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Johanna Clyborne

Former CIO, Minnesota

Johanna Clyborne, Former CIO, Minnesota
 Johanna Clyborne’s profile

In early February 2018, incoming Minnesota Information Technology Services (MNIT) Commissioner Johanna Clyborne made a career-defining pivot. The new state CIO, a brigadier general in the Minnesota National Guard, had just finished her orders for Super Bowl LII supporting local law enforcement. In less than a week, she officially joined the public sector.

Her mission was three-fold: launch Real ID; create a state cybersecurity plan; and turn around the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) after a rocky debut in July 2017. Before she left office in January 2019, she’d testify 46 times to a state Legislature eager for MNLARS answers.

Legislators approved $9.6 million in emergency funding for MNLARS fixes — not the full budget request. The new state cybersecurity plan wasn’t funded either. MNLARS, arguably the highest-profile of 379 IT projects in various stages, implemented six updates and was expected to ramp down at the end of February.

But despite the series of daunting projects, the longtime attorney said she found success during her nearly 11-month tenure in launching Real ID, helping Minnesota earn an A- grade in the Center for Digital Government’s 2018 Digital States Survey*; creating internal project governance and feedback dialogs, and governance and policy standards for the executive cabinet.

At MNIT, though, Clyborne’s greatest accomplishment was instilling a sense of empowerment in the workforce — standing up for them when appropriate and restoring back to them a sense of their service.

“No one will remember Clyborne five, 10 years from now. But the question is, did we create an organization that people want to work at? Where people feel that they have an opportunity to thrive and succeed? That’s what’s going to change government service,” she said.

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.
Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for Industry Insider — California, and before that was a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.