Skilled volunteer duo Noah Davis and Sherri Leach take a personable approach to volunteering, creating a lasting impact in the Charlotte nonprofit and tech communities
Since 2018, the collaborative efforts of Noah Davis and Sherri Leach have enhanced the security landscape of Charlotte corporations and nonprofit organizations. Noah and Sherri began working together at Trane Technologies, but are currently both with Ingersoll Rand where Noah Davis, VP & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), is responsible for leading the company’s global cybersecurity function, and Sherri, Deputy CISO, provides leadership, executive support, strategic and tactical guidance, and complete execution for an enterprise-class cybersecurity program. These cybersecurity professionals recently sat down with the Apparo team to share their experiences and discuss the impact they’re creating in nonprofit communities through skilled volunteering.
The journey began when Noah attended an Apparo ConnectivIT Ball with Steve Hagood, a valued member of the Apparo CXO Tech Council, and was inspired by Apparo’s mission. From there, Noah shared the mission and brought Sherri and others on board to volunteer with Apparo. Noah shares his motivation for skilled volunteering,
“From my experience in the field, cybersecurity threats are continually increasing. This type of risk isn’t always the first priority for a nonprofit. Being able to provide these organizations with cybersecurity tools, tips, and techniques goes a long way in ensuring they are able to securely work toward their missions. Being able to help Apparo amplify nonprofit missions with my abilities is amazingly rewarding.”
Creating connections for secure solutions
For the last two years, Noah and Sherri have worked together on Apparo Tech Therapy engagements to provide security assessments for nonprofits such as Memory and Movement Charlotte, Care Ring, and Young Black Leadership Alliance (YBLA). Additionally, Noah has instructed Apparo Nonprofit + Bytes Insights webinars, focusing on low-cost cyber hygiene best practices and tools. These webinars provide free educational content to nonprofits that allow them to learn new skills or take on their technology challenges. Individually and together, Sherri and Noah have played a vital role in making substantial technology improvements and creating meaningful connections in the nonprofit and tech communities. Sherri and Noah share their experiences volunteering with Apparo:
“It’s incredibly rewarding to help my community with such a small time investment that creates a huge impact.” -Sherri Leach
“Having security measures in place is like having the foundation of a house. Apparo is helping hundreds of nonprofits build strong foundations and amplify the impact of their missions for the betterment of our communities. This type of altruistic motivation behind an organization’s mission is what drives the effectiveness of others who want to do good in the world. It gives us an avenue to make a positive impact.” -Noah Davis
Not only does skilled volunteering offer a level of personal fulfillment, but for leaders like Noah, there are even more advantages to the role, “There are countless surprising benefits to working with Apparo. My teams and coworkers find themselves to be more engaged at work. They feel a greater sense of purpose, which helps with retention.”
When asked what it’s like working with one another, Sherri and Noah both cheerfully describe the infectious positivity and personality that emerges when they’re on a team together. Noah describes Sherri as having “ridiculously high intellectual horsepower” and spoke about how although they both take a creative and personal approach to their work, they have different styles of problem-solving, creating balance in the workflow, and ultimately positive outcomes for the nonprofits they serve.
Sherri shares, “Working together as a team creates a fun, exceptionally creative, and consistently high-energy environment. We extend this atmosphere to the nonprofits we’re working with. When we’re working with topics like business operations, we bring a personal and relevant side to it to ensure we’re really understanding their operating environment to help identify the best and most effective ways for them to conduct business”.
Both Sherri and Noah describe how being a volunteer and for Noah, being a part of Apparo’s Tech Council, allows them to organically make connections and share ideas in the community with executives, vendors, and others, that they may not have met otherwise. “Being exposed to a multitude of environments as a cybersecurity professional strengthens my knowledge of business operations and provides insights into small enterprises, which is helpful coming from a larger company “, Sherri explains.
Noah shares, “Since hearing it, a quote I really resonate with is “vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness“. I believe sharing personal stories or breaking bread with someone allows for greater connectivity. It seems to me that the world runs on relationships while businesses can try to make them transactional. Being relationship-driven is an important aspect of my life and my volunteer work”.
For many, skilled volunteering is a new term, but Sherri is no stranger to applying her tech skills to help others. Sherri operates a cyber-patriot team for young leaders to gain cyber security skills and is also the Cyber officer for her local Civil Air Patrol chapter. Although she is well experienced in the world of skilled volunteering, she emphasizes the difference that working with Apparo makes,
“When working with groups like YBLA, those young people are the future. We’re helping them stay secure so they can continue to foster their mission and become leaders in our community. The direct impact on the community through this outreach that I wouldn’t normally have is what makes Apparo so special. Being able to take my skillset, develop personal connections with nonprofits, and help others feels like an extension of the greatness they’re doing in the community. I feel immersed in being a part of the greater good”.
Apparo staff and nonprofit leaders share their appreciation of Noah and Sherri’s dedicated volunteerism:
- “Working with Noah Davis and Sherri Leach is such a pleasure! They possess deep expertise, sharp insight, and a generous spirit. Cybersecurity can be an intimidating topic, but Sherri and Noah lighten it up with a sense of humor and practical advice. We are lucky to have them as volunteers for Apparo!” -Jennifer Ray, Apparo
- “Apparo is so fortunate to have two amazing security experts volunteer their time and share their knowledge with our community. The topic of cybersecurity is not always the easiest concept to grasp but Noah and Sherri make the topic uncomplicated and fun for nonprofits.” -Stephanie McKee, Apparo
- “Sherri and Noah have been incredibly approachable and accessible, explaining things in a way that we can easily understand while guiding our path forward. We valued them not only by providing their technological and subject matter expertise, but also by taking the time to educate us and improve our ability to understand and assess our current state. We would not have been able to prepare for a better future for our organization without them.” -Tchernavia Montgomery, CEO of Care Ring
- “Working with our volunteers in assessing our needs was fluid and tailored to our organization’s needs of protecting patient data. They perfectly guided our conversations with multiple entities, helping us get to the end goal of identifying our gaps and making a plan for addressing them in a timely fashion. The questions they asked were so helpful throughout the process. They laid out steps and tasks in an organized manner that helped us prioritize our needs, considering our limited resources and bandwidth. As a busy nonprofit, we need to be efficient with what we have. It’s been a stellar experience.” -Jessica Gonzalez, Quality Improvement and Evaluations Manager of Care Ring