Women in Email Security: Meet Area 1’s Accelerate Partner Program Team

Area 1 Security’s Dawn Ringstaff, VP of Global Channel Sales, was recently named to The Channel Company’s prestigious CRN Channel Chiefs list for the second year. This annual award identifies top IT channel vendor executives who continually demonstrate expertise, influence and innovation in channel leadership.  I recently had the opportunity to interview Dawn and her team — Jessica Chavez, Partner Development Manager, and Leah Woomer, Director of Channel Marketing. Learn about the incredible women behind Area 1 Security’s award-winning Accelerate Partner Program, including their advice to women considering a career in the Channel, and the opportunities for partners in the fast-evolving cloud email security market. 

  • Dawn Ringstaff brings over two decades of experience with companies such as SonicWall, Kaspersky, and Oracle, with a successful track record for developing channel programs that grow partner revenue and partner sales and technical capabilities. As Area 1’s Vice President of Channel, she leverages her experience to design and execute Area 1’s channel strategy, including VAR, Solution Provider, MSSP, distribution, and cloud marketplace partnerships. Dawn is a two-time Channel Chief Recipient, a multiple-time recipient of the Women in the Channel, and a member of the Women of the Channel Senior Leadership Forum.  Follow her on Linkedin.
  • Jessica Chavez – Jessica has been a part of the technology and IT Security landscape for more than 11 years, with channel enablement and user experience always at the core of her engagement strategy. Her professional journey began in channel recruitment and development, then progressed to strategic roles in sales and account management, and has led to a current day focus on channel enablement and partner growth from an operational stance.  As Partner Development Manager, Jessica is leveraging her experience to elevate the Area 1 Security Accelerate program through expansion of educational resources, enhancement of Rewards & Recognition programs, and the streamlining of partner tools and platforms.  Follow her on Linkedin.
  • Leah Woomer has led marketing efforts for B2B technology companies for the last decade, focusing on Channel, Customer, and Event Marketing. At Area 1 Security, she has been instrumental in launching Area 1’s Channel Program, where she leads partner recruiting and enablement efforts. Her recent accomplishments include the implementation of the Area 1 Accelerate Community partner portal and the Phish U(niversity) partner learning management system. In 2021, Leah was named a “Rising Female Star” by The Channel Company. Before Area 1, her roles included Director of Trade Shows for Heartland Payment Systems and Director of Event and Customer Marketing at Parchment Inc.  Follow her on Linkedin.

Q: What do you love about your job and why?

Jessica: I love the constant evolution of the cyber threat landscape. It motivates people to combat it and provides an opportunity to enable the good guys to affect change. In addition, I am never at a loss for information to share with our partner community, so we always have the opportunity to collaborate, innovate, build trust and grow together. I love that.

Leah: I thrive in dynamic and fast-paced environments. I love that every day at Area 1 Security is different. Being part of an innovative company in the rapidly evolving cybersecurity industry means there are always new challenges to solve. Area 1’s shift to a channel-centric strategy has allowed me to expand my skills to include partner marketing. We have an incredible team of seasoned professionals to help grow and develop our Channel, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn from them.

Dawn: I love the relationships that I’ve built with this career. I’ve been doing this for two decades, and the relationships last a lifetime. The friendships made with partners and co-workers are always unique, and it’s incredibly rewarding to watch our customers, partners, and peers succeed.

Q: What’s the one thing you wish your colleagues knew about you? 

Jessica: Ironically, though it may seem to my colleagues that making connections and growing relationships comes naturally to me – that idea couldn’t be further from the truth. I am an extroverted introvert, or as I’ve referred to it often, an extrovert out of necessity. So while I am motivated and fulfilled by building relationships, I have to push out of my comfort zone daily. Exciting things happen when you venture outside your comfort zone.

Leah: I’m a huge data nerd, and spreadsheets soothe my soul (seriously!). I’m analytical by nature, and I enjoy creating reports and data visualizations that help illustrate which elements of our campaigns and programs are most effective and where we have opportunities for improvement. This measurement and analysis give us the information to continuously improve our programs, enable our partners, and serve our customers more effectively. 

Q: We see news about email attacks and breaches regularly, so it’s  easy to understand why some people are skeptical about the cybersecurity industry. How do you find motivation when you need it?

Dawn: Recently, I started a journal to record my goals and daily positives. It’s incredibly motivating to see what I’ve accomplished that day and helps me plan out the next day. However, I find the most motivation in sharing knowledge with my peers in the Senior Leadership Forum (hosted by The Women of the Channel). I also have to say that all the activity, excitement, and success here at Area 1 is about as motivating as it gets.

Leah: The theme of mentorship is key. When I need motivation, I reach out to my mentors and colleagues. For example, I love reaching out to my colleagues who have successfully grown a channel for best practice ideas and inspiration. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues with a wealth of experience and success in the Channel, so learning about how they have successfully grown partnerships to improve customers’ outcomes is inspirational. It also helps to reflect on how far our partner ecosystem has come in such a short time. I am very proud to be part of such a fantastic team.

Q: What advice would you give to women just entering the Channel?

Leah: Find a good mentor to show you the ropes, and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Read, listen and learn as much as possible, then dive in and make it happen!

Dawn: Know what you want and go for it! Create a plan to accomplish your goals. Once you know your goals, take risks, and don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. Seek out mentors and build relationships with EVERYONE – make sure you are also adding value to them. Finally, be the best at what you do, and love doing it.

Jessica: Being part of a channel team is like being part of an organization with infinite members and opportunities. Seek out and embrace the many connections that contribute to and make your business successful. Don’t be afraid to be seen, heard, and remembered. Do your homework and make every interaction count – so that your Channel knows that you understand what it takes to be an integral part of their success.

Q: Looking into 2022, what is the key to success for our channel partners?

Dawn: We believe that the key to success is the rapid evolution of the email security market. Because of the rise of Microsoft Office 365 and GSuite, legacy perimeter-based secure email gateways are no longer sufficient. There’s a reason that Gartner continues to recommend that security professionals assess any gaps in their existing legacy email security programs.

Leah: Our partners have an incredible opportunity to help guide their customers to more effective cloud-native security, help them assess and close any security gaps, and fully utilize the power of cloud email and cloud collaboration. Our partners also receive complimentary access to our service, so they can experience firsthand how the Area 1 layer significantly improves their own defenses. 

Q: What are the goals for Area 1’s Accelerate Partner Program over the next year?

Dawn: We will continue to help Security Solution Providers and MSSPs solve urgent security challenges and build lasting value for their business. Our goals are to aggressively recruit new channel partners with security practices and MSSPs seeking to participate in the explosive growth of the cloud email security market and continue to help onboard these partners efficiently so they can quickly build value with Area 1 solutions.

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