CybER Con - Invited Sessions Speakers

Invited Session 1: COVA CCI Experiential Learning Programs

September 20, 2023, 10:00-10:50

Dr. Stephanie J. Blackmon – Graduate Student Experiential Learning (Cyber ExL)

Dr. Blackmon is an Associate Professor in the William & Mary School of Education and the Program Facilitator for COVA CCI’s graduate experiential learning program CyberExL. She is also a member of the National COVA CCI CybER Con Steering Committee. Dr. Blackmon’s early research focuses on teaching and learning with an emphasis on technology integration in higher education. She has conducted several studies and written numerous papers about topics such as virtual worlds, instructors’ and students’ experiences with learning management systems, and massive open online courses (MOOCs). Dr. Blackmon’s research also focuses on the broader applications of technology integration because of their impact on higher education. Her research explores the qualitative experiences people have with the following: technology integration in higher education and professional development settings; experiential learning in technology-related settings; trust and privacy in learning and data analytics use; trust, privacy, and security with the use of apps and also with internet-connected devices such as wearable, mobile, and in-home technologies; and trust and privacy with artificial intelligence (AI). Dr. Blackmon has worked with several interdisciplinary teams on funded research related to experiential learning in technology and cybersecurity, experiential learning and technological development, academy and industry partnerships in experiential learning, AI, and cybersecurity leadership. 

Jasmine Lambert

Jasmine Lambert is a graduate student at Norfolk State University majoring in Criminal Justice. Jasmine has interned with Norfolk State’s SocioCybersecurity Project Team out of the Sociology and Cybersecurity department since 2020 with Dr. Carlene Turner, she was paired with William & Mary, working with Mr. Bobby Kenner, Chief Executive Officer of CivilianCyber. Jasmine’s main focus is on bridging the gender gaps within cybersecurity and encouraging young women to find interest in this field.

Janhvi Patel 

Janhvi Patel is currently a third-year law student at William & Mary Law School. She participated in the COVA CCI CyberExL program in Spring 2023 and with guidance from her advisors, Dr. Ariel Pinto and Daniel Shin, she and her team created the Emerging Technologies Framework. The Framework highlights seven key requirements for technologies to be considered trustworthy and ethically reliable and lists specific steps organizations should take to meet these requirements. Janhvi has a keen interest in understanding the intersection between law and technology and is currently interning at the Center for AI and Digital Policy to grow this interest. This past summer, she served as the law clerk for a global technology company, Copado, Inc., which provides Low-Code DevOps & Testing Tools for Salesforce and Enterprise Clouds. On the side, she also worked for a privacy consulting company, where she performed extensive research on important data privacy and cybersecurity issues. She also serves as a mentor to W&M law students interested in entering the field of technology and law.

Patrick Butler

Patrick Butler is a graduate student in the Cybersecurity Program at Old Dominion University. Prior to that, he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Cybercrime, also at ODU. Last Spring, Patrick participated in the Cyber ExL internship through COVA CCI. This was an opportunity to get a broader look into the academic side of teaching the subject, collaborating with other students, and communicating directly with Dr. Peng Jiang (ODU Professor) to discuss and learn about various cybersecurity topics. He also unofficially tutors and mentors other students when he can, and is inspired to help other students succeed.

Patrick also received his Security+ Certification recently, and is planning on earning more certifications in the future. He is interested in areas of cybersecurity such as securing power grids, water supplies, supply chains, as well as privacy. While these areas are what spark his interest the most, he is always open to learning more about new topics and opportunities that may arise. Most importantly, Patrick wants to use the skills and knowledge that he gains to have a meaningful impact in the world.

Montrell White

With a firm determination to specialize in cybersecurity, Montrell White pursued a master’s degree education in Cybersecurity with a concentration in Homeland Security. Embracing every opportunity to learn, Montrell delved into courses focused on cybersecurity fundamentals, network security, and ethical hacking. In addition to his studies at Old Dominion University he has received an assistantship through COVA CCI working alongside Dr. Peng as a Graduate Assistant. This is a new journey for Montrell as he spent the last ten years working in social work and human services. He is eager to gain new experiences and explore more opportunities.

John Costanzo – Undergraduate Cybersecurity Research Program

John Costanzo has over 30 years of leadership and management experience in the military and academia. He is the Chief Administrative Officer for the Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation at Old Dominion University. Prior to this he was the Associate Director at Old Dominion University’s Virginia Beach Higher Education Center and concurrently he was the project manager for three federally funded projects – Department of Commerce/NICE, Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Stimulate (RAMPS) Cybersecurity Education and Workforce Development; NSF, Creating Cybersecurity Pathways Between Community Colleges and Universities; and NSF CyberCorps SFS, Preparing Future Cybersecurity LeADERS through Community College Partnerships and Applied Experiences.   

Prior to joining ODU, John served over 26 years in the United States Army and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He held various leadership positions in the Army with his last being the Deputy Commander for a Regional Support Group at the National Guard Armory, Camp Pendleton, Virginia Beach. John has a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree from Averett University, a Bachelor of Arts in History from Old Dominion University and is a Project Management Professional. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two children.    

Zobair Wali

Zobair Wali is a graduate student studying Cybersecurity at Old Dominion University. He was one of the first students to receive ODU’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Cyber LeADERS program scholarship supporting both his bachelors of science in cybersecurity and his masters degree. He is expected to graduate with his MS in Cybersecurity in May 2024. Zobair is also the president of the Coastal Virginia Cybersecurity Student Association (CVCSA), a regional student association that serves the coastal Virginia community. Zobair participated in the COVA CCI Undergraduate Research Program and has collaborated with COVA CCI in various capacities. 

Eric Mung’au Preston

Eric Mung’au Preston is a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Cybersecurity at Old Dominion University. He made the dean’s list in his freshman year due to a strong work ethic and dedication to learning. During the Spring of 2023, he was given the opportunity to participate in the COVA CCI Undergraduate Research Program which led to an enjoyable and informative experience. He’s interested in software development as a future career. He enjoys drawing, making music, playing video games, and traveling.

Dr. Karen Sanzo – Innovate Cyber Challenge

Karen Sanzo is a Professor in the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University, serves as the coordinator for the PK-12 Educational Leadership Program, and is the Director of the Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab. Her work centers around the areas of organizational innovation and leadership preparation and development. She began her career in education as a middle school mathematics teacher, later serving as an elementary school administrator. Dr. Sanzo is also the Director of the INNOVATE Program, which she developed, that uses a design thinking framework with students, faculty, and staff, centered around a human-centered approach to understand problems of practice to create innovative solutions to identified challenges. In 2019 she was awarded the University Council of Educational Administration Master Professor Award, was the 2018-2020 Provost Fellow for Design Thinking and Strategic Planning at Old Dominion University, and received the 2021 ODU Doctoral Mentoring Award. She frequently works with K-12 districts and universities to support their work in the areas of continuous improvement; organizational development and change; strategic planning; and innovation.

Dr. Sanzo has served as Principal Investigator for national and state-level grants around the areas of school leadership, formative assessment, STEM education, and the K-12/higher education cybersecurity pipeline. Dr. Sanzo has over fifty publications, including thirty-three manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals and ten published books.

Elijah Gartrell

Elijah Gartrell is a Junior at Old Dominion University majoring in Cyber Security with a minor in French. He is a CyberCorps Scholar and former participant of the Undergraduate Research program and Innovate Cyber Challenge.


Mmoleca Ehungwe

Mmoleca Ehungwe is a cybersecurity junior at Old Dominion University (ODU) and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Cybercops Scholarship for Service (SFS) scholar. He completed his associate’s degree in Information Systems Technology with honors in the Spring of 2023 at Virginia Peninsula Community College (VPCC) and anticipates his bachelor’s degree graduation in May 2025. Curious Mmoleca and aspiring technology inventor whose dying dream of starting a company came alive again when he resettled in the USA in 2019 after spending twenty-three years in a refugee camp in Tanzania. He participated in ODU’s Innovate Cyber Challenge in 2022, and the Challenge opened a new perspective for Mmoleca: solving problems using the design thinking approach. Mmoleca wants to focus his study on using artificial intelligence (AI) for cybersecurity. He sees a promising future in AI solutions.

Invited Session 2: CCI Experiential Learning Programs

September 21, 2023, 9:00-9:50

Sarah Hayes, Commonwealth Cyber Initiative

Sarah manages a portfolio of programs supporting innovation/commercialization and workforce development mission lines for the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative that will ensure Virginia is a global center of excellence in cybersecurity research and education.

Previously, she supported federal, commercial, and start-up clients with projects ranging from cybersecurity resilience assessments, human capital strategy, business process development and reengineering, and project management officer development and support. Sarah also has fundraising experience and currently holds a CrossFit L1 certification and coaches at her local CrossFit gym.

Bobby Keener, CEO, Civilian Cyber

Bobby has provided leadership in innovation, cybersecurity, technology, education and workforce development to Fortune 100 companies, non-profits, government agencies, the national intelligence community, and educational institutions. Bobby established CivilianCyber as a leader in technology-driven workforce development with the company serving as workforce lead for prominent state and national initiatives. Bobby was recognized as a Top 25 innovative technology leader by EdScoop while Chief Technology Innovations Officer at the Virginia Department of Education, served as Governor appointee to the Virginia Information Technology Advisory Council (ITAC), was a founding member of the national #GoOpen movement, and serves on prominent boards including the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), NSA-Certified Cybersecurity Center Advisory Board. Bobby has advised organizations including Google, Metropolitan Museum of Art, CarMax and Harrah’s Casino; earned his MBA and MIS from VCU, both with honors; and was a United States Army Non-Commissioned Officer, Certified Jungle Operations Expert and Humanitarian Services Medal recipient.

Max Simon

Max Simon is a senior at the College of William & Mary, double majoring in computer science and economics. Outside of class, he participates in hackathons, serves as president of his improv group, and helped jumpstart the university’s Division 1 esports program. He is open to networking and looking for the next great opportunity after recently finishing an eight-week experiential learning program with CivilianCyber as well as a summer internship with Wawa’s backend development team. 

Mallory Runyan

Mallory Runyan attends Old Dominion University pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Cyber Operations. She was selected to participate in Innovate U-OVN at ODU in May of 2022, participating in an experiential learning initiative employing design thinking to identify challenges in a distance learning environment. In the Fall of 2022, she was selected to participate in COVA CCI Undergraduate Cybersecurity Research program and participated in the Spring 2023 CivilianCyber TEEM program. She spent 10 years on Active Duty in the Navy, 4 years in the Naval Reserves. She has a goal of pursuing a graduate degree but has a wide variety of interests both in education and hobbies. She loves dogs, dancing and jumping on trampolines. 

Jordan Mason, Program Manager, CCI NOVA

Mr. Jordan Mason is the Program Manager for Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Northern Virginia Node. A certified Project Management Professional, he is passionate about building programs that create growth opportunities via experiential learning. Prior to his current role, Jordan spent six years working in Student Affairs at George Washington University, helping the university’s portfolio of student organizations navigate institutional financial policies and processes. When he is not working, Jordan is usually chauffeuring his teenage daughter to one of her many extracurriculars, playing with his four-year-old son, or trying to plan vacations with his wife.


COVA CCI CybER Con is sponsored by the Coastal Virginia Center for Cybersecurity Innovation (COVA CCI) and the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI).

For additional information email