Izzy Feldman, founder of GCN, dies at 86

Feldman created publications and conferences that have been linchpins of the government IT community.

Israel (Izzy) Feldman, the founder of GCN, passed away on June 2, 2017

Israel (Izzy) Feldman, who shaped and defined what we now think of as the government technology community, passed away on June 2 at the age of 86.

Feldman was an exceptional strategist, who understood better than most what was missing from this marketplace at any particular time. He was instrumental in creating several different entities designed to foster communication between government and the industry that supports it. In the process, he laid the groundwork for the vibrant community we are part of today.

He founded Government Computer News (now GCN) in 1984 to cover how the government used technology to do its job better. When he sold it to Ziff Davis several years later, he moved on to creating a venue for government and industry to talk frankly and share ideas. As chairman of the Industry Advisory Council, he and Rob Guerra, the vice chair, pulled together the first Executive Leadership Conference in 1991 -- a gathering in Charlottesville, Va., that put government and industry leaders together in workshops to tackle real problems in open and candid discussions. That collaborative approach is still a core tenet today for the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC), which continue to produce ELC each year.

Feldman also had a hand in shaping the Federal CIO Council. "The Federal IT community lost a great visionary and change agent... last week," Cisco's Alan Balutis, who was the Department of Commerce's first CIO and a founding member of the council, told FCW. "His insight (often combined with a droll wit) drove the council’s early agenda and was one of the reasons we moved to establish an E-Government Committee in the late 90’s. He taught me so much; I will miss him as a mentor and friend."

In the early 2000s, Feldman added a yet another component to his portfolio of accomplishments -- the eGov show, which was purchased by FCW’s parent company in 2001. That trade show was designed to showcase technology's role in reinventing government for the digital age.

GCN too was acquired by the company now known as 1105 Media -- in December 2006 as part of a deal in which FCW’s parent company purchased a number of media and event properties from The Washington Post.   And FCW itself was launched with the explicit goal of competing with GCN in this space.

The government IT media landscape has has grown and changed dramatically since 1984, but it's no exaggeration to say that Izzy was instrumental in getting it all started.

A first-generation American, Feldman was born in Romania and grew up in Israel, moving to the U.S. in the 1950s to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before moving into media, he worked directly on government IT at both industry and government roles. He employers included Honeywell, MITRE, what is now Unisys, the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the since-reorganized Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Services for Feldman were this past Sunday, June 4. He is survived by his wife, Sharon Doner-Feldman, as well as his three sons from his first marriage.

NEXT STORY: OMB seeks IT specialists