John Burke

Technologist. Steward. Naturalist. Problem Solver.

Chief Technology Officer

Focus Areas: AI, cloud, networking, infrastructure, and automation, cybersecurity focusing on Zero Trust and SASE/SSE, and the associated operational and organizational practices.


Starting in high school with BASIC on Apple DOS, programmed in a dozen languages, including FORTRAN, LISP, C, C++, Visual Basic, and Python, on as many operating systems. Built systems-management tools, imaging and analytics applications, and interactive modeling systems in platforms ranging from C and C++ to VBA in Excel to low-code systems like Zoho Creator. Typeset a book while at Johns Hopkins; designed a font (using Knuth’s Metafont) and used it to typeset my wedding invitations. At Nemertes, learned the guts of many key technologies, focusing most recently on AI and Zero Trust Network Access. Contributing writer for TechTarget, writing the Network World blog Any To Any,and host of Nemertes’ Three Beers IT video series.


In the course of my work at Johns Hopkins, St Catherine, St. Thomas, and Nemertes, I’ve helped manage, train, and support staff in every part of IT: help desk, technical writing, development, database design and management, systems and network administration, architecture, and data analysis. Since leaving Johns Hopkins I have managed budgets, negotiated with scores of vendors, and learned to economize as only IT staff in higher ed do. I’ve learned to tell when investment is more important than savings. I have always worked to develop, preserve, and propagate institutional knowledge. Beginning with planters in my Baltimore apartment, I’ve built soil organically; supported native perennials; nurtured pollinators; grown tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, beans, eggplants, amaranth, herbs, cucumbers, and zucchini; tended an apple tree; and baked everything from a good bahn mi roll to a Buche de Noel to a lemon meringue pie to die for. I helped develop and test the recipes in Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest, and washed all the dishes!


Since the time I chased the mating call of a chickadee through a park in Baltimore, I have learned to identify scores of birds by sound and sight. Since finding my first sulphur shelf on a walk to work in Saint Paul, I’ve learned to identify and harvest edible mushrooms—and avoid deadly ones. Likewise edible wild plants, since my wife pointed to a weed in the garden, lamb’s quarters, and said it was once a staple food crop. I’ve also learned trees by bark, habit, flowers, and seed, nut, or fruit, and have planted a good many over the years.

Problem Solver.

My main interest has always been solving problems, or helping others solve theirs. This has been the through-line in my work since my first programming jobs, and throughout my years in academic IT, helping students and faculty, departments and universities get, run, and use the systems they needed. At Nemertes, bringing fresh perspectives, research data, and an awareness of a wider set of possibilities, I regularly help people untangle the issues they face, the options they have, and their own preferences, needs, and priorities so they can make the right choices. I can help find the right technology or the right products, or to revamp job descriptions, teams, skill sets, and processes, to meet new needs or solve long-standing problems. I have helped people across industries figure out how to tell leadership what they need to be told, and ask effectively for what IT needs, sometimes building data-driven modeling tools to help.


BS Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 1986, The Johns Hopkins University; MA History of Science, 1988, The Johns Hopkins University; Programmer, Neuroanatomy lab, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 1986–1987; Engineering Discipline Specialist, The Johns Hopkins University, 1988–1992; Associate Director, Networking and Central Systems, College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University), 1992–1997; Director, Enterprise Architecture, University of St. Thomas, 1997–2005.

I have also married the right woman and raised two wonderful kids with her.