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Security Industry Association Announces Winners for the 2022 Women in Biometrics Awards

The Security Industry Association (SIA) has named five female biometrics leaders as recipients of the 2022 SIA Women in Biometrics Awards, a globally recognized program presented by SIA with support from sponsors IDEMIA and Paravision and organizational and media supporters AVISIAN, Biometric Update, FindBiometrics and SIA’s Identity & Biometric Technology Advisory Board and Women in Security Forum. The 2022 awardees, who will be honored at the 2022 SIA GovSummit, SIA’s annual government security conference, are:

Gena Alexa, CEO and Founder, Dignari

Government Technology and Services Coalition member, Gena Alexa, has held key technical and management roles in the delivery of strategic government biometrics programs for more than 20 years. In 2013, she founded Dignari, LLC to provide program strategy, human-centered design, emerging technology and data analytics services to the federal government. Alexa oversees the delivery of biometrics and identity programs within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Defense. Her teams support transformative initiatives including CBP’s Biometric Entry Exit program and TSA’s Touchless PreCheck. In 2021, Alexa’s team won a 5-year single-award Blanket Purchase Agreement to provide identity, credentialing and access management services across DHS and its component agencies. Prior to Dignari, Alexa led various aspects of programs including TSA Registered Traveler, the EU’s Entry-Exit Feasibility Study, the Port of Los Angeles Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) and the CBP Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Alexa began her career as software developer and architect for programs including the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service’s NEXUS/SENTRI, the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s BASEL Project, US-VISIT, TWIC and TSA Registered Traveler. Alexa holds an MBA from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from James Madison University.

Amanda Conley, Chief, Human Capital Branch, Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), DHS

Amanda Conley is an experienced human capital leader and professional focused on providing and enabling biometric and identity leadership, innovation and talent sourcing. She is the principal advisor on complex human capital issues impacting the biometrics workforce. Conley is responsible for researching and utilizing innovative recruitment strategies to augment and diversify DHS OBIM’s talent pool to drive innovation of the biometric identity services delivered across the U.S. government and to DHS mission partners around the world. She is responsible for designing, planning and implementing programs to build biometrics expertise within the OBIM workforce to enable seamless decision support to customers, stakeholders and international partners. During her career, Conley has been responsible for extensively researching talent sources across the full spectrum of biometric skills, including scientific, mathematics and research skills, to create a bench of successive talent; consulting on information technology, biometrics and professional development programs; executing programs to retain subject matter experts; engaging with customer organizations to promote OBIM’s biometric services while providing educational venues for customers and stakeholders; and partnering with biometric thought leaders to align the human capital strategy to future technologies and biometric modalities. She holds a Master of Arts in industrial/organizational psychology.

Delia McGarry, Senior Director, U.S. Department of State, IDEMIA National Security Solutions (NSS)

Delia McGarry is a senior director and biometrics engineer with 26 years of experience in digital image processing and 20 years in biometrics, including experience in federal, industry and academic spaces. She has extensive knowledge of the U.S. Department of State’s identity management and secure credentialing processes and systems, having provided biometrics and image processing subject matter expertise continuously since the inception of the department’s integration of biometrics into the travel document issuance process. As the senior director of IDEMIA NSS’ Face Recognition, Passport Book and Passport Card portfolio, McGarry focuses on the application of emerging identity management and credentialing solutions to satisfy customer business needs, legislated mandates and agency policies. Prior to joining IDEMIA in 2020, McGarry served as a project manager and biometrics engineer at Noblis. Her work included biometrics software and sensor evaluation, system optimization and specification, source selection, concepts of operations, technology pilots, presentation attack synthesis and detection, biometrics examiner training, communications and outreach and technical editing of international standards. She holds a M.Sc. in biomedical engineering (medical imaging) from the University of Virginia and a B.S. in engineering science/applied mathematics from the University of Virginia and studied electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Diane Stephens, Biometric Standards Coordinator, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Diane Stephens has spent close to 20 years working in the field of biometrics. In her earlier biometric years she worked on DHS’ US-VISIT Program as a biometric subject matter expert and business owner of the DHS Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). Stephens also served as the business owner for DHS’ Arrival Departure Information System, the biographic sister system to IDENT that stored the arrivals and departures for foreign nationals entering and leaving the United States. Prior to leaving DHS, she performed as the chair of the National Information Exchange Model Biometrics Domain. After 14 years, Stephens joined NIST under the U.S. Department of Commerce, working in the Information Technology Laboratory, Information Access Division, in the Image Group. She is a biometrics standards coordinator and editor of the ANSI/NIST-ITL standard, also known as “Data Format for the Interchange of Fingerprints, Facial and Other Biometric Information.” As a biometric subject matter expert, Stephens also represents NIST and the U.S. in national and international standards committees promoting the use of and adherence to standards to maintain system compatibility and interoperability.  She has been with NIST close to five years.

Bobby Varma, Co-Founder and CEO, Princeton Identity

Bobby Varma is the founder and CEO of Princeton Identity, a leading biometric technology company. She has a proven track record as an executive in the biometrics arena for 15 years of driving sales and developing products. Her current focus is on structuring business alliances with commercial entities across the world and educating the market on biometric domain applications. In her previous role at Princeton Identity’s vice president of operation and products, Varma built product organization from ground up and brought biometric products to market successfully. Her responsibilities also included overseeing operations to build efficiency and processes across the organization and managing a team of technical and product staff. Princeton Identity is a global leader in biometric identity management, providing solutions for access control, physical security and data security across commercial and government enterprises, including Dubai’s airport, the Smart Salem Medical center, Emaar, Auburn University, the U.S. Department of Defense and numerous data centers. The company’s patented iris technology is featured on Samsung Galaxy phones. Varma was selected as one of the honorees in SIA Women in Security Forum’s inaugural Power 100, which recognizes 100 women in the security industry who are role models for actively advancing diversity, inclusion, innovation and leadership in the community.

“Each year, the Women in Biometrics Awards celebrate the accomplished leaders who are paving the way for biometric identity and security, and this year’s honorees have made outstanding contributions to biometrics technology innovation, education, program management, engineering and engagement across government and industry,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson. “SIA commends Gena Alexa, Amanda Conley, Delia McGarry, Diane Stephens and Bobby Varma for their impressive dedication, vision and leadership in this critical field and looks forward to recognizing them at SIA GovSummit.”

The 2022 SIA Women in Biometrics Awards will be presented May 24 at a special award ceremony during SIA GovSummit. Each year, SIA GovSummit brings together government security leaders with private industry technologists for top-quality information sharing, networking and education on security topics affecting federal, state and local agencies. SIA GovSummit 2022 will be held May 24-25 as an in-person conference at the National Association of Home Builders headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. In addition to featuring a cadre of security industry speakers, the 2022 SIA GovSummit will include insights from experts at DHS, the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, the Architect of the Capitol, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more. The event is free for all government employees, including U.S. and international federal, state, county and municipal-level staff, plus all military, law enforcement and public safety personnel. 

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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