Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of Arlington for 2023. Arlington County, situated in the Commonwealth of Virginia, boasts a diverse and robust economy featuring a variety of professional service firms, including law, consulting, and financial services for both the public and private sectors. The county is renowned for hosting the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense. With a strategic location, modern infrastructure, and a business-friendly environment, Arlington has become a hub for technology and prosperity. As part of the Washington Metropolitan Area, this year's distinguished awardees contribute to significant government operations such as the US Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Air Force. They also hold key positions at renowned companies including Amazon, Nestle, Google, and Adobe, among others. These women leaders in Arlington navigate a multifaceted and dynamic business environment, where success is defined by innovation, collaboration, and adaptability.
This year's list of accomplished women leaders showcases notable individuals including Kristin Saboe, Head of Employee Voice at Google, who is not only an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, Army veteran, strategist, and author but also received recognition for national leadership from the President George W. Bush Institute in 2019. Another noteworthy awardee, Keisha Taylor Starr, serves as Executive Chief Marketing Officer, leveraging extensive experience from media giants like WarnerMedia. In her role, she led award-winning teams across entertainment (TNT/TBS) and news (CNN) networks. Additionally, Maricar Sweet holds the position of Deputy Chief of Staff at the US Department of State, where she provides department-wide leadership in acquisitions management and grants management services.
We commend these individuals for their commitment to the organizations they serve. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of Arlington for 2023.
1). Kristin Saboe, PhD
Head of Employee Voice, Google
Kristin Saboe is an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, Army veteran, and strategist. She currently is the Head of Employee Voice at Google and is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Google is a multinational technology company focusing on search engine technology, online advertising, cloud computing, computer software, quantum computing, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.
Saboe previously led Employee Listening, Research, and Talent Strategy at The Boeing Company. In addition, she authored and led the company's talent strategy for Veterans and Military Spouses. Before this, she served in the US Army as a research psychologist establishing strategy and policy founded in science-backed practices. Her writing, research, and community involvement focus on human performance optimization, employment policies and strategies for minority populations, leadership, and employee voice. Her passions enable large-scale positive impact felt by individuals and groups alike with a focus on Evidence-Based Policy, Strategy, Culture and Change Management, DEIA Strategies, Leadership, Motivation, Resilience, and Well-Being.
She is the author of the edited book, Military Veterans Employment: A Guide for the Data-Driven Leader. She is also the recipient of the Early Career Psychologist Award from the Society for Military Psychology (2019) and the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (2020). She was recognized for her national leadership by the President George W. Bush Institute in 2019 and is a fellow of Division 19: Society for Military Psychology. She received her PhD and MA in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of South Florida.
2). Breanna Bock-Nielsen
Section Chief for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Partner Engagement, US Department of Homeland Security
Breanna Bock-Nielsen is the Section Chief for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Partner Engagement of the US Department of Homeland Security. She first joined the company in 2023. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the hard work of more than 260,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. They continually strengthen their partnerships with communities, first responders, law enforcement, and government agencies - at the state, local, tribal, federal, and international levels.
Breanna has over 10 years of experience in advocacy, public policy criminal justice, and homeland security. She especially enjoys translating the needs and experiences of those “on the ground” into workable policy solutions with tangible results for public safety. Also developing the right stakeholder engagement strategy to enhance advocacy efforts is one of her favorite challenges to tackle. Through her experience in associations and the private sector, she has developed exceptional talent in writing, editing, communication, legislation, and public speaking.
Previously, Nielsen was a strategic communications advisor at Global Consulting International (GCI) and before that a national sales manager of the technology and communications industry at TurnKey Corrections. Earlier in her career she worked with the National Fraternal Order of Police as a federal legislative liaison. Her accomplishments include the successful legal reversal of ten-year FCC rule-making on inmate calling services through data collection with 1,000+ data points from 250 jails. Nielsen earned an MS and an undergraduate degree in justice, law, society, and history from American University.
3). Leah Wolfeld, PhD
Senior Vice President, Citi
Leah Wolfeld is the Senior Vice President of Culture Metrics and Analytics at Citi, where she leverages her applied research skills to determine root causes for targeted cultural interventions in the global bank and measures the impact of company-wide culture change initiatives.
Before joining Citi, Wolfeld was an executive talent management project lead at Booz Allen Hamilton, and before that a director for organizational development at McChrystal Group where she created leadership development programs, focused on content, program design, and high-impact experiential exercises. During her time there, she also published thought leadership pieces and presented at conferences on the future of leadership.
Earlier in her career she worked with In2Change, Inc. as an office coordinator. Wolfeld graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology with a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology, a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology, and from George Mason University with an undergraduate degree in psychology. For her dissertation, she created a diagnostic tool that evaluates how ready an organization is for the global environment. Outside of work and coaching, Leah plays French horn in local ensembles and enjoys all things arts and crafts, especially lettering.
6). Molly Fogarty
Head of Corporate & Government Affairs and Sustainability, Nestlé
Molly Fogarty has more than 20 years of hands-on public policy experience at Nestlé and on the staff of federal elected officials. As Head of Corporate & Government Affairs for Nestlé in the US and a member of the Executive Leadership Team since 2017, Fogarty leads the development and execution of strategy in the areas of public policy and advocacy; government relations; industry affairs; external stakeholder engagement; and corporate issues management. Fogarty joined Nestlé in 2004. During that time, she built and continues to lead the Corporate and Government Affairs function for Nestlé in the US, which is comprised of seven operating companies: Nestlé USA, Nestlé Waters North America, Nestlé Purina, Gerber, Nestlé Health Science, Nestlé Professional, and Nespresso.
As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, Fogarty contributes to strategy decisions for the US operations of the world's largest food & beverage company with $28 billion in sales in the US in 2018. Prior to joining Nestlé, Fogarty began her public policy career in Washington, DC working for Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE). This was followed by her service as a political appointee in the Bush Administration within the US Department of Agriculture under Secretary Ann Veneman. Fogarty also worked for the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Molly serves on the boards of the Public Affairs Council, the Food Research Action Center, the Reagan Udall Foundation, the Global Business Alliance, the FMI Foundation, and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, and is a member of the Economics Club of Washington, D.C. Molly is among the food & beverage industry leaders who formed the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, and serves on its board. Fogarty is also a member of the Economics Club of Washington, DC. Fogarty joined the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA Board of Directors in 2020.
8). Valerie Groneman
Head of Healthcare, Adobe Customer Solutions, Adobe
Valerie Groneman is the Head of Healthcare of Customer Solutions at Adobe. Adobe is the global leader in digital media and digital marketing solutions. Their creative, marketing, and document solutions empower everyone – from emerging artists to global brands – to bring digital creations to life and deliver immersive, compelling experiences to the right person at the right moment for the best results.
Groneman has earned a reputation for delivery excellence and true client partnership through her leadership on multi-solution accounts in the Healthcare vertical. Her leadership enables Adobe’s customers to transform their marketing organizations to realize value from the Adobe Experience Cloud and execute memorable customer experiences. Groneman is able to build quick trust with stakeholders, enabling her to advise on the change needed to adopt Adobe’s platforms. Through the creation of unique IP and frameworks, Groneman can communicate new ideas and concepts to executive leaders. Groneman also prides herself on creating collaborative team environments and reaching across the Adobe matrix to find the talent necessary to solve a client challenge.
Prior to joining Adobe, Groneman was a digital transformation consultant within Dell Services Digital Business Consulting Practice. She focused on digital transformation services to help businesses assess their use of digital strategies and technology to change the way they operate. Groneman’s started her career in the agency world at Levick Strategic Communications managing clients’ online reputations. She then joined Porter Novelli and was promoted to vice president for her success in building and maintaining online communities through blogger outreach, Facebook, Twitter, and other emerging social networks. Groneman holds a BA in journalism and a BA in speech communication from the University of Georgia, as well as a master of arts in communication arts and sciences from Pennsylvania State University.
10). Jennifer Chick
Global Head & SVP, Hilton Honors, Customer Engagement & Partnerships, Hilton
Jennifer Chick is the Senior Vice President and Global Head of Hilton Honors and Customer Engagement at Hilton. Chick has more than 20 years of experience developing innovative marketing strategies across a variety of industries, including hospitality, travel, and consumer packaged goods. In her current role, she is focused on elevating the customer experience and driving acquisition and retention for Hilton Honors, as well as overseeing performance and benefits, setting reward pricing and strategy, and providing overall program management. As a Hilton Honors member for almost a decade, her favorite benefit is the warm welcome and hospitality she receives no matter where in the world she stays.
Most recently, Chick served as vice president of marketing execution and operations at Hilton, where she transformed marketing operations through the use of analytics, process optimization, automation, and organizational transformation. She was responsible for developing a global integrated marketing strategy and delivering customer-centric content and creativity to drive better marketing returns and customer experiences.
Prior to joining Hilton, Chick worked for MarketBridge, McCann-Erickson, and Arnold Worldwide in various marketing, sales, and advertising roles. She holds an MBA from The Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia and a BS in marketing from George Mason University. While Chick can most frequently be found at a roadside Hampton by Hilton with her husband and three children, she always appreciates an opportunity to use her Hilton Honors Points for a special getaway at one of Hilton’s luxury resort properties around the world.
11). Sylvia Burns
CIO, CPO & Director, Division of IT, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Sylvia Burns is the agency's Chief Information Officer and Chief Privacy Officer. Burns joined the FDIC in September 2018 and is leading the implementation of the agency's five-year IT modernization plan. Burns joined FDIC as Deputy Chief Information Officer (DCIO) in September 2018, focusing on IT strategic planning, enterprise architecture, and data management. Under her leadership, the organization is shifting to cloud-based platforms and software that reduce the on-premises IT footprint and provide more responsive solutions to the FDIC's dynamic business needs. Burns continues to lead an interagency initiative under the Federal CIO Council to help federal agencies adopt zero-trust architectures.
Previous to joining the FDIC, Burns served as the CIO of the US Department of the Interior (DOI) where she was responsible for the management and oversight of more than $1 billion information management and technology portfolio. In this role, she successfully led a comprehensive reorganization to improve the delivery of Information Technology (IT) services, restructuring the IT management and reporting structure to align with the requirements of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).
Ms. Burns was recognized as one of the top women in technology in the metropolitan Washington, DC area by FedScoop for three consecutive years, and among the FedScoop 50 top federal leaders in 2016. In 2006, Ms. Burns graduated from the Council in Excellence in Government’s eGov Fellowship program and has been a senior fellow since that time. Burns holds an undergraduate degree in the special honors curriculum and geology from the City University of New York at Hunter College, and a master of science in business management and policy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She also holds a graduate certificate in project management from George Washington University.
View the complete list of awardees
12). Elizabeth Taylor
EVP, Head of Government Affairs and Economic Development & Assistant General Counsel, Regions Bank
Elizabeth Taylor serves as the EVP, Head of Government Affairs and Economic Development, and as Assistant General Counsel. She and her team are responsible for advocating for Regions and their constituents at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as helping to coordinate and develop regulatory policy and advocacy. When she joined Regions in 2017, Taylor served as Head of Regulatory Policy. Prior to joining Regions, Taylor worked for the International Franchise Association as chief legal officer and chief of staff. Before assuming that role, she was a federal lobbyist advocating for franchise businesses on issues including access to capital, tax reform, labor policy, and healthcare. Before joining IFA, Taylor spent almost ten years working in the United States Senate, including as chief counsel to three different senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee and as chief counsel for the ranking member of the Privacy, Technology, and Law Subcommittee.
During her time on the committee, she focused on legislation related to data and cyber security, privacy, patents, trade secrets, bankruptcy, criminal law, and immigration. She also handled the confirmations of two US Supreme Court nominations and numerous congressional investigations as well as legislative and oversight matters. Taylor began her career in DC working for her home state member, US Senator Fred Thompson. Taylor earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Rhodes College and a Juris Doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law. Taylor is the Vice Chair of the Government Relations Committee of the ABA’s Card Policy Council and is an active member of the Women in Housing & Finance organization.
13). Christiane Groth
VP, CIO Chief of Research, Gartner
Christiane Groth is responsible for content leadership of Gartner's CIO Research, ensuring content addresses clients' critical priorities. In addition to her research duties, Groth also serves as a strategic advisor to a variety of C-suite executives, engaging in consultative discussions on digital transformation, strategic planning, organizational design, and business architecture. Her ability to efficiently distill Gartner's research insights into practical implementation strategies has made her a sought-after thought partner to F250 executives from a variety of industries.
Prior to joining CEB (now Gartner) in 2008, Groth was a research analyst for United Educators and has held administrative positions at Georgetown University and the College of William and Mary. Her work in higher education specialized in business continuity planning, crisis response, communications strategy, and operational efficiency. She has helped universities evaluate key operations programs for effectiveness (including technology initiatives), update strategic plans, and implement crisis response plans following Hurricane Katrina and Virginia Tech events. Groth holds an EdD in higher education policy from the College of William and Mary where her studies and dissertation focused on the role of interest groups in shaping public policy. She also holds BA and MT degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University.
16). Sandra Hodgkinson
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development, Leonardo DRS
Sandra “Sandy” Hodgkinson is the Senior Vice President for Strategy and Corporate Development at Leonardo DRS, a $2.7 billion US subsidiary of European-based defense and aerospace conglomerate Leonardo. In this capacity, she leads the development and execution of the annual Leonardo DRS strategic plan. She is also responsible for the coordination and management oversight of all merger and acquisition (M&A) activities and portfolio shaping of the company. Sandy also manages all sustainability initiatives and priorities for Leonardo DRS. Hodgkinson also serves as Chief of Staff to the CEO. In this capacity, she provides advice to the CEO and oversees the development of the business review process, the corporate calendar, the annual leadership conference, and preparation for the Board of Directors meetings. Hodgkinson is the Leonardo DRS Sustainability Ambassador and currently co-chairs the Leonardo Steering Committee on Digital Transformation.
Hodgkinson previously served as a civil servant in the US Government achieving the rank of Senior Executive Service (SES), with assignments at the Department of Defense, State Department, and the White House. Her positions included: Special Assistant (Chief of Staff) to the Deputy Secretary of Defense; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD); Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at the National Defense University; Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues; Director for International Justice at the National Security Council (NSC); and Senior Advisor at the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), in Baghdad, Iraq. She has been awarded DoD’s highest career civilian award, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, DoD’s Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (military service), and 4 State Department Superior Honor Awards.
Prior to civil service, Hodgkinson spent six years in the US Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, with tours as an Appellate Clerk at the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals; a Prosecutor and International Law Officer in Naples, Italy; and a Country Program Director, Defense Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS), Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), where she trained foreign military and civilians in over 30 countries. She spent 15 years in the US Navy Reserves as a JAG officer, serving as Commanding Officer of the Navy Reserve International and Operational Law unit, Department Head for the Law of Armed Conflict Division, Department Head for the Cyber Security and Intelligence Divisions, and an instructor at the Naval War College and Naval Justice School. She retired in 2017 at the rank of Captain. She has a JD from the University of Denver (DU); an MA from DU’s Graduate School of International Studies; and an undergraduate degree from Tulane University. She also studied abroad at the Hague Academy of International Law; l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques (“Sciences Po”), Paris, and in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She speaks French, intermediate Spanish, and Italian to varying degrees. She has published two dozen law review and other scholarly articles. She has been teaching National Security Law at the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University since 2007. Ms. Hodgkinson is married with 5 children and lives in Alexandria, VA.
19). Jennifer Kirkhoff
Vice President and Federal Health Capture Leader, ICF
Jennifer Kirkhoff has served as Vice President and Capture Leader for Federal Health at ICF since April 2021. She has decades of experience in capture management and business growth.
ICF is a global consulting and technology services company with approximately 9,000 employees. At ICF, business analysts and policy specialists work together with digital strategists, data scientists, and creatives. Kirkhoff brought to the company a high level of experience in business development and capture management. Prior to joining ICF, she spent six years at Philips Healthcare where she worked as a senior solution and capture manager for health systems solutions. In that role, she led the captures for the $100 million tele-critical care award from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the COVID-19 National Tele Critical Care Network award from the US Army Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center in 2020.
Kirkhoff went to Deloitte after a year with American Management Systems where she led pursuit activities for seven competitive master service agreements and contract vehicles, and managed consulting engagements for the US Navy. She served Deloitte as senior capture manager in charge of developing and implementing strategies to secure large consulting and technology contracts. During her 10-year career at the company, she created and implemented tactics to win significant contracts for Deloitte, including the $700 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security.
Kirkhoff also worked as senior vice president of capture management at Miracle Systems, as a business consulting manager at Arthur Andersen, and as project manager at Westat. Kirkhoff holds an undergraduate degree in marketing and economics from Temple University, and a master’s degree in organizational behavior from the George Washington University School of Business.
20). Chaise Schmidt
Senior Vice President, Colliers
Chaise Schmidt specializes in commercial real estate tenant representation of national mid-market and high-growth companies, with a focus on those in the Washington, DC metro area. Schmidt’s involvement in a variety of complex and high-profile transactions has laid the foundation for her experience in developing and implementing customized, flexible workplace solutions tailored to her client’s respective needs. These solutions include implementing strategic plans for advanced lease restructures, occupancy cost reduction, multi-market relocations, and portfolio optimization. Her clients include government contractors, technology companies, professional services firms, non-profits, and start-ups.
Prior to Colliers, Schmidt spent nearly six years at Cushman & Wakefield where she specialized in tenant representation, including office headquarters relocations and successful real estate dispositions on behalf of her national and international client base. She was part of a team that notably completed the 205,000-square-foot HQ relocation for Appian Corporation in Tysons Corner as well as the 120,000-square-foot deal for Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in National Landing. Other leading clients Schmidt has represented have included Freddie Mac, Hyundai, Somatus, and JD Power. Prior to joining Cushman & Wakefield, Schmidt worked at Transwestern for six years in Atlanta and Denver.
Schmidt was a March of Dimes “Heroines of Washington” 2021 finalist. She is also a member of the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) – DC Chapter Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) - Northern VA Chapter, the Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Association (CREBA) - DC Chapter, and the Women on Course - DC Chapter. She has an undergraduate degree in finance and real estate from Florida State University.
21). Patricia Cogswell
Patricia Cogswell is a Partner at Guidehouse. Guidehouse is a leading global provider of consulting services to the public sector and commercial markets, with broad capabilities in management, technology, and risk consulting. Cogswell joined Guidehouse in September 2020 as a senior strategic advisor, working in the areas of innovation, organization, and mission transformation and redesign across the national security sector. Cogswell is a homeland and national security executive with 24 years of experience where she spent 13 of those years as a senior executive. She led programs at the White House, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Justice, in transportation, intelligence, policy, border security, screening, and information-sharing initiatives. She possesses substantive expertise in aviation, maritime, and surface transportation security; US government and foreign partner screening and vetting programs; counter-terrorism; transnational organized crime; intelligence; information sharing and associated technology architectures; and immigration and border processes. Cogswell has led multiple organizations through strategy, policy, technology execution, and operations in support of national security missions, as well as how to construct and implement both business and technical architectures. She led complex initiatives across the federal government and with international partners.
Prior to her arrival at Guidehouse, she served in a number of senior executive positions within the Department of Homeland Security, including as the Deputy Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, Assistant Director for Intelligence at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Acting Undersecretary within the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy Integration and Implementation, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Screening Coordination. She previously served at the National Security Council as Acting Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and as Special Assistant to the President for Transborder Security. During her time in government, Cogswell received the DHS Outstanding Service Medal, the DHS Secretary’s Award, and the DHS Thought Leadership Award. Cogswell received a BA in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania with a minor in economics, and a Juris Doctor degree from the College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law.
23). Stephanie Aaronson
Deputy Vice President, Office of University Branding, Media & Communications, George Mason University
Stephanie Aaronson is the Deputy VP for the University Branding, Media, and Communications at George Mason University. George Mason University is Virginia’s largest and most diverse public research university. Aaronson oversees the internal and external integrated communications, digital, content, and distribution strategies – in collaboration with the University’s colleges, centers, and institutes – to advance Mason’s story of growth, innovation, and impact. In addition, Aaronson is responsible for curating and creating high-quality original and shared content for new and existing channels, and she serves as second in command to the Chief Brand Officer.
Before joining Mason, Aaronson was senior vice president of engagement, at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), where she led system-wide multi-platform content and engagement initiatives, and partnerships with businesses, schools, community partners, national leaders, and influencers, to enhance the impact of public media in building a strong civil society. Aaronson was also responsible for the strategic planning and management of public media’s largest collaboration, the “American Graduate,” initiative, which helped communities work together to improve the national high school graduation rate and youth access to college and career programs. “American Graduate” was rolled out in 49 states with over 150 local media stations and 1800 local and national partnerships, resulting in over 2000 hours of broadcast and digital content and over $22 million in local philanthropic support. Aaronson joined CPB in 2012 as vice president of education and community impact. Prior to CPB, she was senior director of communications and marketing, at PBS and PBS KIDS, overseeing corporate and crisis communications, media relations, program information, events, and viewers services. She was also on the senior corporate strategy and operations leadership teams and developed the PBS’ “Healthy Communities” initiative.
Earlier in her career, Aaronson held programming, production, communications and public affairs, business development, and marketing positions at Citizen Jane Politics, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime Television, Discovery Communications, Rutledge Broadcasting/Court TV, and National Empowerment Television. She also served as co-chair of the NIH Director's Council of Public Representatives Federal Advisory Board. Aaronson holds a BA in communications and a certificate in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from George Mason University. She studied politics at Georgetown University and non-profit strategic communications at American University.
View the complete list of awardees
24). Stacey Fontenot
Senior Vice President Marketing, Cvent
Stacey Fontenot is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Cvent. Cvent is a leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider with 4,800+ employees and 21,000+ customers worldwide as of December 31, 2022. Founded in 1999, the company delivers a comprehensive event marketing and management platform and offers a global marketplace where event professionals collaborate with venues to create engaging impactful experiences.
Since joining Cvent in 2014, Fontenot has been instrumental in Cvent’s growth and has led numerous marketing functions such as product marketing, demand generation, customer marketing, and corporate marketing. She has helped solidify Cvent’s market-leading position in the event technology industry. With more than 25 years of experience in marketing, Fontenot is a seasoned technology executive who has led multiple teams at prominent organizations domestically and internationally. Currently, Fontenot is responsible for marketing and strategy formulation for the company’s event management platform.
Prior to joining Cvent, Fontenot was the vice president of product marketing and community programs for Blackboard, Inc., a leading technology company in the education technology space. During her tenure, she developed the marketing strategy and future direction of their flagship product, Blackboard Learn. She has served in a number of executive roles at global, publicly-held corporations including, XM Satellite Radio and Sprint Nextel. She was also selected for and participated in the exclusive Global Leadership Development Program at Mobil Oil. Fontenot earned an MBA from Wake Forest University and a BA from the College of William and Mary.
25). Kindra Halvorson
Chief Transformation Officer, TechnoServe
Kindra Halvorson is the Chief Transformation Officer of TechnoServe. Previously she was the senior vice president of program development and regional director for East Africa. TechnoServe works with enterprising people in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. They are a nonprofit organization that develops business solutions to poverty by linking people to information, capital, and markets.
Halvorson is an international development professional with over 16 years of experience in the public and private sectors, including eight years in economic and small business development. Halvorson started her business development career by launching a $2 million investment fund with a double bottom line including financial returns and social impact through the creation of high-value jobs. She oversaw investments in 17 technology companies that ultimately created hundreds of high-wage jobs. Halvorson later joined McKinsey & Company in Johannesburg as a consultant specializing in growth strategies in Africa and business expansion. She subsequently joined Population Services International (PSI), where she was responsible for a portfolio of programs in East and Southern Africa, and later managed the development of a cutting-edge impact measurement system. Halvorson holds an MBA from Columbia University and a BA in international relations from the University of Minnesota.
26). Dr. Rebecca Keiser
Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy, National Science Foundation
Dr. Rebecca Spyke Keiser is the Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy (CORSSP) at the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as the head of the Office of International Science & Engineering (OISE). Keiser has served as head of OISE since coming to NSF in 2015. The office promotes an integrated, international strategy and manages internally focused programs that are innovative, catalytic, and responsive to a broad range of NSF and national interests.
Keiser is the first CORSSP, a position established in March 2020 to ensure the security of federally funded research while maintaining open international collaboration. In this role, Keiser provides the NSF director with policy advice on all aspects of research security strategy. She also leads NSF’s efforts to develop and implement efforts to improve research security and the agency’s coordination with other federal agencies and the White House. Prior to NSF, she was a special advisor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator and an executive-in-residence at American University. She held several positions with NASA, including associate deputy administrator for strategy and policy, associate deputy administrator for policy integration, and executive officer to the deputy administrator.
Keiser also served as assistant to the director for international relations at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she provided policy guidance to the president's science advisor. Her experience covers science and technology policy, agreements, and other cooperative efforts. She is a board member of Women in Aerospace and a member of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. She has an undergraduate degree in Japanese studies from Wellesley College, a master's degree in politics of the world economy from the London School of Economics, and a Doctorate in International Studies from the University of South Carolina. She speaks Japanese and Spanish.
27). Jen Sovada
President of Public Sector, SandboxAQ
Innovation leader and 2023 Fed100 winner, Colonel (Ret.) Sovada is the President of SandboxAQ’s Global Public Sector focused on government issues at the nexus of quantum and AI to help solve problems that are not possible with classical computing today. Prior to her position at SandboxAQ, she was the chief futures officer, senior vice president, and general manager for the Intelligence Community (IC) start-up MissionTech Solutions which was acquired by Avantus Federal in November 2020.
Sovada’s Air Force career spanned 25 years in intelligence focused on higher-end technological capabilities where she held various positions in operational tests, systems interoperability, and requirements definition. She commanded the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the DoD’s sole organization responsible for nuclear treaty monitoring.
Sovada is passionate about educating the next generation and is an associate professor at Georgetown University teaching graduate-level courses in Quantum Information Sciences and National Security. Sovada also serves as the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, and she is a member of the Board of Directors for the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, as well as a strategic advisor to Bluestone Investment Partners.
28). Dr. Annie Kammerer
Chief, Nuclear Power Branch, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Headquarters, US Department of the Army
Dr. Annie Kammerer is the Chief of the Nuclear Power Branch at the Office of the Chief of Engineers, headquarters of the US Department of the Army. She first joined the company in 2021 as deputy chief of the Army nuclear power branch, office of the Chief of Engineers. Kammerer is an expert in seismic hazard and risk and integrated performance-based, risk-informed engineering, particularly as applied to nuclear power plants and LNG facilities.
From 2013 to 2014, she was the principal seismologist for Bechtel focused on seismic hazard assessment for nuclear and LNG facilities. From 2006 to 2013, she spent 7 years at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where she developed and coordinated the NRC Seismic Research Program and the NRC Tsunami Research Program. She was the project manager and contributing author of the current US guidance on seismic hazard assessments for nuclear facilities and the most recent guidance on Seismic Margin Assessments. Kammerer spent 6 weeks on the reactor safety team during the NRC’s emergency response to the Fukushima accident and was a member of the NRC’s seismic technical team tasked with developing post-Fukushima response activities.
Kammerer has served on several national-level committees. She served 5 years on the National Steering Committee for the USGS Advanced National Seismic System Network. She sat on the Interagency Working Group on Enhanced Seismic Monitoring in the Central and Eastern US, which was formed by the US Office of Science and Technology Policy. Kammerer is active internationally and from 2011 to 2013 chaired an International Atomic Energy Agency Working Group on Seismic Re-evaluation of Operating Reactors, as well as a special committee developing new guidance on the use of seismic isolation technology in nuclear power plants. From 2007 to 2010, she was co-chair of an IAEA Extra Budgetary Program on Tsunami and is a co-author of IAEA guidance on tsunami hazard assessment. She is currently a consultant to IAEA developing new guidance for performing Tsunami Probabilistic Safety Assessment. She has sat on the technical and organizing committees of international symposiums and conferences, and is currently on the International Scientific Committee and Division IV coordinator for the Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology conference series.
Prior to joining the NRC in 2006, she was a consultant in the Risk and Advanced Technology groups of the international design firm, Arup. As seismic hazard lead for the Americas, her consulting work encompassed a wide variety of technical areas including geotechnical earthquake engineering, structural dynamics, seismology, and risk assessment. She has 3 degrees from UC Berkeley, including a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering. She has over 15 years of consulting experience and is also a visiting scholar at the PEER Center at UC Berkeley.
29). Marti Powers
Vice President Communications, Boeing Defense Space & Security
Marti Powers is Vice President of Communications for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, responsible for leading the communications strategies. Before joining Boeing, she was the external relations country manager at Shell Oil Company, where she oversaw the development and implementation of reputation strategies that supported the US and multiple lines of business license to operate objectives. In addition to these responsibilities, Powers also served as the external relations general manager for Shell’s Upstream Global Shales business, which included assets in the US, Canada, and Latin America.
Previously, Powers held a variety of senior public and government affairs roles at BP, supporting a range of upstream, midstream, downstream, and deal closure businesses across the US. Her tenure at BP included coordinating the development of a national corporate reputation program and membership in BP’s US Policy Reputation Council. Powers began her career nearly 30 years ago as a reporter moving into the chamber of commerce economic development before taking a role with ExxonMobil. Her industry start began with the company’s chemical business, quickly moving into roles that supported reputation communications across the entire business value chain in Latin America, major project development in China, operations integrity management initiatives, mergers and acquisitions, and joint venture support.
Powers has an undergraduate degree in mass communications from Midwestern State University and an Executive MBA from Grand Canyon University, where she graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business. She is also a graduate of the American Leadership Forum Class of XLII.
32). Stephanie Wiggins
Head of Production, Agency Lending, PGIM
Stephanie Wiggins is the Head of Production for Agency Lending with PGIM Real Estate. With $210 billion in gross assets under management and administration ($133 billion net) (1), PGIM Real Estate provides investors and borrowers access to a range of real estate equity, real estate debt, agriculture, and impact solutions across the risk-return spectrum. Based in Arlington, Virginia, she leads loan originations for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Affordable, and FHA multifamily loans, and focuses on the development of strategic initiatives that serve to expand business opportunities and facilitate growth. Wiggins is a highly accomplished and recognized senior leader, with over 35 years of demonstrable success in commercial real estate financial services, having overseen the origination of thousands of transactions nationwide. In addition, Wiggins is deeply committed to the creation and preservation of affordable housing, as well as moving forward the tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the Commercial Real Estate Finance industry. She is a frequent participant in forums and panels sponsored by industry associations and agencies that focus on these important issues. She is also an active mentor and sponsor to women and diverse professionals and students.
Prior to joining the company in 2021, Wiggins served as senior vice president and chief production officer for the FHA team at Walker and Dunlop. She also served a 19-year tenure as executive vice president and chief investment officer for AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, a socially responsible fixed-income investment fund where she managed multifamily originations and operations with a focus on FHA and Agency executions. Wiggins serves as a board member of the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association, a professional association of affordable housing and multifamily owners, developers, and professionals. In addition, Wiggins holds key roles within several industry associations, including memberships in the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI’s) Public Private Partnership Council, ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, and ULI’s Young Leaders Group mentor program; Mortgage Bankers Association’s COMBOG council, and MBA’s Capital Council as Vice Chair; Freddie Mac’s Optigo Advisory Council and the Real Estate Executive Council (REEC). Wiggins earned an undergraduate degree in business administration from American University’s Kogod School of Business, where she studied real estate and urban development.
View the complete list of awardees
33). Tiffany Duffy
Senior Director of Operations, CSX
Tiffany Duffy completed her US Coast Guard career by developing a comprehensive and uniform approach to environmental regulatory requirements for maritime operations in US waters. She is currently a Senior Director of Operations at CSX, an approximately $15 billion railroad industry leader. About a year ago, she pivoted her career from maritime to railroad. She now leads efforts in the safe movement of 1,848 trains and more than 3.5 million carloads of products and raw materials a year.
Duffy began her 24 years of Coast Guard service after a neighbor suggested that she join. She graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy with a BS in marine environmental science before entering the maritime transportation domain as a federal government regulator on foreign and domestic vessels. She earned an MS in chemical engineering from the University of Southern California. Duffy applied her learning to her work on multilateral missions and treaties that neutralize chemical weapons, reduce air emissions, cut greenhouse gasses, and reach carbon neutrality. Throughout her career, Duffy has benefited from mentors and offered coaching whenever possible, and continues that role for the Peake Fellows.
She was twice awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal for work performed on the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), for neutralization of Syrian chemical weapons by ship, and negotiation results at the United Nations specialized organization, the International Maritime Organization (2017 & 2022). She also received a Senior Service Executive Appreciation Letter for an article she wrote in the 2019 Proceedings Magazine on Women in Maritime, “Pioneers & Prodigies.” (2019).
38). Elaine Turville
Managing Director, Strategy & Consulting Lead, Accenture Federal Services
Elaine Turville is the Strategy & Consulting Lead for Accenture Federal Services. In this role, she brings industry-leading functional and domain expertise to deliver value anchored to their client’s missions. She leads a multidisciplinary team that brings strategic and operational expertise to federal clients across all sectors of the US government. She has expertise in specific practice areas within strategy & consulting including human capital, applied intelligence, human-centered design, customer experience, supply chain, sustainability, and tech advisory.
With more than 25 years at Accenture, Elaine has served a wide range of federal and commercial clients, developing strategic and c-suite relationships. Most recently, Elaine served as the social services sector lead within the civilian portfolio and has served as the Diamond Client Account Lead for the US Department of Agriculture. Prior to that, she served a wide range of human service and nonprofit clients including various federal agencies, foundations, and nonprofits across the United States.
Elaine is a fierce advocate for community engagement, volunteering often across Northern Virginia. She also supports Accenture's local corporate citizenship program, which provides skills-based volunteering programs to small, local, and community nonprofits. She feels Accenture makes a significant impact in the sector, bringing the best commercial practices to help transform the way the world works and lives. Elaine was recognized as a top female leader in the technology industry by Women in Technology in 2014 and selected by Consulting magazine in 2010 with a Future Leader award. She proudly served on the Board of Regents for Leadership Arlington, and was a proud inaugural 40 Under 40 awardee in 2014.
42). Kezia Charles
Senior Director, WTW
Kezia Charles is the Senior Director of Willis Tower Watson. At WTW, they provide data-driven, insight-led solutions in the areas of people, risk, and capital. Leveraging the global view and local expertise of their colleagues serving 140 countries and markets, they help you sharpen your strategy, enhance organizational resilience, motivate your workforce, and maximize performance.
In her role as Senior Director, Kezia is also a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Specialist. She helps develop tips and strategies to help diverse employees and managers deal with difficult situations. She is also an Unconscious Bias trainer, where she leads training around addressing unconscious bias in the workplace. Kezia also helps develop programs to create an inclusive work environment for all employees and supports the recruitment, retention, and development of diverse colleagues. Kezia has a strong focus on partnering with diverse organizations, mentorship, and relevant training, in particular community and college outreach.
As a DEI Specialist, Kezia has experience developing programs to drive meaningful changes in DEI throughout the organization. She works with clients on financial inclusion and reviewing benefits and retirement plans from a well-being and DEI perspective. She was the national co-lead of the Multicultural Inclusion Network which aims to attract, retain, and develop diverse colleagues at WTW. She has developed and presented a curriculum to help multicultural colleagues be more successful in the workplace including topics like Managing Up and Having Brave and Inclusive Conversations.
Kezia provides strategic and actuarial advice to clients on the design, management, and financing of their postretirement medical and pension plans. In her 18 years of pension actuarial experience, she has worked with a variety of clients including Fortune 500 companies, multinational firms, and international financial institutions. Kezia consistently shows innovative thought leadership by helping re-design pension and retiree medical plans to better serve the needs of clients, by working on divestitures, mergers & acquisitions, considering accounting issues and required financial reporting, and performing experience studies on demographic assumptions. Charles graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and economics.
43). Jessica Parker
Director of Corporate Finance and Program Execution, MITRE
Jessica Parker is the Director of Corporate Finance and Program Execution of MITRE. She first joined the company in 2022. The MITRE Corporation is working to solve some of the nation’s biggest challenges in defense, cybersecurity, healthcare, homeland security, the judiciary, and transportation. MITRE is a not-for-profit corporation committed to the public interest, operating federally funded R&D centers on behalf of US government sponsors.
Previously, Parker was a director of finance enterprise Vectrus at Vectrus and before that a vice president of operations at Tangible Security. Earlier in her career she worked with International Business Machines as a program management office leader and operations leader. Parker earned an undergraduate degree in finance from Virginia Tech - Pamplin College of Business.
47). Leah Hoffman
Senior Director, Communication Campaign Research & Development Labs, Fors Marsh Group
Leah Hoffman leads the implementation of innovative communication research, translating research findings with an intersectional lens into concrete, actionable points for campaign implementation. She leads teams pioneering novel approaches for the implementation of research to inform and evaluate campaigns with large digital and social components. Her health communication and social marketing expertise have contributed to stronger, better-informed campaigns. Previously, she worked for a decade on social marketing health campaign implementation, research, and evaluation projects in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
Her past clients include the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Department of State (DOS), including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Australian Aid/Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Asian Development Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). She graduated from Syracuse University and received her master's in public health from Yale School of Public Health. She has published more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals.
View the complete list of awardees