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Newsom Appoints 3 to Key IT Leadership Roles

Two of the appointees are award-winning veterans of state government; the third is from the private sector. The appointments were announced Tuesday evening by the governor's office.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional detail and comments from state technology officials.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced the appointments Tuesday evening of three key leaders in state IT governance. 

Liana Bailey-Crimmins has been named state chief technology officer in the California Department of Technology (CDT). Bailey-Crimmins, an award-winning veteran of state service, most recently served as chief information security officer for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System since 2019, where she had previously served as chief health director from 2017 to 2019 and chief information officer (CIO) from 2013 to 2017. She was CIO for California Correctional Health Care Services from 2010 to 2013, and before that she was deputy CIO from 2008 to 2010. Bailey-As the state’s second-ever permanent CTO, Crimmins, 51, replaces Richard Rogers, California’s inaugural CTO, who occupied the position from June 2017-July 2020. A Sacramento resident, Bailey-Crimmins is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. This position requires Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $180,000. 

“I look forward to being a trusted advisor who delivers innovation with purpose on behalf of California citizens and the agencies that serve them,” she told Techwire via email.

Richard “Rick” Klau has been named state chief technology innovation officer at CDT and deputy director of the Office of Enterprise Technology (OET). Klau takes over as deputy director at OET from Manveer Bola, who had been acting in that role; and as state CTIO from Scott Gregory, who took an executive position last year with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). He was sworn in Wednesday morning by state CIO Amy Tong, and mentioned the event on LinkedIn. Klau, 49, was senior operating partner at Google Ventures from 2011 to 2020. The San Ramon resident had been product manager for Google from 2008 to 2011; before that, he had been strategic partner development manager there from 2007 to 2008. Klau was vice president of Business Development for FeedBurner from 2005 to 2007; vice president of Socialtext from 2004 to 2005; vice president of Vertical Markets for Interface Software from 2001 2004; and director of Industry Marketing for iManage Inc. from 1999 to 2000. Klau received his juris doctorate from the University of Richmond School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $180,000.

In an email, Klau described himself as “a big believer in teamwork,” and said his work at Google centered on developing teams. “I see my role at CDT as not just delivering innovative technology, but working as part of the CDT team to provide the kinds of services that will enrich the lives of all Californians. I’m eager to get started,” he added.

Tong and Rogers said via email they looked forward to bringing Baily-Crimmins and Klau onboard.

“Liana and Rick will bring some new ideas and outlooks to CDT,” Tong said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming them into the CDT family.”

Rogers praised Bola’s leadership as acting OET deputy director ahead of Klau’s arrival.

“We have been fortunate to have such a great leader on our team during a difficult time,” he said. “Amy and I relied on Manveer repeatedly to accomplish difficult tasks and he came through each and every time.”

Russell J. Nichols was named chief deputy director and deputy state CIO at CDT. He replaces Rogers in these roles; Rogers is retiring from CDT at the end of the month. Nichols, according to the governor’s announcement, most recently served as the award-winning director of the Division of Enterprise Information Services at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation since 2015, where he had served as acting director in 2015 and as project director of the Strategic Offender Management System from 2012 to 2014.

“Throughout my career, I’ve worked closely with CDT and have gained a great appreciation for the department and for its leadership," Nichols said via email. “Amy Tong and Richard Rogers have set a high professional benchmark and accomplished some amazing outcomes. I look forward to joining the CDT team and the opportunity to raise that bar even higher. From experience, I know we will work together brilliantly.”

Nichols, 53, was a data processing manager in the Office of California Correctional Health Care Services from 2010 to 2012 and at the California State Controller’s Office from 2007 to 2010. Before that, the Cameron Park resident was with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection from 1999 to 2007, and the Employment Development Department from 1997 to 1999. He began his state tenure as a programmer in 1990. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $186,648.

“Russ will bring a wealth of technical experience and a work ethic that will help CDT and the state technology community realize the goals established in the recent statewide technology strategic plan, Vision 2023,” Tong said, adding: “Richard will be leaving behind some big shoes to fill, but I’m confident Russ will fill them well.”

Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.