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St. Pete data privacy firm expands board with women tech leaders

Margie Manning

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Spirion's headquarters take up an entire floor at 200 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg.

Two women known nationally for their technology industry expertise have joined the board of directors of Spirion, a St. Petersburg-based data privacy company.

The new board members are Marci McCarthy, CEO and president of information security executive networking firm T.E.N., and Jennifer Mailander, deputy general counsel at Fannie Mae, a federally backed mortgage finance firm.

“As we continue to expand on our cornerstone data privacy management framework and what made us the company we are, we recognized that as we get further into privacy, we needed to have some core expertise from a privacy standpoint. We had that expertise on staff, but I didn’t have a voice on the board that could say this is what’s happening in the workplace, here are the needs of customers,” said Kevin Coppins, Spirion president and CEO.

Spirion specializes in helping business customers discover where their sensitive data is located or stored across the enterprise — on laptops or servers, in emails or databases, for example —  and helps those customers classify that data according to their business rules. Spirion also helps customers understand and control their data and comply with privacy regulations.

Coppins believes the board of directors should reflect the company.

Jennifer Mailander, deputy general counsel, Fannie Mae, and board member at Spirion. “There have been more data privacy regulations passed in the last 12 months than in the past two decades and the importance of protecting the data privacy of employees, customers, and communities has never been greater. Spirion is uniquely positioned to help organizations large and small seamlessly comply with the laws and regulations built to protect the personal data privacy of individuals across the globe.”

“What makes this place tick is the authenticity of the people here. We are not a bunch of 20-something coders like a Silicon Valley company. We reflect St. Pete. We have all ages, all genders, all lifestyles, and the board needs to reflect that,” Coppins said.

Mailander is a data protection and technology attorney advising senior and executive management on strategy, business and legal matters, and has extensive experience in data rights, cybersecurity, privacy and compliance.

“She has a long background in data privacy and also in product and project management. She brings a great background for what we do and with the lens that we’re building right products for the markets we serve,” Coppins said.

McCarthy brings more than 20 years of business management and entrepreneurial experience to Spirion’s board. In 2010, she founded T.E.N’s flagship program, the Information Security Executive of the Year program, a recognition and networking program for security professionals in the United States and Canada.

“Marci has been involved in cybersecurity before cybersecurity was cool,” Coppins said. “She’s been working with chief information security officers and security vendors to match the vendor community and the customer community, to build better products and come up with better solutions. As the CEO of T.E.N., that’s been her mission since she started it, and as that’s involved, Marci has become incredibly engaged in cybersecurity and also making sure is diverse as a workplace.”

Marci McCarthy, CEO and president, T.E.N. and board member at Spirion. ““I’m excited to join the board of Spirion, a company committed to elevating the important role that women and minorities play in technology and cybersecurity. Information security is one of the fastest-growing professions, and I hope to further Spirion’s mission of protecting the data privacy of individuals as the critical first step in mitigating risk for enterprises around the world.”

Women historically have been under-represented in the technology industry overall, although that has been changing. A 2019 report from (ISC)², a Clearwater-based membership association, found that 24 percent of the cybersecurity workforce were women, compared to 11 percent in 2017.

The Spirion team is very diverse in terms of gender, Coppins said. Two Spirion employees — Elizabeth Carlin, senior channel account manager, and Akello Ragware, senior national channel manager — were named to the 2020 Women of the Channel list published by CRN, a technology news outlet.

“In having women in key leadership positions — in marketing, in engineering — I’ve got a good group of strong business women who understand cybersecurity and I just think we need to promote that more. This is a place where you can be comfortable. This is a place where you can thrive and you can succeed,” Coppins said.

Data privacy is more legal-centric than some other tech sectors, and there’s more balance between women and men as lawyers than in coding, Coppins said.

“I think it’s just a matter of promoting that we do great things in cybersecurity for society, which is important to everybody, and also to be able to shine a light on those organizations that are diverse and embrace diversity because they know it makes them better, I think will make it a better place for everybody,” Coppins said.

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