Last year, we launched our annual look at Women in Tech in Alabama with 22 for ’22. This year, we’ve got a new list, and it’s 23 for ’23, featuring women across the state who are working for companies large and small, some that they founded, and recognized by others for their excellence in the technology sector.
JILL ALBIN-HILL is deputy CIO and executive director of technology operations for Auburn University, responsible for the daily central IT operations at the university. A recognized leader in the information technology field, Albin-Hill was named CIO+ of the Year in October 2020 by the Society of Information Management. At that time, she served as vice president of technology and operations for Dominican University. Before joining higher education, Albin-Hill worked for almost 10 years at Consolidated Communications Inc., a telecommunications company in central Illinois. She holds an MBA with a concentration in human resources from Dominican University, a bachelor’s degree in computer management from Eastern Illinois University and an associate in science degree in computational mathematics from Lake Land College.
KAREN BECKER is the vice chancellor for strategic enterprises at the Alabama Community College System. She has more than 30 years of higher education and software implementation experience with new technologies. Becker coordinated the successful implementation of the Alabama Community College System’s enterprise resource planning system — OneACCS — and led the decision-making for software solutions that help solidify the operational processes that capture all types of vital data. Becker also assists with IT for Women organizations within EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. She has degrees from Georgia Southern University and Georgia State University.
VALENCIA BELLE is the CEO and founder of two programs, S.C.H.O.O.L.S. for scholars and C.L.E.A.R.E.D. for scholar-athletes. The programs provide standardized test preparation, with C.L.E.A.R.E.D. focusing on obtaining NCAA D1 clearance. A Mobile native, Belle has spent her career in STEM education. She is one of the six inaugural recipients of the 2021 Wharton Knowledge for Impact Awards from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. She also received a scholarship from Harvard University’s Institute of Urban School Leaders. Belle holds degrees from the University of Alabama, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Maryland and has an extensive background in biomedical research.
KATIE BOGGUS is the corporate infrastructure administrator at PCH Hotels and Resorts — a hotel management company that manages world-class hotels, many of which are located along the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Boggus manages the network and enterprise systems across the portfolio, ensuring the proper infrastructure is in place to enhance the quality of the overall guest experience. Boggus holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Jacksonville State University.
JACQUELINE CHANDLER works with the Birmingham Business Alliance, focusing on attracting new businesses in the knowledge-based economy and high-tech manufacturing operations to the Greater Birmingham Region. She also manages the aerospace and bioscience existing industry portfolio, which includes connecting and convening leaders in the industries, aiding the growth of companies, managing expansion projects and developing solutions to ensure the region is positioned competitively and for continued growth in each industry. Chandler, from Guntersville, earned an economics degree from Auburn University, where she was SGA president and a War Eagle Girl. She previously worked as the director of industrial development for the City of Auburn.
ANITA CLARKE serves as the marketing development specialist for the home services department at C Spire in Mobile. She has worked with the diversified telecommunications and technology services company for 18 years. In her current role, she is responsible for establishing relationships with city and county entities that assist with bringing internet/broadband access to their communities for the citizens that C Spire serves. Additionally, Clarke builds and retains relationships with builders, developers and planning commissions who work to bring fiber to the neighborhoods. Clarke previously served as public relations/brand ambassador for the technology company. She has a degree in journalism/public relations from the University of Southern Mississippi.
CYNTHIA CRUTCHFIELD is the CEO of Innovate Alabama. Prior to that, she was founder, president and CEO of Crutchfield Management Consulting and COO of the Crutchfield Company, a real estate investment company. Throughout her career, which included 40 years within the federal government market as a civil servant and contractor, Crutchfield received numerous recognitions, including winning the CSC Presidents Award for Program Management and receiving the Women of Color Information Technology All-Star Award. She has a computer science degree from Alabama A&M University and is a graduate of Leadership Huntsville and completed professional military education in-residence programs for Squadron Officer School and Air Command and Staff College.
ELIZABETH DONALD is the IT security manager for Austal USA, responsible for the implementation and assurance of network security for the company’s information application systems. She ensures Austal USA’s IT systems are compliant with all government contractor prescribed requirements from the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. She is active in the Mobile community, including playing clarinet with the Mobile Pops. Donald is a graduate of the University of Mobile and earned an MBA with a focus in information systems from the University of North Alabama. She has been with Austal USA since 2019.
DANA INGALSBE is the first woman to serve as head of Jacksonville State University’s Department of Applied Engineering, which prepares students to face the manufacturing challenges of the 21st century, including workplace safety, industrial automation, advanced manufacturing technologies and effective industrial leadership. Ingalsbe joined JSU’s faculty in 2002 after receiving a doctorate from Georgia Tech in pulp and paper science. In 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey recognized the department’s internship program as a Region 2 Best Practice in work-based learning. Passionate about workforce development, Ingalsbe has helped strengthen the university’s partnerships with local industry, particularly Honda Alabama Auto Plant. Housed within her department is the JSU Center for Manufacturing Support.
HALEY MEDVED KENDRICK is the senior managing director of investment accelerators at gener8tor. In her role, she oversees gener8tor’s investment accelerators located in the southern U.S. Prior to joining the investment accelerator team, Kendrick launched the Bronze Valley Accelerator, gener8tor’s first program in Alabama, which focuses on founders from backgrounds historically excluded from access to capital. Before joining gener8tor, she led teams responsible for training more than 700 local aspiring tech professionals with in-demand skills to meet regional employer demand as executive director of Innovate Birmingham. Kendrick has a master’s and doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
KELLI LUCAS is a design strategist and leader, currently serving as the co-founder and chief design officer at LunarLab, a UX Design and Product Strategy consulting firm in Birmingham. With experience in creating aesthetically pleasing and highly engaging products for both startups and enterprises, Lucas is an expert in the field of product design. Throughout her career, Lucas has honed her skills in designing mobile and web products for a diverse range of industries, including FinTech, health care, publishing, sports, social media, advertising, education, logistics and more. Lucas has a reputation for consistently delivering high-quality design solutions that exceed expectations.
MONICA MASON is the director of core services for contract research at Southern Research in Birmingham. Her career encompasses scientific, technical and business operations within nonclinical and clinical drug development research programs. At Southern Research, she and her team provide nonclinical drug development services that support toxicology, infectious diseases, immunology and oncology programs. Prior to this role, she served as a quality assurance auditor in the quality and compliance department at Southern Research. Mason earned a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s in anatomic science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also holds ASCP board certification as a histotechnician and a graduate certificate in biotechnology and regulatory affairs.
CARMEN MAYS is an urbanist and entrepreneur with more than a decade of public sector experience, with a significant portion of her career spent in community economic development at various local governments. Mays served as the neighborhood revitalization and public safety administrator for the mayoral transition team in the City of Birmingham. There, she led a team of 70+ community volunteers through the policy development process, culminating with a report that details the community’s policy directives. Mays also re-launched the minority business development program for the City of Spartanburg in South Carolina, earning Federal Transit Administration approval for the city’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Additionally, she has led courses on anti-racism in local government and provided thought leadership on equity centered policy and programming.
KATREENA MULLICAN, principal solutions architect for Amazon Web Services in Huntsville, has been engineering IT solutions for 30 years. Throughout her career, she has mastered a variety of IT roles including Windows, Solaris and Linux system administrator, software engineer, cloud engineer, devops engineer, IT director and IT consultant. In Alabama, Mullican’s tenure has included ADTRAN, Northrop Grumman, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and Technical and Scientific Application Inc. She joined AWS In 2019. Mullican shares her career journey with students and educators through the Amazon Future Engineer program and has presented multiple talks at conferences and area meetups. In addition to numerous IT certifications, Mullican has degrees from Midland Lutheran College and Florida Institute of Technology.
MELANIE BARKSDALE NEWTON is director of operations and strategic development for JBS Solutions, an engineering services firm headquartered in Huntsville, with employees in Alabama, Maryland, Texas and Virginia. The company supports the Department of Defense and NASA. Newton is capture manager and proposal lead for highly technical contracts with NSA and the DoD in addition to being program manager for contracts with those organizations. She teaches at the Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship as part of its TechRich program and at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Newton’s focus is STEM and she has a background in business development for technology startups. She is the president of Women in Defense-Tennessee Valley chapter. Her work as president initiates and supports funding for young women entering tech.
MISSY POLHEMUS is the CEO of Wyndy, a family care company founded in 2017. Wyndy is a mobile app that connects parents in need of childcare with background-checked sitters attending college and looking for a flexible way to earn an income. Wyndy serves families across the Southeast, including Birmingham, where it is headquartered; Nashville; Memphis; and New Orleans. Prior to joining Wyndy as CEO, Polhemus spent more than 20 years leading marketing teams at high-growth companies, including Shipt, Daxko and TaxSlayer. She holds a degree in business administration from Birmingham-Southern College and a master’s in business from Samford University.
VENUS QUATES is president and CEO of LaunchTech, which specializes in providing technology, engineering and intelligence solutions to customers in the space, public, financial services and health care sectors. LaunchTech has been recognized as one of the top 50 fastest-growing companies and top 10 fastest-growing woman-owned companies in the country. She has led large-scale transformation and modernization projects with major Fortune 500 companies. Quates, who is on the national board of the Girl Scouts of the USA, is a former entrepreneur-in-residence for a New York-based venture development organization that has raised more than $1 billion in funding. Quates is a member of the Forbes Business Council and Inc. Masters and has been featured in both publications.
LIZ READ is founder of clearMINDnow, which brings innovative accountability to people navigating a drug-use disorder. ClearMindnow won the Alabama Launchpad competition and a $50,000 grant in 2020. Since then, clearMINDnow has closed an oversubscribed seed round, received an Alabama Inno Fire Award and has been featured in numerous publications. Prior to clearMINDnow, Read worked in a family-owned business with her mother, Allison L. Morgan, designing jewelry for their line, Charlotte Allison. She was lead designer and held this position for eight years. Other positions include sales for Prepaid Technologies Inc. and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. She studied finance at Auburn University.
ANGELA RITTENBACH is president and CEO of Riverstone Solutions Inc., an information technology and cybersecurity company delivering Enterprise IT solutions. She is also the president and a founder of CyberReach.Org, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Huntsville. Rittenbach is a long-time advocate for women in technology and STEM programs. The mission of CyberReach is to connect, prepare and grow a qualified and diverse cyber workforce. CyberReach is focused on supporting cybersecurity development for all while providing specific development programs for women, minorities, veterans and STEM students. Rittenbach has served on the boards of Cyber Huntsville and GEO Huntsville, and currently serves on the Huntsville/Madison Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Council. Rittenbach has a degree in computer science from Clemson University.
ANGELA SANDRITTER is co-founder and CEO of RippleWorx, a performance acceleration company incorporating business intelligence, analysis and AI. RippleWorx focuses on effective ways to digitize and scale performance optimization for business, first responders and the Department of Defense. Prior to RippleWorx, Sandritter was vice president of global services for Haufe, the leading talent management provider in Europe. She opened the U.S. office at Haufe, with clients such as Nike, Zeiss and Hilti. Sandritter also co-founded Cygnus Strategy Group, a consulting firm for small businesses. Sandritter holds an executive MBA from the University of Alabama and serves on the university’s EMBAAN board of directors.
SAMANTHA STEJSKAL is a process engineer for Huntsville-based robotics integrator Aerobotix. In that position, she’s a role model for young women considering a career in robotics. Since joining Aerobotix in June 2021, Stejskal has played a key role in developing innovative robotic and automated solutions for the company’s customers, which include some of the world’s largest aerospace and defense contractors. She holds a degree in industrial engineering and mathematics from Olivet Nazarene University. Stejskal says, “I personally do not know many women who are also working in robotics but would love to see more in the near future.”
MARTHA SYLLA UNDERWOOD is the founder and CEO of Prismm, a company devoted to the wealth transfer process at the end of life through technology. Underwood is a software technology industry veteran whose career has taken her to Florida, Silicon Valley and Birmingham. Her background is in developing enterprise solutions for insurance carriers, creating early versions of health care patient portals and positioning startups for acquisition. She graduated from the University of South Florida and is certified in executive management and leadership from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. She serves on numerous boards, including Bronze Valley C-Suite Advisory Board, Prosper Healthcare Accelerator Advisor, Tech Birmingham and Innovate Birmingham, where she is board chair.
LYDIA WALKER is the executive vice president of operations for both Altaworx and its sister software company, AMOP. Walker joined Altaworx in 2007 and has held many leadership positions throughout the years.
As executive vice president of operations, her responsibilities include engineering, automation, fulfillment, implementation, support and billing for Altaworx. As executive vice president of AMOP, she oversees and manages the development, support and overall software experience for both the user interface and development stack. Walker’s experience and leadership have allowed her to mentor many young men and women in the tech industry. She sits on the board of the local ENRG, where she leads a small group, guiding other business professionals learning and implementing the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) management methodology.