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CISO of the Year Award


Visit the New CISO of the Year Website for More Information and Pictures

Download the 2024 CISO Program Overview and Nomination Form (Word)

Download the 2024 CISO  Program Overview and Nomination Form (pdf)

2024 CISO of the Year Program Overview

The Chicago CISO of the Year Committee and the Chicago Chapters of AITP, ChicagoFIRST, InfraGard, ISSA, ISACA, PAABC, WiCyS and SIM invite you to submit exceptional cybersecurity leaders for the 2024 Chicago Area CISO of the Year Award.


The current business climate has seen an unprecedented number of cybersecurity related headlines. Cybercriminals and Nation State actors continue to probe organizations defenses with the intent to disrupt operations, exfiltrate sensitive  information, and monetize attacks. Between these threats and the increasing regulatory climate, never has the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) been asked to navigate more difficult terrain.

Originally patterned after the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the Year Award sponsored by the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP Chicago), SIM-Chicago and the Executives' Club of Chicago, this program seeks to recognize outstanding CISOs for the contributions they make to their organizations, the Information Security profession and the local community. The award process is overseen by the Chicago CISO of the Year Program Committee, a not-for-profit volunteer organization supported by  AITP Chicago and operated by local area information security leader.


We are in the eleventh year of operation, and our third year of offering two awards:  the “ENTERPRISE” award for CISO’s from organizations with more than $4B USD in revenue and the “MID-CAP” award for those from organizations with less than $4B in revenue. If a CISO does not have company-wide responsibilities, the combined revenue of the business units under their remit will be used to determine the award for which they’ll be considered. 


Nomination is an open process that can be initiated by anyone with direct experience working with the nominee. Submitted nominations are reviewed to ensure that the nominee meets the requirements laid out in the Nomination Form. Nominees demonstrate their competency and achievements through a multi-staged application process that includes a detailed written questionnaire, and a series of formal and informal interviews with a panel of industry peer-level CISO judges. The program spans over five months and culminates with a final interview and selection process completed by a panel of local area CEOs. The CISO of the Year winner is announced at an Awards Ceremony held in October of the same year.


  1. Nominees are submitted to the program by the information security community.  Anyone who has a direct working relationship with a CISO can nominate that individual for the CISO of the Year Program.
  2. Participation in the program requires the explicit agreement from the nominee.
  3. Nominee fills out a multi-page application covering multiple topic areas relevant to the Information Security profession and community.
  4. Each nominee will be assigned at least two judges to conduct a 60-90 minute interview. These interviews are strongly preferred, but not required, to be in person.
  5. Judges evaluate both the written and verbal submissions as compared to other nominees.
  6. Scores of all nominees will be evaluated, discussed, and calibrated by the Judges Committee (JC). The JC consists of all volunteer CISO peer group judges.
  7. The Head of the Judges Committee (HJC) will facilitate the calibration sessions with a focus being on the four nominees with the highest scores. The HJC does not submit scores for any nominees. If two judges have the same score, the tiebreaker is decided by the HJC and is determined by the nominee's participation in the program (quantity and engagement level).
  8. The two nominees with the top scores in each categories will advance to the CEO evaluation round.
  9. CEOs will interview the two finalists in each category and select the winners.  Tie-Breaker Rule: If the CEOs deadlock, the finalist with the highest score wins. If both finalists have the same score, the HJC will select the winner.


  1. Individual submitting nomination has direct experience working with Nominee.
  2. Goods or services have not been exchanged or promised for nomination.
  3. Nominations must be submitted to no later than July, 20 2024.


  1.  Nominee leads the Information Security program for the organization (CISO or equivalent).
  2. Nominee has been in role for a minimum of 12 months at the time of nomination.
  3. Nominee remains active in role until the end of September of the Award year.
  4. Nominee's organization is based out of or has a significant office presence in the Chicago Area.
  5. Nominee's primary work location is in the Chicago area.


2023  -  ENTERPRISE, Darin Hurd, CISO, Guaranteed Rate

2023  - MID-CAP, Neil Witek, CISO, Oak Street Health

2022  -  ENTERPISE, Mahmood Khan, SVP & CISO, CNA Insurance

2022 -  MID-CAP, Walter Lefmann, Director of Security, Chicago Trading Corporation

2021 -   Ricardo Lafosse, CISO, Kraft Heinz

2020 – Paige Adams, Global CISO, Zurich Insurance

2019 – Jill Rhodes, CISO, Option Care

2018 – Bradley Schaufenbuel, CISO & VP, Paylocity

2017 – Erik Decker, Chief Security & Privacy Officer, University of Chicago Medicine

2016 – Todd Fitzgerald, CISO, Grant Thornton International Ltd.

2015 – Kevin Novak, CISO and Technology Risk Officer, Northern Trust Bank

2014 – Arlan McMillan, CISO, Department of Innovation and Technology, City of Chicago

2013 – Jason Witty, CISO & SVP, US Bank


2023  - ENTERPRISE, Matt Coughlin, CEO, XSELL Technologies; Rushil Desai, CEO Aetna Better Health of Illinois; Stu Hansen, CEO, Avaneer Health, and Bob McGonigle, CEO, Martin Brower

2022  - ENTERPRISE, Pat Blandford, Founder, CEO, Green Shield Risk Solutions & Tom Monahan, CEO, DeVry University

2022 - MID-CAP, Wells Hutchinson, CEO, Dental Delta Plans Assoc. & Tom Monahan, CEO, DeVry University

2021 – Bradley Alter, CEO, Certified Health Management and Sunil Cutinho, President, CME Clearing

2020 – Bob McGonigle, CEO, Martin Brower and Michael O'Grady, CEO, Northern Trust

2019 – Doug Kofoid, CEO, DialogTech and Tony Lorenz, CEO, PRA and Jo Ann Rooney, Pres., Loyola Univ.

2018 – Sharon O'Keefe, President, UCMC and John Walden, CEO, FTD

2017 – Anders Gustafsson, CEO, Zebra Technologies and Tom Richards, Executive Chairman, CDW

2016 – David Nelms, Discover Financial and Steve Lieber, CEO, HIMSS

2015 – Artur Fridberg, CEO, eboundhost and Dan Yunker, CEO, MCHC/LLH

2014 – Deborah Gage, CEO, Medecision and Rick Waddell, CEO, Northern Trust

2013 – none


Wayne Johnson, Founder 

Arlan McMillan, Head of Judges Committee and Co-Chair

Sally Martin, Head of Operations and Co-Chair

On behalf of the Program Committee, prior winners, nominees, partners, sponsors and the CISOs of the Chicago region, thank you for your participation in the Program.

Wayne Johnson, Founder



>April 1, 2024 - Nomination Process Opens

> - 5/21/2024 - Mixer #1 :  Smith & Wollensky's Steakhouse, 318 N. State St., Chicago, IL , 5-8 PM (Tuesday) , 5-8 PM (Tuesday) 

>  6/25/2024 - Mixer #2: Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse, 5464 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL , 5-8 PM (Tuesday) 

>  7/20/2024 - Final Date for Nomination Forms to be submitted

> 7/23/2024 - Mixer #3:  (Partner Event) Bar Siena at Fulton Market, 832 West Randolph St, Chicago, IL  60607,   5-8 PM (Tuesday) 

> 8/4/2024 - Final date for Nominees to submit nominee their Application Forms

> 8/12/24-8/21/24  - Program Judges review applications and perform interviews with nominees

> 8/27/2024 - Mixer #4 : Metropolitan Club of Chicago, Oak Room, 67th Floor, Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago,IL  60606

> 9/9/2024  - Finalists announced for each category

> 9/13/24-9/23/24  - CEO Judges interview finalists and select winners

>10/15/24 - Award Breakfast Ceremony - Event #5: In Person - Location: - Metropolitan Club of Chicago, Oak Room, 67th Floor, Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago,IL  60606 

Doors open at 7:30 am and the Ceremony begins promptly at 8:00 and  ends at 10 AM. 


It's a pleasure to offer out sponsors the best opportunity to meet Chicago area Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and Senior Information Security Practitioners in multiple settings!  As we all realize 2021 was a challenging year, but our plan is to return to all in person events in 2022.  You will meet many of the same CISOs multiple times throughout the course of the 6-month Chicago CISO of the Year Program.  As we all know, relationships build success.  The program is designed for our Sponsors to be able to communicate with CISO’s in great settings and as a way for CISOs to meet their Peers to grow their careers and network.

There are 5 events that make up the program sponsor year.  We have averaged about 100 people per event.  Significantly more people attend the last events in the program. We are limiting the number of sponsor participation to 11 for 2022.  As the year progresses we will be adding a couple more events like baseball games and/or round-tables. 

Please Thank Our 2024 Program Sponsors:          







For detailed information on sponsor opportunities, contact:

Wayne Johnson (Founder and Sponsors Contact),


We have a tremendous group of partners in Infragard, AITP, ISSA, SIM, ISACA, WiSys and ChicagoFirst. We are very pleased to announce a new partner was added last year.

Given the circumstances this year, we expect to work much more directly with our partners to cross-promote through virtual events and ongoing chapter communications.  We will rely more than ever on partners to drive nominations and keep our communities collectively engaged.  We are interested in your ideas, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to Wayne Johnson, Arlan McMillan or Sally Martin with any questions or concerns.


While COVID-19 has introduced a world of uncertainty, we on the committee would like to think positively and are  dedicated to conducting an In-Person program this year in a way that our nominees, judges, event attendees, sponsors, and partners can do so safely and healthily. 

Thank you to everyone who makes this program and the Chicago CISO community great!  We look forward to another good year.

About the Program Partners

AITP Chicago

It is the mission of AITP Chicago to provide superior leadership and education in Information Technology.  AITP is dedicated to using synergy of Information Technology partnerships to provide education and benefits to our members and to working with the industry to assist in overall promotion and direction of Information Technology.

Information Systems Security Association (ISSA)

The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) is a not-for-profit, international organization of information security professionals and practitioners. It provides educational forums, publications, and peer interaction opportunities that enhance the knowledge, skill, and professional growth of its members.


InfraGard is a partnership between the FBI and members of the private sector. The InfraGard program provides a vehicle for seamless public-private collaboration with government that expedites the timely exchange of information and promotes mutual learning opportunities relevant to the protection of Critical Infrastructure. With thousands of vetted members nationally, InfraGard's membership includes business executives, entrepreneurs, military and government officials, computer professionals, academia and state and local law enforcement; each dedicated to contributing industry specific insight and advancing national security.

ISACA Chicago

As an independent, nonprofit, global association, ISACA engages in the development, adoption and use of globally accepted, industry-leading knowledge and practices for information systems. Previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, ISACA now goes by its acronym only, to reflect the broad range of IT governance professionals it serves.

Society of Information Managers (SIM)

SIM brings together IT leaders to share, network and give back to their communities through the collaboration of local chapters.   SIM Chicago provides a unique opportunity to interact with thought leaders throughout the technology and business fields. SIM Chicago sponsors regular programs for members to network, hosts social and philanthropic events to enhance the community, and acts as a forum for business and technology leaders in partnership with peer executive organizations in Chicago.    


Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with global reach dedicated to bringing together women in cybersecurity from academia, research and industry to share knowledge, experience, networking and mentoring.  The WiCyS Chicago Affiliate is Chicago CISO of the Year's newest partner, and we look forward to working together to raise awareness, opportunity and inclusion for women in (or aspiring to) the CISO role.


In 2020, the CotY committee announced a new partnership between ChicagoFIRST and the Chicago CISO of the year awards program. ChicagoFIRST is a nonprofit association that provides critical firms a collaborative forum to address private sector resilience and emergency management planning and response with relevant local, regional, and national public sector agencies. We look forward to collaborating with ChicagoFIRST  in the years to come.

Pan Asian American Business Council

The mission of the Pan Asian American Business Council (“PAABC”) is to enable and foster the development and growth of Asian American owned businesses.

Cloud Security Alliance - Chicago Chapter


And...Here are the 2023 Nominees and Winners!!!

                                                                                                  ENTERPRISE                                                                                  MIDCAP


                                                                                    Darin Hurd, CISO, Guaranteed Rate                                             Neil Witek, CISO, Oak Street Health


Brad Skibitzki, CISO - Zebra Technologies
Dan Manley, CISO - CME Group  2023 Runner-up
Matt Morton, CISO - University of Chicago
Kenneth Townsend, CISO - Ingredion
Brian Palmer, Director of Security & Infrastructure - Ventas
Darin Hurd, CISO - Guaranteed Rate  2023 CISO of the Year Award - ENTERPRISE


Phil Kane, VP Director of IT Infrastructure & Information Security - The Inland Real Estate Group, LLC
Fred Kwong, CISO - DeVry    2023 Runner-up - MID-CAP
Neil Witek, CISO - Oak Street Health  2023 CISO of the Year Award - MID-CAP

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