About the Speakers
Moderator: Toni Benson, Deputy Associate Director, Cyber Defense Education and Training, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
Toni Benson is the lead for cyber defense education and training within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) supporting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Her role is to provide training and education opportunities broadly to assist in combating the cybersecurity workforce shortage.
Prior to joining DHS in 2015, Ms. Benson spent most of her career serving in the United States Air Force, where she served as a Communications Officer. She also worked with other US government agencies and private sector companies as a contractor, in support of various cyber initiatives. Ms. Benson is a member of the ISC2 community as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional. She received her undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems from Delaware State University and her Master of Science degree in Information Assurance from the University of Maryland Global Campus.
Christy McSweeney, Traditional
Hello! My name is Christy McSweeney and I would like to tell you a bit about myself: I am a curious, passionate, and motivated student striving to learn and grow in this ever-changing world. I am currently working to advance my skills as an incident responder to defend our critical systems here in the United States. I am currently attending the SANS Technology Institute for their Undergraduate Certificate Program.
As someone with no technical background trying to enter this field, my experience has been challenging to say the least. However, in the words of the late Henry Ford, "whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." Although, I have failed and struggled I am confident with my perseverance and passion for learning, I will succeed. I take inspiration from the many people throughout history who overcame impossible challenges or even changed the world; all of them began as one person with a dream, no different than you or I. The power to change a life or the entire world starts with a dream and someone who believes in that dream.
Betty Merlos, Product Analyst, Exelon
Berenise (Betty) Merlos is an IT professional from Hyattsville, MD where she currently works as an IT analyst at Exelon, the nation’s leading competitive energy provider. Berenise joined Exelon as a full time employee in 2021 following her internship with the company as part of her Cyber Security specialization program with Year Up, a national non-profit aimed at closing the Opportunity Divide and providing diverse and equitable paths to employment. With a passion for technology from a young age, Berenise decided it was time to pursue her dream of working in cyber security, making a career path shift following 6 years in the medical field. In addition to her full time employment at Exelon, Berenise is currently pursuing her BA in IT at Prince George's Community College, as well as her first security certification through CompTIA. An avid gamer, Berenise enjoys spending her free time playing a superhero in a game. You can find her tinkering on her computer, playing a funky tune on the saxophone or strumming a lullaby on her ukulele.