Unveiling Mari Galloway: The Cyber Warrior Championing Diversity and Security

Mari Galloway, the vibrant force behind Cyberjutsu, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women and minorities in the tech and cybersecurity realms. Affectionately known as the “Cyber Ninja” on LinkedIn, Mari’s journey from a Network Engineer to a pivotal figure in the security sector is nothing short of inspiring. We at EliteX, are proud to introduce Mari Galloway as one of the Impactful Women in Security, 2024

Mari’s foray into the tech world began in 2009 with Accenture, where she initially grappled with a role she disliked but which ultimately laid the groundwork for her future endeavors. Transitioning from government contracts to a position with the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Mari delved into vulnerability management and pentesting, reveling in the dynamic challenges of her new role. Her career trajectory took another turn with Palo Alto Networks, where she honed her expertise in Security Orchestration, Automation, and Remediation (SOAR) as a Customer Success Architect and later as a Cortex Sales Engineer. Throughout her 15-year journey, Mari has authored courses, contributed to publications, and emerged as a sought-after keynote speaker, all while championing diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity.

“Women will play a bigger role in cybersecurity as we broaden our horizons. Let’s partner with organizations like Cyberjutsu to seize this opportunity.”

Mari’s pivotal moment came during a Security+ course, where an eye-opening demonstration by instructor Joe McCray underscored the critical need for trained security professionals. This revelation propelled her towards a career dedicated to fortifying digital landscapes and championing underrepresented voices in the industry. At the heart of Mari’s achievements lies Cyberjutsu, a beacon of opportunity for women worldwide seeking to carve out a niche in cybersecurity. By bridging the gap between talent and opportunity, Mari’s initiative has transformed lives and shattered glass ceilings, making cybersecurity more accessible and inclusive.

As a Black woman in cybersecurity, Mari acknowledges the unique obstacles she faces but refuses to be deterred. Surrounding herself with a supportive network and channeling adversity into fuel for her mission, Mari remains steadfast in her authenticity and commitment to effecting positive change. Mari identifies AI and Cloud security as paramount issues facing society, exacerbated by the rapid pace of technological advancement and the shift to remote work catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She emphasizes the invaluable contributions women can make in mitigating these threats through their diverse skill sets and perspectives.

To stay abreast of emerging threats and technologies, Mari leverages LinkedIn, podcasts, and subscriptions to authoritative sources like CISA bulletins and AI rundowns. Her voracious appetite for knowledge and dedication to continuous learning underscore her commitment to remaining at the forefront of cybersecurity trends. For Mari Galloway, fostering diversity and inclusion within the security community isn’t just a goal—it’s a guiding principle. Whether it’s through mentoring, advocating for underrepresented voices, or creating opportunities for marginalized groups, Mari is dedicated to leveling the playing field. She believes in not only occupying spaces but also ensuring that others have a seat at the table, amplifying their voices and contributions.

“Being a Black woman in cybersecurity, my network, my #cyberjutsutribe, has been my rock. I can’t change perceptions, but I can stay true to myself.”

Reflecting on her own journey, Mari acknowledges the pivotal role mentorship has played in her career. A trusted friend from a prominent nonprofit has provided invaluable guidance, serving as a sounding board and offering strategic insights that have shaped Mari’s trajectory and the success of Cyberjutsu.

Empowering the Next Generation:

To aspiring women entering the security field, Mari offers sage advice: research, connect, and engage. While shamelessly plugging her LinkedIn Learning course, Mari emphasizes the importance of curiosity, networking, and utilizing platforms like LinkedIn to forge meaningful connections and glean insights from industry professionals.

Balancing professional commitments with personal interests requires deliberate effort, according to Mari. Setting boundaries and carving out dedicated personal time are essential for maintaining equilibrium. Whether indulging in winemaking or unwinding with Lego building, Mari finds solace and fulfillment outside the realm of cybersecurity. While Mari didn’t lead a team through a security crisis, she played a crucial role in mitigating a high-stakes incident. Amidst a firewall project gone awry, Mari and her team rallied to secure the system and prevent data breaches. The experience underscored the importance of swift action, collaboration, and meticulous planning in crisis management.

For Mari, the key to balancing new security implementations with operational efficiency lies in stakeholder engagement and understanding business objectives. By aligning security measures with organizational needs and identifying critical assets, Mari ensures that security initiatives enhance rather than hinder operational workflows. Drawing from past experiences, she emphasizes the dangers of blind implementation and the importance of informed decision-making. Mari Galloway advocates for making security awareness relatable and engaging to enhance public understanding. By incorporating real-life examples and ensuring continuous education, Mari believes we can bridge the gap between technical jargon and everyday experiences, making cybersecurity accessible to all.

Envisioning the Future Role of Women:

Looking ahead, Mari envisions a more inclusive cybersecurity landscape where women play a significant role. With millions of cybersecurity jobs remaining unfilled, she sees an opportunity for organizations to embrace diversity and partner with initiatives like Cyberjutsu to tap into underutilized talent pools. By expanding recruitment efforts beyond traditional avenues and embracing talent from diverse backgrounds, Mari believes we can unlock untapped potential and propel women to the forefront of the industry.

In Mari Galloway, we find not just a cybersecurity expert, but a trailblazer, advocate, and catalyst for change. Through her unwavering dedication and passion for inclusion, Mari is reshaping the security landscape by empowering individuals from all walks of life and redefining the role of cybersecurity professionals. With collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to diversity at the forefront, Mari continues to pave the way for a more inclusive and secure digital future.

“Cyberjutsu opens doors for overlooked talent globally. Witnessing women transform their lives through tech is truly powerful.”