Cisco’s Customer Advocate Awards are back! Cisco Advocates are change makers and innovators, and we recognized the finalists at Cisco Live in Las Vegas. To wrap-up, we’re celebrating our winners.


Now in its fourth year, The Cisco Customer Advocate Awards: Americas 2024 honor exceptional Cisco customers who exemplify innovation through their use of Cisco products and solutions, as well as demonstrate industry thought leadership through customer stories, speaking engagements, product reviews, and more.

From executives to engineers, this years’ Cisco awards attracted an impressive mix of more than 100 customers from across the Americas. Yesterday, at a packed ceremony at Cisco Live, we recognized the exceptional shortlisted nominees before announcing winners in each category.

Here are the winners of the fourth-annual Cisco Customer Advocate Awards: Americas 2024!

Americas Customer Advocate of the Year: Mark Rodrigue, Room and Board

The award for Americas Customer Advocate of the Year went to Mark Rodrigue with Room and Board. Mark earned the title for his standout involvement, including sharing his expertise in customer stories for ThousandEyes and Cisco Networking, as well as for fueling AI innovation with his sharp feedback as a beta tester for a new Meraki RF AI feature. Plus, he’s shone in the security space, sharing his experience with powerhouse products like Duo and Umbrella through dynamic events and videos. Recognized for his outstanding ability to articulate the real-world benefits of technical solutions, Mark is truly a distinguished advocate for Cisco. Learn more here!

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Josh Beaver—T-Mobile

Marcus Labra—Carnival Corporation

Christopher Cavendish—Insight Global

Artificial Intelligence Pioneer: Georgia Department of Labor

Congratulations to Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson, Phyllis Kimber, and Denise Beckwith with the Georgia Department of Labor for earning the first-ever Artificial Intelligence Pioneer award. The team revolutionized their contact center with Webex Contact Center, integrating AI to achieve a 100-percent response rate and simplifying services through a single contact number. Using Google Contact Center AI (CCAI) streamlined service delivery and improved efficiency, allowing live agents to focus on complex queries. Plus, the addition of a virtual agent and a courtesy callback feature significantly enhanced customer interaction and satisfaction.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominee:

Michael Verret—Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Industry Excellence Award: Central Ohio Transit Authority

The Industry Excellence Award recognizes organizations that are addressing and solving distinctive challenges inherent to their respective industry. Congratulations to the IT and Innovation Team with Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), which transformed public transit with Cisco’s IR1833 routers, boosting connectivity and security. Passengers now enjoy free Wi-Fi and enhanced safety, supporting digital equity and sustainability. The team has championed Cisco through diverse initiatives, including presenting at Cisco Live US 2022, crafting a success video and blog post, and sharing their experience with other Cisco customers. Learn more here.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Max Hernandez—Toyota Motor North America

Jarrett Newberry and Robert Bibey—Burrell Behavioral Health

Mike (Mac) McNamara—Dish Network

Veronica Martinez Estrada—Grupo Xcaret

Sustainability Changemaker: Nicole Alderete-Ferrini, City of El Paso, Texas

Congratulations to Nicole Alderete-Ferrini from City of El Paso, Texas, for earning the first-ever Sustainability Changemaker award in the Americas. The City of El Paso leverages Cisco Webex and networking solutions to centralize and improve access to government services for at-risk residents. The city’s shift to virtual service delivery reduced travel-related carbon emissions and redirected law enforcement efforts, aligning with their sustainability targets. The El Paso Helps project, supported by Cisco technologies, has not only optimized resource allocation but also set a precedent for sustainable and efficient public service models. Learn more here!

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Tim Roberts—St. Anne Institute

Dani Stern—Honeywell International

Roger Loo—NetApp

Hybrid Work Hero: M&T Bank

Congratulations to Alex Pop, Bill Sheff, Justin Priebe, Katie Gilliland, and Lori Fellela with M&T Bank. M&T Bank earned the Hybrid Work Hero award for seamlessly transitioning 21,000 employees to a hybrid video infrastructure where they can collaborate in person and online. The team deployed Cisco’s Webex Suite, enhancing communication within their innovative hybrid spaces. The groundbreaking use of Cisco Spaces and headset technologies enhanced both flexibility and engagement. This strategic technological shift ensured secure, adaptable operations and maintained M&T’s commitment to personalized customer service.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Nicole Alderete-Ferrini—City of El Paso, Texas

Dale Walters—State of Illinois

Steve Hilliard—Ford Motor Company

Wendy Williams—McKesson

Transformation Trailblazer: Ian Hyatt, Purdue University

Congratulations to Ian Hyatt with Purdue University for earning the Transformation Trailblazer award. Ian’s work with Purdue is evident through the overhauling of its network infrastructure with Cisco’s Meraki Wi-Fi 6 technology and Duo security, elevating campus Wi-Fi uptime to more than 99 percent and significantly reducing IT support tickets. The university’s successful transformation is evidenced by faster Wi-Fi speeds and streamlined device connectivity. Ian has shared this journey in a customer story, video, and discussions with industry press and analysts. Learn more here!

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Ron Grohman—Bush Brothers & Company

Jeanette Jaede and Arun Joshi—Amazon: Project Kuiper

Jeff Peterson—LPL Financial

Leandro César Lopes Evangelista—Arena MRV

Todd Stewart—Honeywell International

Reimagine Applications Visionary: T-Mobile

Congratulations to David Cornette and Jonathan Silberlicht from T-Mobile for earning the Reimagine Applications Visionary advocate award for their strategic deployment of Cisco’s AppDynamics and Cloud Observability. T-Mobile’s observability framework, crucial for their vast 5G network service quality, ensures full-stack visibility, facilitating AIOps and cloud security at scale. This partnership with Cisco has streamlined issue resolution and supported T-Mobile’s customer growth, setting new benchmarks in application monitoring and performance management. T-Mobile has actively advocated for their technological advancements, with David highlighting their collaboration at Cisco Live 2023 and engaging with the AppDynamics community through advisory boards and internal company events.  

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees: 

James Kluttz—Sutter Health 

Michael Verret—Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 

Pat Spinler and Matt Dupay—Mayo Clinic 

Cybersecurity Defender of the Year: Dwayne Robinson, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park

Congratulations to Dwayne Robinson for earning Cybersecurity Defender of the Year. Dwayne is expertly leveraging comprehensive Cisco security technologies, which allow employees and guests of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park to have a reliable and secure experience. This strategic design and implementation of Cisco applications and tools ensures a secure, connected experience for the SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park campus. The partnership with Cisco continues to set high standards for cybersecurity in large venues. Dwayne has played a pivotal role in amplifying SoFi’s story, prominently featuring SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park’s state-of-the-art network and its impact on events held at the stadium each year. Learn more here!

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

Raja Sambandam—State of New Mexico Office of Cybersecurity

Matthew Barczak and Paul Oyelakin—Marriott International

John Skaarup—Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)

Veronica Martinez Estrada—Grupo Xcaret

Congratulations to our Cisco Customer Advocate Awards: Americas 2024 winners,

and to all of our shortlisted nominees.

We applaud each of you for your passion, innovation, and leadership

within the technology industry!


“}]]  Cisco’s Customer Advocate Awards are back! Cisco Advocates are change makers and innovators, and we recognized the finalists at Cisco Live in Las Vegas. To wrap-up, we’re celebrating our winners.  Read More Cisco Blogs