3 easy ways to give back to others and the community.

There is something so rewarding about giving back to the community and others. The term is called “Volunesia” – when volunteering is changing your life so much that you forget you are even volunteering. How do we do more of this, even if we have limited funds or time to give? Here are three ways to give back without breaking your time or financial bank:

  1. Everyone isn’t just looking for money, give time or items if you have it. There are so many ways to give back to people. It can be as simple as mentoring, donating clothing to a charity, or spending your time working at a shelter. These seemingly small activities make a huge difference in the world, especially when done consistently.
  2. Get your friends involved and make it a party! During New Years Eve weekend, I wanted to kick off the year in a different and more wholesome way. It may just be my way of lessening the guilt for how hard I party every NYE lol. In any case, I got a group of friends together and curated a fun volunteer experience. We went to the Houston Food Bank and spent a few hours supporting their food inventory management and inspection function. As the music played, we danced, laughed, talked, and had so much fun that at times I forgot we were in an assembly line doing manual labor.  Afterward, we celebrated a day of hard work with a boozy brunch celebration – a great incentive for those who weren’t just sold on the idea of waking up at 7 am to do community service. When you make it a party and throw in champagne, who can resist?
  3. Connect your passion with purpose. Everyone in this world is gifted with unique skills. I have found that some of the most rewarding volunteer experiences for me have been ones where I can use those gifts to help others. Cyber security is a passion of mine. I connect this with purpose by providing non-profits and organizations with pro bono or heavily discounted cyber security services. This also helps me sharpen my technical and business skills in the process. It’s a win-win all around! Think about what your gifts are and share them with others!

Making a difference in the world doesn’t require a ton of effort, especially when you get others involved. I encourage you to get your friends together, volunteer somewhere. Send me a group picture on Instagram – you may get a surprise in return for joining the Volunesia wave!

Congratulations United Airlines cyber security scholarship winners!

Working in the cyber security industry, I never imagined my job would enable me to give back to causes I care so deeply about. Of course, it helps that I work for a large company and a great leadership team who values diversity and social responsibility just as much as I do. But, I also want to share this with hope that no matter how large or small your company, as you think about how you can make a difference…you remember that you don’t have to be wealthy first or do it alone! Look into the causes that your employer, family, friends, and community care about and find ways you can bring your passion and ideas to the table, and work together to make it happen. Here is one example of many where through my job and network, I was blessed with an opportunity to give back:

Recently at the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Workforce Professionals (ICMCP) Third Annual National Conference in Atlanta, United awarded $10,000 in scholarships to four cyber security students. I had the extreme honor and pleasure of presenting the awards to the students at the event, and was quickly reminded of how good it feels to give back to others while also contributing to increasing diversity within the industry.

Paola Lowry, one of United’s scholarship recipients, shared how much the honor meant to her at the conference. “I want to express my sincere appreciation for being selected for this award,” said Paola. “I’m sure it was a difficult task, to choose one out of an amazing community of women and minorities who are working hard to break the status quo.”

It feels great to support the next generation of cyber security professionals. Our scholarship recipients are remarkable people. From battling life threatening illnesses, to making selfless sacrifices for their families, to taking leaps of faith to leave comfortable careers and move into the world of cyber security, their dedication to success and resilience are inspiring. It’s important to work with academic, non profit, and for profit businesses to continue closing the gap, and we look forward to continuing our growing partnership with ICMCP.

It’s no secret that diversity in tech is still a challenge today, and the cyber security sector is no exception. In addition, the general talent gap the industry is facing has left many organizations struggling to find ways to attract and retain top cyber talent. I’m proud to work for an organization that leads the pack in this arena and is dedicated to shifting the dial.

“Our journey at United Airlines over the last year has led us to tackle this issue head on,” shared Chief Information Security Officer Emily Heath, who boasts a security, risk and compliance team that as of earlier this year was 48 percent female and had representatives of 25 nationalities working side by side to battle security threats. “As we looked to significantly increase the size of our team, we knew shrinking the diversity gap was going to be a key differentiator for us and a principle that we wanted to be at the core of our team’s DNA.”

Thank you to United Airlines and ICMCP for making the scholarship giveaway possible!

Supporting the next generation of talent with Year Up!

I’ve been a huge supporter on an organization called Year Up for a while now. The organization is dedicated to closing the opportunity divide by offering a competitive program to young adults inclusive of 6 months of business and technical training, followed by a 6 month internship at some of the largest organizations in the nation. I love everything this non-profit stands for and am obsessed with the mission.

Through United Airlines, I also have the honor of serving as the Vice President of Gen Trend – our next generation business resource group. Our mission is to prepare United for the next generation of talent and vice versa. This means partnering with organizations like Year Up to support next gen growth. Recently, we hosted our 2nd annual interview success prep kit event. During this event Gen Trend members got together and built interview success prep kits for about 80 students. Prior to organizing the event, we asked students what they really needed in order to succeed and they told us! The kits include everything from a portfolio folder filled with mock resumes and tip, to Tide To Go pens in case there are any accidental coffee still on the way to an interview! Other items included hand sanitizer, pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, notebooks, usb sticks, mini sewing kits, and a tote bag, and inspiring note cards. After creating the kits, we spent time networking with the students and learning more about their inspiring stories.

To any organizations supporting the many Year Up chapters around the nation, this is a great way to engage your employees and support the organization.

This is what matters. Grow, give back, and repeat!

Stineology: Philanthropy for Professional Growth

Building experience early in your career or in preparation for a career transition can be challenging. They say you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. One way that I’ve been able to develop and grow myself rapidly is by committing to volunteer opportunities that stretch my capacity, introduce me to new skills, and can even be added to my resume.