Participants


woman smiling in headshot

Kristen Beneduce

Kristen is a Security Researcher and Incident Responder at Sandia National Labs where she builds cyber technologies for national defense and hunts threats on critical networks. She transitioned to Cybersecurity with a background in New Media Arts and Business and completed an MS in Computer Science and Cybersecurity through a NSF scholarship. Kristen has since led numerous National Cybersecurity projects as a National Incident Response Team member at the Federal Reserve and as Technical Staff at Sandia. Kristen is a an OnDeck Community Builders Fellow and the founder and VP of the Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Silicon Valley Chapter, a community dedicated to elevating women and diversity advocates in Northern California.


Mary Bull

Mary Bull is from eastern Virginia and works for the College of William and Mary as a network technician. Her primary work interest is wireless, especially planning, design, and troubleshooting, but she also works with the switching infrastructure and cable plant on campus, as well as other areas of the college’s IT infrastructure. She’s working on completing the CWAP certification.

Mary started working in IT after working in museum education and in public libraries. She’d love to run her own bookstore someday.


Melinda DeHerrera

I live in a small town of northern New Mexico known as the Lowrider Capital of the World, Espanola. I live with my husband and four daughters and have one son that is a Marine stationed out in Hawaii.  On any given weekend, I will be found watching one or a couple of my daughters playing softball, volleyball or wrestling. After COVID hit last year, we purchased chickens and planted three gardens. There is rarely any down time in our household, but I enjoy every minute of it.

The year I graduated with my BA in IT, I was the Student Regent of our Northern New Mexico College. I enjoyed having a voice and trying to address many of the issues and concerns of the students on campus. At this time, I also helped to create and design a plan to upgrade our campus network. This was a bit personal as this was our local college which I had been attending for many years. I started at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a student and eventually moved over to a full time position after graduating. I am part of the Network Infrastructure Engineering Core Services team. Our team monitors, maintains, upgrades, installs and troubleshoots all network activity throughout the laboratory. As one of the few female Network Professionals in my field, I hope to promote growth and expand the female intelligence in the STEM area.


Jennifer Kim

I am an IT Manager at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. Here, I work on a variety of systems with a primary focus on network infrastructure across our campuses. I have been with MCCC for 6 years where I started off as a network infrastructure intern, and the first female in the network infrastructure area. To date, I am the only woman to work in this area of the department.

After obtaining a BS in Psychology, later followed by a Certificate in Computer Networking from MCCC, my non-traditional student path and career change fueled an interest in tackling the gender gap that exists in IT. Whether working on computer or interpersonal networking, I seek learning, growth and building that network.


Karen Lopez

Born and raised in Mexico, I graduated from Arizona State University in 2017 and now live in Denver, CO where I work for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as a network automation engineer. I moved to Colorado at the beginning of the pandemic and have just started exploring the city, but I live with a miniature schnauzer and we love to go explore the mountains and being in nature. I’ve been in the automation field for a few years now and quickly realized it’s my passion as I love putting all the pieces together in order to make something better.

The next step in my career is starting a master’s program at the Colorado School of Mines this fall pursuing IT management, the program will take a year and I’m really looking forward to learning a different aspect of IT. Another passion of mine is to empower people, specifically women, to pursue a career in IT, I’m hoping with a management position I’ll be able to hire and mentor more women starting their careers.


Deshon Miguel

Deshon Miguel is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, a mother of two daughters and is currently serving as the Information Technology Manager at Tohono O’odham Community College on Tohono O’odham Reservation. She was born and raised on the reservation by her mother and eldest siblings. Her hobbies are arts and crafts and playing volleyball with her family. Deshon’s interest in the field was initiated when she became a mother and gained the responsibility of providing for her daughter at a young age and has then continued to pursue a beneficial experience in the field.

She has seven years of progressive experience in Information Technology. Starting with an internship and part time position as a Computer Assistant where she was essential in developing a network to run at a functioning and highly efficient capacity. She attended I.T.T Technical Institute in Tucson, Arizona to obtain her AA degree in Associate of Applied Science in Network Systems Administration continues to expand her personal and professional development through her past and current endeavors.

She supervises the IT staff, manages and coordinates all IT-related matters including network, data, wireless, telephone, security, and computer hardware and software to ensure the effective operation of all information technology systems are being utilized by the college to fullest potential. She is an integral part of consulting with various outside parties that help with the overall success and forward progress of the college.


Stacie Nixon

Stacie Nixon is an IT Security Professional with twenty years of experience working for North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C. Originally from Wilmington, N.C., Stacie relocated to Raleigh, N.C. to obtain her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees. Stacie specializes in IT Security and is responsible for monitoring network activity to identify vulnerable points, act on breaches and malware threats, design and implement safety measures and data recovery plans, draft policies and guidelines, and serve as a security expert, and conduct training when needed.  Stacie organized the university’s first and successful Cybersecurity Escape Room for faculty, staff, and students. Stacie is inspired daily by her son; in her free time, Stacie likes to create professional hair care products, paints, ride bikes, listen to audiobooks, and travel.


Shashwitha Puttaswamy

Shashwitha Puttaswamy is a research scientist, cyberinfrastructure, at The George Washington University. In her current role, she works closely with GW Nanofabrication and Imaging Center scientists to understand their workflow design issue which includes complex data-intensive research. Her contributions to the research is to identify new opportunities to leverage large data transfer and to provide end-to-end high throughput connectivity in an existing infrastructure. She is also the primary lead on sensor data collection which involves working with different IoT sensors to develop data collection strategies to help the DC government and researcher analyze pressure, temperature, and gasses in the environment. Prior to joining GWU in 2019, she was a network research engineer at California Institute of Technology, supporting and maintaining their production “Tier2” computing and storage facility in support of the Large Hadron Collider physics program. Puttaswamy was part of the team that awarded CENIC’s 2019 Innovations in Networking Award for Experimental Applications for setting a new record for data transfer rates that will enable researchers to tackle massive datasets faster and satisfy unprecedented scientific needs. She was Internet2 Technology Exchange, Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Recipients Announced in 2019. She holds a bachelor of science degree in electronics and communication engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University, and a master of science degree in electrical engineering with a specialization in computer networks from San Diego State University


Kimberly Schjang

Kimberly Schjang is an Associate Network Engineer at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, which is also her alma mater. Her IT career began to take shape during college as a Student Help Desk Technician. After graduating from UNLV with Bachelor’s degrees in Liberal Arts and Fine Arts, she continued to work in the IT field with her main focus being hardware, software and A/V support. In January of 2019, Kim returned to work for UNLV in the Network Development & Engineering department as an Associate Network Engineer.