Breaking the Barriers: Climbing the STEM Ladder

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Join WITI as we bring together influencers and decision makers for a collaborative discussion to reframe how we think and what we do about the gender and diversity gap in the tech sector.

We will explore ways to advance women of all levels, backgrounds by addressing leadership and empowerment, creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, balancing responsibilities during COVID-19 and tangible next steps you can take action on.

Featured Speaker(s)

Maria A. Roat
Federal Deputy CIO
Office of Management & Budget
Executive Office of the President

Maria is the Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of the Chief Information Officer. She was previously the Small Business Administration Chief Information Officer, and served at the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Transportation in a number of technology leadership positions. Maria began her career in the United States Navy as a Data Processing Technician and later worked for the Department of the Navy in various technology and engineering positions. She was in the private sector for 5 years deploying and managing global enterprise technology programs. Maria retired from the U.S. Navy in 2007, with 26 years of active duty and reserve service, in which she obtained the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer, Information Systems Technician. 

Maria is a graduate of the University of Maryland earning a Bachelor of Arts in Information Systems Management, Harvard Business School Executive Education Program for Leadership Development, and the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy.

Kendra K. Gray
VP, Program Delivery
Common Securitization Solutions

Kendra is an innovative leader and change agent with over 25 years of experience across operations and technology in the financial services industry. Kendra recently joined Common Securitization Solutions (CSS) as the Vice President of Program Delivery. In this role, she is responsible for developing and delivering new products and services that drive value for clients.

Prior to CSS, Kendra was a partner at Capco consulting firm where she led the housing finance practice bringing both a business and technical perspectives to product and service launches. Earlier, she was an executive with Fannie Mae, where she was responsible for several strategic transformation initiatives in Operations & Technology. In previous roles, Kendra was responsible for leading large development, customer integration, and data analytics teams.

Kendra has led or sponsored numerous initiatives to accelerate gender parity, at times partnering with nonprofit organizations with similar goals. As a people leader, Kendra believes in breaking down barriers to empower others to perform at their best.

Outside of work, Kendra enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters. They are avid world travelers and most enjoy learning about other cultures (including the food!).

Kendra holds a bachelor's degree in Management Science from Virginia Tech.

Judy Harrison
Senior Vice President, Enterprise Portfolio Management Office, Navy Federal Credit Union

Judy Harrison is at the forefront of the world's largest credit union's digital transformation as the Senior Vice President, Enterprise Portfolio Management Office (EPMO). Her newly formed team focuses on the delivery of the enterprise's most strategic and transformational initiatives -taking a "center of excellence" approach for delivering enterprise capabilities including competencies, methodologies and standards.

Having spent the last 30 years in a diverse range of departments across Navy Federal, Ms. Harrison has gained broad-based expertise in technology initiatives and major systems development, business process improvement and automation, strategic planning, operations, change management, as well as training and support. Ms. Harrison leverages her unique experience and understanding of the critical interplay between technology and the member and employee experience to deliver maximum value to the organization. Ms. Harrison's leadership approach is heavily influenced from time serve on active and reserve duty with the U.S. Army.


Annette Best is Vice President in Freddie Mac's Single-Family Strategic Delivery organization leading the Management Consulting Services and Innovation Lab teams. In this role, Ms. Best is responsible for partnering with both internal and external groups to identify innovative solutions for potential business opportunities and to improve operational efficiency.

With Freddie Mac for 25 years, Ms. Best has served in a variety of leadership roles across the Single-Family business line accountable for managing industry-wide transformation efforts, leading customer technology offerings ranging from automated underwriting to servicing. Prior to this role, Ms. Best led the technology offerings team responsible for the Uniform Collateral Data Portal (UCDP) and the Loan Collateral Advisor (LCA) tools.

Freddie Mac provides liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation's residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Today, Freddie Mac is making home possible for one in four home borrowers and is one of the largest sources of financing for multifamily housing. For more information, please visit  and follow us on Twitter @FreddieMac.

Schedule of Events

5:30 Opening Remarks and Intro
5:45 Panelist
6:45 Questions from Audience
7:00 Raffle and Wrap-Up