The Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) was proud to host the NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference at the Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak in Phoenix, Arizona on December 2-5, 2023. The mission of this annual conference is to inspire a cybersecurity workforce for the digital age. It convened stakeholders across K12 education, higher education, students, government, industry, research, and nonprofits that are working to develop opportunities and competencies in K12 STEM programming, specifically in cybersecurity. The conference expands a national effort to document the K12 cybersecurity education programs on-going throughout the country and to address the goal: to develop a comprehensive agenda focused on the challenges of cybersecurity education at the K12 level.

The conference featured four prominent keynote speakers including:

  • Garrett Boyd, Senior Consultant Palo Alto Networks
  • Pete Kim, Executive Director RTX, ACTRA, AZ Cyber Initiative
  • Karine Laidley, Director of Instruction, Computer Science Project Lead The Way
  • CougarJade Reyes-Zavala, Student at Cactus High School 
  • Cynthia Sutherland, U.S. Public Sector Lead, Amazon Web Services

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, participants had the option to attend pre-conference workshops. Then, throughout Monday and Tuesday, they had a myriad of break out sessions to choose from. All of the speakers offered multiple perspectives on a wide range of topics exploring the themes of career awareness, infusing cybersecurity across the education portfolio, innovative educational approaches, academic and career pathways, and cybersecurity awareness.

Monday afternoon the general session celebrated National Cyber Signing as a way to increase awareness of cybersecurity career options and pathways available to K – 12th grade students. The event this year showcased six K12 students and recent graduates who have participated in or will soon be participating in cybersecurity-related internships, apprenticeships, training, and certifications. A recording of this year’s National Cyber Signing Day will be made available on the official National Cyber Signing Day website. Learn more and access recordings of previous National Cyber Signing Days at

National Cyber Signing Day participants from left to right: Shlomo Isaacs, Phoenix College; Jeffrey Zhu, Lakota East High School; Jack Lindaman, Janesville High School; Ethan Zhao, Del Norte High School; Ilana Payne, Old Dominion University; Jeremy Sheridan, Canyon Springs High School. Student advisors are standing behind participants.

The evening social held on Monday night was a highlight as well. Attendees enjoyed drinks, good food, hands-on activities, and explored ways to integrate cybersecurity fundamentals into the K12 Classroom.

Tuesday afternoon, the general session celebrated this year’s Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award winners. The award is presented annually to two teachers – one at the elementary or middle school level and another at the secondary level – who demonstrate superior achievement in instilling skills, knowledge, and passion with respect to cybersecurity and cybersecurity-related subjects. The award recognizes demonstrated superior educator accomplishment as well as academic achievement by the educator’s students. Congratulations to this year’s award winners, who were recognized during a plenary session at the conference! Beth Cerrone, St. Vrain Valley School District, Longmont, Colorado, and Jahi Garner, Moreno Valley Unified School District, Moreno Valley, California

Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award winners, Beth Cerrone (left middle) and Jahi Garner (right middle), joined by Albert Palacios (right), Director of Cyber Education at the White House Office of the National Cyber Director and Davina Pruitt-Mentle (left), Lead for Academic Engagement at NICE.

With over 550 attendees, 16 pre-conference workshops, 42 breakout sessions in 5 tracks, several keynotes, and 30 exhibitors, the NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference was our biggest conference yet. Throughout the event and in post-event communications many attendees expressed how useful it was to hear successful K12 cybersecurity education models being employed nationwide, and how valuable the networking opportunities were. 

iKeepSafe appreciates Amazon,, Palo Alto Networks, and our other sponsors. We are looking forward to reconvening next year for the 2024 Conference on December 9-10th in San Antonio, TX! Stay tuned for future updates with more details.