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Kristin Montgomery

CIO, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Kristin Montgomery, CIO, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
In conversation with the technology chief for the nation’s largest prison system, several words come up over and over: “team,” “success,” “customers,” “driven,” “solve” and “support.”

In her nearly four years as chief information officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Kristin Montgomery has worked to remain transparent in her agenda and in her persona.

“It’s really about my team,” Montgomery said when asked about the key to her success. “I really lead through my teams, and my teams are the ones that are doing the job. And without them, I would not be the person that I am. We work together, we cry together, we enjoy our successes together, we fail together, we succeed together.”

Before being tapped as CDCR’s technology chief in 2021, Montgomery had been deputy director since 2018. Before that, she served as controller for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System from 2013 to 2018. She worked in the private sector before joining state government in 2013.

Building rapport and trust in a team as large as CDCR’s isn’t just about running meetings and signing off on IT contracts. So what else does Montgomery do to keep her Enterprise Information Services team productive, engaged and motivated?

“You’ve got to be really outcome-driven,” she said. “Where are we going to go? Why are we doing it? I’m not going to tell you how to get to the outcome. … It’s like a map: Some people want to take the freeway; some people want to take the side roads. I don’t care how you get there.”

But a clear mission and a transparent leader who shares the limelight aren’t enough, Montgomery acknowledged. The department, like every other part of California state government, is facing financial pressure as the state seeks to plug a multibillion-dollar budget deficit. That means departments are having to find ways to adjust to new limitations.

To that end, one might say, Montgomery has made it her mission to be a doer, a dreamer and a driver.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition online.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. 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.