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Board of Directors

Tennisha Martin,


Tennisha Martin is the founder and Executive Director of BlackGirlsHack (BGH Foundation), a national cybersecurity nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education and resources to undeserved communities and increasing the diversity in cyber. BlackGirlsHack provides black women and girls with resources, mentorship, direction, and training required to enter and excel in the Cybersecurity field. Tennisha has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Science in Information Technology, Health Care Policy and Management, Cybersecurity, Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation, and Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland. She has worked in a government consulting capacity for over 15 years in Project Management, Risk Management, Audit, Information Assurance, Quality Assurance, Software Development, and Testing roles. In her spare time, Tennisha is a Cyber Instructor, mentor, and red-team leaning ethical hacking advocate for diversity in Cyber and the executive suites.

Tanisha O'Donoghue

Over the last 6 years Tanisha O’Donoghue has been on an upward climb in the Cyber Security Space. The Guyanese native presently resides in the in Washington, DC area. Her current role as an Information Security Risk and Compliance Specialist at Tyler Technologies. As a member of the Information Security Compliance team, she assists with policy management, audits and risk management. Her recent focus has been governance, risk and compliance. Tanisha received her start in cyber with an internship at Symantec in partnership with a nonprofit called Year Up. Year Up's mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through careers and higher education. Tanisha’s career experience has included incident response/ recovery efforts, vulnerability management, risk management and compliance. She is the Chief Strategic Officer and Board Member a nonprofit organization that provides resources, training, mentoring, and opportunities to black women to increase representation and diversity in the cyber security field. Her commitment is to work with individuals and organizations to increase the diversity, inclusion and opportunities so they can make an influential impact on the world. She mentors with passion, guiding her mentees to enhance and elevate their vision for their lives.

Jocelyn Platt


I am Jocelyn Platt aka JP. I live life understanding that knowledge is power and with power comes responsibility. It is my life’s mission to share what I’ve learned with as many as possible. I was born and raised with four older sisters in Buffalo, New York where I attended the University of Buffalo and earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Business Education. I relocated to the DC metro area where I met my only younger “sister” and founder of BlackGirlsHack (BGH). I taught high school in Fairfax County for eight years, attended George Mason University and earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. I continued my education and earned an MBA and Master of Science in Project Management. I gained valuable professional experience while working as a Senior Training Specialist and Instructional Designer on government and commercial contracts. Currently, I work as a Senior Instructional Designer and look forward to providing guidance and support for BGH training programs.

Ivonna Smith


Ivonna Smith has been educating brown and black children for over 15 years. She works hard to teach her students that they don’t have to accept the limitations that society has placed on them. She knows the importance of making sure her students have strong computer skills and realize the value of this knowledge. She has always made sure to remind all of her girls that black women in places of power are needed now more than ever. She knows that it’s important for them to know that just because they haven’t seen women that look like them in certain positions doesn’t mean they cannot hold those positions. She is the Chief Talent Officer at BlackGirlsHack and on the Board of Directors. Ivonna holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Masters of Science in Speech and Language Pathology both received from Howard University in Washington DC.

Rebekah Skeete


Rebekah Skeete is a Security Engineer with Schellman based in Dallas, Texas. As a member of the Infrastructure and Security team, Rebekah is part of a collaborative group of technology professionals serving as the primary technical resource to safeguard the organization's computer networks and systems. In her role, she is responsible for planning and carrying out security measures to monitor and protect sensitive data and systems from infiltration and cyber-attacks. Prior to joining Schellman in 2022, Rebekah worked for the Texas Rangers in a myriad of roles, including Cybersecurity Analyst and Manager of IT Applications and Operations. During the construction of the Rangers new state-of-the-art ballpark, Globe Life Field, Rebekah assisted the Rangers IT department’s efforts to transition over 200 front office employees to their new workspaces. Outside baseball and IT, Rebekah is also interested in politics and started volunteering for campaigns in 2008. From 2013-2016, she served as a Campaign Manager in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In 2015, she attended the Women’s Campaign School at Yale. Rebekah is the COO of BlackGirlsHack, a nonprofit organization providing black women with resources, training, mentoring, and access to increase representation and diversity in the cybersecurity field. Committed to inclusion and belonging, she holds the firm belief that representation enhances the culture and community of an organization and seeks to amplify underserved voices at any table she has a seat.

Alshlon Banks


Alshlon Banks currently works for the state of Connecticut in the child protection profession. He has an insatiable passion for cyber security and will be transitioning into the field full-time shortly. Alshlon currently has his master’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Phoenix and has recently obtained his Security + certification from CompTIA. He is currently studying for his CEH certification and AWS Solutions Architect certification. Serving the community is no stranger to Alshlon as he has held several different roles as being a member Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, Excelsior Lodge # 3 Prince Hall Mason, and Location Ambassador for Blacks In Cybersecurity. Alshlon firmly believes that Information is power, and it must be respected and protected when the need for it arises.

Aleise McGowan


Aleise has over 21 years of IT experience in the K-12 space. Aleise is currently working for the Simpson County School District as the Director of Technology. She has a passion for information security and loves fostering and inspiring the same love through her role as an Adjunct Instructor. Aleise has a Master of Science in Management Information Systems with a dual specialization in Information Security and IT Management. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Computing at the University of South Alabama and is looking to move full-time into the information security space. Her research areas include information security, predictive analytics, data mining, machine learning, consumer engagement, and persuasive technology

Aleise is a longtime advocate for diversity and inclusivity and is dedicated to breaking barriers that challenge current and future IT professionals. This is evident in the work she’s done as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, as a co-founder of WiCyS Northern Alabama Affiliate, and a member WiCyS Global’s Neurodiversity Special Interest Group.

Aleise is currently studying for her CEH certification.

Tammy Hinkle


Tammy Hinkle, Chief People Officer at BlackGirlsHack, is a certified cybersecurity professional with expertise in Identity, Credential, and Access Management, as well as leadership, collaboration, Scrum, and project management. Tammy holds a Certificate in the Cybersecurity Professional Program from California State University, Long Beach. She also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Art in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, Tammy is an IT Security Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Lab, working for MORI Associates, Inc. She has a passion for serving the community and it is important to her to leave the world a better place than she found it. She has dedicated more than 15 years to Jack and Jill of America, Inc. positively impacting African American children and teens. She is also a member of the distinguished organization Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In both organizations, Tammy has and currently holds both local and regional positions. Her involvement in enriching young lives also extends to her Board positions at two of the highest nationally ranked elementary and high schools. Tammy is purposeful and intentional in her work for the betterment of minds, ensuring equity and a safe space for learning and enrichment. Apart from her impressive professional and community achievements, Tammy cherishes her most important role as the mother of two lovely young ladies.

Eric Martin


Eric Martin Bio


Dr. Aunshul Rege

Advisory Board Member BGH

Aunshul Rege is an associate professor and director of the CARE Lab at Temple University. Her research has been supported by numerous National Science Foundation grants and focuses on the human, sociological, and psychological aspects of cyberattacks and cybersecurity. Aunshul is also passionate about cybersecurity education and runs free summer social engineering competitions for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, as well as free workshops for educators. She is a proponent of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in research and education and has generated an "Organizations We Love" (OWL) list, which is an inventory of 286 organizations that strive to make tech and info/cybersecurity opportunities and experiences accessible to everyone. Aunshul currently serves as the research lead for the Social Engineering Community at Def Con. Prior to her academic life, she worked as a software and QA/QC engineer in industry. Aunshul has a BSc and BA in Computer Science and Criminology respectively, a MA in Criminology, a MA in Criminal Justice, and a PhD in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University.

Eric Belardo

Advisory Board Member BGH

Eric is a US ARMY Military Intelligence Veteran of Bosnia and Kosovo with NATO; Eric Brings over 30 years of Cyber Security & Online Safety Experience across many industry domains including Civilian Government, Department of Defense, International, Financial, and Civilian markets. Where he has supported organizations in strategic direction, program assessments, remediation and monitoring, intelligence services (VIP & High Value individuals), and Security Risk Mitigation and Security Education. Eric’s experience in the cyber security field encompasses the areas of Security Operations, Incident Response, Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery, Digital Forensics, Certification and Accreditation, Enterprise Security Architecture, and Security in Mergers & Acquisitions in over 20 Countries. Eric Founded Raices cyber org in 2021, a non-profit foundation to support Hispanics, latinos, Latinas and latinX in the field of Cyber Security. Eric is a sought after speaker on TV and in person, having performed keynote speeches/ webinars and many YouTube Videos and Livestreams

Staci Hill Okine

Advisory Board Member BGH

An award-winning systems engineering senior leader with two decades of sales engineering and cybersecurity experience, Staci Hill Okine exemplifies a confident mix of technical acumen, leadership excellence and ability to create elite teams and inclusive culture where people thrive. Staci currently serves as the US Commercial Director of Systems Engineering at Palo Alto Networks. With a strong conviction for investing in people and nurturing tomorrow’s leaders, throughout her career Staci has coached, mentored, sponsored many women and underrepresented minorities in STEM. In her community, Staci volunteers with Ohio Cyber Women introducing young girls to cybersecurity, is a member of the Central Ohio Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), the New Albany Women’s network, and serves on the planning committee of the New Albany African American Parents Network. Staci holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Spelman College and a Master of Science in Telecommunications from the University of Pittsburgh. She was the first Black female systems engineering director at Cisco.

Dr. Dane Brown

Advisory Board Member BGH

Dane Brown is an Assistant Professor in the Cyber Science Department at the United States Naval Academy. He holds a B.S in Electrical Engineering (USNA '05) and an M.S. in Computer Engineering (NPS '06). He completed a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering (Virginia Tech '19) with a focus on analyzing the security of firmware in ARM environments. Dane has worked at the Naval Academy since 2010. Originally an instructor in the Electrical Engineering department, he quickly got involved in teaching and developing courses for the new Cyber additions to the Naval Academy core curriculum. In 2014, he was hired into the new Cyber Science department and charged with helping to create the curriculum and course sequence for the emergent Cyber Operations major. To this end, he has adapted and delivered a course which introduces students to computer architecture and design principles in a hands-on format. Prior to joining the Naval Academy faculty, Dane Brown served as a Submarine Officer in the U.S. Navy responsible for maintenance, personnel, and operations. He still serves as a Naval Reservist to this day and has deployed to U.S. Central Command to work in the Joint Cyber Center in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Dane's expertise lies in problem solving at the lowest levels of computer software, hardware, and networks. He has a passion for information system security to include: Binary Analysis Reverse Engineering Cryptography Privacy and Trust Microprocessors Communications Protocols Signal Processing Biometrics Cyber and STEM Education

Tracy Z Maleeff

Advisory Board Member BGH

Tracy Z. Maleeff, aka @InfoSecSherpa, is a Security Researcher with the Krebs Stamos Group. She previously held the roles of Information Security Analyst at The New York Times Company and a Cyber Analyst for GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to joining the Information Security field, Tracy worked as a librarian in academic, corporate, and law firm libraries. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh in addition to undergraduate degrees from both Temple University (magna cum laude) and the Pennsylvania State University. While a member of the Special Libraries Association, Tracy received the Dow Jones Innovate Award, the Wolters Kluwer Law & Business Innovations in Law Librarianship award, and was named a Fellow. Tracy has been featured in the Tribe of Hackers: Cybersecurity Advice and Tribe of Hackers: Leadership books. She also received the Women in Security Leadership Award from the Information Systems Security Association. Tracy publishes a daily Information Security & Privacy newsletter and maintains an Open Source Intelligence research blog at She is a native of the Philadelphia area.

Leadership team

Joy Bryan


Joy Bryan has always had a passion for service and community. She has had the opportunity to volunteer and give back to several organizations dear to her, especially causes that educate and empower children to learn and excel in technology. Joy’s passion for leadership also carried over to her career where she has an extensive background in operations and project management. An Atlanta native, Joy received her Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from Clark Atlanta University. Joy is an avid lifelong learner having taken many continuous education courses. More recently she completed the Cybersecurity & Information Security program at Emory University. Joy believes there is always a bright side, and she enjoys living a life full of optimism and black girl magic.

Billy Davidson, Jr.


Billy Davidson, Jr. is a Customer Success Manager in the cybersecurity space, and has vast experience in customer support, business development, & relationship building. He is a member of various technology organizations and is a lifelong learner of all things tech. Billy is a huge cloud enthusiast and spends his free time learning the AWS platform to expand his knowledge. Billy currently holds the Security+ & AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certifications and is currently studying for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. Billy is also an avid record collector, audio engineer, & visual artist.

Tamara van Exel


Tamara van Exel is an experienced cyber security professional in penetration testing, digital forensics and malware analysis. She currently works for Total Fitness 360 as a cyber security specialist. Tamara has over 20 years IT experience and is know as a Jack of all traits because she has experience in different fields in IT and security. She is dedicated in educating as many people as possible about cybersecurity and has a passion for continuous learning in the cybersecurity field. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Computer Science from Troy University in Alabama, and a technical master’s degree in Information Security from Lewis University in Illinois where she also received the highest academic distinction reward. She is currently studying for her CISSP exam. Tamara has the CEH-EC Council certification.

Donita Searcy


My name is Donita Searcy, I am responsible for onboarding new members and building member-centric programs, processes, and procedures that drive BGH’s business objectives. I have a B.S. in Computer Science, 25+ years of experience in the Information Technology industry, and have fully transitioned to Cybersecurity. I currently work in the U.S. Federal Government space in Information Assurance. I am dedicated to the Mission, Vision, and Values that BGH represents to share knowledge and resources to help black girls and women breakthrough barriers to careers in information security and cybersecurity. Our members are determined and driven which fuels my excitement to assist them with attaining their goals. This is my way of paying it forward and providing the support I wish I had entering Information Technology years ago. To all those considering joining the organization, I say, “Welcome to BGH! How may I be of service?”



Rayella is the Information Security Systems Specialist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Prior to working at CUIMC, Rayella was working as a paralegal in a bankruptcy law firm but she was looking for a more challenging career. Having studied Russian and Slavic studies, Rayella always had an inclination towards security and whilst undergoing her Master’s degree at NYU, found a non-profit that focused on various security threats, cybersecurity being the forefront amongst them and decided to make the switch to cybersecurity.



Emefa (Emma-fa) is an upcoming cybersecurity professional. After spending nearly a decade in the healthcare industry, Emefa pivoted to pursue a new passion—cybersecurity. This pivot has manifested change, growth, and an overall personal transformation. As a member of BlackGirlsHack, Emefa aligns with the vision of increasing diversity and representation in cybersecurity. Emefa’s journey with BlackGirlsHack has been an upward progression: beginning as a Lab Assistant, then promoted to Lab Manager, and now being selected as Director of Information Security. As opportunity never knocks twice, Emefa is always ready to jump into the battle and responsibility of securing the cyberspace.

Shaheera Kanani


Shaheera currently works in the cybersecurity space as a cloud security auditor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University in Information Systems and is currently pursuing a masters degree in Cybersecurity at Georgia Tech. In her free time, she manages her blog which provides advice to new folks in the cybersecurity industry and volunteers with several other organizations helping women in cybersecurity and helping the world become a better place. Her passions include reading, baking, dancing, and watching sports.

Makayla Ferrell


Makayla Ferrell is a recent graduate from the University of Mary Washington. She graduated summa cum laude with a double major in computer science and mathematics and a minor in cybersecurity. On-campus, Makayla was a member of four honor societies, the Multicultural Leadership Council, and the President’s advisory committee. She also worked as a TA and peer tutor for the computer science and mathematics departments. Currently, she works as a software engineer for the Department of Defense. Makayla holds Security+, CEH, and Pentest+ certifications. Her nonprofit experience includes Brown Girls Code and Black Girls Code, where she holds lead instructor positions. In her free time, Makayla often competes in capture the flag competitions and red team drills. She is very excited to join the Black Girls Hack organization and help others improve their skill set.

Josh Edwards


Josh Edwards is a Software Engineer and member of the United States Air Force. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and a Master of Science in Computer Science Engineering. Josh has experience working for the Marine Corps and the Air Force as well as private companies doing Software Engineering and development. He is Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) certified as well as having certifications in PenTest+ and Linux+. Josh (J3d3y3) is in charge of Friday Night Labs.

Yolande Fransman


Yolande Fransman is a finance professional with expertise in mortgage servicing. She recently earned a Master’s degree in Cybersecurity from George Washington University because she recognized the growing cyber threats affecting the finance sector. She is pursuing risk-mitigation Cybersecurity policy opportunities in mortgage fin-tech but is open to other possibilities as well. Yolande is excited to be an active member of Black Girls Hack!

Leadership team - Alumni

Tanisha L. Turner


Tanisha L. Turner is an experienced cybersecurity professional in security operations, malware analysis & identification, and threat investigation. She participates in non-profit cybersecurity organizations and is active in information security communities. Tanisha is currently a Security Solutions Tech Lead & Senior Elastic Stack Support Engineer at Elastic, which she is instrumental in providing customers with technical advice, guidance, and security solutions on Elastic’s software products. Tanisha has been involved in the Elastic SIEM project in the early stages of development and is a go-to person for SIEM expertise on her team. She is the first Elastician to be featured on a global list of recognized Epic Women in Cybersecurity:

Tanisha is dedicated and focused on bringing diversity to the cybersecurity realm and paving the way for current and future cybersecurity professionals. She has held a non-profit volunteer position in recent years as BDPA Chair of the Cybersecurity Advisory Board. She has a Bachelor of Science in Information Security and an Associate of Science in Network Security in which both degrees were received with honors.

Charles Shirer


Charles has 20 years of overall IT experience with the last 8 years in Information Security performing web application, network, and wireless penetration Tests, PTH(Proactive Threat Hunting) and Security Research. In his spare time Charles plays retro video games, programs in the rust programming language, He also works on the SECBSD open source project which is a penetration testing distro based on the OpenBsd Operating System, Works as Staff at several Security Conferences,runs a Podcast and enjoys helping others whenever possible. Charles is well known in the security space as bsdbandit.

Latrunda Smith


Latrunda is a Louisiana native who currently resides in sunny California. Her mission is to increase representation and resources within the community. Representation is important because people must see reflections of themselves as proof that no dream is too big to manifest. They must also know that they too have a voice and a place in any space at all times. Her motto is “Be the representation you did not have!” Outside of her studies and BGH, she enjoys traveling, reading, listening to podcasts, and leveling up her cybersecurity skills. Latrunda is a member of ACM and a committee member of the ASU Diversity and Inclusion board. She has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from LSU. She is a student at Arizona State University where she is completing her second Bachelors and Masters of Science in Information Technology with a focus in Cybersecurity.

Angel Collins


Angel works at Fastly where she is adept in a multitude of accounting management systems to improve accounting operations whilst aiding and maintain confidentiality of organized information and providing documentation for audit processes. Angel’s true passion is in the field of information security and helping young girls and women excel in the field of cybersecurity. Angel has a bachelor’s degree in Health Administration Information Systems and a Master of Science in Information Security.

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