate Affiliate Committee. Serves on advisory boards for World Wide Technology and Ridge-Lane Consulting. Member of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) committee on Multi Sourcing Services Integration (MSI).

Texas CIO
of the Year
Computer World
Premier 100
IT Leaders
Texas Public
Sector Executive
of the Year
Golden Government
State Executive of the

Phil Habuda


Phil Habuda is a proven IT industry leader with over 30 years of strategy development and technology delivery experience, providing experience across all four service lines of the Information Technology industry: Management Consulting, Software Development, Infrastructure and Advisory Services. He is a proven leader with a balance of technical, financial, business, and strategic thinking skills to drive operational excellence managing critical IT program transformations with IT Solutions across Global and Public Sector clients, with deep experience in customer experience, managed services, capital planning, digital transformation, cloud computing, enterprise information security, mobility and advanced analytics. Serveds as the Corporate Affiliate Chair for the National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) Board of Directors and is a member of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) committee on Multi Sourcing Services Integration (MSI).

Mike Maher


Extensive experience in business development strategies, account planning, go-to-market thought-leadership, best practice methodologies and proven sales execution.  Mike has led direct and channel sales teams and developed unique sales and business development methodologies specifically aligned to the unique demands and requirements of State and Local Business Development efforts.   As a result of his strong sales/business development (and cold calling) efforts, Mike has been a consistent award winning sales professional (President’s Club, Winner’s Circle, Pinnacle, “#1 Sales Guy”) at companies such as Coopers & Lybrand/PwC, Gartner, Red Hat Public Sector Guidehouse (former PwC Public Sector Line of Business) and several MBE solution companies.  Mike also has an extensive understanding and relationships across the technologies channel.  Mike also sits on several strategic committees at NASCIO

Mike Kneeland

manager of health care vertical

Mike Kneeland is a seasoned enterprise transformation industry leader with over 14 years of experience with IT operations and consulting, including leading and supporting operational assessments. The majority of these assessments were in either the public sector or healthcare industry verticals. Specific relevant skills and expertise areas include program management, data analytics, and strategy execution—spanning 5 industry verticals and 5 continents. He possesses specific expertise in the following imperatives and functional domains: operational assessments, business transformation, customer experience, functional business architecture, population health, operational excellence, risk management, technology adoption, work culture, user-centered design, health payer strategy, customer success, data science, and IoT/IoE.

Mels Newland


Dynamic sales leader, dedicated to aligning innovative technology solutions with citizen and community challenges. Inspired by bringing together gifted sales professionals, emerging technologies and alliances to build collaborative teams that tackle problems, push through critical next steps and deliver digital transformation to the Public Sector. 25 years of building relevant, strategic go-to-market methodologies, and driving their adoption with partners, systems integrators and lobbyists to compete and win complex public projects.

Mels has helped build and grow the State, Local and Education practices for established Fortune 500 companies, including Cisco, VMware, Oracle and IBM, as well as emerging tech players Pure Storage and Medallia.

Frosty Walker

Chief Information Security officer

Frosty Walker is a seasoned Cybersecurity professional with over 25 years of cybersecurity experience. Frosty spent six years as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the Texas Education Agency improving TEA’s cybersecurity posture and working closely with K-12 schools across Texas.

Before joining TEA, Frosty spent nine years as the Information Security Officer for the Texas Secretary of State, helping protect Texas election data against cybersecurity threats. He also spent ten years with AT&T’s Legal division providing litigation support involving cybersecurity. Prior to joining the AT&T Legal team, Frosty spent over ten years in sales, working with both private and public sector clients to enhance their Information Technology strategies.

Frosty served for two years on the Texas Cybersecurity Council addressing cybersecurity concerns for both the Texas public and private sectors. He served eight years on the Texas State Information Security Advisory Committee establishing cybersecurity guidelines for state agencies and higher education. Frosty also serves as a mentor for Chief Information Security Officers and Information Security Officers.

Frosty has a BA degree from Texas Tech. He is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP#495375), ITIL certification # GR750218549FW and is a certified Cybersecurity Incident Response Instructor for Software Engineering Institute (SEI) / Carnegie Mellon.

KWR Strategies brings years of experience in building relationships and forging strategic bonds between IT leaders, helping to navigate the maze of requirements and processes necessary for successful ideas and efficient and cost-effective solutions. After serving for five years as Texas' Chief Information Officer, Karen appreciates the specific challenges of the public sectors and knows how to foster effective partnerships with private sector providers.

With a tested and successful approach, KWR simplifies the process for each client, with each step through concept, implementation and execution building on the others. This guided and nurturing approach produces results - it is not merely theory.

Productive use of resources is critical. A thorough analysis of each client’s goals encourages focus, promotes efficiency, and emphasizes results. Crystalizing these goals also fosters trust – and sidesteps pitfalls that waste time and resources.

KWR’s success in the public sector has provided the basis for building collaborative relationships that best serve the needs of our clients. An insightful understanding of our clients and their needs allows KWR to identify optimal partner relationships to fulfill the client’s requirements. KWR excels in fostering cooperative and transparent dialogue – increasing the exchange of information and the critical assessments necessary to efficiently craft a solution and execute on it.

But a plan is only as good as its execution – and KWR excels at execution.