Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the San Francisco CIO Community

Orlando Leon

Chief Information Officer

East Bay Municipal Utility District

Orlando Leon serves as the chief information officer at East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and oversees business technology supporting critical infrastructure and public health in the world of water and wastewater management. Prior to EBMUD, Orlando served in various leadership roles in higher education in the Cal State system, UC San Francisco and Stanford University. 

Orlando was born and raised in San Francisco, California, and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, management science, and computer science and engineering. 

Orlando enjoys cooking, baking, photography, volleyball, nature, cars, all things electronics, and deep conversations about life. He is married to his wife, Rebecca, and they have a teenage, life-loving son.

Learn more about the San Francisco CIO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

I started my career in the private sector and had software development and engineering roles at Hewlett Packard and Oracle. I transitioned to public service roles and have spent the past 20 years in the higher education and critical infrastructure industries.  

I grew quickly through roles of increasing responsibility, complexity, and leadership and assumed my first C-level role as chief information officer at California State University, Fresno.  

As a first-time CIO at the age of 35, which is quite early in the public sector, I recognized the opportunities to support others and contributed back to the national community in significant ways to advance inclusion and leadership. 

I moved back to San Francisco during the COVID-19 pandemic to be closer to family and assumed my most recent CIO role in 2022. I started an LLC in 2021 to grow my executive coaching business.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

Every day is a proactive choice of how I spend my time, and I choose to see opportunities around me as a privilege. I get to serve those around me and choose to help other individuals and organizations flourish.

What is the greatest challenge your particular C-level role is facing today, and how are you addressing it?

The changing culture and leading people and change in a 100-plus year-old organization can be challenging. A changing landscape of technology with quickly increasing adoption of technology along with quickly increasing risk landscape also presents challenges.

What is the key to success for someone just starting out as a CIO?

The key to success is to find support through peers, mentors, and coaches. It’s important to stay "above the line" and have a growth mindset, be courageous and lean into leadership. It’s also important to be a lifelong learner.

How do you measure success as a leader?

I measure success through my long-term, lasting impact (not my legacy) on an organization, though some aspects of this success might not be realized until some time after my departure.  

More immediate success is measured in aligning my organization's strategy and success with the overall organization and strategic plan. One other important aspect of success is whether I am able to grow future formal and informal leaders from all areas of the organization. 

What is the value of being a member of the Evanta community?

Evanta is a community of peers that connects regularly in various channels to support each other within formal gatherings and regularly throughout the year. This is aspirational, as I am still wanting to realize this hopeful value.

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