Rhonda Childress wins top prize at Women in IT Awards New York 2020

Respected business leaders and executives joined the virtual awards ceremony to celebrate New York's leading Women in IT

IBM’s Rhonda Childress was crowned Woman of the Year at the virtual Women in IT Awards, New York  2020, last night.

Childress is an IBM Fellow and Vice President of Global Technology Services (GTS) Business Information Security Officer and part of the prestigious Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame.

She has demonstrated to be a woman with many firsts: 1st IBM Service’s female master inventor; 1st IBM security fellow in a traditionally male area; and 1st IBM fellow from a Historically Black College or University.

On accepting her award, Childress advocated for women to continue to be “breakers of walls”. She said: “Women, when you join the squad reach back to at least five people, at least half female and the rest underrepresented minorities.

“And to those who have succeeded in the past, ensure that you do not close the door behind you. But not just keep it open, I want you to remove the entire wall.”

Now in its third year, the Women in IT Awards New York 2020, was hosted by TV personality and presenter Eva Saha.


The Awards, organised by DiversityQ and Information Age (Bonhill Group publications) headline sponsored by Amazon Web Services, serve to showcase the achievements and innovation of women in technology and identify new role models in a sector where female representation in computing jobs stands at only 26% in the US — a level that is still alarmingly low.

Other winners on the night included Chandra DhandapaniCBRE, who won CTO of the Year sponsored by headline sponsors Amazon Web Services (AWS). The judges felt Dhandapani had transformed a traditional ‘brick and mortar’ real estate company into a smart, tech-enabled, futuristic organisation; keeping their clients at the centre of everything they do.

She said: “It’s truly an honour to be recognised among this amazing group of nominees. Technology is a great equaliser that allows global talent to grow and thrive, no matter where you live. And no matter where you went to school. So, let’s leverage this amazing equaliser to attract, retain and develop more women in technology so that we become more of the norm rather than the exception.”

Worthy winners

Devon BryanMUFG Union Bank, NA was awarded Male Ally of the Year for his efforts and selfless dedication to the cause of increasing the representation of women and other minorities in the field of cybersecurity.

He said: “I accept this award on behalf of all the volunteers, who give us their nights, weekends and holidays, to make those phone calls to reach out for mentors for all the members that we have as a part of the international consortium of minority cybersecurity professionals.

“Thank you so much to my ICCP board members, strategic advisory board members, all the volunteers and committee chairs for all you do that’s helping to change deserving young lives, women, and black and brown cybersecurity practitioners.”

CIO of the Year, sponsored by Red Hat went to Mary KotchAspen Insurance Group. Mary was praised for embodying everything the Women in IT Series celebrates. She has demonstrated a passion for technological excellence coupled with a greater passion for developing people and teams.

For the second year in a row, the Diversity Initiative of the Year, sponsored by IBM, was won by Atos. Their ‘Women Who Succeed Plan,’ a growing initiative with tremendous potential, excited the judges with its Women in Action component. Here Atos’ female talent were asked to take action internally and externally to expand their skill sets to prepare for career moves, mentoring or coaching and sharing best practices. The women are also encouraged to engage with community groups and increase their social media contributions to support Atos’ efforts in attracting more women to the organisation.


Stellar support

Joining headline partner, Amazon Web Services, as sponsors at the Women in IT Awards New York 2020 are premium sponsors JPMorgan Chase & CO and Frank Recruitment. The awards sponsors also included BP, Etsy Forescout, Google Cloud, IBM, MasterCard, NTT DATA Services, Precisely, Moody’s Red Hat, Rolls Royce and ThoughtWorks.

“Congratulations to all the winners and nominees in the Women in IT Awards New York 2020. These awards are a testament to the ability of women to thrive in any environment when given an equal opportunity,” said Cheryl Cole, editor, DiversityQ.

“We would also like to thank all our sponsors for making the Women in IT Awards New York 2020 possible. Without your support and advice, we would not be able to continue to shine a light on the amazing work women in technology do while persevering against adversity to excel in a male-dominated environment.

“we look forward to continuing working with you until the gender gap has closed significantly in this industry.”

Closing the ceremony host, Eva Saha said: “It has been a pleasure and an honour to be a part of Women in IT Awards New York for the past two years.  These women are inspiring and make me hopeful for a future when we hold these types of events for fun and not out of necessity.”


Women in IT Awards New York 2020 winners

Advocate of the Year

Tracey Welson-Rossman, TechGirlz

Business Role Model of the Year

Neha Joshi, Accenture Security

CIO of the Year

Mary Kotch, Aspen Insurance Holdings

CTO of the Year

Chandra Dhandapani, CBRE

Data Leader of the Year

Adita Karkera– State of Arkansas, Department of Transformation & Shared Services, Division of Information Systems

Digital Leader of the Year

Melissa Stevens, Fifth Third Bank

Diversity Initiative of the Year

Women Who Succeed Plan, Atos

Employer of the Year

HP Inc

Entrepreneur of the Year

Vicki Mayo, TouchPoint Solution

E-skills Initiative of the Year

CO.LAB, Red Hat

Innovator of the Year

Mariesa Coughanour, Cognizant

IT Team of the Year (Led by a woman)

Pearson – Marykay Wells

Male Ally of the Year

Devon Bryan, Managing Director, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at MUFG Union Bank

Rising Star of the Year

Aditi Roy, Siemens Corporate Technology

Security Champion of the Year

Lena Smart, MongoDB

Tech Evangelist of the Year

Rebecca Kelly, Kx

Tech for Good Award of the Year

Faye Sahai, Vinaj

Transformation Leader of the Year

Suzi Connor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Woman of the Year

Rhonda Childress, IBM

Young Leader of the Year

Iris Yung, Bank of America

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