Technology is at the forefront of global change and innovation, yet it continues to trail behind the times in one key factor: utilizing the talent and contributions of women.
According to studies conducted by the National Center For Women & Information Technology, in 2017, women only represented 26 percent of the computing workforce even though they hold 57 percent of professional occupations in the U.S.
Although they continue to be underrepresented in the tech industry, Las Vegas has several organizations that elevate and celebrate the contributions of women in the space. One such organization, Las Vegas Community Tech Fund, acknowledges their efforts each year with the Las Vegas Women in Technology Awards.
The 5th annual event took place on April 28 at Zappos Headquarters Downtown and recognized seven women for their overwhelming work in their respective spheres. Categories included Woman of the Year, Entrepreneur, Community Service, Mentor, Rising Star, Gaming & Hospitality and Cybersecurity.
Each of the recipients selected have not only excelled in their fields but have also contributed to the success of others through their charitable, educational and innovative work. Meet the women who are leading the pack in disrupting the technological landscape of Las Vegas and beyond.
Woman of The Year: Duana Malone
Gaming & Hospitality: Elena Jaacks
Jaacks develops, manages and ushers in many innovations for MGM Resorts International. The business solutions executive takes on the instrumental role of implementing technological enhancements in the gaming industry, specifically defining roadmaps and strengthening relationships in 15 of MGM’s properties.
Cybersecurity: Shannon Wilkinson
Wilkinson is committed to keeping people safe. While living in Kosovo, she constructed software to aid in sexual misconduct tracking for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations. After relocating to Las Vegas, she and her husband took on a new project: Axiom Cyber Solutions. The company serves as the first line of defense against cyber attacks for small companies across the U.S. As the head of software development for the company, Wilkinson ensures that her clients have a dedicated IT security team, without the exorbitant cost.
Entrepreneur: Heather Wilde
Although Las Vegas’ high-level mentorship and consulting firm ROCeteer has shaped many organizations, it’s Wilde’s leadership as chief technology officer that has broken new ground. A co-founder of TWIP and a founding member of Evernote, Wilde’s name has become synonymous with success. Excelling by using both sides of her brain, she is a thought leader in technology, game design, entrepreneurship and more, with her columns for Inc. and Forbes becoming go-to resources for executives all over the globe.
Mentor: Christine Heinrich
The technical recruiter for staffing and consulting firm Taurean Consulting Group mentors candidates and helps them make their dreams a reality. She also uses her expertise to give back to the community. In her free time, Heinrich assists students through classes at Tech Impact, which provides services and resources for nonprofits.
Community Service: Jet Mitchell
As an advanced degree holder (a Juris Doctorate from UNLV) and licensed attorney, Mitchell uses her specialized knowledge to shape minds. Teaching business, business mathematics, management and marketing at College of Southern Nevada, the professor shares her optimistic spirit with the innovators of tomorrow. Mitchell also serves as a technical and engineering headhunter for Aristocrat Technologies. When she’s not working, she’s traveling and running, having completed half marathons in all 50 states. Mitchell has Stage IV breast cancer and speaks publicly about the importance of living active during and after cancer treatment.
Rising Star: Alicia Mejia
Connecting humans and technology can be a challenge, but Alicia Mejia found that love is the universal language. As the founder of Worldwide Love Story and the 365 Days of Love app, Mejia encourages the expression of love through daily reminders and proclamations. It was her 10 years in the Las Vegas wedding industry that led to her immersion in the heartfelt topic, and she wanted to share that feeling with the world. Beyond ensuring a more amorous planet, Mejia also connects with other consciously-minded entrepreneurs with a local mastermind group that she co-founded called MASH, an acronym for Making Amazing Shit Happen.