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SIA announces 2024 winners of the Women in Biometrics Awards

SIA announces 2024 winners of the Women in Biometrics Awards

SIA announces 2024 winners of the Women in Biometrics Awards

SILVER SPRING, Md.—The Security Industry Association (SIA) has named four women biometrics leaders as recipients of the 2024 SIA Women in Biometrics Awards.

The 2024 awardees, who will be honored at SIA GovSummit, SIA’s annual government security conference, are: Leire Arbona Puértolas, legal and compliance director, Veridas; Melissa Conley, executive director, capability management and innovation, requirements and capabilities analysis, Transportation Security Administration (TSA); Heather R. Haller, acting unit chief, Quality & Analysis Support Unit, Biometric Services Section, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Caitlin Kneapler, Ph.D., technical integrator, senior biometrics technologist, Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Security Industry AssociationArbona Puértolas has established herself as a leading expert in biometric identity verification and data protection laws since joining Veridas in 2017. She is instrumental in guiding the company’s compliance with international regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation or Artificial Intelligence Act in Europe, or the California Consumer Privacy Act in the United States, contributing to Veridas becoming a model for compliance and innovation in digital identity services, influencing industry standards and practices worldwide.

Conley, a member of the Senior Executive Service, provides enterprise oversight for all TSA operational capabilities throughout their life cycles to ensure proper resourcing and alignment to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and TSA strategies and priorities. She works with a team of capability managers to integrate all materiel and non-materiel capabilities into the security architecture to ensure a cohesive set of innovative security solutions to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

A 27-year FBI employee, Haller serves as a supervisory management and program analyst in the Investigative Services Support Unit (ISSU). Haller started her FBI career at the CJIS Division in an entry-level position as a fingerprint examiner and over the years has supported the FBI in a variety of administrative, analytical and research and development positions. Over the last 14 years, she has been primarily focused on facial recognition and has become a subject matter expert on the CJIS Division’s facial recognition program. Today, she oversees law enforcement connectivity for the NGI IPS, as well as data quality and policy through operational and technical considerations to improve system accuracy and performance. 

Kneapler is a highly skilled and detail-oriented research scientist with over a decade of diverse experience in various fields, including laboratory research, instruction, nonprofit research and analysis, and government agency work. Her expertise spans a wide range of technical and scientific disciplines, with a particular focus on support of biometric and identity management. She serves as a technical interdisciplinary chemist and technical integrator at the OBIM Futures Identity, a position she has held since August 2020. In this role, she is responsible for driving advancements in biometrics, identity, and information technology.

“Now in its 10th year, the SIA Women in Biometrics Awards are a globally recognized initiative to honor the outstanding leaders who are fostering change and innovation in biometric identity and security, and this year’s awardees have an impressive array of achievements in biometric technology, policy and compliance, capability management and operations, research, science and analysis across government and industry,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson. “SIA commends Leire Arbona Puértolas, Melissa Conley, Heather Haller and Caitlin Kneapler for their impressive accomplishments in the biometrics field across and thanks them for their important work to advance our industry and make the world safer.”

The 2024 SIA Women in Biometrics Awards will be presented May 21 at a special award ceremony during SIA GovSummit. Each year, SIA GovSummit brings together government security leaders with private industry technologists for top-quality information sharing, networking and education on security topics affecting federal, state, and local agencies. SIA GovSummit 2024 will be held May 21-22 in downtown Washington, D.C.


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