Richard Varn

Richard Varn is a Distinguished Presidential Appointee with Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is part of the Strategy, Marketing, and Growth team.  He directs the Center for Advanced Technology and Neuroscience, leads the ETS Innovation Lab, and works on several new product development teams. He came to ETS after serving as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the City of San Antonio.  For over 30 years he has also been a small business entrepreneur and managed his own consulting company. Founded in 1988, RJV Consulting serves public and private sector clients in the areas of information technology, privacy, security, business strategy, innovation, education, and public policy.  He is the Executive Director of the non-profit group the Coalition for Sensible Public Records Access. He served on the Board of Trustees for ETS for 10 years. He was a Senior Fellow with the Center for Digital Government and Education. He has been an advisor and consultant to startup businesses for over 35 years.  

Mr. Varn’s first career was in public service at the University of Iowa and continuing as a state legislative aide.  He went on to win elected office at the age of 24 and served as a State Representative for four years and as a State Senator for eight years. During that time, he was twice elected Majority Whip and chaired numerous committees including the Education Appropriations, Communications and Information Policy, Human Services Appropriations, and Judiciary Committees.  He passed legislation creating the nation’s first statewide fiber optic broadband distance learning network. He left the legislature to teach and serve as Director of Telecommunications and IT Production Services at the University of Northern Iowa. There he created numerous innovative e-learning programs. He returned to state government to work for Governor Tom Vilsack, create the state’s first Information Technology Department, serve as Iowa’s first CIO, and speed the transition digital government.

His degrees and honors include membership in Phi Beta Kappa, a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Political Science, a Juris Doctorate with distinction from the University of Iowa, and admission to the Iowa Bar.  Mr. Varn has received numerous awards and recognitions for his public service on behalf of education, fiscal reform, libraries, student financial aid, distance learning, technology and process innovation, and government management.