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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“Kaity is the program director for both SC Codes and Develop Carolina - two non-profit programs designed to provide access & opportunity for South Carolina residents to pursue a career in tech while simultaneously supporting SC- based tech companies in their search for talent. Kaity has been involved in non-traditional tech education since 2015 and she is dedicated to lowering barriers into tech careers and creating generational change and opportunities for all. ”

Kaity Miller
Program Director, SC Codes
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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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“Entrepreneur and Ecosystem Builder, Audra Gibson, spends her time building startups, supporting founders, helping hone brands, and talking about cryptocurrency with most anyone who will listen. Audra's mission is to invest in entrepreneurs and the resources that support them while helping to build a balanced, healthy ecosystem.

She has founded or co-founded a number of businesses including Traveling Ink, Audra L. Gibson Studios, PPE Connector, and The Mountains. Along the way, she realized some of the unique challenges that founders face building a company and became passionate about entrepreneurial ecosystem building and supporting other founders on their journey. She has automated her businesses to the extent that she is now looking for her next opportunity to pour into the entrepreneurial community through an investment firm or business accelerator placement or as part of a startup or tech team in operations, communications, or program management.

Audra was recently named as a member of the inaugural Techstars Community All-Stars 2022 cohort. The 61 member cohort is a professional development program made up of Techstars top 0.5% of community leaders and ecosystem building experts from 34 countries. Currently she also serves as a Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator, helping aspiring entrepreneurs get a taste of what startup life is like during three-day programs held in locations all over the world. She has also contributed to Startup Weekend as an Organizer at both the local and national level.

Audra also served fellow founders by teaching curriculum and acting as a subject matter expert at the Harbor Entrepreneur Center, a business accelerator of which she is an alumnus. She has served as a business advisor for Heroes Need Masks, a host for Yoink Media, and serves as the lead organizer for 1 Million Cups Charleston.

Prior to taking the entrepreneurial leap, Audra worked in management, communications, and IT operations, and earned a BFA from Auburn University with a focus in graphic design and visual communication. Her creative work has been featured in a variety of magazines, galleries, and television broadcasts. She has also worked deploying sustainable computing via Bitcoin mining operations.”

Audra Gibson
Founder, Traveling Ink
Co-Founder/Ecosystem Builder, The Mountains
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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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“As CEO of Call Experts, Abby Leibowitz plans and implements growth and sustainability strategies for the business. Since joining Call Experts, Leibowitz has transformed the company into an international corporation, serving brands all over the world to guide and implement their customer service offerings in the contact center space and human resources management. Her other work includes developing solutions for customer experience mapping in relation to customer digital journeys, focusing on AI and automation.

Leibowitz’s most recent tech project is Abridged Tech, where she serves as Founder and CEO. Abridged Tech specializes in automated and AI driven communication solutions that can easily be implemented for workforce efficiency and business intelligence insights.

Under Leibowitz’s leadership, Call Experts was recognized seven times in the Inc. Magazine 5000 List of America’s fastest growing companies and has won several other growth and workplace excellence recognitions.

Leibowitz’s management philosophy bridges inclusivity, transparency, and constant improvement.

Leibowitz holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Citadel and a Bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College. She is a member of the Canadian Call Management Association (CAM-X) and the Association of Teleservices International (ATSI).

At age 26, Leibowitz was named to the list of “40 Under 40” as recognition of outstanding leadership in the Charleston business community by the Charleston Regional Business Journal and as one of the youngest candidates to ever earn this honor. In 2019, Leibowitz was named by Charleston Business Magazine, Greenville Business Magazine, and Columbia Business Magazine as one of the Top Women in Business for South Carolina for 2019 and as the top producer in the Technology sector and was honored as one the Best & Brightest 35 & Under by Charleston Business Magazine. Leibowitz also currently serves on local non-profit, taking an active role in her community through organizations such as the Charleston Jewish Federation and the American Heart Association. Leibowitz served as the Chairwoman for the 2020 GoRED for Women Campaign in Charleston, SC. She is a native of Charleston, SC.”

Abby Leibowitz,
CEO , Call Experts
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“Jenny is a Full Stack Software Engineer at RateQuote, a REACT instructor for Nucamp, the founder of Charleston Women Devs. In addition to these responsibilities Jenny has also taken on the task of being the current Executive Director of Charleston Women in Tech. "My involvement with the CHSWIT has helped me to identify, dissect, and chisel away at my own hidden stereotypes of what it means to be a woman in tech. Switching careers in my mid-30s and entering a field where women are a staggering minority (around 15%), I felt out of place and apprehensive when I first started. After I began attending CHSWIT events, I quickly realized that my unique perspectives within the industry were my strengths as a software engineer, not my weaknesses."”

Jenny Schutzman,
Senior Full Stack Software Engineer, Liberty Mutual Insurance
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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“Anna Basinger is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science. She currently serves at Benefitfocus in the role of Customer Support Specialist.”

Anna Basinger,
Customer Support Specialist, Benefitfocus
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“Curtis is a senior engineering and DevOps leader at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He oversees DevOps engineering initiatives for the east coast, as well as, Principal DevOps engineers who focus on global transformational initiatives for a variety of AWS customers. Curtis has over 22 years of experience as a leader in tech, ranging from developer to analyst to project manager, and senior leader. Prior to joining AWS, Curtis was a senior engineering leader at a local Charleston tech firm and also worked in various technology roles at a major insurance company headquartered in Illinois.

Curtis’ most important job is serving as father to his 2 sons and his daughter (pictured). In his spare time, Curtis enjoys the local music scene, making music of his own, and recording music in his home recording studio. Additionally, he enjoys fishing, boating, running, and mountain biking throughout the low country. Curtis is also a Veteran of the US Army. ”

Curtis McGinnis,
Senior Engineering and DevOps Leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
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“Jessica is a marketer with 10+ years of marketing and leadership experience in national and international markets. She has leveraged her education and knowledge to develop and provide a first-class marketing experience in creative campaign development, leadership, and strategic campaign execution.

Jessica has developed a deep understanding of campaign risk management including analyzing and resolving unforeseen issues that may impact the success of project planning and execution. Her, high attention to detail, acute organizational skills, and ability to think through stakeholder and audience needs, allows her to produce more precise and effective communications, manage multiple competing priorities simultaneously, and work in a fast-paced environment where continuous innovation is the standard.

Jessica is a team player and is well-versed in relationship building with internal and external stakeholders.”

Jessica Watkins,
Sr. Corporate Campaigns Manager, Blackbaud
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“Strategic CIO bringing the value of IT to business by leading transformational change in the intersection of business and technology. As an accomplished Cloud Software leader, Todd has a proven track record of delivering IT strategy and execution, leading digital transformation, and enabling business outcomes through strong partnerships with all areas of business. He demonstrates consistent ability to modernize, rationalize, and secure enterprise business services. He strategically partners across the globe and leads cross functional teams to envision, architect, implement, and optimize these services; delivering maximum business value throughout the enterprise.

IT Strategy • Digital Transformation • Strategic Partnership • Cyber Security and Risk Management • Cloud Leadership • Business and Systems Architecture • IT Business Management (ITBM) • M&A • Data Privacy • Process Optimization • Risk Management • Organization Design and Staff Development • IT Operations

As Blackbaud's CIO, Todd leverages more than 25 years of IT experience to help Blackbaud power social good with the strategy and implementation of technology, cyber security, and business transformation. As an accomplished leader in technology and business, Lant speaks on technology trends focused on strategic decision making at industry and customer events. He has been a contributing member of regional technology development activities and hosts occasional MBA sessions; as well as an avid support of local non-profits and educational institutions. He currently serves on the board of the Charleston YMCA, Trident United Way, The Citadel’s Department of Engineering Leadership & Program Management program, Charleston Southern University’s Computer Science department, and the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation. Lant has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Master’s of Business Administration with an Economic focus from Georgia State University.”

Todd Lant,
Chief Information Officer
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“Passionate, driven, problem solver, results-oriented and empathetic. Projects with Kadedra always have clear success metrics and there is little that could stop her from achieving her goals. Kadedra is a strong and thoughtful partner and collaborator which helps create high performing teams.

Kadedra has a special ability to take on any project and somehow see things differently and often uncover opportunities or risks that others overlook. She can see the big picture vividly. She is a true learner and is always looking for data and information that would make her a better leader and drive her initiatives to be overwhelmingly successful.”

Kededra Kiner, SPHR
Head Program Management Office, Benefitfocus
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“Each day presents new opportunities, experiences and adventures...so I never stop learning and loving life! Everyone who meets me know that I'm passionate about providing exceptional customer service, love interacting with others and has a powerful drive for success. The more challenging the work environment, the better. I appreciate working hard to see the success of others, my company and the future.

Geocent has provided me with a career that connects these passions with potential for success for myself and everyone around me.

Networking is my favorite past time and I would be happy to connect!”

Valerie Warnock, PHR
Director of Chas. Operations & Corporate Recruiting, Sev1Tech
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