Born in Trenton, N.J., in 1972, Chopra quickly learned the importance of education, particularly math. His parents would make him do 20 pages of math problems a day before playing with friends — that was in the first grade.(1)
Chopra earned a degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University in 1994, and then went to work at Morgan Stanley as an investment banker. He calls that the most important job of his life because it taught him what drives economic growth.(1) But he didn’t stay there long. He left to study public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and gained a Master’s in 1997.
Then Chopra moved to Washington to work as a consultant at the Advisory Board, a health-care research and consultancy firm. He worked up to the rank of managing director before leaving in late 2005 to join Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s (D) administration as the state’s tech czar. Chopra helped implement multiple tech-forward initiatives, such as using iTunes to complement learning tools for public school children or the creation of the state’s broadband technology map, which shows where it is and where there still needs to be more development. To close the gaps, Virginia asked for $100 million of the $7.3 billion that the February 2009 stimulus bill allocated for broadband infrastructure.(2)
After President Barack Obama was elected in November 2008, Chopra volunteered to help with technology and innovation policy on the transition team.(3)