MeriTalk Announces 2024 Cyber Defenders Award Winners

Government and Industry Leaders Celebrated for Their Impacts on Cyber Missions in Federal IT

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--()--Today, MeriTalk announced the winners of the 2024 Cyber Defenders Awards. The awards recognize individuals in government and industry who drive innovation, advance our nation’s cybersecurity, and who have made significant contributions across cyber programs in Federal IT.

“These leaders are pioneering the latest innovations transforming government cybersecurity,” said Caroline Boyd, principal, government programs at MeriTalk. “We’re thrilled to celebrate their work spearheading cyber modernization and the impacts they have on our nation’s cybersecurity.”

This year’s winners are listed below.


  • Leonard Bailey, Special Counsel for National Security, Department of Justice
  • John Bienko, Innovation Officer, Small Business Administration
  • Aaron (James) Bishop, Chief Information Security Officer, Department of the Air Force
  • Paul Blahusch, Director of Cybersecurity and Chief Information Security Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Department of Labor
  • Scott Boaman, Chief Information Security Officer, Naval Reactors
  • Lance Cary, Security Operations Lead, Department of Energy
  • Amir Dastouri, Chief Information Security Officer, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Mike Duffy, Associate Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
  • Robert (Tyler) Gaylik, Lead Information Technology Specialist, Federal Emergency Management Association
  • Shannon Hughes, Program Manager, Cybersecurity Supply Chain Risk Management (C-SCRM), Office of the Chief Information Security Officer, Department of Energy
  • Megan Kane, Risk Management Branch Chief, Department of Homeland Security
  • Jonathan Mangual, Senior Policy Analyst, Department of Homeland Security
  • Deloise Moore, Cybersecurity Program Capabilities Manager, U.S. Coast Guard
  • Vu Nguyen, Chief Information Security Officer, Department of Justice
  • Alvin (Tony) Plater, Chief Information Security Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Department of the Navy
  • Chad Poland, Product Manager, Secure Cloud Business Applications (SCuBA) Project, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency
  • Anjana Rajan, Assistant National Cyber Director, Supply Chain and Tech Security, Office of the National Cyber Director
  • Terence Rountree, Director, Information Technology Security Division, Federal, Acquisition Service, Information Technology Category, General Services Administration
  • Daphna Shai, Assistant Director, Security Operations, Department of Justice
  • Thomas Smith, Service Center Director, Office of Supply Chain Risk Management, Federal Acquisition Service, Information Technology Category, General Services Administration
  • Jason Tant, Assistant Directory, Cybersecurity Operations, Securities and Exchanges Commission
  • Larry Tun, Assistant Director, Security Operations, Department of Justice


  • Gary Barlet, Public Sector Chief Information Officer, Illumio
  • Mischa Beckett, Director of Cyber Threat Intelligence, DELTA, General Dynamics Information Technology
  • Nat Bongiovanni, Chief Technology Officer, NTT DATA Federal Services
  • Rick Bruno, Executive Director and Cyber Portfolio Manager, ManTech
  • Gregory Clifton, Sales General Manager of Defense and National Security, Intel
  • Kyle Dewar, Director, Technical Account Management, Tanium
  • George Dilger II, Federal Regulatory Compliance Engineer, Dell Technologies
  • Carolyn Duby, Federal Chief Technology Officer and Cybersecurity GTM Lead, Cloudera
  • Alice Fakir, Partner, Federal Cybersecurity Services Partner, IBM
  • Neal Ferrano, Specialist Leader, Cyber and Strategic Risk, Deloitte
  • Candice Frost, Account Executive, RTX
  • Gregory Garrett, Vice President, Cybersecurity, Peraton
  • Philip George, Executive Technical Strategist, Merlin Cyber
  • Steve Hoffman, President, Fortinet Federal
  • Joyce Hunter, Executive Director for Collaboration and Education, Mission-Critical
  • Wayne LeRiche, Federal Civilian Field Chief Technology Officer and Solutions Architect, Palo Alto Networks
  • Dave Link, Chief Executive Officer, ScienceLogic
  • Gaurav Pal, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, StackArmor
  • Egon Rinderer, Chief Technology Officer, Shift5
  • Bill Rucker, President, Trustwave Government Solutions
  • Tom Stamos, Regional Vice President, Federal Sales, Zscaler
  • Laura Taylor, Chief Information Security Officer of Government Systems and FISMA/FedRAMP Advisor, General Dynamics Information Technology
  • Sumedh Thakar, President and Chief Executive Officer, Qualys

Award winners will be recognized at Tech Tonic on July 18 at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. and at the Innovation Intersection: Cyber and AI Honors event on October 3 at Planet Word in Washington, D.C. For more information on the awards and winners, visit

About MeriTalk

The voice of tomorrow’s government today, MeriTalk is a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT. Our award-winning editorial team and world-class events and research staff produce unmatched news, analysis, and insight. The goal: a more efficient, responsive, and citizen-centric government. MeriTalk connects with an audience of 160,000 Federal community contacts. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter/X, @MeriTalk. MeriTalk is a 300Brand organization.

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