Our Stories

Learn how Charleston Women in Tech has enriched the professional experience of our members.

“Suzie Rybicki is VP of People & Operations at PhishLabs, a local cyber security company providing digital risk protection through curated threat intelligence and complete mitigation. After joining the PhishLabs’ leadership team in February 2015, her role first focused on developing the Human Resource and Organization Development strategy from scratch. However, as the company grew, her interest in cybercrime provided an expanded role in leading the client operation teams under their Business Email Compromise Centers of Excellence.

Throughout her career, Suzie has enjoyed volunteered her time and expertise in leadership roles with organizations such as Chicago SHRM and Chicago Chamber of Commerce. Since 2015, she has served on the committee of Charleston Open Source (“COS”), which she has chaired for the past two years. In late 2020, she was also honored to join the board of directors of Charleston Women In Tech, where she leads the Programs Committee.

Suzie Rybicki
VP of People & EIR Operations, PhishLabs
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“Jackie is the Director of Operations at Vertical Roots, an indoor hydroponic farm which utilizes our parent companies’ technology to control, integrate, automate, and monitors all aspects of the farming operation. Prior to joining Vertical Roots, Jackie held various positions across the country at Ossur Orthopaedic, Amgen, Nestle and Bevolution Group.
Jackie is a proven manufacturing industry professional. She has more than 15 years of experience in leadership, technical operations, manufacturing, and continuous improvement. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Northwestern Ohio and a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Wright State University. She is excited to begin a new journey as a Board Member of Charleston Women in Tech where her experience meets her passion for inspiring and empowering young women considering a career in STEM.”

Jackie Jones
Director of Operations at Vertical Roots
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“As a Senior Computer Scientist at the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC), Stephanie K. Jordan has served in various mission essential and critical roles to enable teams to deliver capabilities to the Warfighter community. Her expertise areas have spanned leadership roles under the technical auspices of Cyber Security, Systems and Software Engineering, Project Management, Business Process Engineering, and Data Science competencies. Her diverse experiences and continued thirst for knowledge augmented her to have a holistic understanding to interface with diverse functional teams and bolster the necessary skillsets to best support them for their success.
Stephanie is passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) outreach engagements and advocacy initiatives for her local community and across the state. She whole-heartedly believes that representation matters, as she serves as a continued catalyst to ensure that STEM is for all, not only as a mentor, but as a coach to empower and share experiences from the perspectives as a minority woman of color in computer science.
She was nationally recognized for her efforts at the 2020 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) as the recipient of the Community Service in Government award and globally featured in the 1 Million Women in STEM (1MWIS) campaign. Additionally, she has been acknowledged for her technical leadership in the U.S. Black Engineer Magazine, the CHIPS’ Department of the Navy Information Technology Magazine, and the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) publications.
Stephanie’s educational background includes a Master’s of Business Administration; Bachelors of Science in Business Information Systems with a minor in Computer Science, along with pursuing a Master’s of Science in Analytics, all from Charleston Southern University; and Doctorate of Information Technology coursework from Walden University.

Stephanie Kelly Jordan
Computer Scientist
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“CHSWIT became my place to meet new people in Charleston, connections, other designers, friends, even forever friends. It was great seeing what else was going on in the area. Just showing up was my goal and I loved Carolyn’s (the original founder of CHSWIT) idea of just try and meet 1 new person, that was a great attainable goal –– then it kept becoming many more than one. The meetups became more and more useful, fun and inspiring. It felt good to engage with all different ages and be able to help people succeed in whatever challenges they were experiencing. The CHSWIT Mentee/Mentor program really kicked me in gear and I was able to find something that I truly enjoyed and seemed to be good at, I have participated every year and love it.”

Jenifer Padilla
Product Designer
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“Jessica is the Chief of Staff and Controller of in/PACT, a technology company that is on a mission to grow the world’s heart by connecting customers of financial institutions and loyalty providers with their favorite charitable causes.

With over ten years of accounting experience, Jessica has facilitated growth in a wide variety of companies. Her attention to detail has provided fiscal improvements in every company she has worked for. Her experience, post graduate school, started at Crowe Horwath LLP as an auditor, where her clients ranged from construction firms to insurance subsidiaries. Prior to in/PACT she was part of the accounting team at SPARC, which was acquired by Booz Allen Hamilton in 2015. She gained tremendous knowledge from day-to-day accounting to assisting in the acquisition.

Jessica received her undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga and a Masters in Accountancy from Belmont University in Nashville.

Traveling is one of her passions and whenever she can, she brings her dog, Merlot, with her. When she is not traveling, her weekends are spent exploring Charleston and volunteering Junior League of Charleston.

Jessica Hudson
Chief of Staff and Controller at in/PACT
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“Rachel Downing is Senior Director of Software Development for AmplifiedAg, Inc where she leads a team of people performing software development and IT administration. Downing has been with AmplifiedAg, Inc since February 2021. Prior to AmplifiedAg, Inc, she was with Benefitfocus for over 11 years where she led cross-functional teams including engineering, QA automation, platform control, release management, customer support, the benefit service center and most recently professional services implementation teams. Prior to Benefitfocus, she spent 25 years with Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company in several IT positions ultimately as Director of Information Services.”

Rachel Downing
Director of Customer Success Management, BenefitFocus
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“Accomplished and experienced organizational leader with a long and proven track record of success in the adoption of technology into operations, empowerment of staff, and enhancement of programing with an emphasis on increasing and improving efficiency to create a more inclusive environment. Talented data analyst and strategist with the ability to develop processes and procedures through collaboration that modernize functions and help to deliver organizational target impact. Gifted relationship builder, able to create and grow relationships to benefit communities and advance organizational goals.”

Kim Rich
Executive Director of Advancement Services, Office of Development
and Alumni Affairs, Medical University of South Carolina
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“Valerie Sessions serves as a computer scientist at the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC), Atlantic and as an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Charleston Southern University. Her research interests include data quality (specifically missing not at random data), computer science education, and electronic security systems. She received her doctorate in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of South Carolina. She serves on several advisory committees including the Charleston Women in Tech Board, as the Educational Director of the Palmetto Roost, and the Program Committee for the International Conference on Information Quality. She is an advisor for Charleston Girls in Tech and the FBS Cyberpatriot team. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. ”

Valerie Sessions
Affiliate Professor, Department of Computer Science, Charleston Southern University
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“Christina is an entrepreneur, leader, human resources executive, and public speaker with a proven track record of building companies and talent attraction expertise. As CEO of Catch Talent, Christina leads the delivery of technical recruiting services to growing technology, creative, and government contracting companies. Prior to launching Catch, she was a founding member and Vice President of HR and Recruiting at SPARC, where her team hired over 300 Team Members in less than five years. Christina has also held leadership, recruiting, and business development positions at ARAMARK and Aerotek. Christina serves on the boards of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Women in Tech, Charleston Southern University JRS Coding School, and has spoken at SHRM, DIG South, Pecha Kucha, and the College of Charleston. She mentors fellow entrepreneurs, Mompreneurs and professionals through the Harbor Entrepreneur Center, Women in Tech, and Women’s Entrepreneur Group of Charleston.”

Christina Lock
CEO and Founder at Catch Talent
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“Karan Sorensen is the Director of Academic Technology and Grants and an adjunct professor for Charleston Southern University. She is also President of Sorensen Strategies, a strategic management consulting firm specializing in transforming businesses and organizations, facilitating innovation and technology solutions, and driving profitable growth and operational excellence for corporate and institutional clients.

Karan has over thirty years of experience in executive and general management roles in Fortune 500 companies across multiple industries. A proven leader and technopreneur, she also serves as a board member and advisor for technology start-ups, colleges and universities, business and industry standards organizations, and the Better Business Bureau (Board Chairperson).

Karan formerly served as Chief Information Officer for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Centocor R&D and Life Technologies. At Johnson & Johnson, she also served as Total Oncology Digital Officer and Vice President of Global Infrastructure Programs. Her earlier career experiences included planning and implementing information technology, manufacturing and engineering solutions for Merck, Jacobs Engineering, General Electric, and DuPont.

Her expertise includes entrepreneurial startups, implementation of innovation and technology solutions, organizational transformation, coordination of mergers and acquisitions, international business collaborations, building Centers of Excellence specializing in Technology, Innovation and Engineering, and implementation of operational excellence programs and solutions. She has assisted several organizations in turn-around revitalizations. Her accomplishments have been acknowledged by CIO magazine and other executive and industry publications and organizations. She has garnered numerous awards including, Bio-IT World Best Practices, CIO magazine and CIO.COM awards including the CIO 100 award and CIO 100+ Competitive Advantage award

Her educational background includes: Educational Leadership EdD program at Liberty University, Technology Management PhD program at Stevens Institute of Technology; MBA, Stevens Institute of Technology; MS, Management of Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology; BSc, Management Information Systems and Business Administration, Charleston Southern University.

Karan is a visionary and strategic thinker with a proven track record that demonstrates the ability to communicate ideas, inspire and engage teams, and deliver next-generation solutions.

Karan Sorenson
Director of Academic Technology and Grants/Adjunct Professor at Charleston Southern University
President of Sorensen Strategies
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“Mary Beth Westmoreland is the current Vice President of Brand Protection at Amazon. In this position since 2020 she is responsible for leading worldwide product, technology and analytics strategy, architecture, user experience and innovation across the company’s entire solution portfolio.

Mary Beth joined Blackbaud in 2008 and has over 30 years of experience in software engineering and product development. Prior to Blackbaud, Mary Beth was vice president of research and development at Ipswitch, Inc. where she led software engineering, design, and operations across the company’s global product portfolio. Before Ipswitch, she spent 15 years at the Savannah River National Laboratory where she started as a programmer and eventually managed the company’s Enterprise and Technical Systems Engineering organizations.
In both 2019 and 2017, Mary Beth was named one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council. In 2019, she was also selected as one of 125 AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Lyda Hill Philanthropies to serve as a role model for middle school girls. In addition, in 2018, the YWCA Greater Charleston honored Mary Beth with the What Women Bring Business award.
Mary Beth is a trustee at her alma mater, Immaculata University, where she graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Physics. She is also a member of the Advisory board of Clemson University’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, a founding board member of Charleston Women in Tech, and is actively involved in a variety of STEM programs, Women in Technology initiatives and other nonprofits.”

Mary Beth Westmoreland
Vice President, Brand Protection at Amazon

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“Eric is a Senior Cloud Consultant in Google Cloud’s Professional Services Organization. With a
background in Infrastructure, Eric has over 13 years of experience within Google, including 11
years leading the ground-up development and advancement of the IT operations capabilities
at Google’s 750-acre data center campus outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
Prior to joining Google, Eric worked as a Department of Defense contractor for the US Army
Aviation and Missile Center (formerly AMRDEC) where he designed, built, and operated the
world’s largest Apple-based supercomputer supporting research in hypersonic missile defense
platforms.
In addition to his active support for the Charleston Women in Tech, Eric has served on
numerous boards including the South Carolina State Workforce Investment Board, Board of
Trustees for Trident Technical College, Board of Advisors for the School of Computing at
Clemson, Board of Advisors for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the
University of Maine, and was also the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Charleston
Digital Corridor.”

Eric Wages
Senior Cloud Consultant, Google Professional Services Organization
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“Jennifer Albert is currently the Director of The STEM Center of Excellence at The Citadel. She received her Ph.D. in Science Education from North Carolina State University and has an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Austin Peay State University. She also specializes in STEM educational evaluation and research with an emphasis on K-16 computer science education, science education, educational assessment, and STEM classroom implementation. She has worked on several grants specializing in broadening participation of underrepresented minorities, particularly in rural schools. She taught high school science and both undergrad and graduate courses in Science Education (Instructional Technology, Research Methods, etc.), helping to convert the science education Master's program to be completely online.”

Jennifer Albert
The STEM Center of Excellence at the Citadel
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“Christine Washington is a Director of Sales Engineering at Blackbaud, leading a team dedicated to helping social good organizations find the technology they need to advance their mission. With over 10 years as a technology leader, Christine is passionate about building high-performing teams and creating a culture that supports diversity and inclusion. Raised in Charleston, Christine joined the technology field 19 years ago when she began her career at Blackbaud. Today, she is part of Blackbaud's Global Diversity & Inclusion Council, and also leads an affinity group for black employees and their allies. ”

Christine Washington,
Director of Sales Engineering at Blackbaud
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“Since 2012 Nina has led the corporate social responsibility initiatives for real estate technology SAAS company founded in Charleston, South Carolina, BoomTown.
Her efforts are currently focused on collaborating with the existing community stakeholders on Charleston’s Upper Peninsula in order to foster equitable neighborhood progress and urban development. The tech community in Charleston is the driving force behind education equity for the new economy and as Executive Director of Charleston Women in Tech Nina has been involved in specific innovations in the community to help grow, attract and retain diverse tech talent to the region through the following initiatives:
Executive Director 2018 - Present Charleston Women in Tech Charleston Women in Tech is a collaborative effort of Charleston’s women leaders, educators, and tech professionals to support and mentor women of all ages in the technology industry. (2,700 members)
Co-founder of CodeON A collaborative effort by Charleston tech professionals that provides computer science resources, education and mentorship to kids in low-income areas at community centers within the neighborhood where they live.
Co-founder and Co-Chair 2014-2018 Charleston Open Source Charleston Open Source is a people-powered movement bringing together local developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and tech leaders to share all that’s amazing about working in technology in Charleston.
Member, Charleston Chamber of Commerce Career Academies Computer Science Advisory Council 2014- Present
Board Member, Governance Committee, Palmetto Goodwill 2018 - Present
Board Member, HeartSC.org 2019 Present ”

Nina Magnesson,
Catalyst, Citizenship & Social Innovation, BoomTown ROI.com
Executive Director, Charleston Women in Tech
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“Jessica Brewer is the President & Chief Executive Officer of 3Together, Inc., a software company she co-founded with two others, that is focused on building micro-SaaS applications for the healthcare and finance communities.

Prior to 3Together, Jessica served as Chief Operating Officer of Amplified Ag, a family of companies focused on indoor farming technologies and operations. Their focus is multi-pronged including manufacturing, software, electrical and mechanical engineering, horticulture, farming and food safety/compliance initiatives. Their passion is to revolutionize how communities, grow, distribute and consume food.

Before joining Amplified Ag, Jessica served as a senior executive at Benefitfocus for almost 13 years. In her most recent role, as Senior Vice President of Account Services, Jessica established a new business unit and led the entire lifecycle of the Benefitfocus Account Services practice. She previously served as the Senior Vice President of Engineering and Global Services for over ten years, where she led the company's software engineering, business operations, application deployment teams and implementations. During her career with Benefitfocus Jessica was instrumental in advancing the Benefitfocus Platform through the use of innovative technologies.

Jessica earned a Master of Science in Software Engineering Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a Minor in Computer Science from the College of Charleston. She serves as co-chair of the board of directors for the Charleston Women in Tech and also serves on the board of directors for the South Carolina Aquarium. Jessica is also a member of the Tiffany Circle of the American Red Cross.”

Jessica Brewer,
Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder at 3Together, Inc.
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