LEADERSHIP

Meet Our Officers

Marnita Harris is a highly accomplished Senior Procurement Analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources. With a strong focus on supporting the Office of Acquisitions Policy Division, Marnita excels at providing oversight, developing policies, and implementing procedures that align with the mission and vision of HHS.

Prior to her role at HHS, Marnita held various positions that showcased her expertise in contract management and program execution. As the Director of Contract Management for the Program Executive Office for Stimulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), she successfully led the Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance Program. Additionally, Marnita served as the Branch Chief and Contracting Officer for the Army Contracting Command-Orlando, where she effectively managed and executed programs and projects.

Beyond her professional achievements, Marnita is actively involved in various organizations that aim to support and empower defense professionals. Currently, she serves as the President of the Women in Defense Central Florida Chapter, where she is committed to contributing to the success of all WID programs and fulfilling its mission. Marnita held executive committee positions for the Association of the U.S. Army Sunshine Chapter. She also served as a mentor in the Financial Focus Mentorship program for Habitat for Humanity.

In addition to her other commitments, Marnita is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. She currently serves as the Fundraising Committee Chair, where she utilizes her leadership skills and dedication to support the organization’s initiatives and charitable endeavors.

Marnita holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana Wesleyan University, which further enhances her knowledge and skills in her field. Her commitment to professional growth is evident through her memberships in the Army Acquisition Corps and her certifications, including Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level III Certification in Contracting, Level I in Program Management, Federal Acquisition Certification Contracting (FAC) Level III, Level I Program Management, and FAC-C Professional.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Marnita finds joy in spending quality time with her husband, Michael and their three children, Netra, Michael, and Erica. She cherishes summers with her grandson Michael and enjoys creating lasting memories with her family and friends.

Marnita’s involvement in multiple organizations, along with her professional achievements, showcases her commitment to making a positive impact both within her field and the community. Her passion for service, combined with her exceptional skills and qualifications, make her a highly respected and influential figure in procurement and defense.

Kristi Evans, Planning Specialist with Lockheed Martin Training & Logistics Solutions (LM TLS), received her Protocol Officer Training Certification from the Protocol School of Washington and her Bachelor of Science in Business from Capella University, summa cum laude.

Her acute attention to detail, high energy, and passion for success has been demonstrated in the events she has coordinated. She has an extensive background in coordinating logistics for both domestic and international customer meetings, demonstrations, and conferences.

Kristi plays a significant role in preparing her team to best represent Lockheed Martin while demonstrating the utmost respect for the many demographics and cultures with which they interact. Included are her contributions to the LM TLS Innovation Demonstration Center, which has hosted over 52,000 visitors representing 73 countries and Lockheed Martin’s customer engagements at the defense industry’s premier modeling, simulation and training conferences, the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC). Kristi is a member of Women in Defense and is currently the Vice President for the Central Florida Chapter.

Dr. Diaz, President & CEO of Grit Government Solutions has resided in Central Florida for the last 36 years and has extensive management and leadership experience. Dr. Diaz has over 24 years of senior level management experience with large corporations, managing all aspects of sales, operations, training, and development.

Dr. Diaz holds a Doctorate in Education Leadership with an emphasis on virtual learning. She has done extensive research on grit and performance as a part of her academic career. Grit has been defined as the perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals by individuals. It has also been used as a predictor of success and can be useful in increasing sales performance levels. These two factors have been influential in shaping her perspective on the impact it has on training and successful performance.

Her experience ranges from teaching in an online setting to managing salesforce in a high-paced and competitive sales environment.

When not working on managing a thriving and successful business, her time is spent working with higher education and developing leaders and entrepreneurs of the future. As a volunteer instructor, she instructs on business law/ethics, principles of management and education to students at the bachelor and master’s level from all over the world.

Ana is the CEO of Engenium INC a professional services company specializing in Engineering services within the Modeling Simulation & Training arena. With over 25 years of Human Resources, Talent Management and Entrepreneurship experiences both in the US and the UK, Ana is passionate about the relationship between technology and people’s needs.

Having previously had a long career in Aerospace having worked for the People Department (HR) for Southwest Airlines and Embraer Jets, Ana realizes that putting people first and creating strong cultures where diversity, and inclusion are celebrated and become the fabric of a company’s DNA.

It is this passion that drives Ana to support Women in Defense and in all STEAM positions. To assure this generation and future generations of women are represented, developed, accepted, and encouraged to be their authentic selves.

Ana holds a BA degree in Political Science from Florida International University, furthered by several HR Certifications.

LEADERSHIP

Meet Our Directors

Jennifer “Jenny” Carter works as a program coordinator at Advanced IT Concepts. She has her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in applied learning and instruction from the University of Central Florida. She also has her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

In her spare time, she likes to go hiking, kayaking, and listening to live music. She has a feisty chihuahua mix, named Dexter, who keeps her on her toes. Jenny is excited to coordinate different programs for WID chapter members and the wider community.

Lindsey Spalding, a visionary in the field of Modeling, Simulation, and Training (MS&T), holds the role of Director of Workforce Development at the National Center for Simulation (NCS) in Orlando, Florida. Simultaneously, she is pursuing her Ph.D. at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Melbourne, Florida. Her mission revolves around bridging the worlds of education, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and the arts, creating a robust network that empowers educators, students, community members, and the high-tech MS&T workforce.

An example of Lindsey’s commitment to building and participating in inclusive communities that strive to strengthen our nation is her participation on the board of Women in Defense (WID), Central Florida Chapter. Women In Defense provides a dynamic, forward-thinking community for developing leadership skills, cultivating relationships, as well as mentoring, and education through a variety of national and regional events addressing some of the most pressing national defense issues. As membership director, Lindsey encourages all interested in being an active part of an inclusive community to join our WID chapter in Central Florida!

Lindsey is a dynamic collaborator, working alongside industry experts from government, the Department of Defense, academia, and private enterprise. Her work centers on cultivating authentic integrated STEAM learning experiences that seamlessly incorporate MS&T tools, knowledge, and skills to enhance STEAM education. The ultimate goal of MS&T workforce development is to nurture a dynamic, forward-thinking workforce capable of addressing and resolving global challenges.

Under Lindsey’s guidance, the NCS has rolled out myriad initiatives. One such is the DoD (Department of Defense) STARBASE Central Florida program, which introduces fifth graders to STEAM. This then extends to middle school, culminating in opportunities for high school and college internships. As these students mature in their understanding and collaborate with subject matter experts, they become prime candidates for the M&S (Modeling & Simulation) certification program—tailored for budding professionals. This holistic approach ensures a continuous, life-long learning trajectory within the MS&T realm.

Her dedication as a lifelong learner fuels her passion for diverse learning experiences, enabling her to use acquired knowledge to inspire, engage, motivate, and support fellow learners through strategic scientific communication and the facilitation of MS&T workforce development practices.

Chandra-Jones

Chandra is a new Contract Specialist at Army Contracting Command-Orlando (ACC-Orlando), where she utilizes her expertise to offer sound business guidance and contracting solutions in support of the warfighter and our stakeholders. Previously, she held the role of Senior IT Project Manager at AT&T, accumulating over two decades of experience in Information Technology and Project Management. Her track record includes successful leadership of extensive, high-value data and voice infrastructure projects and programs. Chandra boasts extensive familiarity with Waterfall methodologies and diverse project management frameworks.

Chandra possess a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management and is highly passionate about supporting her community through mentoring, volunteering, fundraising and various local initiatives. As a board member of Habitat for Humanity Seminole-Apopka, the concept of service holds a special place in her heart. By advancing STEM initiatives through cooperation with fellow members, educational institutions, and industry partners, acts of service will take a prominent position in her role as STEM Director. This will encompass overseeing scholarships and acknowledging outstanding contributors, all which Chandra has actively contributed to over the past 2 years. She is very excited to assume the role of STEM Director within the WID Chapter of Central Florida.

Chandra currently resides in Orlando, Florida with her husband Harvey Jones Jr. Together they have 2 adult children, Devin, and Hailey along with several grand doggies.

Sabrina Searles is a dynamic and accomplished young professional known for her contributions to Women in Defense and AFCEA’s emerging leaders. Sabrina is a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida with a BSBA in Integrated Business and minor in Professional Selling. Currently serves as a Business Development Manager for Diriga Services, Sabrina has consistently demonstrated an exceptional ability to foster growth and drive organizational success.

Prior to her most recent role, Sabrina worked internationally with an American Olympic Show Jumper for the United States. Sabrina’s diverse portfolio showcases her capacity to excel in different sectors and build diverse long-term relationships.

As a young professional deeply committed to the advancement of the defense industry, Sabrina is excited about the opportunity to contribute her skills to WID. She aims to collectively inspire, change, and pave the way for a successful future for WID that contributes meaningfully to the industry’s growth.

Diane-Sears

Diane Sears of Orlando is the CEO, editor and publisher of i4 Business, a monthly magazine that covers the people, projects and priorities shaping Central Florida. She is the author of the books Tapping Your Inner Entrepreneur: Making the Move from Employee to Business Owner and Inside AP: A Guide to Today’s Accounts Payable Profession, as well as thousands of magazine and newspaper articles.

Diane is also founder and president of DiVerse Media LLC, which assists clients with content marketing strategy projects. A career journalist, she previously worked for several publications including Florida Trend magazine and The Orlando Sentinel.

She is the co-founder of the Go for the Greens Foundation, a nonprofit that produces an annual international conference for women business owners. She serves as the historian for the Central Florida Chapter of Women in Defense and as the Central Florida director for the Women’s Business Development Council of Florida. For her work helping women, Sears was inducted into the Women’s Business Enterprise Hall of Fame in 2015 by the American Institute of Diversity & Commerce.

Justin-Barwick

Justin has been in the financial industry for 15 years with more than half working with higher education. Justin sees the importance education can make on people’s financial journey. Being part of WID allows the opportunity to positively impact the future leaders of STEM by bringing the community together to support their educational success.

Sharon-Carter

Sharon is a system engineer with Katmai Management Service (KMS) and has a strong background in geospatial and 3D database content. She began in defense as an intern and now has nine years within the industry, mostly with the Army. Currently, Sharon has been working with executing Learning Management Systems (LMS) in the Navy.

Sharon is eager to begin serving with Women in Defense-Central Florida as a Special Projects Director this term. Sharon currently lives in Orlando and is an avid pickleball player. She also enjoys yoga and painting.

LEADERSHIP

Meet Our Advisory Board

Debbie L. Berry has over 38 years with Lockheed Martin and is the Business Development / Advanced Concepts manager for the Innovation Demonstration Center in Orlando, Florida.

Debbie’s diverse career in the simulation and training industry includes engineering, systems integration, program management, tradeshow/demonstration management, business and strategic development, and capabilities analysis.

Debbie served as the Conference Chair for I/ITSEC 2001 and ITEC 2009 and continues to support both as a conference planning committee member. She led the re-branding/transition of the NTSA / IITSEC STEM program now known as the EcosySTEM of Learning. Debbie is a charter member of the Modeling and Simulation Professional Certification Commission (CMSP).

In recognition of her distinguished service, Debbie has been recognized with the prestigious NDIA Silver Medal, the AUSA Sunshine Chapter Royal of the Flamingo medallion and the Noble Patron of Armor. She served as the first WID CFL Chapter President, the WID National Council Chair, and the NDIA CFL Chapter President. Debbie is the inaugural recipient of the WID CFL Debbie L. Berry Legacy Award which was named in her honor.

Debbie received her Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Florida.

Ms. Sondra Chambers is the Senior Strategy and Business Development Manager at General Dynamics Mission Systems (GDMS). She has over 30 years of experience in defining and executing successful win strategies for Department of Defense business growth with a focus in providing training and simulation solutions in support of the Warfighter.

Sondra also enjoys supporting the Interservice/ Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) and has served on the Human Performance Analysis and Engineering Subcommittee since January 2020.

Sondra is passionate about STEM and early education initiatives and is an advocate for the Orlando Science Center and a volunteer for the Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. Sondra and her family have resided in Florida for nine years where they enjoy activities including equestrian, baseball, shooting and other outdoor sports.

LEADERSHIP

Past Presidents

2009—2011
DEBBIE BERRY

2012—2013
TERI SMITH

2014—2015
TIFFANY SANDERS

2016—2017
TERI SMITH

2018—2019
KAREN FRAY

2020—2021
DR. ELIZABETH BIDDLE

2022—2023
SONDRA CHAMBERS

2024—CURRENT
MARNITA HARRIS