FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2022 


Kathleen R. McMorrow

The Communications Optic, LLC.

Phone: 973.665.8167

Email: [email protected]

Women in IT Awards USA Honors Cynthia Hetherington’s Leadership in Operation Vax

Operation Vax—A Global Collaboration of 75+ Industry Leaders & Public Agencies—Secured Movement & Delivery of COVID-19 Vaccines

(Wanaque, NJ) Last night at Pier 60 in New York City, the Women in IT Summit and Awards series bestowed the esteemed 2022 Security Leader of the Year Award on Hg’s founder and president Cynthia Hetherington, MLS, MSM, CFE, CII at its first in-person ceremony since 2019. Now in its fifth year, the prestigious awards have recognized and celebrated over 1,000 women, allies, and organizations across the United States for their outstanding contributions to the technology industry.  Presented by DiversityQ in association with Information Age, the award recognizes a female CSO, CISO or any other senior IT security function within a USA organization who has delivered outstanding work, innovative approaches to security, and the impact of their policies, procedures, and projects. Ms. Hetherington was recognized for her role as a principal partner in convening and coordinating Operation Vax (OPVAX), a global collaboration that ensured the safe and secure movement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations to millions of Americans and foreign nations.

“It is an honor to receive the Women in IT Security Leader of the Year Award this year,” stated Cynthia Hetherington. “I have been very fortunate to work with and be supported by inspiring security leaders during my nearly three decades of online intelligence and investigations. In accepting this award, I am honoring their mentorship. To all women working in IT security— including my fellow distinguished nominees—I applaud you for your contributions to making the world a safer place. I would also like to thank DiversityQ and Information Age for their commitment to elevate the work of women in information technology and to expand the diversity of the IT workforce.”

Ms. Hetherington’s fellow nominees included the outstanding work of Dana Simberkoff, AvePoint; Kavya Pearlman, XR Safety Initiative (XRSI); Keavy Murphy, Starburst; Lauren Zink,; Monica Converse, Verizon; Nancy (Zhengnan) Wang, Alert Logic by HelpSystems; Rikki George, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group (CME Group); Saryu Nayyar, Gurucul; and Sheila Jambekar, Plaid.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Hetherington served as the principal partner with Chuck Forsaith of Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) to convene and coordinate Operation Vax (OPVAX), a global collaboration that ensured the safe and secure movement and delivery of Covid-19 vaccinations to millions of Americans and foreign nations. As vaccine researchers and scientists across continents and oceans burned the midnight oil to develop an efficacious vaccine, Ms. Hetherington and Mr. Forsaith identified the need for a global coalition to ensure the safe and secure transportation, storage, and distribution of the future vaccine. Out of one telephone call among two life-long colleagues—one a cyber intelligence investigations expert, the other a healthcare distribution expert—grew a public-private collaborative effort that aided in safely and securely distributing COVID-19 vaccines to millions of Americans and to foreign nations in late 2020 and beyond. For her role in this unique partnership, Ms. Hetherington established three target actions: 1) Secure buy-in from government and private sector leaders; 2) Obtain the support of cybersecurity vendors; and 3) Provide Hg pro bono intelligence services.

Hg’s OSINT analysts and investigators were on the frontlines battling misinformation campaigns waged across the internet. Their position required a methodical and often time-consuming approach, under Ms. Hetherington’s leadership, to counter the misinformation, such as tracing content sourcing, establishing site credibility through its authors and sources, interrogating site domain registrations, and developing link analysis of those involved—all for the good of the global community—not profit.

Over the course of OPVAX, analysts collected over 105,000 open and dark web sources reporting on potential threats to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. From there, analysts triaged 45,000 of those reports for further analysis—resulting in perpetual risk and vulnerability notifications to the OPVAX team. In April 2022, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC) recognized Ms. Hetherington and three other security leaders who have exhibited remarkable standards of honesty and integrity while working tirelessly to protect and serve their communities.

The Women in IT Summit & Awards series supports the tech industry in its mission to move the dial on diversity & inclusion. By providing a global platform to showcase advocates, role models, and allies this growing series works alongside industry champions to share knowledge, break digital boundaries, and promote the importance of an inclusive tech sector. Ms. Hetherington was recognized as a finalist for the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Hetherington Group (Hg)

Hg is committed to sharing expertise, so the world can be a safer place. As a leader in open source intelligence gathering, it provides accredited training to industry professionals across the country. Hg offerings include seminar and webinar training in beginner, intermediate, and advanced internet and social media investigations; online ethics and best practices; online monitoring tools; fraud examinations; and open source intelligence searching. Annually, Hg staff train over 8,000 investigators, security professionals, attorneys, accountants, auditors, military intelligence professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies on best practices. Material is timely and actionable. Participants gain useful knowledge which can be used in the course of their own investigations. Hg is an NSA Center of Excellence grant recipient charged with developing and offering training opportunities at the U.S. Department of Defense and academic settings. Hg classes are ACFE, NASBA, DHS, LPF, SHRM, and ASIS approved for continuing professional education credits.

Information Age

Information Age provides general intelligence for technologists in the information age, supporting CTOs, CIOs and other technology leaders in managing business critical issues both for today and in the future. Information Age was founded in 1995 as a print magazine. The brand launched a website in 2001 and evolved into a fully digital proposition in 2017. The Data Leadership Summit was launched in 2011, expanding into the awards event, together with the launch of the Tech Leaders Summit, the following year. The Tech Leaders Awards was launched in 2017.


DiversityQ supports board members setting and enacting their D&I strategy, HR directors managing their departments to take D&I best practice and implement it in real-life workplace situations, and brand advocates ensuring that their company has the right reputation and communications to attract and retain the top talent from across an increasingly diverse working population.