Harris Miller, a technology leader who helped government agencies leverage a wide range of commercial technology, died Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 71.
Miller was the longtime president of the Information Technology Association of America, one of the first trade associations to recognize government as a major user of markets and technology.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July and died at home on September 15. Funeral services were held Monday and burial was private.
He is survived by his wife, Deborah Kahn, and two sons, Derek and Alexis. Other survivors include his five grandchildren and a sister, Lee.
In his role as president of the ITAA for 11 years, Miller led the association and the technology industry through various milestones in the market, most notably the date error leading up to Y2K.
Thanks to the work of many people and organizations, including Miller and the ITAA, a potential computer disaster was averted. In the year In 1998, he testified before Congress about efforts to address the software problem and warned that failure to act could lead to disaster. Miller and ITAA have played a leading role in coordinating global efforts with other technology groups and the United Nations.
Our brother has been recognized twice with FCW’s Federal 100 Award. Recognizes individuals for actions beyond their job descriptions. One award was given in 1999 and the other in 2005.
Miller was a go-to resource for journalists covering technology and government, providing insights on technology trends and related policy and regulatory issues.
In January 2006, the Democratic Party withdrew from the ITAA to run for a Senate seat representing Virginia. Miller lost the nomination to James Webb, who defeated incumbent Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) in a narrow race.
After Miller left the ITAA, TechAmerica merged with the Electronics Association of America, which was later absorbed by the Professional Services Council.
For the past decade, Miller has focused on a variety of personal interests, particularly education and the arts. He was president and CEO of the Career College Association. He also spent time at the Association of Public Colleges and Universities. He co-founded the Campaign for Free College Education.
He has served as chairman of the Virginia Opera, the National Philharmonic, the American Heart Association, the George Washington University Heart and Vascular Institute, the Virginia Lottery Board, and the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.
Miller was born in Pittsburgh and is a lifelong Steelers fan.
His daughter-in-law Hannah Farber wrote on Facebook about Miller’s family love: “You were the herd dog, the manager, the paterfamilias.” You wanted the party to be full. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends. It all had to be there.
Stan Soloway, former president of the Professional Services Council, said in an email that he began working with Miller 25 years ago when Soloway was head of the PSC.
“He’s really elevated the association to a higher level in the government technology space,” Soloway said. “When I took over the PSC, we started working more closely together.”
In addition to their professional relationship, the two shared some family ties between Miller’s in-laws and Soloway’s parents, and Soloway’s “bad golf, and sometimes irreverent sense of humor.” He’s warm, smart as hell and just generally a real guy.”
In lieu of flowers, the Miller family is asking that donations be made to the University of Pittsburgh’s University of Pittsburgh Scholarship for Abroad in Europe. The award supports international travel by deserving students. Click here to make a donation.
The family suggested that Miller support Democratic political campaigns, as he did many times in his life.
In addition to making any memorial donations, Miller’s son, Alexis Miller, urged people to pass on the joy.
“Send me or anyone else in your life a message and say something good,” he wrote on Facebook. “There’s plenty of room for sadness, help us all make room for joy.”