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Women Fill Key Roles in Nation’s Largest Cyber Program

Shalon Simmons

With the recent hiring of Shalon Simmons as program director of cybersecurity technology, the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology now has three women, two of whom are women of color, leading key academic areas in the largest cyber program in the United States.

Simmons joins Department of Cybersecurity Chair Helen Barker and Center for Security Studies Senior Director Loyce Pailen. As program director, Simmons will collaborate with UMGC’s cyber operations and cloud computing program directors to carry forward cybersecurity department’s mission to educate the next generation of the cyber workforce and open the career pipeline for historically excluded populations.

“We are pleased to be adding someone with such an impressive combination of academic and global industry experience in cybersecurity to enhance our program and benefit our students and faculty,” said Douglas Harrison, vice president and dean of the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology.

Loyce Pailen

Together, Simmons, Barker, and Pailen bring several decades of academic and industry experience to the UMGC cybersecurity program. Barker joined UMGC in 2020 after spending 18 years with Capitol Technology University and, prior to that, 15 years in the private sector as a management analyst and resource training specialist in the distribution industry in the Washington, D.C., area. Pailen has been with UMGC for more than 10 years. She has over 35 years of wide-ranging experience in information technology, including work in cybersecurity, software development, project management, telecommunications, risk management, and network and systems security and administration. Pailen is also the author of the “Cybersecurity Grandma” books, a series that introduces children to the field.

Before joining UMGC, Simmons taught cybersecurity for over 10 years at Oklahoma State University, Montreat College, Tulsa Technology Center, and Rose State College. Prior to teaching, she worked in the IT and telecommunications industry for over 20 years at A&T, GE, Verizon, and Global ICT. She managed multimillion-dollar multinational projects and programs during her corporate career.

Helen Barker

Simmons’ technical competencies include cybersecurity, information technology, telecommunications, business management, and international business. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Oklahoma State University, MBA in International Business from Oklahoma City University, master’s degree in information assurance from Oklahoma State University, and recently completed a post-graduate Certificate in Nanotechnology at Oxford University in England. She is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).