New Hire/Promotion

Romano Promoted to First Woman CIO at SJI

SJI promoted Barbara A. Romano to chief information officer, replacing Leonard Brinson Jr., who is retiring at the end of the month. Romano, who previously served as SJI’s vice present for technology and operations, becomes the first woman to take on the CIO role at the utility holding company that provides natural gas to more than 725,000 customers in New Jersey.

“I am both honored and excited to break through barriers and pave the way for more women in leadership roles,” Romano said. “My goal is not only to navigate the currents of information technology but to empower our teams, foster collaboration, and illuminate a brighter, more connected future for our company and the communities we serve.”

Romano joined SJI in 2015 and has held multiple roles with increasing responsibly and most recently served as vice president of Technology & Operations. In her new role, Romano will provide strategic guidance, leadership, and direct oversight at the corporate level for all technology and business information system initiatives for SJI and its subsidiaries.

Romano will also be responsible for advancing and sustaining the corporate infrastructure and network for new technology initiatives, ensuring the performance, integrity, and security of SJI’s technology platforms.

“I am delighted that Barb will be taking on the crucial role of CIO for SJI,” said SJI President and CEO Michael Renna. “Her results-focused mindset and energetic leadership have consistently driven success across various sectors, demonstrating a deep understanding of technology’s pivotal role in achieving our business, technology, and financial objectives.”

Before joining SJI, Romano held various positions across multiple verticals, including global supply chain manager at Case New Holland, development manager at QVC, Inc, and as a principal consultant at the WGroup, providing strategy, management, and execution services to Fortune 500 companies.

Romano has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer and information sciences from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania and is actively engaged in the BU Alumni Association, having served as President of the Alumni Board of Directors.

Leonard Brinson Jr. retires from SJI as senior vice president and chief information officer (CIO) after nearly seven years with the utility. He joined in 2017 as vice president and SJI’s first chief information officer in 2017 and was appointed senior vice president and CIO in 2021.

Renna said Brinson will be remembered as an IT legend at SJI who had a multifaceted impact on the company, employees, and the community.

“Throughout his tenure, Leonard has been the driving force behind our company’s remarkable transformation,” Renna said. “From swiftly transitioning our entire workforce to a virtual environment amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in just two weeks to orchestrating a seamless acquisition that united three companies, he and his team have made it all seem simple.”

Renna said Brinson’s contributions extend beyond IT transformation for the company. For example, his leadership as an executive sponsor of the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamp has empowered over 100 local high school students in SJI’s service territory with invaluable insights into AI technology.

He has also been a leader as part of the New Jersey chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) and on SJI’s Diversity Council, underscoring his dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the energy sector.

“He has been a mentor and inspiration to many within our organization, fostering a culture of growth and excellence,” Renna said. “His commitment to nurturing talent has left an incredible mark on our people, shaping the future leaders of our company.”

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