Theresa Jones, professionally known as “The Cyber Lady,” is the owner and CEO of Evalv IQ, the first minority female cyber security firm in Louisiana. From growing up in a low-income neighborhood in South Louisiana to running a company that expands over 3 states, Jones strives to be an inspiration to Black & Brown girls that come from similar backgrounds by exposing them to STEM.
Please tell us who is Theresa Jones?
Theresa “The Cyber Lady” Jones is a computer nerd who feels like she can impact the world via the tool in which we call “cybersecurity”. A little black girl from a low-income neighborhood, with student loan debt and no degree, has grown into a fashionable tech lady with a passion to educate in the realm of tech.
Can you tell us more about, and the inspiration behind the Evalv IQ?
Evalv IQ was developed to work with business owners and executives who had been taken advantage of financially due to their lack of knowledge in the realm of IT and Cybersecurity.
What is the true mission and goal for yourself and Evalv IQ?
The goal for Theresa Jones is simple. Continue to be an entrepreneur and become a philanthropist that can create cyber and tech education programs all over the world for those who would not normally be exposed to tech.
It is Evalv IQ’s mission to equip enterprises, nonprofits, and governmental agencies of all sizes with the tools and resources to mitigate cyber risks.
In honor of August being Black Business Month, you are noted for being the first minority female cyber security firm in Louisiana. Can you tell us a little about what that experience feels like?
The experience has been a rollercoaster. It is great to know that I am trailblazing for the next generation of black female entrepreneurs. The responsibility to exude “Black Excellence” and make sure that the decision-makers who do not look like us, know that we are capable of accomplishing amazing things in tech is weighty. There have been several instances when I have been reminded that those who do not look like me, don’t want me to be in this space. I have been told things like, “why are you here little girl” “you do not belong here so just leave” and even had contracts drug out legally for months in hopes that I would just give up. It is truly a bittersweet journey.
Do you feel you receive the same acknowledgment as your counterparts?
Unfortunately, no. I get paid less, questioned more about my capabilities, and undervalued although in some cases I know more than my counterparts. So much so that in the past I have been required to apply for a surety bond for a contract, only for the contract to be given at double the rate to my white male counterpart who never showed up in person to meet with the prospect. But I am hopeful to make “Black Excellence in Tech” the new norm.
Why do you feel it is important for young Black and Brown girls to have exposure and knowledge of STEM and what it means?
The profession gap for little black and brown girls is extreme and, in some cases, doesn’t seem obtainable. For example, there is the idea that you have to be an athlete, performer, lawyer, or doctor to be successful in today’s society. The physical talent must be there or the funding for education. What happens if you do not have either? You become a statistic. I believe STEM can be a way for young black and brown girls to not only have a career but do something impactful. The education level for most IT and cyber positions can be a GED with a certification or two that will produce an income of $55,000 with no experience on average. By year three these young women can be at a 6-figure salary. This means we bridge generational wealth gaps, change the dynamic of low-income black and brown families, and free our community from being stuck doing jobs that they do not enjoy.
Within the Evalv IQ company, you also have a program under the “Evalv IQ U”, can you explain more about the university, mission, and programs?
Evalv IQ U is an online based school for individuals of all ages to obtain certifications in IT, Cybersecurity, & Entrepreneurship. It has courses for everything that I am passionate about and wish I could have had access to years ago. The school has the option for monthly payments while you are studying so there is no need for loans. Personally, I do not have a degree but tons of student loans chasing after a dream, that was clearly not what I ended up loving as a career. These types of resources will allow minorities to obtain the education needed to help fill the massive tech gap this will occur in 2025. For example, in 2025 there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity positions that will not be able to be staffed throughout America ranging from $65,000 to $170,000 in annual salary. In addition, the things that no one teaches you as a business owner such as QuickBooks, entrepreneurship, marketing, business financials, etc. are available at an extremely low cost to aid in the education of business owners.
Where would you like to see Evalv IQ and Evalv IQ U in the next 3 to 5 years?
I am looking forward to seeing both brands servicing and educating globally with representation in Africa, Italy, France, Spain & South America.
What would you like our views to gain from this interview?
That event with life’s limitations, you are never limited by others and certainly not because your skin is melanin. Life is big, the world is even bigger, so get ready for all aspects of the journey and live.
How can people connect with you?
Email: TheresaJones@Evalv.Today LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/theresa-marie-jones-cyber/
Photo Credits: Jena Green