NEWS: Women Rock IT 2024 

Women Rock IT

By Carolina Manel and all members of the WIT Committee*. In honor of Women’s History Month, the University of California Women in Technology (UC WIT) representatives, alongside their teams from every UC location, have nominated a woman to recognize their dedication and commitment to advancing in information technology. These fifteen inspiring stories showcase women’s remarkable contributions to the field, from innovative solutions to exemplary leadership in tech, pushing the boundaries of what is achievable in Information Technology (IT). 

Annette Rios, Associate IT Director, Goldman School of Public Policy – UC Berkeley (UCB) 

In a time of massive organizational change at the Goldman School of Public Policy (GSPP) at UC Berkeley, Annette Rios was the lynchpin of their IT department and revolutionized the school’s approach to providing technical support. Under a new dean, GSPP has doubled its square footage and continues to expand its student base year over year. Rios has done an amazing job handling the growth and has been instrumental in reconfiguring the various classrooms with useful and appropriate technology. She has set up run-throughs before each semester to onboard faculty to the classroom technology and regularly stops by the classrooms to make sure instructors are supported. Rios has created a culture of inclusivity. 

Shannon Hui Ling Chee, Systems Administrator, Information Technology (IT) Security Committee – UC Davis (UCD)  

Shannon Hui Ling Chee has emerged as a pivotal figure in transforming IT culture at UC Davis, particularly in the realms of security and service. As co-chair of the IT Security Committee, she has been instrumental in fostering critical discussions on IT security, positioning the university at the forefront of cybersecurity practices. Her leadership in re-launching the IT Service Management Special Interest Group has provided a forum to share best practices across campus. A notable highlight of Shannon’s career is her successful leadership of a workgroup that recommended a password management solution, now benefiting over 400 users across six campus units, significantly enhancing their security posture and access management. This initiative alone showcases her exceptional ability to navigate complex challenges, drive meaningful change, and champion advancements in IT security. Shannon’s promotion from desktop support to systems administration is a testament to her relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation. Moreover, her dedicated efforts to improve lab access management and documentation processes have substantially bolstered support for critical research activities. 

Kristina Guzman, Administrative Supervisor II – UC Davis Health (UCDH) 

Kristina Guzman gives her 150% every day, she goes above and beyond when it comes to the work she does. She is always willing to help even when she has a high workload herself. She is kind, passionate and empathetic to all who get the chance to work with her. If anyone deserves this award it is her. Her biggest project that is ongoing has been the BIG move to the HAS Building in Rancho Cordova. As part of the HAS building move, she is moved ambulatory teams, Finance teams, Procurement teams, IT teams and others into the building. Her and her team have been responsible for all things involving the move including compliance, safety, scheduling individual team moves, weekly tours of the facility, walk up center set up etc. On top of all her Building Management projects, she also is Vice-Chair for UCDH Employee resource group Latinx Staff and Faculty. Through virtue of her role as the HAS building manager, she often makes herself available for onsite activities supporting IT DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) events and events promoting Employee Engagement. 

Xanat Hernandez, Director of Communications Office of the Vice Chancellor, Data and Information Technology (ODIT) – UC Irvine (UCI) 

Xanat Hernandez has been instrumental in building the internal and external brand and storytelling capability for the technology functions across UCI. Working in partnership with technology leaders and their institutional partners, Hernandez has helped elevate the narrative around how UC Irvine is being both strategic and transformative through the use of technology and data analytics. Additionally, Hernandez has been an active participant and advocate in our Inclusive Excellence programs, both in championing the role for women in the field of technology and in establishing a culture of innovation and inclusion. Her emergence as a leader both in voice and in practice has set a great example for others and has been well recognized.  

Within her own team, Hernandez’s influence is palpable. She does not just lead; she uplifts, having recently elevated a team member to a leadership role, thereby actively shaping the trajectory of her career. Her mentorship extends into the academic realm, guiding students to not only excel in their current studies but also to lay a robust foundation for their future professional journeys. 

Dr. Deepti Pandita, Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO), Department of Internal Medicine (Health IT) – UC Irvine Health (UCIH) 

Dr. Pandita serves as the UCI CMIO and earned her position through her exceptional dedication to advocating for women physicians and technology leaders. Under her leadership, both the Chief Ambulatory and Chief Inpatient medical information officer roles are filled by exceptionally talented and qualified physician-faculty members. Dr. Pandita has consistently mentored and empowered me and other women in our group, fostering an inclusive environment where we can confidently contribute, advance our professional growth, and leadership. Her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity within UCI Health’s technology sector is commendable, making her nomination well-deserved. Dr. Pandita continues to drive positive change, empowering women at UCI. 

Melissa Romanus, Data Management Engineer, National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL),  

Melissa Romanus is a passionate mental health advocate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, dedicated to promoting accessibility and raising awareness about neurodivergence and disability in the workplace. As a National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) Data Management Engineer, Romanus’s research focuses on collecting, storing, and analyzing data from critical high-performance computing data centers. In addition, she serves as the Lab’s delegate on the Council of UC Staff Assemblies and co-chairs the All-Access Employee Resource Group, collaborating with colleagues to enhance resources for hiring and supervising a neurodiverse workforce. Romanus’s inspiring contributions encourage staff engagement and support inclusive representation across the entire Lab community. 

Lisa M. Snyder, Director of the Computational Research Technology Groups and Research Initiatives/ Office of Advanced Research Computing – UC Los Angeles (UCLA) 

Lisa M. Snyder, Ph.D. is responsible for providing leadership and support to coordinate and build campus capacity for innovative research and pedagogy through institutional coordination, alignment, and development of IT system requirements related to research computing and research data management. Snyder also works to facilitate broad-based, campus-wide collaboration and coordination with all academic departments and support units to align research and research computing with institutional direction. Her primary research is on pedagogical applications for interactive computer models of historic urban environments. In 2023, Snyder presented at the Immersive Technologies and Cultural Heritage Symposium (ITCH) at University of Southern California (USC), sharing her latest work on VSim, a platform designed to facilitate the use of 3D content in classrooms across the humanities disciplines and across all grade levels, and her reconstruction model of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. 

Gloria Belmontez, Manager and Helen He, Senior Developer, Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) – UC Los Angeles Health (UCLAH) 

Gloria Belmontez and Helen He, a dynamic duo, play key roles in the ITSM team.  Along with recognizing the critical importance of maintaining a stable service management environment, Belmontez’s extensive experience and Helen He’s innovative prowess ensures the reliability and effectiveness of our service management tools and systems while providing continuous improvements through custom applications.  

Their collaborative efforts and contributions to automate Operational and Capital Requests, implementing IT Cost/Avoidance Tracker, roll out a Top Agreements Questionnaire, and department authorizer forms have significantly streamlined manual tasks and saved countless resource hours. Their contributions not only exemplify operational excellence but also underscore their commitment to driving transformative change within UCLA Health. Belmontez and He uphold the integrity of the service management environment and operations at UCLA Health IT, bolstering trust among stakeholders and ensuring our organization’s continued success and growth. 

Danielle Rodenhauser, Associate Director, Campus Reporting Solutions – Information Technology Solutions (ITS) – UC Riverside (UCR) 

Danielle Rodenhauser exemplified remarkable leadership through her role in the integration and enhancement of Looker, a platform aimed at improving data accessibility and utilization across UCR. Despite the urgency and difficulty associated with a campus-wide launch of a robust and scalable data management platform, Rodenhauser leveraged her technical prowess and her proactive engagement with stakeholders. Her actions increased the efficacy of data management and strengthened the cohesion of campus units, bolstering UCR’s commitment to excellence. Rodenhauser’s contributions advance the standing of women in IT and inspire other women to pursue their ambitions and make noteworthy breakthroughs in their fields.  

Marina Rusakoff, Sr. Software Engineer, Information Technology Services (ITS) – UC San Diego (UCSD) 

Marina Rusakoff, a key figure at UCSD ITS since 2005, excels as lead software developer for Telecom/Directory. Her customer-centric approach and dedication to the ITS community are evident in her resilient tenure. Overcoming challenges, notably integrating Oracle’s Chart of Accounts (CoA) amidst COVID-19 disruptions, Rusakoff showcases adaptability. In the OFC project, she spearheads UCPath Employee strategies and Tele Management system 

(TMS) conversion, demonstrating technical prowess in iPaaS platforms. Rusakoff’s efficient management of multiple integrations, TMS, and Cellular billing underscores her achievements. As a team player fostering unity, she champions gender diversity, drawing on personal experiences as a woman and the proud mother of her two children. Rusakoff advocates work-life balance and transparent communication. 

Amy Radonich, Director, Enterprise Imaging, Health Imaging Services (IS) – UC San Diego Health (UCSDH) 

Amy Radonich is a well-rounded individual, and there is not a single project or solution that adequately defines her as an exemplary Information Technology (IT) leader. Radonich leads the way in a number of competencies. She excels in communicating and translating complex technology to positively impact clinical outcomes. She understands a variety of technologies supporting direct patient care, including Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), IT systems infrastructure, interfaces, cloud computing, and information security. She is actively engaged in partnering with clinical leaders implementing cutting-edge AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology in the imaging space. Radonich is an exceptional motivator, negotiator, collaborator, and compassionate leader to her team. She can effectively collaborate with her IS colleagues, her customers, and her colleagues. Her ability to listen, understand, and collaborate makes her a valued resource & role model for others. 

Cindy Gaytan Morrison, HP Education Systems Manager, School of Medicine – UC San Francisco (UCSF) and UC San Francisco Health (UCSFH) 

Cindy Gaytan Morrison was instrumental in implementing GRLN (Gender Recognition Lived Name) Policy for GME trainees and set a standard across all UC’s ensuring accurate identity recognition. She improved tracking of program contacts, system access for Program Admins, created comprehensive resources including videos, ensuring seamless support during her maternity leave last year. Not only a technical wizard, but she is also a great teacher, demonstrating patience and kindness while guiding colleagues through Zoom webinars. Her contributions are unmatched and have truly transformed GME. Simply put, she is amazing, andwe would be lost without her. 

Ann Crawford, Database Developer, Data Services and Business Intelligence (INFO) – UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) 

Ann Crawford excels in business intelligence and data architecture at UCSB, demonstrating exceptional leadership and innovation. Her steadfast commitment to diversity and women’s professional development sets her apart. Crawford’s innovative spirit was pivotal in implementing Python, CI/CD pipelines, Snowflake, and Power BI at UCSB. She adeptly manages the Power BI developer group, fostering collaboration and supporting women in tech. Crawford’s proactive approach to learning and inclusive attitude toward technology drive advancements and empower women in the field. Her dedication ensures her place as a leader in the tech community at UCSB and beyond. 

Marisa Strong, Applications Development Manager, UC Curation Center, California Digital Library – UC Office of the President (UCOP) 

Marisa Strong, leading an eight-person technical team, has revolutionized research workflows globally with her team’s innovative tools. The DMPTool streamlines adherence to data regulations, ensuring researchers easily record their compliance. The Dryad tool facilitates seamless gathering, storage, and publication of data. For tracking various objects, researchers utilize EZID to secure persistent identifiers. Strong’s leadership extends beyond technical contributions, actively promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, serving on multiple advisory committees, as well as President Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (PACSW), and University of California Office of President Women in Tech committee (UCOP WIT). Strong’s proactive approach and commitment to enhancing the work environment make her an invaluable asset, earning her the accolade of a true rockstar. 

About the UC Women in Technology (UC WIT) Committee 

The University of California Women in Technology Committee (UC WIT) is a self-chartered, independent entity that promotes a supportive, inclusive environment to advance the professional goals and aspirations of UC women in technology. Visit the UC Women in Technology (UC WIT) Committee website for more information. 

We extend a heartfelt thank you to the UC Women in Tech (UC WIT) leadership team for their dedicated time. Carolina Manel Romero, Regina Castleman and Eileen Chiao, have played a pivotal role in our UC Women in Tech Leadership Team. We truly appreciate their remarkable contributions. 

*Women in Tech Committee Roster

Carolina Manel
UC Irvine representative and UC WIT Chair 

Regina Castleman
UC Irvine representative and UC WIT Digital and Outreach subcommittee chair 

Eileen Chiao 
UCLA Health representative