International Women's Day: Celebrating the Women of Booz Allen Building Innovative, Inclusive Solutions for Clients and Communities

Mar 9, 2021 8:15 AM ET

International Women’s Day is both a call to action for accelerating equity for women and a celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women worldwide. This year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge.”

In the second part of this two-part series, we explore the ways the women of Booz Allen create innovative technology solutions and build communities that help all employees and clients overcome their challenges and succeed.

Shaping the world of technology

“Diversity is critical for designing technologies that benefit all people,” said Dr. Lauren Neal, a Booz Allen vice president who won a national TIMMY Award in 2020 for Best Tech Manager.

Neal’s recognition was just one of many ways women at Booz Allen made their presence known in the technology world over the past year. Associate Toni Hudson received honors for her work in bio surveillance, and Career Communication Group’s Women of Color STEM Awards named 25 Booz Allen employees among this year’s Technology All Stars and Technology Rising Stars.

"Each time a woman stands up and is a leader, it levels the playing field, and it starts to become the norm,” said Senior Lead Technologist Crystal Simmons, a 2020 Technology All-Star winner.

Women at Booz Allen also shared insights in the last year about their work and thoughts on what’s next in tech. For example:

  • Executive Vice Presidents Andrea Inserra and Julie McPherson, Chief Innovation Officer Susan Penfield, and Vice President Kelly Rozumalski discussed diversity in the space field, digital user experience, government innovation, and connected healthcare at the Fast Company Innovation Festival
  • Director Kathleen Featheringham spoke about AI’s potential to transform transportation in the civil and defense sectors
  • Chief Technologist Sandra Marshall talked about how her work drives the development of new capability offerings like human performance and digital twins

Empowering careers in STEM and making a difference in the local community

“The future is bright” for women in technology. That’s what Booz Allen Senior Vice President Jennie Brooks told Girl Scouts in San Diego during a day of virtual workshops about cybersecurity.

Over the past year, female employees of Booz Allen worked to create a bright future for girls and women in their own communities in many ways, including:

  • Sponsoring the first-ever virtual GirlUp Leadership Summit, attended by more than 25,000 participants from more than 170 countries, and featuring a robust roster of Booz Allen women leaders leading discussions during a STEM for Social Good workshop
  • Building a STEM ecosystem with Girls Who Code and local elementary schools in Central Georgia under the leadership of Principal Lizz Said
  • Examining why the startup and venture capital ecosystem needs more Black women with Vice President Hillarie Flood
  • Counseling and encouraging women leaders of tomorrow at Georgetown University’s 7th annual OWN IT Summit with Vice President Patricia Porter

Many women at Booz Allen are spearheading efforts to make the world a better place for everyone. In Hawaii, Lead Associate Ann Nagel is using data and design thinking to combat sex trafficking. In Washington, DC, Kristin Jarrett, a community and social impact strategist, shared ways to turn statements about race and social equity into action and part of a comprehensive corporate philanthropy program.

“When you empower people and make them feel heard and supported, they’re really able to show up and move the needle,” Jarrett said at a virtual workshop with nonprofit leaders Give Blck and Benevity. 

Celebrating culture, identity, and inclusion

Booz Allen also fosters an inclusive environment through its six Business Resource Groups (BRG) and employee networks, created to support employees’ professional development, growth, and visibility.

Women play a significant role in all of these groups. Last year, Senior Vice President Angela Wallace and Lead Technologist Vanessa Benally helped to relaunch the firm’s Native American Network (NAN).

“I believe in the strength and the value that our Indigenous employees bring to Booz Allen,” said NAN executive sponsor Wallace, who grew up in rural Alabama and has relatives from the Choctaw tribe. “I learned very early that it was important to use the resources on hand to innovate and to solve problems. Sometimes that requires taking a few steps back to find imaginative ways to tackle a mission.”

“Throughout history, a lot of Native American identity has been lost,” said Benally, a Navajo tribal member who co-chairs the NAN. “This network is a great place where we can talk about what happened and the diversity of the Native American community.”

Lead Technologist Angelina Romualdo found similar connections as co-chair of Booz Allen’s Latin American Network (LAN). “Being a part of LAN is one of the ways I can celebrate my identity,” said Romualdo, whose parents are from Mexico.

She and Vice President Jeniffer De Jesus Roberts, co-executive sponsor of LAN, helped to coordinate a wide-ranging roster of events for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, from Q&A opportunities with Booz Allen executives to film screenings and online cooking classes.

“It is a time to celebrate our rich culture, history, and the contributions we have made,” said Roberts. “It is also a time to look forward with hope and enthusiasm to the endless possibilities of accomplishments and achievements that we can make by living our purpose and values and working together as one.”

Lead Technologist Eli Hinson serves as a co-chair of the firm’s Global Disabilities BRG—a network that helped her thrive in the 21 years since she joined the firm following active service in the United States Marine Corps. She credits the BRG with helping her navigate sharing her diagnoses of hearing loss and dyslexia—in addition to working with the firm’s disability accommodations team.

When she found the right tools and technologies, “it was freeing,” she said. Hinson and her fellow co-chairs regularly produce programming and initiatives to foster inclusion, and bring awareness—including celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act last summer.

“Having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t reach for the stars,” Hinson said.

Finding community, visibility, and a platform to advocate for others

Through GLOBE+, Booz Allen’s LGBTQ+ BRG, Data Scientist Jamila Holt and Analyst Melody Stachour found both a welcoming community and a venue for supporting others. 

Holt’s first introduction to GLOBE+ was a Booz Allen-sponsored Pride event. “Nearly everyone I met, literally too many to name, was welcoming, supportive, and fully self-expressed,” she said.

This environment on the job and throughout the community “made it clear that Booz Allen walks the walk,” Holt said. “I have been able to learn, continue the work I enjoy, influence systemic change, and utilize powerful machine learning tools as a team member at Booz Allen.” 

Later this month, March 31, is International Trans Visibility Day. Stachour credits Booz Allen’s LGTBQ+ policies and strong relationships with her job leader and career manager for helping her feel comfortable through her transition.

In conjunction with Booz Allen’s 2020 Pride celebration, she shared her story: her volunteer work with GLOBE+ and several other groups, how “coming out on the job was a non-issue,” and how the Black Lives Matter protests reminded her of the intersectional nature of the struggle against inequity—and the need to keep moving forward.  

“No single gain for equality occurs in a vacuum, and no victory we win is the end of the fight,” Stachour said.

Learn more about diversity and inclusion and women at Booz Allen, and Booz Allen’s commitment to advancing racial and social equity.