M.S. in the Management of IT Blog

Theresa Payton (M.S. in MIS ’90) Receives CMIT IT Leadership Award

The President and CEO of industry-leading security consulting company Fortalice Solutions and Co-Founder of cybersecurity firm Dark Cubed has held executive positions in the banking industry and was the first female CIO at the White House.

Theresa Payton

Theresa Payton

The Center for the Management of IT (CMIT) at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce is pleased to announce that alumna Theresa Payton is a recipient of the Center’s IT Leadership Award.

Award winners are recognized for their leadership as innovators, pathfinders, and problem solvers in the management of information technology; Payton has earned the award for her leadership throughout her impressive career since graduating from UVA as part of the inaugural class of McIntire’s M.S. in MIS Program (later renamed as the M.S. in MIT) in 1990.

Those roles began in financial services, where she paired her understanding of technology systems with visionary leadership to execute complex IT strategies and capture new business. That experience led to executive positions at Bank of America and Wachovia, and following her time in the banking industry, Payton became the first female CIO at the White House, where she oversaw IT operations in President George W. Bush’s administration.

President and CEO of industry-leading security consulting company Fortalice Solutions, as well as Co-Founder of cybersecurity firm Dark Cubed, Payton is also a renowned author of several best-selling books on IT strategy and cybersecurity, including 2020’s Manipulated: Inside the Cyberwar to Hijack Elections and Distort the Truth.

“I am highly honored to be receiving CMIT’s IT Leadership Award, as I am sure incredibly worthy nominees should receive this award ahead of me,” Payton says.

A longtime CMIT collaborator and cybercrime expert, Payton says that working with the Center over the years has provided “an ongoing opportunity to tap into the minds that will be leading our future of digital innovations and dynamic transformations that right now are ideas, brainstorms, friendly arguments about the art of the possible, and more.”

During one of her more recent engagements with CMIT, an online event held in July 2020, Payton spoke with Commerce Professor and Center Director Ryan Nelson and Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty and Research Ryan Wright about her important work fighting and examining cybercrime threats across sectors.

Named as one of Security magazine’s “Top 25 Most Influential People in Security” and a sought-out cyber expert for network news programs, Payton believes that UVA McIntire’s CMIT plays an important part in helping create a world where IT serves as a positive force in the ongoing fight against cybercrime and all of the negative drivers behind it.

“We must ensure that the student body and future generations build an enduring international framework enabling ethics, privacy, security, and sustainability as the foundational and non-negotiable elements of all new technology innovations; the lack of such a framework is the crux of many of the issues we face today,” Payton says. “With UVA CMIT developing today’s and tomorrow’s future leaders, the task is in your hands. Failure is not an option.”


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