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Empowering Women in Tech: An Interview on Angela Jeffrey’s Journey to Cybersecurity

By March 22, 2024Blog
OpenSSF Blog

Interviewer: Omkhar Arasaratnam

Women’s History Month & The S&K Scholarship at NYU

Omkhar Arasaratnam: In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re here to spotlight Angela Jeffrey’s empowering journey in the tech world—a testament to overcoming barriers and exemplifying leadership in technology. Integral to her story is the S&K Scholarship at New York University (NYU), a beacon of support for women in technology. 

About the S&K Scholarship

At NYU I personally fund the S&K Scholarship with my wife, Sabrina. The scholarship is aimed at master’s degree students in cybersecurity at New York University’s (NYU’s) Cyber Fellows program. This scholarship seeks to foster an inclusive environment by addressing the historical underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM.

Angela’s Diverse Path to Cybersecurity

Angela, could you start by telling us about your diverse path to cybersecurity?

Angela Jeffrey: Prior to working in tech, I served in the US Air Force for four years and worked as a line cook in restaurants across New York City. As a college student on a full US VA scholarship at Columbia University, I discovered a passion for computer science. 

I spent my career working for early stage startups in a variety of engineering, product and leadership roles. I have a wide range of experience in machine learning, web technologies, cryptocurrencies, product development and team leadership. Currently, I am a Cyber Fellow at NYU, earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity.

Omkhar Arasaratnam: That’s truly inspiring, Angela. I understand you’ve recently worked in an engineering leadership role at Protego Trust and as the Lead Research Engineer for Elm Labs. Can you elaborate on these experiences?

Angela Jeffrey: Absolutely. I recently worked for Protego Trust, a chartered trust providing digital asset custody for institutional clients, in an engineering leadership role reporting to the CIO, Chief Architect and Head of Software Engineering. I authored research while working as the Lead Research Engineer for Elm Labs, a cryptocurrency and blockchain consultancy. I led a small remote team building Get Kelvin, an online community where people could rate and review websites, and was ultimately promoted to CEO. I was the first technical hire for FindMine, a predictive intelligence provider for e-commerce websites and had the opportunity to work as their product owner at the same time. Startups have given me the opportunity to make significant contributions to codebases and their architecture, take on leadership and product opportunities, and work remotely all over the world. Given this career path, I am ready to tackle a Master’s in Cybersecurity.

Mentorship and Giving Back

Omkhar Arasaratnam: It sounds like mentorship and giving back to the community are important to you. Can you share more about your involvement in these areas?

Angela Jeffrey: Yes, perhaps because, growing up, I never pictured myself as someone who could code or pursue a career in tech. I am now passionate about encouraging other people with unconventional backgrounds to consider themselves as candidates for a career in software engineering or cybersecurity. I’ve volunteered as the lead instructor for a Girls Who Code class and as a teacher in a NYC public school teaching web technologies to middle schoolers with Code Nation.

Reflection and Inspiration

Omkhar Arasaratnam: As we reflect on your journey and achievements, how do you see your experiences aligning with the mission to support diversity and inclusion in tech, especially in cybersecurity?

Angela Jeffrey: My professional and personal experiences align with OpenSSF’s mission to support diversity and inclusion in the tech sector, particularly in areas as critical as cybersecurity. I’d like to thank you and your wife, Sabrina, for supporting me as I work to achieve my master’s.

Omkhar Arasaratnam: Thank you, Angela, for sharing your journey and insights. It’s clear your path to cybersecurity excellence not only highlights your achievements, but also shines a light on the importance of scholarships like the S&K Scholarship at NYU in empowering women in technology. While offering this scholarship is a personal commitment, as OpenSSF’s General Manager, I am uniquely proud to be able to support and share Angela’s education in this shared mission. Her achievements illuminate the effectiveness of scholarship programs in providing opportunities for talented individuals to pursue their passions and contribute meaningfully to the tech community. This Women’s History Month, it is an honor to celebrate Angela’s accomplishments and the collective efforts to nurture a welcoming and dynamic tech ecosystem.

For our readers looking to get more involved in open source security, consider joining the OpenSSF Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work Group to help attract more diversity of thought to solving our most complex open source security problems.

A well-educated developer is a secure developer. We’re focused on improving software developer education this year; check out our security education plan. If you’d like to help improve everyone’s security education,  please consider taking our 2024 Secure Software Development Education Survey.