From teaching to technology, new CIO wants to inspire others

After spending two decades working in information technology, Bao Johri decided to leave the private tech industry and return to the world of education.

The Sacramento State alumna started her professional career teaching second and third grades. But when she was working on her teaching credential, Johri also pursued a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in information systems — in which she spent a majority of her career.

In 2018, she returned to her alma mater as senior director of planning and strategic projects, then as interim deputy chief information officer. This spring, her professional journey brought her to Fresno State to serve as the vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

“I chose Fresno because Fresno is the second-largest metro area where Hmong are. I want to contribute, to give back to the Hmong community. I think myself, and other individuals in this space, we really need to think about how we serve as problem solvers and bridge builders for the communities,” Johri said. “There are many young Hmong girls out there, and I want to make sure that we serve as role models. For me to sit as a chief information officer, I hope that it will inspire others to come and share this seat with me in the future.”

Johri leads technology services and support for nearly 25,000 students and 2,500 employees, while managing team members across 10 departments. She said she will continue the evolution and refinement of technology and pursue organizational strategies and structures that support University needs. She also plans to foster partnerships campuswide that support innovation and the implementation of strategic technology initiatives.

“Technology has really impacted the way educators teach and the way students learn. It is a powerful tool that we all need to leverage more,” Johri said. “Ensuring that technology is accessible to everyone is a top priority for me. Digital technology can help us improve accessibility. We need to have products, platforms and services that will meet the diverse needs of the student population. Having digital tools, systems and services help close the digital divide and allow us to focus on digital literacy and fluency. Technology has transformed the education space and revamped the way faculty, staff and students engage.”

Johri was born in Laos, immigrated with her family to the United States in the 1980s and grew up in Stockton. Teaching, she said, was a tangible job she was drawn to because of the teachers who served as role models and made an impact on her during childhood. But technology was an industry that could help elevate her financially, she said.

She started as a software tester, but she had a knack for project management, which developed even more over the years along with her passion for technology. She admits she wasn’t intrigued by technology at first.

Johri is married with two children and is currently working on her doctorate in educational leadership through Sacramento State.

She is proud of being a Hmong leader in the California State University system and is looking forward to partnering with others on campus and with those in the larger Fresno community.