BEYA 2019 honoree spotlight: Lacresha Nelson
The 2019 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. from Feb. 7-9. The conference is an annual opportunity for professional training and networking with some of the top engineering employers, as well as a career fair for students seeking professions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). At this year's conference, 10 distinguished Leidos employees will be recognized for their career achievements. Each week leading up to BEYA, we'll profile two of our honorees here on Insights.
Lacresha Nelson is no stranger to hard work and dedication. As the Program Management Office (PMO) Lead for the Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), she leads diverse teams to successfully execute project activities and effectively solve problems.
Lacresha grew up as a certified “Army brat” and lived in seven different states, as well as in Germany. Her father retired from the Pentagon as a Lieutenant Colonel with the Army. His leadership style greatly influenced her own, in addition to her approach to facing personal and professional challenges.
“My family is the biggest influence on my career; I always want them to be proud of any project or product that has my name attached to it,” says Lacresha.
She began her college education as a pre-medicine student, although she realized her passion was working with computers, writing code, and solving problems.
“Since childhood I always wanted to know how something worked or how I could make it work better or in a more efficient manner. My initial focus was medicine, but a chance encounter helped me re-focus on computer science,” says Lacresha. She changed her major and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Early in her career, she discovered a preference for the analysis, requirements, and testing aspects of information technology (IT) and started to shift towards management roles. To learn more about the business side of IT, she returned to college and earned a Master of Science degree in information systems from the American InterContinental University. Notably, she did not allow any excuses to stand in her way as she earned both degrees as a single mom raising two sons while working full-time. Her desire to keep learning persists, as Lacresha plans to return to college to further her IT knowledge and skills by pursuing a doctorate degree in information systems.
It is a great honor to be nominated and I am humbled to be included with the other awardees that have accomplished such great things in their respective careers.
Her direct connection to the military makes working on projects related to the VA and Department of Defense (DoD) especially fulfilling, particularly seeing applications she worked on put to real-world use by veterans. As PMO Lead on the MASS program, Lacresha provides day-to-day guidance to team members across the program and works closely with the VA contracting officer representative to ensure programmatic requirements are met.
During the development and implementation phase of the MASS pilot, Lacresha served as the product deployment lead and helped the team effectively navigate through the VA’s newly defined veteran-focused integration process. She supervised the pilot’s requirements analysis, requirements management, testing, and critical decision 2 requirements. Her hard work, adaptability, and leadership significantly contributed to delivering a quality product to the VA that provides greater transparency and reduces the amount of time veterans must wait to schedule an appointment with a health care provider.
In recognition of her exceptional professional accomplishments, Lacresha will be honored with a Modern-Day Technology Leaders award at the 33rd annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference.