By Jenn Stringer. Becoming a first-time CIO during the pandemic certainly was trial by fire! What I appreciated about the experience is how the campus really came together to problem solve and the administrative and academic interests of the campus were all focused on the continuity of the mission—instruction and research!
I came to the UC system almost nine years ago to support the teaching and learning technology portfolio at UC Berkeley. It was a chance for me to put my commitment to public education into action, and I am so glad that I have been given the opportunity to serve in a number of roles on campus.
When I became the CIO in July 2020, one of my goals was to create a stronger IT organization. We launched our Organizational Design Project in October 2020. Looking back, it was pretty crazy to undergo a major redesign of the organization during a pandemic, but who knew we would still be fighting this crazy virus! I am really proud that the team and the organization stuck with the process and did the hard work. We launched Berkeley IT in December of 2021. The goal of the reorganization was to:
Build an agile central IT organization that serves as a strategic partner with the UC Berkeley community to efficiently deliver campus IT services. Create a structure and culture that is inclusive, actively embraces diversity and equity, where IT professionals can do their best work.
Organizations are always a work in progress. I think we have some good processes and structures to support change and growth in our organization. One of the groups that has really made a difference in our organization is our Action Team. This group is focused on empowering all Berkeley IT community members by removing professional barriers related to inequality and racial trauma. While the Action Teampredates me and our Organizational Design Project, they have had a huge impact on how Berkeley IT puts an equity lens on our work. They have also taught me so much about listening to the lived experiences of people in our organization, allowing their voices to be heard and to make an impact.
To share a little about my passions and non-work life: I started my career as a librarian. I love to read and I love children’s books. Above is a picture of me reading to my newest grandchild, who was born in January. The book is The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, with illustrations by Ekua Holmes. It’s one of my latest favorite picture books! I think you can learn a lot from children’s books about being authentic and treating others kindly. We need more people like that in the world.
Jenn Stringer is chief information officer and associate vice chancellor, Information Technology, UC Berkeley; she is the campus’s fifth CIO and first woman to hold the position.