Photos courtesy of Women in Technology
Around 750 attendees, mainly well-heeled women, turned out to support this year’s Women in Technology (WIT) awards at downtown Atlanta’s Georgia Aquarium.
Now in its 16th year, WIT’s ‘Women of the Year Awards‘ (WOTY) celebrates women technology executives for their professional accomplishments, with a focus on dynamic leaders who are making an impact in their communities.
“With your presence we are making a statement about the importance of these awards, our support for one another in our roles in the technology and business deals,” said Sandy D. Welfare, WIT Executive Director, during her speech at the awards. “Beyond that every honoree here tonight is also a leader in their community, willing to take time out their busy schedules to mentor others and to give back.”
The signature gala event, presented by Cox Automotive, also recognizes an ambitious middle or high schooler as the Girl of the Year for her participation in the WIT GIRLS program. This year’s winner is Taya Amari Welch, a senior at Mt. Paran Christian School in metropolitan Atlanta, who has overcome health issues to thrive in sports and STEM disciplines.
Co-hosted by previous WIT winners Jackie Breiter and Janet Barnard, last Thursday’s WOTY is one of the few tech forums events that pay homage to outstanding women leaders in business and technology in Georgia. The rigorous nomination process culminates in evaluation by a distinguished panel of judges. Finalists include a winner in three categories: small, medium, and large businesses.
“It’s better to hire and promote based on character, potential, and drive over specific skills which can be acquired,” said Serena Sacks, Chief Information Officer, Fulton County Schools, who scooped the medium-sized business award. “Build a team that can challenge each other to be their best. A team that laughs together and a team that cares about each other and they will conquer the impossible, like transforming education to meet the needs of the next generation which promises to be more reliant on technology than most of us can even image.”
Sacks joined Fulton County Schools in May 2014, and in less than two years her vision has transformed the district’s Informational Technology Division. She has overseen a new data center, moved IT functions from 11 satellite offices to two central ones, and spearheaded the upgrading of the infrastructure and network in more than 100 schools, among other achievements.
Others winners include Julie Haley, Chief Executive Officer of Edge Solutions, who won the small/emerging business award and Laura Miller, Senior Vice President of Global Solutions Delivery, InterContinental Hotels Group, who was honored with the large/enterprise award.
The sold out gala dinner also provided unique opportunities for ambitious women to mingle and network at the welcome reception and throughout the evening.
With a vision of making Georgia the state with the highest percentage of women in the STEM workforce by the year 2020, WIT, an Atlanta-based organization, supports women at every stage of their STEM careers, from the classroom to the boardroom. This takes place in a wide variety of formats—from educating students about the opportunities in (STEM), to providing networking and education for professionals. It has become one of the most recognized and active organizations of its kind in the region.
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