An award-winning leader and longtime executive in California IT governance is returning to his roots in state government.
Jerry Becker, San Joaquin County’s assistant county administrator, is leaving that role Sept. 11 and moving to a position with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), he confirmed Thursday to Techwire. He’ll be leading the department’s IT strategic planning efforts, according to Tamie McGowen, Caltrans’ assistant deputy director for public affairs.
Capping his tenure as San Joaquin County’s IT director and chief information officer (CIO) from May 2006 to October 2018, Becker was named a CIO of the Year in 2018 at the California Public Sector CIO Academy, an annual event put on by Government Technology, Techwire’s sister publication. He has also served as president of the California Counties Information Services Directors Association (CCISDA).
Becker was promoted in 2018 to his current role as assistant county administrator, and he was succeeded as CIO in April 2019 by Chris Cruz, the award-winning former deputy state CIO and chief deputy director of the California Department of Technology.
San Joaquin County will begin recruiting for Becker’s successor on Wednesday.
In a statement to Techwire, Becker said: “It has been a privilege working as a member of the San Joaquin County leadership team these last 20+ years. In my role as CIO, and now as Assistant County Administrator, it was humbling to work for such a talented and committed Board of Supervisors and County Administrator (CAO).”
In a memo to the Board of Supervisors announcing Becker’s departure, County Administrator Monica Nino said the chief deputy county administrator, Sandy Regalo, will fill Becker’s role until a permanent successor is hired. Nino said Becker would help with the transition.
In her memo to the board, Nino wrote: “We appreciate Jerry’s service to the County and wish him all the best in his new role with the State of California. … Mr. Becker’s leadership and graciousness will have a lasting imprint on the organization of San Joaquin County and those who had the opportunity to work with him.”
Cruz, who has continued or begun some significant IT initiatives since Becker passed the CIO baton, also had high praise for his predecessor and said their collaboration has been a successful one.
“Jerry has a been a great advocate and leader for San Joaquin County,” Cruz told Techwire. “In his previous role as CIO, he left an outstanding framework and IT team in place for continued success to drive innovation and transformation. He set me up to succeed in my current role and cleared barriers to ensure my transition was seamless. As effective leaders do, he helped me foster and develop a close relationship with the County Administrator’s Office to ensure IT initiatives had the necessary funding and appropriate levels of executive sponsorship,” Cruz said.
“As a key component of being successful in today’s environment as a change leader, having the necessary funding and making a prudent business case to executive leaders is paramount in operating a successful IT organization,” Cruz continued. “I am sure his successor under the direction of County Administrator Monica Nino will take a very similar tact and approach to ensure the County’s continued success.
“I wish him all the best in his new role back at the State with Caltrans,” Cruz added. “I am sure he will continue to model the way working under the very effective leadership team led by CIO George Akiyama,” who has also been honored with a CIO of the Year Award, in 2016.
Becker, like Cruz, lauded San Joaquin County’s elected and executive leaders for their support during a time of rapid IT evolution.
“These leaders have understood the value of innovation and have steadfastly fostered the use of new technologies,” Becker told Techwire. “I have observed firsthand how the lives of the community we serve can be improved through the thoughtful implementation of public policy, combined with the judicious investment in technology.
“San Joaquin County has won numerous awards and accolades because of the leadership provided by the Board and CAO; the tremendous innovation championed by our department heads; and the amazing talent of the teams I have been so very fortunate to lead,” Becker added. “I leave the County knowing that the organization is in outstanding hands. Our County Administrator, Monica Nino, is a truly rare and exceptional talent. Her vision and passion for innovation, paired with the talents of our CIO, Chris Cruz, will produce tremendous results. They will make San Joaquin County a noteworthy contributor to technology innovation in the public service space. I know that with the leadership and talent of the County team, San Joaquin County will continue to be a shining star of innovation, operational excellence, and exceptional public service.”
Becker began his state career as a data processing manager for the California Highway Patrol, serving in that role from June 1985 to May 1996, when he moved up to the role of chief of IT strategic planning for Caltrans, a Career Executive Assignment position he held for four years. He moved to San Joaquin County government in January 2000, serving in the Information Systems division as assistant director and then director.
Becker is a graduate of Regents College in Washington with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems.