Exploring Careers Panel

The field of technology is expansive with many different career paths. It encompasses engineers, designers, researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, educators, and you! Come listen to our panelists and find out what cool things you can do too!


Lyron Cobbins, American Century Investments

Lyron Cobbins is a University of Notre Dame alumni, with a double major in Computer Information Systems and Psychology. He is currently one of the IT Security Advisors for American Century Investments. He helps guide the firm’s IT security direction, by utililizing his experiences and knowledge that he has gained over the 17 years in IT.

Lyron knows that even though we have to get security right 100 times; that the malicious actor only has to get it right once. He has landed in various business fields: City, State & Federal Governments, Grocery Retail, Health Care, Banking, Department of Defense and Department of Energy. Over the course of time he has led numerous threat investigations both on a national and international levels. None of the previously mentioned accomplishments comes close to defining him…That’s because his greatest accomplishment has yet to be…:-)

Sarah Duitsman, Cerner

Sarah is a Senior Team Lead at Cerner Corporation with over a decade of experience in software development. After receiving her degree in Management Information Systems with an International Business Certificate from the University of Iowa, Sarah began her career writing database scripts and queries using CCL, SQL and PL/SQL. Currently, the former Certified Personal Trainer leads a development team that works on research & development projects focused on ambulatory health clinics and fitness centers where she is able to directly combine her passions for health and fitness with technology and software development. In this position, Sarah is typically focused on developing full-stack web applications – often using Node.js, SMART on FHIR and AWS.  Outside of work, Sarah is the Program Director for Coding & Cocktails Kansas City, a monthly program to teach front-end web development skills to adult women in the Kansas City area.

Lacey Frank, Commerce Bank

Lacey Frank is an IT Manager, AVP at Commerce Bank and has been working at Commerce for over 13 years. Lacey has had various roles while at Commerce Bank including Business Analysis for the Retail line of business, Resource and Portfolio application management and most recently oversees the IT Talent Management group. Lacey has implemented multiple programs and strategies that assist Commerce in attracting and retaining top talent in the Information Technology department. One such program is an entry level rotational program for developers which has transformed the talent level at Commerce. Lacey’s passion for creating and implementing strategies around IT talent stems from her work with the Northwest Missouri State University’s Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing where she supported the recruiting and admissions process. Getting people plugged into opportunities within the STEM field is something she is incredibly passionate about.

Hannah May, Target

Hannah graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 2016, with a degree in Interactive Digital Media and an emphasis in Computer Science and New Media. She started her career as a Software Engineer within the Technology Leadership Program at Target Corporation. Being a TLP was an amazing opportunity to jump start her career. Through this
program, Hannah has been encouraged to learn and try new technologies. Her first team monitored the health of the registers in Target’s 1800 stores while her second team developed a new marketing segmentation tool. Hannah is now a Front-end Software Engineer developing an app for the Space and Presentation area of target. Hannah has truly enjoy learning and being in a career that embraces and promotes that ideology was the best fit for her. BE BOLD!

Stacy Schieffer, Veracity Consulting

Imposter Syndrome Panel

This panel addresses confidence problems that women often have upon entering the computing field.  Many young women starting out in undergraduate computing majors believe that they are not as qualified as men.  The panelist will openly share stories about their confidence problems, especially their original belief that they were not as qualified as men.


Julie Houser, DST

Julie Houser is a Software Engineer at DST Systems, Inc. She started with the company in January of 1998 after graduating from Missouri Western State University with degrees in Social Work and Psychology. Her path to computing was not traditional but her career has given her financial freedom, a husband, two children, and too many friendships to count.

Jennifer Lambert

Stacy Scheiffer, Veracity Consulting

Stacy Schieffer is a proud member of Veracity Consulting, serving as Director, Client Engagement since 2013. She has 25 years of experience spanning technology, operations, and consulting. Prior to joining Veracity, she developed Emerging Markets solution strategy at a local software company, served as Director of Technology at a Fortune 500 financial services organization, and worked with Big Four firms to deliver large technology implementations across industries.
Stacy’s passion is to drive results for organizations by leading the ‘bridge’ between business and technology. She believes that technology is an enabler to achieve business goals, and that defining business strategy and effectively communicating goals across teams is key to success.

She holds a B.A. in Organizational Communication from the University of Kansas and completed the UMKC Bloch School of Business Leadership Development Program. She is PMP-certified since 2007, with extensive experience in traditional and agile methodologies.

In her spare time, she enjoys community service and serves on the Multiple Sclerosis Mid-America Chapter Leadership and Community Engagement Councils. She formerly served as a committee chair on the Central Exchange Women in STEMM initiative. She is married and lives in Lake Quivira, KS and enjoys sports, boating, painting, writing, traveling, and taking care of her dogs, Baxter & Fiona.

Katherine Schoenborn, Commerce Bank

Although Katherine took computer science courses in college for her BS in Math and a minor in English, it was not her initial interest. However, when her career started at Alltel she found herself learning to be a COBOL programmer. During her time at Alltel she worked on VB applications and started developing in Java. In 2001 she moved to Commerce as a VB Programmer for our Branch Connections team. While at Commerce she has had the opportunity to play many roles including, developer, technical writer, business analyst, project manager, and project lead. In 2013, after 15+ years of being in software development, Katherine was encouraged to take on a new opportunity and enter leadership. She never doubted her ability to lead a team, but wanted to be able to juggle her life outside of work and the demands of being an effective leader. Her greatest strengths includes building meaningful relationships with the people she works with, the ability to crossover technical barriers, and the ability to weigh and consider multiple perspectives. Her focus as a leader is to be available, ensure accountability, create a results driven yet rewarding environment, and develop a collaborative, innovative and consistent team.

Wendy Simondet, Target

Wendy Simondet is a Senior Engineer at Target in Minneapolis, Minnesota and a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania. She studied History, and completed a Minor in Computer Science. As part of the 2014 Technology Leadership Program at Target, she completed three rotations encompassing work on the Target Service Catalog improving and establishing an equipment checkout process. Her second rotation involved rolling out new software that improved textile planning as well as updating Target’s food nutritional label software, and thirdly she worked to develop the UI of an application to enable teams to deploy to the cloud. Her final placement following the program was with the IT Service Enablement team.


The Diversity Panel

This year’s conference focus is the importance of diversity. Our panelists will talk about what diversity, equality, and inclusivity means to them. Hear their stories about times they persevered through situations of inequality and exclusion.


Rainy Cadenhead, DST

Rainy Cadenhead is a Software Engineer at DST Systems and has been for over 18 years. She graduated from DeVry and began her programming career at Sprint, and has been in the technology field for over 20 years now. What she loves most about her chosen career path is the freedom and the flexibility of where IT can take you.

Christine Phillips, American Century Investments

Christine graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 2014, with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Database Management Systems. While in college she interned with American Century Investments (ACI) to then obtain a full time position after graduation. Christine is a Senior Programmer/Analyst who has helped support her company’s client data warehouse, investment management data warehouse, performance data, reporting, and integration. Christine helps to coordinate the ACI Internship Program and is the IT representative for ACI’s volunteer committee.

Juanita Simmons, Northwest Missouri State University (moderator)

Juanita M. Cleaver Simmons, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclu-sion at Northwest Missouri State University, began this inaugural position in August of 2016. She was awarded emerita associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she served for fourteen years in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis division of the College of Education. She is a graduate of the University of Texas-Austin where she earned her PhD in Urban Superintendency and a Master’s in Educational Leadership. Her research agenda focuses on race, gender, class, and equity in organizations and institutions. She is the author of numerous publica-tions and is currently under contract for her upcoming book, Emancipatory Leadership (2017) with Information Age Publishers. She is a former public school teacher and administrator. She continues to work with aspiring and seated leaders in public institutions for enhanced cultural competency and excellence in equity.

Jakita Thomas

Jakita O. Thomas is a Philpott Westpoint Stevens Associate Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. Dr. Thomas is also Director of the CUltuRally & SOcially Relevent (CURSOR) Computing Lab. Her research interests include exploring the development of computational algorithmic thinking, promoting access to healthcare information and services for under-served populations, improving reasoning using expert cases, scientific reasoning, complex cognitive skills learning, and computer-supported collaborative learning.

Yuvonise Thurmond, Kansas City Power and Light

Yuvonise Thurmond worked as a Programmer Analyst in various positions before joining Kansas City Power and Light Company (KCP&L) in 2006. Currently, she is the IT Supervisor for the Web Team at KCP&L. In addition, she is the coordinator for the KCP&L IT Internship Program and is a member of the Computer Science/Information Systems Professional Advisory Board at Northwest Missouri State University. Yuvonise attended the University of Missouri – Kansas City, and graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Science in 1992.

Is Graduate School Right for Me? Panel

Have you been thinking about going to graduate school? Interested in expanding your knowledge, delving into the specifics of a topic, or contributing new research to the field of technology? Then do we have a panel for you! Come learn about how to get in to graduate school, what it’s like, and your career after graduating.


Denise Case, Northwest Missouri State University

Denise M. Case is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science (CS) and Information Systems (IS) at Northwest Missouri State University.  She teaches graduate-level CS courses including Web Apps, .NET, Graduate Directed Project, Project Management, and Design of Data-Intensive Systems. She received her B.S. (Hons.) degree in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA in 1985, and her Master’s degree in Software Engineering and Doctorate in Computer Science from Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Prior to joining the faculty at NWMSU, she was a Senior Consulting Engineer at Black & Veatch, a global consulting firm, focusing on information management and analytics for critical infrastructure industries. Her current research interests include distributed artificial intelligence, smart infrastructure, and intelligent systems. Dr. Case is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Kansas, and a member of Alpha Chi Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, ACM, and IEEE.

Baillie Dunn, FireMon

Baillie Dunn is an engineer at FireMon, LLC in Overland Park, Kansas with five years in the IT industry. Her primary focus is securing the internal systems and endpoints for the organization. She started her career working part-time for a financial firm, managing AS/400 backup jobs while attending Fort Hays university. From there, her career progressed into a network technician role, supporting clients’ desktops and networking infrastructure. Over the years she has had key roles on implementation projects resulting in a higher degree of application security and network security. Baillie received her undergraduate degree in Information Systems and Telecommunications from Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS in 2015 where she was a College of Business and Entrepreneur Scholar. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Information Security from Friends University, Wichita, KS, graduating in Spring 2018. She is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and an active member of her local community. In her spare time, Baillie enjoys training and participating in half marathons and obstacle races.

Jakita Thomas, Auburn University

Jakita O. Thomas is a Philpott Westpoint Stevens Associate Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. Dr. Thomas is also Director of the CUltuRally & SOcially Relevent (CURSOR) Computing Lab. Her research interests include exploring the development of computational algorithmic thinking, promoting access to healthcare information and services for under-served populations, improving reasoning using expert cases, scientific reasoning, complex cognitive skills learning, and computer-supported collaborative learning.