Cisco Customer Advocate Awards: Americas 2024 Finalists

The Cisco Customer Advocate Awards honor exceptional Cisco customers who exemplify innovation through their use of Cisco products and solutions, and who share their successes through thought leadership, including success stories, speaking engagements, product reviews, and more.

From executives to engineers, this years’ Cisco awards attracted an impressive mix of customers from across the Americas. We received 100+ nominations and relied on the expertise of more than 32 judges—a combination of Cisco leaders, engineers, architects, and technical specialists—to narrow the list of candidates.

We’re excited to announce the shortlisted nominees for the fourth annual Cisco Customer Advocate Awards: Americas 2024!


Cybersecurity Defender of the Year

In today’s connected world, robust cybersecurity protects organizations against cyber threats, safeguards intellectual property and customer data, and enables innovation. This is why the Cybersecurity Defender of the Year award recognizes the customer who prioritizes security in every aspect of their business. These customers use Cisco security solutions to enhance resilience, maximize user uptime, maintain business continuity, and empower employees across all environments.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Raja Sambandam—State of New Mexico Office of Cybersecurity

Matthew Barczak and Paul Oyelakin—Marriott International

Dwayne Robinson—SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park

John Skaarup—Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)

Veronica Martinez Estrada—Grupo Xcaret


Hybrid Work Hero

How we work has changed, which is why the Hybrid Work Hero award recognizes the customer who has implemented the best hybrid work strategy to empower teams or rethink workspaces. Whether by using new solutions to make every space a collaborative workspace, modernizing their security to manage and protect employee devices, or designing the network to support seamless and cohesive work experiences, the Hybrid Work Hero deserves recognition for deploying a solution that makes hybrid work, work for everyone!

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Nicole Alderete-Ferrini—City of El Paso, Texas

Dale Walters—State of Illinois

Steve Hilliard—Ford Motor Company

Bill Sheff, Alex Pop, and Justin Priebe—M&T Bank

Wendy Williams—McKesson


Cisco Insider John Pell from ServiceNow, second from right, accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award at Cisco Live Amsterdam 2024. Pictured here with Agostino Santoni, Cisco Vice President of Sales, EMEA; Britney Bartlett, Vice President of Global Field Marketing; and Nieves Navarro, Vice President of Marketing, EMEA.

Reimagine Applications Visionary

Applications are the storefront for organizations today, and they’re used to innovate, transform the business, and take advantage of new digital models and revenue streams. The Reimagine Applications Visionary award honors the customer who uses Cisco Full-Stack Observability (FSO) to move beyond traditional monitoring. In doing so, these visionaries benefit from a comprehensive view of their applications’ performance, security, and impact on business outcomes. Recognizing their innovative use of open, extensible, and AI/ML-enhanced FSO solutions, this award celebrates those who have aligned IT operations with business goals to deliver seamless, secure user experiences.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

David Cornette and Jonathan Silberlicht—T-Mobile

James Kluttz—Sutter Health

Michael Verret—Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Pat Spinler and Matt Dupay—Mayo Clinic


Transformation Trailblazer

In today’s high-tech, high-expectation environment, simplified IT experiences help organizations satisfy customers, retain employees, and stand out from competitors. Organizations are adopting a cloud operating model across their IT stacks to enhance agility and streamline complexity, while prioritizing secure networking to manage risks and maintain superior user experiences despite an increasingly intricate threat landscape. The Transformation Trailblazer award recognizes the customer who excels in using Cisco solutions to simplify network and technology challenges and ensure secure global connectivity.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Ron Grohman—Bush Brothers & Company

Jeanette Jaede and Arun Joshi—Amazon: Project Kuiper

Ian Hyatt—Purdue University

Jeff Peterson—LPL Financial

Leandro César Lopes Evangelista—Arena MRV

Todd Stewart—Honeywell International


Sustainability Changemaker

The Sustainability Changemaker award celebrates a customer who uses Cisco’s innovative solutions to help reduce environmental impacts and drive sustainability. From energy management platforms to smart building solutions that help optimize efficiency, to refreshed data center hardware built with circular design principles and more energy efficient infrastructure than previous generations, Cisco can help organizations embrace circularity and adapt to a low-carbon economy. This award recognizes transformative efforts in using Cisco’s solutions for energy management, data center modernization, clean energy transitions, circular business transformation, smart buildings, and other sustainability initiatives.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Nicole Alderete-Ferrini—City of El Paso, Texas

Tim Roberts—St. Anne Institute

Dani Stern—Honeywell International

Roger Loo—NetApp


Artificial Intelligence Pioneer

The world is rapidly changing with the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the Artificial Intelligence Pioneer award celebrates the early adopter. These pioneers innovate through AI features within their Cisco products or integration with other AI product—whether their own solution or one created by an ecosystem partner. This award honors those who lead AI innovation, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and paving the way for the future of technology.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Bruce Thompson, Phyllis Kimber, and Denise Beckwith—Georgia Department of Labor

Michael Verret—Internal Revenue Service (IRS)


Industry Excellence

The Industry Excellence award celebrates organizations who use Cisco solutions to solve common challenges faced across their industry, especially those who have created industry-wide change. Celebrating organizations who surpass industry norms, this award recognizes exceptional achievements and the pursuit of progress in today’s environment.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Max Hernandez—Toyota Motor North America

Jarrett Newberry and Robert Bibey—Burrell Behavioral Health

Sophia Mohr—Central Ohio Transit Authority

Mike (Mac) McNamara—Dish Network

Veronica Martinez Estrada—Grupo Xcaret


Americas Customer Advocate of the Year

The Advocate of the Year has consistently contributed to the greater Cisco Insider Advocates community, supporting others through mentorship, community building, best practice sharing, and advocacy. This award recognizes the customer whose acts of advocacy made the most significant impact on the Cisco community.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Mark Rodrigue—Room & Board

Josh Beaver—T-Mobile

Marcus Labra—Carnival Corporation

Christopher Cavendish—Insight Global


Congratulations to all our Cisco Customer Advocate Awards: Americas 2024 finalists!

We applaud each of you for your passion, innovation, and thought leadership. We look forward to celebrating you at Cisco Live Las Vegas next month!

If you’d like to see which of these amazing finalists rises above the rest, join us during the awards ceremony on June 3! Register here.







Latest articles


Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here