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Kirkham, Longtime CIO for Department of Rehabilitation, Moving to Private Sector

“For the first time, I’ll be coming at this from the other side of the partnership, listening and collaborating to identify and implement technology solutions that meet each group’s unique business and program needs,” Jon Kirkham told Industry Insider — California.

Jon Kirkham, the award-winning chief information officer and deputy director for the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), is moving to the private sector.

Kirkham is joining Slalom beginning Aug. 1, serving as senior delivery principal.

“A big part of my work will be with state and local government,” Kirkham told Industry Insider — California in an email Friday. “I’m excited about this next chapter in my career! Fourteen of my 21 years in state service have been as a chief information officer, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing teams of talented people. Their passion and dedication have been inspiring, and it’s been a pleasure to work alongside them serving Californians.”

Kirkham was named one of two CIOs of the Year in 2020 at the California Public Sector CIO Academy Awards* for his work at DOR, where he began as CIO in May 2014. Before that, Kirkham had served as CIO for the California Office of Traffic Safety, a role he took in August 2001.

Techwire (now Industry Insider — California) reported at the time: “As CIO, Kirkham led the modernization of DOR’s technology environment and has improved IT’s ability to deliver program outcomes, but his most notable achievements are in his leadership as a voice for disabled Californians. Before Kirkham, California’s disabled people did not have a voice in the state’s technology community, and the state struggled to find an accessibility leader. While accessibility is everyone’s responsibility, Jon made it his mission to raise awareness of accessibility issues, develop strategies to remediate inaccessible content and technology systems, and provide proactive leadership on accessibility. …”

He said he’s looking forward to his new role in the private sector.

“For the first time, I’ll be coming at this from the other side of the partnership, listening and collaborating to identify and implement technology solutions that meet each group’s unique business and program needs,” Kirkham told Industry Insider. “I’m excited by this new chapter and challenge: joining a company whose core values resonate with me and continuing to be invested in the visions and missions of the public entities serving Californians.

“I’m proud of the efforts I’ve been part of at DOR, including standing up the department’s first electronic portal for DOR consumers and vendors, delivering broadband Internet to 75 DOR offices statewide by piloting the California Department of Technology’s SD-WAN service, and greatly expanding the department’s Information Security Office to further protect the personal and confidential information of the people we serve. The DOR has an amazing team doing really good work.”

Asked to cite some of the high points during his CIO tenure, Kirkham cited his work on ensuring disabled Californians’ access to state websites.

“Working with many great partners, including CDT and Government Operations Agency, we created the online Web Accessibility Toolkit, provided technical assistance and guidance to dozens of state entities, and developed CDT’s OCRBot to greatly reduce the time and cost to make scanned PDF documents accessible. We also established the state of California Web Accessibility Community of Practice (WACoP) that has been running strong for three and a half years and has been used as a model for other state communities of practice. It has been a rewarding journey, and I’m grateful to the people who helped me learn and grow, while accomplishing so much together.”

Kirkham, who was featured in an Industry Insider “One-on-One” interview in October 2020, said he has a mix of emotions as he leaves state service.

“I’ll miss both the people and the mission at DOR,” he said, “and I’m humbled by and appreciative of the incredible work they do.”

*The CIO Academy Awards are given by e.Republic, parent company of Industry Insider — California and Government Technology, in recognition of IT leaders’ roles in tech procurement and governance.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies including USA Today in Washington, D.C.