DC’s Top 50 Women in Tech - Page 3

By Colby Hochmuth and Camille Tuutti · Tuesday, March 18, 2014

FedScoop highlights the vibrant, talented and forward-thinking women who shape the conversation on technology in D.C. These 50 women are movers and shakers, all with diverse backgrounds, representing government, Congress, the commercial sector, defense and academia. What they all have in common is their passion for using tech as a force multiplier to push government and industry to the next level by leveraging and improving information technology services in unprecedented ways. Read the full introduction here.

Teri Takai Chief information officer Defense Department

"I find very often that you have to be patient and persistent; good ideas don't always just happen by virtue of being a good idea, particularly in large bureaucracies. That's why you have to be persistent in pursuing them, and convey your message to the people around you."

Good ideas don't just happen, Defense Department CIO Teri Takai says. But you would never know that from the series of quick wins Takai has racked up at DOD in just four short years: boosting IT security, cutting costs and migrating toward more sophisticated technology. Takai spent 30 years working in the automotive industry before she took her first CIO role at the state level -- first in Michigan and then in California under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. As California CIO, she led more than 130 CIOs and 10,000 IT workers in the state's various components; in her CIO role in Michigan, she consolidated the state's resources by merging the state's IT into one centralized department. At DOD, Takai successfully implemented the Joint Information Environment, opened the aperture on the types of mobile devices DOD can support and has transitioned about 1.6 million users to DOD's Enterprise Email system.

Jennifer Sanchez Assistant director Information Technology Services Division Federal Bureau of Investigations

"If you work hard, tomorrow will take care of itself. I'm a firm believer in whatever task or job you're given -- and goals and missions can change over time -- the basic concept still is: Do the best you can."

It began "just as a job," but Jennifer Sanchez's foray into the FBI has lasted for more than three decades. Her FBI career took root in 1978 when she came in as a file clerk in the Identification Division, and she later became a fingerprint examiner. It was a time when few IT programs existed, so Sanchez took night classes to get more familiar with the topic. She soon qualified for an IT position, and she became a computer programmer for the Field Office Information Management System. Subsequently, she held a role supporting the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program at Quantico, Va., over a 17-year span. Sanchez also served as chief of the Headquarters Investigative Software Development Unit, among other roles. Today, as assistant director in the Information Technology Services Division, Sanchez is charged with the operations and maintenance of FBI IT systems worldwide. Her focus in 2014: expanding mobile capability, moving to Windows 7, increasing IT capabilities in the overseers' offices, and data center consolidation.

Roberta "Bobbie" Stempfley Acting assistant secretary Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Department of Homeland Security

"One of the things that's really true about the environment we're in is that you can't be afraid to fail, because that means you won't be able to succeed. There are days or weeks where it seems like everything I touch, look or breathe on falls apart, and it can be hard not to get discouraged in those moments. But you have to persevere."

When Bobbie Stempfley went to college, she decided to major in mathematics because her school didn't have a computer science degree. Things have certainly changed since then. Stempfley has been serving as the acting assistant secretary at the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at DHS since 2010. Stempfley said a good portion of her job is to bring together cyber and IT management and build a secure architecture for the federal government. She worked on the federal desktop configuration initiative, which was the first time the U.S. government as a whole created requirements for the configuration of a desktop. Before coming over to CS&C, Stempfley served as CIO for DISA, where she oversaw IT operations and supported the DISA director.

Bridget Coyne Government & politics manager Twitter

"It's about being nimble. Twitter is in real-time; you get to see conversations emerge. It's the openness, it's the ability for anyone to glance into the process to see what's happening in the moment."

In today's tech environment, more politicians and administration officials are talking directly to the people -- on Twitter. And for that, we have Bridget Coyne to thank. As Twitter's government and politics manager, Coyne advises members of Congress, administration officials and other policymakers on how to take advantage of the micro-blogging platform to get their message across and engage with the public. One of her flagship projects includes Twitter Alerts, which help agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency push out notifications during an emergency or natural disaster. As midterm elections approach this fall, Coyne says her team's efforts will focus on scaling Twitter for local elections and showing how politicians can leverage Twitter on the campaign trail.

Alissa Johnson Deputy chief information officer Office of Administration Executive Office of the President

"In all that I do, I thirst for knowledge, hunger for understanding and am fed by the desire for success."

Georgia native Alissa Johnson's career began in DOD as a cryptologic mathematician and she has since worked in industry and other parts of the government in various senior IT roles. In her current position, which she has held for the past two years, Johnson provides vision, guidance and leadership for the development and implementation of IT initiatives at EOP. It's a job that enables policymakers and the president to be successful for the citizens, she said. Johnson's secret to success has relied on being adaptable to change and being "always hungry, never satisfied." This year, Johnson plans to continue taking big bites of cybersecurity, continuous monitoring and mobility. As for career inspiration, Johnson pointed to fellow government colleague, Emma Garrison-Alexander, who formerly served as CIO at TSA. "She was an agent for change, always doing things a little bit different and always required people to set the bar higher," Johnson said of Garrison-Alexander.

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