Women Tech Leaders

Women Tech Leaders

Women Tech Leaders
Women Tech Leaders
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Virtual Event

Throughout the federal government, women are advancing major IT initiatives and recruitment efforts around health care, cybersecurity, national security and more. These women leaders have made a career of public service and are strongly shaping the next generation of federal technologists.

July 22, 2021
11:00 am
Virtual event
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Women Tech Leaders





Dorothy Aronson is NSF's Chief Information Officer (CIO). She is the principal advisor to the agency's Director and other senior management on all matters involving information technology (IT). Ms. Aronson oversees policy and governance for the efficient, effective use of IT resources to accomplish the Foundation's mission.

CIO, National Science Foundation

As the director for the U. S. Army Research Lab (ARL) Computational & Information Sciences Directorate, Cynthia Bedell is responsible for basic and applied research Network and Information Sciences, Cyber Defense, High Performance Computing, and Battlefield Environments. She has technical oversight of the state-of-the art high performance computing assets, computational capabilities, and wide area networking methodologies for ARL, the Department of the Army, and the Department of Defense. ARL is the U.S. Army’s corporate laboratory, strategically placed within the Army Futures Command (AFC). ARL’s mission is to “Discover, innovate, and transition science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power”.

Previously, as the Regional Lead for ARL West, Cindy Bedell established the first extended campus for the US Army Research Lab to make ARL and its researchers more accessible to academics as well as business research leaders on the west coast. The drive is to establish mutually beneficial S&T collaborations particularly in the field of Human Information Interaction. While serving as acting Director, Computational and Information Sciences Directorate, she focused on guiding scientific discovery, technological innovation, and transition of knowledge products within the research areas of network, computational, information, and meteorological sciences especially as it impacts the Army’s future mission capabilities. When she joined CISD in 2014, Ms. Bedell served as the Associate Directorate for Science and Technology as well as the collaborative alliance manager for the Multi-scale Materials Enterprise.

Cindy Bedell brings with her 30 years of military experience. Prior to her military retirement, Colonel Bedell led the US Army RDECOM Forward Element Command – Atlantic in searching across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, for applicable technologies to support current and future warfighters. She also served as the Director of Science and Technology Support for Current Operations for the System of Systems Integration Office, U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). In this role, she helped develop science and technology strategies to allow the Army to address technology shortfalls in current and future war-fighting systems. As Product Manager, Sensors and Lasers, Colonel Bedell was responsible for the Soldier-borne night vision devices, thermal sensors and sights, and laser pointers, rangefinders and designators. She accelerated the engineering design cycles for a number of systems; to include the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle and the 25 micron Vanadium Oxide based Thermal Weapons Sight.

She earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She served as Assistant Professor in the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department at the United States Military Academy. She attended the University of Texas, as an Army Senior Service College Fellow. She holds United States Patent 5,413,649, with Dr. David Dunand for a method to enhance superplasticity for ease in forming complex composites in materials that undergo phase transformation.

Director, Computational & Information Sciences Directorate, Army Research Laboratory

Marie A. Bernard, M.D., serves as Deputy Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health. As NIA’s senior geriatrician, she is the principal advisor to the NIA director. She additionally serves as the acting NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity.

For the Department of Health and Human Services, she has co-chaired two Healthy People 2020/2030 objectives: 1) Older Adults and 2) Dementias, including Alzheimer’s Disease. Within NIH she co-chairs the Inclusion Governance Committee that oversees inclusion in clinical research by sex/gender, race/ethnicity, and age — inclusive of pediatric and older adult subjects. She chairs the Women of Color Committee of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers. She also serves on the Diversity Working Group and was a founding member of the NIH Equity Committee. She has been recognized for her leadership by receipt of the Clark Tibbitts Award from the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (2013), the Donald P Kent Award from the Gerontological Society of America (2014), and NIH Director’s Awards in 2018 and 2019. She is the 2020 recipient of the NIH Director’s Award for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Until October 2008 she was the endowed professor and founding chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, and Associate Chief of Staff for Geriatrics and Extended Care at the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She has held numerous national leadership roles, including serving on the National Institute on Aging Advisory Council, during which she chaired the Council’s Task Force on Minority Aging Research; chair of the Clinical Medicine Section of the Gerontological Society of America; chair of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Research Advisory Committee; board member of the American Geriatrics Society; president of the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education; and president of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs. She has lectured and published widely in her area of research, nutrition and function in older populations with special focus on underrepresented minorities, as well as related to geriatric education.

She received her undergraduate education at Bryn Mawr College and her MD from University of Pennsylvania. She trained in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, where she also served as chief resident. She has received additional training through the Association of American Medical Colleges Health Services Research Institute, the Geriatric Education Center of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton School Executive Development program.

Deputy Director, National Institute on Aging, NIH

Monica Farah-Stapleton, Ph.D., serves as Technical Director for the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) program office. In this role, Dr. Farah-Stapleton is responsible for executive oversight and technical orchestration of all engineering and cybersecurity activities impacting the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) common electronic health record (EHR) and the exchange of health data between the federal EHR and private sector partners. 

Before joining the FEHRM leadership team, Dr. Farah-Stapleton served as Chief Engineer for the DOD Healthcare Management System Modernization program management office. She has several decades of information technology experience, including executive strategy and direct management and oversight of complex, sociotechnical system-of-systems projects.

Dr. Farah-Stapleton is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School with a doctorate in software engineering. She has an executive master’s degree in technology management from University of Pennsylvania (School of Engineering and Applied Science and Wharton School) and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rutgers University. Dr. Farah-Stapleton holds Acquisition Professional Level III certifications in program management and systems engineering.

Technical Director, Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM)

Katie Olson is the Deputy Director of the Defense Digital Service (DDS). DDS is a SWAT team of nerds based at the Pentagon tasked with solving the DoD's most pressing problems leveraging the best in modern technology.

Prior to DDS, Olson led the launch of the City Tech Collaborative in Chicago, a tech organization that remakes essential city services and infrastructure using advanced technology, in partnership with corporations, philanthropies and universities.

Olson holds a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies from American University in Washington, D.C. From 2008-2010, she served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi.

Deputy Director, Defense Digital Service
Director of Federal Growth, Dcode

Danielle Santos is the Manager of Communications and Operations and Lead for International Engagement for the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Prior to her role at NIST, Danielle served as the Program Manager for cybersecurity formal education programs including National Centers of Academic Excellence and the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Danielle holds a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Cybersecurity as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from California State University, San Bernardino. As a recipient of the SFS scholarship herself, Danielle has fulfilled her commitment to serve in the US Federal government and continues to have a passion for public service.

Communications Manager, National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), NIST

Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., FARVO, was appointed Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health and Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2012. Dr. Clayton has strengthened NIH support for research on diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect women. She is the architect of the NIH policy requiring scientists to consider sex as a biological variable across the research spectrum, a part of NIH’s initiative to enhance reproducibility, rigor, and transparency. As co-chair of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Clayton also leads NIH’s efforts to advance women in science careers. In 2021, Dr. Clayton was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Dr. Clayton was previously the Deputy Clinical Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI). A board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Clayton’s research interests include autoimmune ocular diseases and the role of sex and gender in health and disease. Dr. Clayton has a particular interest in ocular surface disease and discovered a novel form of disease associated with premature ovarian insufficiency that affects young women, setting the stage for her commitment to rigorous, thoughtful exploration of the role of sex and gender in health and disease. She is the author of more than 120 scientific publications, journal articles, and book chapters. Her clinical research has ranged from randomized controlled trials of novel therapies for immune-mediated ocular diseases to studies on the development of digital imaging techniques for the anterior segment.

Dr. Clayton, a native Washingtonian, received her undergraduate degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University and her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine. She completed a residency in ophthalmology at the Medical College of Virginia. Dr. Clayton completed fellowship training in cornea and external disease at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital and in uveitis and ocular immunology at NEI.

Dr. Clayton has received several awards and has been recognized as a leader by her peers. She received the Senior Achievement Award from the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2008, was selected as a 2010 Silver Fellow by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and won the European Uveitis Patient Interest Association Clinical Uveitis Research Award in 2010. In 2015, she was awarded the American Medical Women’s Association Lila A. Wallis Women’s Health Award and the Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Service. Dr. Clayton was granted the Bernadine Healy Award for Visionary Leadership in Women’s Health in 2016. She was also selected as an honoree for the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards and the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Awards for Outstanding Government Service in 2017. 

Follow Dr. Clayton online at www.nih.gov/women and @JanineClaytonMD.

Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health, NIH

Patricia Hayes, Ph.D., is the Chief Officer, Women’s Health, for the Veterans Health Administration. In this role, Dr. Hayes oversees the delivery and quality of health care for women Veterans throughout VA systems.  

Starting with her appointment as the Chief, Consultant, Women’s Health Services in 2007, she set the goal of changing the VA’s language, practice and culture to be more inclusive of women. Under her leadership, the number of women using VHA healthcare has more than tripled to over 545,000 today, and the total number of women accessing  VA services each year is now over one million. 

In 2008, in order to be certain that each woman Veteran would have access to a proficient provider wherever she seeks care, Dr. Hayes launched an expansive program in training women’s health providers; and to date, over 7800 providers and nurses have participated. Today, every VA medical has at least two designated women health providers, as do 91% of the VA Community clinics.  

She has successfully worked across VHA to expand initiatives for women Veterans’ health care into a broad range of areas of importance, including cardiac health, reproductive health and birth defect prevention, infertility, and a comprehensive evaluation of care provision to women Veterans.  

She chairs the new Under Secretary for Health Women Veteran Modernization Team, an effort to spur the enhancement of services for women Veterans. She is also a member of the VHA steering committee on Health Equity.  In addition, she has initiated culture –change campaigns to improve recognition and respect for women Veterans, and to Stop Harassment of any Veteran or employee.  

She has collaborated with VA researchers on topics including organization of care delivery, satisfaction with care, and evaluation of quality disparity. Dr. Hayes has published articles on gender disparity in health care and on improvement of care for women across the nation. She is often called upon to speak to Veterans groups and organizations on matters related to healthcare for women Veterans. 

Dr. Hayes is also actively involved in staff and provider education at all levels and has initiated projects in the area of virtual simulation technology with Employee Education Systems. Dr. Hayes oversees a program staff and provides administrative and clinical guidance to staff, encouraging development of interest and skills in population approach to service delivery. 

Chief of Women's Health, VA

Wanda Jones-Heath, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is the Principal Cyber Advisor (Acting) and the Chief Information Security Officer for the Department of the Air Force, comprised of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force.

As the Principal Cyber Advisor (Acting) for the Department of the Air Force, Ms. Jones-Heath’s duties include synchronizing, coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the DAF Cyber Strategy and advising the Secretary of the Air Force on all cyber programs. She is responsible for overseeing cyberspace recruitment; resourcing and training of cyber mission forces, as well as assessing their readiness; overseeing acquisition; advocate for cyber investments; cybersecurity supply chain risk management; security of information systems and weapon systems.

As the Chief Information Security Officer, Ms. Jones-Heath advises the Chief Information Officer on cybersecurity policy, cybersecurity programs, and cyber force development. She leads a Directorate of military, civilian, and contractor personnel responsible for developing cybersecurity policy and strategy for more than 5,000 Air Force Information Technology systems. She oversees risk management and cybersecurity accountability for information systems, weapon systems, and operational technology supporting military cyberspace operations. Her portfolio includes policy governing the defense industrial base, supply chain risk management, and cybersecurity capabilities. She has oversight for the Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act laws, and cryptographic modernization supporting cyber operations.

Since entering civil service, Ms. Jones-Heath has held technical and leadership positions performing cyber operations and cybersecurity duties in Air Force operational communications units from the squadron to the wing level and has served in headquarters units at the Major Command, Agency, and Air Staff level. Her experience includes extensive joint and interagency work along with cross-functional assignments with duties such as testing, assessments, lessons-learned management, strategy development and other functions in organizations both within and outside of the communications field.

Ms. Jones-Heath graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1990 with a degree in Computer Science. She began her civil service career as a Palace Acquire Intern as an Information Systems Specialist in various functional areas. She moved to Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, in 1993. There she held positions responsible for policy and guidance for security and network systems. Prior to arriving at the Headquarters Air Force staff, Ms. Jones-Heath was the Program Manager for Mobility with the Defense Information Systems Agency. Ms. Jones-Heath led the effort to establish a Defense Department Mobile capability to include infrastructure.

CISO, U.S. Air Force

Throughout her career, Clare Martorana worked to improve and simplify the digital experiences people have when interacting with businesses and government. Martorana most recently served as Chief Information Officer of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, where for the past two years she stabilized and secured agency operations to deliver better digital-first services for the Federal workforce. Martorana began her public service career as a member of the U.S. Digital Service team at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, establishing the agency’s enterprise-wide Digital Modernization effort to deliver for veterans the 21st-century digital experience they deserve. Prior to joining the government, Martorana was President at Everyday Health and Senior Vice President and General Manager and editor-at-large at WebMD.

Federal CIO, OMB

Melinda Rogers was designated as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Information Resource Management within the Justice Management Division on September 21, 2020.  Prior to her designation, she served as Deputy Chief Information Officer (CIO), and earlier she was the Department’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

In her role as CIO, Ms. Rogers is responsible for overseeing the Department’s $3.1 billion Information Technology (IT) portfolio, providing strategic direction to DOJ Components and directly supporting mission operations through IT service delivery.  Additionally within Ms. Rogers’ purview is the Department’s Cybersecurity Program, which proactively mitigates and monitors risks associated with the management, security, and acquisition of DOJ technology assets.

Ms. Rogers has extensive experience managing and implementing IT and cybersecurity solutions in the U.S. health and financial services sectors, where she was most recently Equifax’s Assistant Vice President for Fraud Prevention and Identity Verification Solutions.  Ms. Rogers received her MBA from Emory University in Atlanta and is an alumna of George Mason University.

CIO, Department of Justice



Opening Remarks

  • Amy Kluber, Editorial Director, GovernmentCIO Media & Research

Fireside Chat

  • Clare Martorana, Federal CIO, OMB*

Addressing the Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage

Women make up less than one-third of all STEM-related jobs. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security estimates there are at least 500,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions, which the agency deems a risk to national security. These cyber leaders are encouraging and educating women to help fill the cybersecurity workforce gap and the gender STEM gap at the same time.

  • Wanda Jones-Heath, CISO, U.S. Air Force*
  • Danielle Santos, Communications Manager, National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, NIST

Leadership in Defense and National Security

Increasing women’s participation in the U.S. armed forces has been met by a growing culture of women’s leadership in agencies focused on national security. Hear from women tech leaders who have dedicated their careers to advancing the frontiers of intelligence and defense preparedness on how to improve gender diversity across the national security field.

  • Cynthia Bedell, Director, Computational & Information Sciences Directorate, Army Research Laboratory
  • Monica Farah-Stapleton, Technical Director, FEHRM
  • Katie Olson, Deputy Director, Defense Digital Services
  • Mandy Peckham, Director of Federal Growth, Dcode

CIO Spotlight: Leading Tech Modernization

Women are leading various IT efforts across federal agencies. This panel of CIOs will discuss their top modernization priorities at their organizations and how offering diverse representation at the CIO level could impact agencies well into the future.

  • Dorothy Aronson, CIO, National Science Foundation
  • Melinda Rogers, CIO, Department of Justice*

COVID-19 Impacting Women’s Health Outcomes

The COVID-19 virus and pandemic have had varying impacts across different communities, especially women and women of color. This panel of health experts will discuss data on women’s medical and mental health disparities during the pandemic, plus improving outcomes for women’s health overall with innovation in public health.

  • Dr. Janine Austin Clayton, Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health, NIH*
  • Dr. Marie Bernard, Deputy Director, National Institute on Aging, NIH
  • Patricia Hayes, Chief of Women's Health, VA*
  • Marcella Nunez-Smith, Equity Chair, White House COVID-19 Task Force*

Closing Remarks

  • Amy Kluber, Editorial Director, GovernmentCIO Media & Research