When I first started my career, I was timid and afraid to get things wrong. While I made my share of mistakes, I worked hard to learn from them and get things right. Those mistakes would sometimes blind me from the accomplishments I would go on to make. Sometimes, it would seem easier to stay out of the limelight and work hard from the privacy of my own comfy seat. But, when I received encouragement from the women leaders that I looked up to, I began to see my own successes (even the small ones) and potential. I realized that I didn’t have to be afraid. I was smart and capable. Those women celebrated and encouraged me to keep going. Thanks to them (along with my own hard work) I moved into the leadership role I am in today.

We’re still not where we need to be in terms of female leadership in business and in tech, but my sincerest hope is that we will get there soon. By the time my daughter is ready to start her first job, I hope that the obstacles that women face today will be a thing of the past. While these past two years may have shaken our hope in any movement forward, we cannot give up. I implore all women to continue to stand up especially when sitting down is easier. Make your voice heard, move forward, support other women to reach their leadership goals, and succeed.

I will start by celebrating the extraordinary women in leadership and technology who will be honored at the Women in IT Awards event taking place on March 22nd. There needs to be more celebration. More encouragement. So please join me in congratulating the women below:

Advocate of the Year

  • Kristy Wallace, Ellevate Network
  • Anita Khandekar, Enova
  • Bianca Jackson, JAX Digital
  • DeLisa Alexander, Red Hat
  • Selina Suarez, Salesforce
  • Hala Hanna, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Marta Zanchi, Stanford University
  • Elizabeth Hunter, T-Mobile
  • Carita Marrow, UNCF
  • Ronni Eloff, Women in Technology International

Business Leader of the Year

  • Kate O’Keeffe, Cisco
  • Lisa Stanton, InAuth
  • Brynne Kennedy, MOVE Guides
  • Candice Corby, Cobra Legal Solutions
  • Nancy Harris, Sage
  • Meredith Whalen, IDC
  • Trish Thomas, TEEM
  • Kristel Lataste, Amadeus North America
  • Paula Hunter, NFC Forum

Business Role Model of the Year

  • Rebecca Parsons, ThoughtWorks
  • Heather Wilde, WithMe
  • Margaret Dawson, Red Hat
  • Rebecca Wynn, Matrix Medical Network
  • Teena Piccione, Fidelity Investments
  • Donna Wells, Mindflash Technologies
  • Brenda Peick, Thomson Reuters
  • Liz Tinkham, University of Washington
  • Priyanka Vasudevan, Morgan Stanley
  • Nabila Aydin, FDM Group

CIO of the Year

  • Marykay Wells, Pearson
  • Kristy Simonette, Camden Property Trust
  • Sherry Aaholm, Cummins
  • Paula Tolliver, Intel Corporation
  • Kimberly Ingram, Lansing Board of Water & Light
  • Nancy D’Amico, LeasePlan
  • Janice Withers, TD Bank
  • Nicole Raimundo, Town of Cary
  • Michaele James, CSAA Insurance Group
  • Sandi Mays, Zayo Group

Data Leader of the Year

  • Sangeeta Krishnan, Asembia
  • Olisa Stephensbailey, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Valerie Logan, Gartner
  • Kjersten Moody, State Farm
  • Jennifer Nelson, Rocket Software
  • Aimee Webster, S&P Global
  • Sara Garrido, Sizmek
  • Jessica Kirkpatrick, Slack
  • Tendü Yoğurtçu, Syncsort
  • Jacquelin Speck, U.S. Navy

Digital Leader of the Year

  • Jessica Wong, Amorepacific
  • Aurora Losada, Houston Public Media
  • Kristina Villarini, Lambda Legal
  • Jo Ann Saitta, Omnicom Health Group
  • Monica Caldas, GE
  • Melissa Stevens, Fifth Third Bank
  • Jaime Chambron, NTT Data Services
  • Daryl Drabinsky, Aetna
  • Teesee Murray, Infor
  • Karen O’Brien, Western Union

e-Skills Initiative of the Year

  • Tracey Welson-Rossman, Chariot Solutions / TechGirlz
  • Renee La Londe, iTalent Digital
  • Marlin Williams, Sisters Code
  • Olga Mack, ClearSlide
  • Ruthe Farmer, CSforALL.org
  • Judith Spitz, Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York (WiTNY)
  • Viola Maxwell-Thompson, Information Technology Senior Management Forum
  • Women on their Way, NetScout
  • Elizabeth Lindsey, Byte Back
  • Diane Flynn, ReBoot Accel

Editor’s Choice

  • Rina Brahmbhatt, Atos Global Consulting
  • Mylea Charvat, Savonix
  • Lauren Cooney, Spark Labs
  • Rita Torkzadeh, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Christina Zuniga, InTouch Health
  • Winnie Cheng, Io-Tahoe
  • Jane Harper, Henry Ford Health System
  • Shelley Westman, EY
  • Liz Rowe, State of New Jersey
  • Marlene Williamson, Watermark

Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Zhuo Li, AutoX
  • Neha Sampat, Built.io Contentstack
  • Autumn Manning, YouEarnedIt
  • Jennifer Kyriakakis, MATRIXX Software
  • Angela Hood, ThisWay Global
  • Lora Ivanova, myLab Box
  • Srii Srinivasan, Chargeback Gurus
  • Mary Dee, Digital Altitude
  • Meg Columbia, Walsh Wylei
  • Rachel Bogan, Work & Co

Future CIO of the Year

  • Julia Lomax, Tengelmann Group
  • Priya Aswani, Microsoft
  • Jamila Parham, City of Chicago
  • Eryka Johnson, ExxonMobil
  • Amber Williamson, Robert Half Technology
  • Anne Mette Hoyer, SAP
  • Andrea Adams, Spanning Cloud Apps
  • Tracy Vo, Bank of the West
  • Leslie Hielema, GuideWell
  • Praniti Lakhwara, Apttus

Innovator of the Year

  • Jin Zhang, CA Technologies
  • Angela Nicoara, Intel Corporation
  • Vicki Reyzelman, Akamai
  • Rachelle Oribio, Techstars
  • Jo-Anne Dressendofer, Slice Wireless Solutions
  • Kristin Lovejoy, BluVector
  • Natalie Gil, rational7
  • Veena Gundavelli, Emagia Corporation
  • Bhavini Soneji, Heal
  • Sophie Vandebroek, IBM

Rising Star of the Year

  • Velvet Johnson, Accenture
  • Etosha Ottey, Chicago Black Women In Tech
  • Jamie Migdal, FetchFind
  • Robyn Gray, Otherworld Interactive
  • Jennifer Perusini, Neurovation Labs
  • Yana Zaidiner, Token Payments
  • Margaret Gratian, US Department of Defense
  • Lana Jovanovic, UBM
  • Annie Eaton, Futurus
  • Sarah Mogin, Work & Co

Security Champion of the Year

  • Rhonda Shantz, Centrify
  • Christy Wyatt, Dtex Systems
  • Linda Conrad, Exelon
  • Deneen DeFiore, GE
  • Lila Kee, GlobalSign
  • Monica Jain, LogicHub
  • Julie Cullivan, ForeScout Technologies
  • Sydney Klein, Capital One Financial
  • Deb Briggs, NetScout
  • Terri Cetera, Quest Diagnostics

Transformation Leader of the Year

  • Alejandra Roslyakova, Amadeus North America
  • Lisa Litherland, CDW
  • Ozlem Coskun, Chubb Insurance
  • Sandy Hogan, HERE Technologies
  • Kelly Switt, Citi
  • Barbara Morgan, FIS
  • Carol Houle, Cognizant
  • Chiara Bersano, LSI Consulting
  • Erica Volini, Deloitte
  • Kerry Small, Vodafone Group Enterprise

Woman of the Year

  • Kesha Williams, Chick-fil-A
  • Ishita Majumdar, eBay
  • Li Lo, SPANX
  • Dianne Dain, United Nations
  • Mayumi Hiramatsu, Infor
  • Laila Beane, Intellect SEEC
  • Anita Sands, Symantec
  • Karen MacKay, Rolls-Royce
  • Sheela Ramamurthy, VirtualHealth
  • Jeanette Maister, WCN

Young Leader of the Year

  • Hannah Osborne, DXC Technology
  • Miranda LeBlanc, Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Karen Parisi, Oodi
  • Caitlin Burniske, Premier Logic
  • Jessica Angelotta, Target Data
  • Arlyn Burgess, University of Virginia
  • Ali Greenwood, JLL
  • Camille Stewart, Deloitte
  • Ayesha Liaqat, UW Health
  • Lisa Godwin, The New York Times