Rebekah Jones named Forbes Technology Person of The Year
Rebekah Jones. Image via Rebekah Jones.

RebekahPhoto1
Jones is the first-ever recipient of the magazine's award.

Forbes has named former Department of Health data specialist Rebekah Jones its Technology Person of the Year.

With the inaugural Forbes Technology Awards — which comes at the end of a year when Americans relied on technology more than ever — Jones is the first-ever recipient of the magazine’s Technology Person of the Year distinction.

Jones rose to national prominence in May when the Department of Health fired her for what Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ administration called insubordination. However, Jones contends department officials asked her to manipulate data to make it appear as if the state was ready to reopen. She claims she was fired for refusing the request.

She again captured the nation’s attention earlier this month when Department of Law Enforcement officers searched her home and seized her hardware after connecting her address to a security breach at DOH. Jones denies involvement in the hack and has sued the DeSantis administration, arguing the search was ordered as a punishment.

“Regardless, she is the latest technologist who stepped up to fill the vacuum left by governments during COVID-19,” wrote Forbes deputy technology editor Helen A.S. Popkin.

As DOH’s geographic information systems manager, Jones played a leading role in designing the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, officials’ primary vehicle for disseminating coronavirus updates to the general public. The dashboard drew praise from White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx in April.

Since being fired, Jones has launched her own COVID-19 dashboard tracking cases in schools and across the country.

The afternoon following the morning raid on Dec. 7, Jones tweeted a video showing officers serving the warrant.

“They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids,” she said. “They took my phone and the computer I use every day to post the case numbers in Florida, and school cases for the entire country. They took evidence of corruption at the state level. They claimed it was about a security breach. This was DeSantis. He sent the Gestapo.”

“This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly,” she continued. “This is what happens to people who speak truth to power. I tell them my husband and my two children are upstairs … and THEN one of them draws his gun. On my children. This is Desantis’ Florida.”

The ongoing battle between Jones and the DeSantis administration has inflamed tensions between the media and the Governor, who has consistently opposed mask requirements and government-mandated lockdowns. In May, DeSantis accused national outlets of latching onto the story with claims that coronavirus outbreaks would balloon in Florida.

Following the search at Jones’ home, the Governor attacked a Tampa reporter for asking about a police “raid,” calling that term disinformation.

“She was not cooperative,” DeSantis critiqued. “It was not a raid. It was serving a valid process in accordance with the laws and the Constitution of the United States and the state of Florida. They did it with integrity. They did it with honor.”

In her subsequent lawsuit, Jones alleges state police violated her First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments rights. She’s also alleged violations against state law.

She is seeking damages of more than $30,000, according to the lawsuit. She is represented by attorneys Rick Johnson of Tallahassee, Lawrence Walters of Longwood and Lisa Lambert of Atlanta.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


17 comments

  • Isidore

    December 28, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    Congratulations Rebekah. Best of luck to you and your family. Making history is not an easy task.

  • Marlene

    December 28, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Congratulations Rebekah! I was extremely happy you won this award. Thank’s for ALL you do. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • Sanifu Hall

    December 28, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    Great news! Bravo! Congratulations!!

  • JA

    December 29, 2020 at 4:02 am

    You left out that she had filed a whistleblower lawsuit which puts DeSantis and his henchmen at considerable breach of whistleblower laws.

  • Brian J Gossett

    December 29, 2020 at 7:22 am

    Congrats! Proud to know you are an LSU graduate! From La. and now living in DeathSatan’s Florida. Stay safe and continue your important work.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    December 29, 2020 at 8:06 am

    She’s been proven to have lied about the “raid”. I’m waiting for all the facts to come out

  • ralph Smythe

    December 29, 2020 at 8:58 am

    Charlotte- I’d be interested in seeing the information where she has been proven to have lied about the raid. Do you have links to that?

  • michael

    December 29, 2020 at 10:06 am

    HEROINE OF 2021! – The year a CRITICAL MASS of WOKENESS is reached where the public realizes that “NATURAL Herd Immunity” was, and is, N-O-T the same as “Herd Immunity” by Vaccination because…
    … “NATURAL Herd Immunity” as +Public-Policy+ is GENOCIDE, by definition, not opinion, f-a-c-t, period, and therefore…
    … the #TrumpDesantisGenocide is, sadly, a first GENOCIDE & CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY of the 21st Century!

    Trump & Desantis both say the U.S. is ‘Doing Well’ & ‘Almost Nobody’ is Dying – ie: Just Minorities, Poor, Sick & Elderly!

    #naturalherdgenocide #desantiscovidlies #cdcwhistleblowerfl #desantisgenocide

    #NaturalHerdImmunityisGENOCIDE

    #RebekahJones #TrumpDesantis #HerdGenocide #desantisliesfloridiansdie #TrumpGenocide #NATURALHerdImmunity #HerdGENOCIDE #CDCCOVERUP #CDCspin #CDCHerdGenocide #CDCwhistleblower #COVID19 #coronavirus #COVID19coverup

  • Monica Stynchula

    December 29, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Science should not be distorted to fit a political agenda. Facts are facts. Rebecca’s tenacity for exposing the truth deserves this recognition.

  • Bethany Chance

    December 29, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Charlotte, you could be right. Those facts you’re waiting for have now revealed the dubious nature of that search warrant. If armed men came to my home under a questionable pretense, drew their guns and stole things, I’d call it a home invasion.

  • Fred Jones

    December 29, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    She should be asking for way more

  • Gary

    December 29, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    In this age of obvious bias in the media and a propensity for not just Trump bashing but literal visceral hatred of Trump and Conservatives, why would anyone be surprised that this person, never heard of before, and when this is all over, never again, was named Technology person of the year. Really! What will you haters hate when Biden takes office.. where will you spew your venom then. Time will tell I guess. One thing is sure. Haters gota hate.

  • Sharon Flynn

    December 29, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    It takes a pretty nasty personality to go into a household with non-violent parents and children and do this. Who ever the jerk was with the big gun and big scary macho voice should be fired. It was not necessary. This is America?

  • Palmer Tom

    December 29, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    This isn’t about hating, it’s about justice.

  • Toni

    December 30, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Congratulations Rebekkah. Governor sounds like a criminal. I hope the federal government takes him to task.

  • Ian

    December 31, 2020 at 8:43 am

    In a related story, Colin Kaepernick has been named Forbes’ Football Person of the Year.

  • Stephen Wyman

    December 31, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    “Regardless, she is the latest technologist who stepped up to fill the vacuum left by governments during COVID-19,” wrote Forbes deputy technology editor Helen A.S. Popkin.

    She didn’t step in to fill a, “vacuum left by government,” she was a government bureaucrat attempting to do her job. She ran into a governor, trying desperately hard to do a really poor job handling the pandemic, who did not appreciate being accurately called out by the data being compiled and published by Ms. Jones.

    Well done, Ms. Jones.

Comments are closed.


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