2019 News

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Honoring DIA's Exceptional Workforce

December 18, 2019

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. — The Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. recognized some of DIA's best and brightest officers and teams during the Director's 49th Annual Honorary Awards Ceremony at DIA headquarters on Dec. 11, 2019.

Ashley began the ceremony by thanking the award winners' families for their continued support.

"Thank you for all that you do to support your awardee," said Ashley. "None of us would be here today without the support of friends and family, believe me, I know."

Amy Levine, an analyst for the Defense Combating Terrorism Center and a recipient of the DIA Award for Meritorious Civilian Service, shared the same sentiment.

"It's great that DIA encouraged us to bring family to this event. My mother and husband are here today," said Levine. "As Lt. Gen. Ashley mentioned, their understanding and support when I'm working long hours or spending holidays deployed is critical and a huge part of why I'm receiving this award today."

As an analyst for DCTC, Levine plays a major part in influencing policy and enhancing institutional knowledge by communicating the significance of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham's global posture to senior leaders in the Intelligence Community.

Levine expressed that her support system extends to her teammates as well.

"I really appreciate that my leadership took the time to nominate me for this award and recognize our branch's achievements," she said. "It was also really cool to have many of my teammates there to celebrate and support me, since everything we do here is a group effort."

Among the nine awards presented was the new Melissa A. Drisko Collaborative Achievement Award, created in honor of former DIA Deputy Director Melissa Drisko.

The intent of the award is to highlight collaborative employees and managers who demonstrate to others the value of teamwork, while increasing customer satisfaction with DIA products.

"Melissa was a great person that had a great impact on many of us personally and all of us as an agency," Ashley explained. "This award recognizes individuals and teams that demonstrate selflessness of character and the determination to take the initiative and work with those around us to make this agency excellent."

Mission Services' Advanced Foreign Counterintelligence Operations Team and Directorate for Analysis' Integrated Analysis and Methods Division Team received this award for their commitment to the agency and their team's accomplishments.

The director also presented a special honorary award to Drisko's husband, Phil Kosmacki.

"This award goes to someone extremely deserving who collaborated with us to make this award possible … her husband Phil," Ashley continued, "Phil, thank you for being here. Thank you for your contributions to this award's creation. And thank you for your service."

Ashley also awarded individuals and teams with the DIA Award for Exceptional Civilian Service, Director's Annual Agency Team Awards, DIA Outstanding Employee with a Disability, DIA Diversity Management Award, Military Annual Awards, DIA Police Officer of the Year Award and the Five Eyes Integrator of the Year Award.

NGA Releases World Magnetic Model 2020 Update, Defines Blackout Zones

December 17, 2019

Springfield, Va. — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British Geological Survey, released the World Magnetic Model 2020 update on Dec. 10, 2019, providing more precise navigational data for all military and civilian planes, ships, submarines and GPS units.

"With the 2020 update to the WMM, we've provided significantly better guidance to navigators regarding blackout zones so they know where they can trust their compass and where they should not," said Mike Paniccia, a geodetic earth scientist and NGA's WMM program manager.

A compass becomes increasingly unreliable as it gets closer to Earth's magnetic poles, so NGA has released a new set of blackout zones to aid navigators near the poles. NGA included shape files of these small regions near the poles in the WMM 2020 release, so the information can be automatically loaded into navigational systems.

"The Earth's magnetic field lines become vertical as you approach the poles, so if you were to stand on the magnetic North Pole, your compass needle would be trying to break out of your compass and point vertically," said Paniccia. "Where this vertical intensity starts to overwhelm the horizontal intensity is where we have drawn the new blackout zones. This gives navigators a clear picture of where on Earth it is safe to trust a compass."

The WMM is necessary because the Earth's geographic and magnetic poles do not align, so geomagnetic models like the WMM correct for this difference. As the Earth's magnetic field is constantly changing, the difference between geographic and magnetic north also changes, requiring the WMM to be updated every year or as necessary.

"If you use GPS to navigate or have ever flown on an airplane, you're reliant on the World Magnetic Model," said Paniccia.

To download the World Magnetic Model 2020 dataset, visit https://www.nga.mil/ProductsServices/Pages/wmm.aspx.

NSA Georgia Research Raises Stakes at HackGT

December 16, 2019

Atlanta, Ga. – For the first time, NSA presented challenges and awarded prizes at HackGT, an annual 36- hour hackathon with more than 1,000 students from more than 80 universities in October 2019, located at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga.

The NSA Georgia Research team led the agency's participation in HackGT, an annual hackathon organized by Georgia Tech students, which is of strategic interest given the school's rankings in Major League Hacking and in computer science and engineering; its designation as a Center of Academic Excellence; and existing partnership with NSA through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

HackGT provided NSA the opportunity to interact directly with exceptional technical talent and aid recruitment efforts. By sponsoring relevant challenges, NSA also underscored its commitment to fostering cybersecurity best practices, which strengthens NSA's leadership role in this area. The event was effective in part due to the close collaboration between NSA Georgia Research and cross-directorate leadership and technical mentor support.

Hackathons are "innovation marathons," where students with an interest in technology can attend to learn, build, and share their project over the course of a weekend. From more than 4,500 applicants from universities across the nation, the event hosted more than 1,000 students with diverse representation of women and minorities. Teams of up to four students submitted 218 unique projects for demonstration and judging.

Dr. Robert Runser, NSA Research Technical Director, provided an "overview of NSA and Research" to raise awareness of NSA's research interests and promote recruitment at the event. A cadre of NSA staff served as technical mentors, presented workshop talks, and provided guidance on the two agency-sponsored challenges – best project using Secure Software Coding Best Practices and best project using Open Source NSA technologies.The technical mentors presented five workshop talks covering NSA tools and techniques that participants could use in their projects:

  1. Introduction to Software Reverse Engineering using Ghidra
  2. Security and Tools Overview Highlighting Secure Programming Best Practices
  3. Simon and Speck Lightweight Block Cipher Algorithm
  4. Beergarden Open Source Framework to Convert Functions into Services using Python.
  5. SIMP (an NSA-developed tool that performs system management and automated compliance functions leveraging SELinux)

Additionally, the team shared information on opportunities and student programs during the sponsor expo and provided technical project mentorship. NSA was one of the sponsors that provided technical mentors for the duration of the 36-hour event, which received praise from students and event organizers.

For the Secure Software Coding Challenge, NSA awarded first place to "Shop Around," which reinvents users' shopping experience to recommend where to shop to get the best prices for all their goods. Honorable mention went to "Zap Pay," which allows users to securely share money and divide peer-to-peer payments with their native smart phone messaging app.

For the Open Source NSA Technology Challenge, the first-place winner was "Melody Password," which generated, retrieved, and managed passwords by combining a given service and chosen song. Honorable mention went to "Canvas Assistant," which integrated course management software to provide students with up-to-date information about their courses. Both winners applied the open source Beergarden tool for their implementations. All project submissions can be found here.

NSA Congratulates Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE)

December 13, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. – On November 20, 2019, NSA celebrated the designation and re-designation of 58 academic institutions as Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) conference in Phoenix, Ariz.

The CAE in Cybersecurity Program offers three designations – CAE in Cyber Defense Education, Cyber Defense Research, and Cyber Operations. These programs contribute graduates to the cyber workforce in support of the nation's industry and government and employers.

"For 20 years, CAE colleges and universities have educated our nation's future cyber first-responders," said Commandant of NSA's National Cryptologic School (NCS), Diane M. Janosek. "We are so excited to add more colleges and universities to this elite group. CAE academic institutions and their graduates play a vital role to our nation's cybersecurity."

According to Janosek, 312 colleges and universities in the United States, roughly 5 percent of the nation's total, currently hold the CAE designation. All regionally accredited two-year, four-year and graduate-level institutions in the U.S. are eligible to apply to become a CAE school.

Co-sponsored by NSA and the Department of Homeland Security, the CAE Cyber Defense program was established in 1999 to meet the growing need for knowledgeable and skilled cybersecurity professionals within the federal government, state and local governments, and industry.

For a current list of NSA/DHS CAE-designated schools, visit https://www.iad.gov/NIETP/reports/cae_designated_institutions.cfm. To learn more about the CAE program check out this video, and this page.

Ghidra Roars into World Recognition!

December 5, 2019

The open source version of Ghidra, the NSA Research-developed software reverse engineering (SRE) framework, was awarded the highly-acclaimed 2019 R&D 100 Award! Ghidra was created in the late 1990s and has been a longstanding contributor to NSA's Cybersecurity mission.

With its public release, Ghidra's sphere of influence has dramatically increased. The R&D 100 Awards have honored the best innovations and technologies of the year across government and industry (including small businesses and Fortune 500 companies). The award, established in 1963, is often regarded as the most globally prestigious recognition of invention and innovation.

"We're thrilled to get this honor that recognizes not just recent efforts, but the efforts of all the people who have conceived of and worked on Ghidra over the last 20 years," says Gwen Lilly, part of the Ghidra core leadership team. "This external recognition of NSA's expertise is important as we continue to engage in the open-source community, seek collaboration partners, and try to attractthe best talent."

Ghidra's open source release in March 2019 has been a game changer, providing access to capabilities that would otherwise be unavailable to students and cybersecurity professionals and practitioners. With more than 500,000 downloads, its release has launched commercial training programs, influenced universities to alter their cybersecurity curricula, and is expected to contribute to innovative solutions for the nation’s cybersecurity.

Ghidra will be honored at the annual R&D 100 black-tie awards dinner.

Acting Director Maguire Attends Groundbreaking Ceremony for NGA West Campus

November 27, 2019

St. Louis, Mo. – Acting Director of National Intelligence (ADNI) Joseph Maguire joined local, state and federal officials for the Nov. 26 groundbreaking ceremony of the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) West Headquarters in the northern section of St. Louis, Mo. The nearly 300 people in attendance included past, current, and undoubtedly some future NGA employees, as well as business and community leaders and higher learning institutions with geospatial foci.

Other VIPs in attendance included Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, Sen. Roy Blunt, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Lacy Clay, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, Army Corps of Engineers Commander.

According to NGA Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp, the ceremony marked the official kick-off of a project that will bring new energy, innovation and capabilities to his organization, as well as approximately 3,000 new jobs.

Sharp explained that NGA is responsible for providing hard-copy and digital maps, as well as raw and finished imagery information and intelligence, to military and IC planners, leaders and operators, first responders, humanitarian assistance workers, and anyone else who has a need to have easy and quick access to critical data in near real time.

The new workspaces will contribute to the growth and proliferation of new ideas designed to evolve systems at a pace that meets the demands of shepherding and securing data that is collected and analyzed 24 x 7 from sensors all over the world.

Projected to be fully operational by 2025, the new facility will be in a geographic location that already boasts high-ranking academic institutions and cutting-edge industries. NGA's leaders and those in the St. Louis community believe this co-location will not only benefit the agency and prospective academic and commercial partners, but the IC as a whole as it strives to build a greater information-sharing capacity in both classified and unclassified info systems.

The expected scientific and technological innovations will help evolve geospatial and open-source analytic tradecraft in ways that decrease the amount of time it takes to capture, analyze, store, retrieve and disseminate geospatial information and intelligence so that operators can get needed information when, where and how they need it.

"The American people expect us to keep them safe, and this facility will enable us to do just that," said Acting Director Maguire.

In keeping with the IC's ongoing transformative efforts to enhance collaboration, coordination and integration across its 17 agencies and organizations, the design of this workspace will reflect the need to build tools and collaboration spaces to bring about new capabilities in rapidly-changing threat environments that demand continuous improvement processes.

This facility is the first in the IC to be built with unclassified office spaces to facilitate greater volumes of analysis that incorporate all available sources of imagery, regardless of whether it's gleaned from government or commercial imagery systems or open source.

This workflow model will achieve several objectives simultaneously; increased volume and rate of unclassified intelligence production created within reduced production timelines; enhanced information and intelligence sharing with the private sector, with state, local, and tribal governments and international partners.

In addition, the presence of unsecured workspace will allow new employees – who can sometimes wait as long as three to four months for security clearance investigations and adjudications, and their clearances, to increase their contribution to the mission starting on day one.

What's in the Works for the Federal Cyber Workforce?

November 20, 2019

From building partnerships and pipelines with schools and universities, to moving jobs out of the Washington metro area, to reworking the security clearance process, agencies are employing a wide variety of strategies to combat the hiring and retention crisis currently plaguing public service.

At FedScoop/WorkScoop's recent Workforce Summit, several experts spoke about how their respective agencies are changing practices to address the evolving needs of the federal cyber workforce.

Sherry Van Sloun, Acting Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Human Capital, discussed a series of initiatives the intelligence community (IC) is exploring to better its methods of recruiting and retaining employees.

One challenge that the initiatives seek to address is that many jobs in the IC require employees to relocate to the Washington metro area and that their work must be completed within a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). This can be a deal-breaker for candidatesin the job market who are receiving competitive offers. Van Sloun explained that the IC is attempting to eliminate this requirement, saying, "If there's unclassified work, doing code work, if it can be done in an unclassified space, let's partner with our partners across the country … and force the workforce of the future to be across the country and maybe not just in one location."

Another obstacle to talent recruitment and retention is the notoriously lengthy process of obtaining a security clearance. To address this, the IC is attempting to enhance the process with automation. Van Sloun explained that the focus of the initiative is, "How do we throw automation into that process and technology to help us do it faster, better and keep that talent with us, because we lose a lot of talent if you have to wait 18 months to two years to get a clearance. We're losing really good people."

Read more at Govloop.com

DOD, IC Leaders Push for Diversity in IT Workforce

November 15, 2019

Leaders from the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community Thursday emphasized the need for a diverse workforce in support of national security.

CISO Jack Wilmer pointed to improving diversity as one of DOD's greatest workforce needs in defending the military and nation against cybersecurity threats.

Within the Intelligence Community, there's the same need for diversity, said Sherry Van Sloun, acting assistant director of national intelligence for human capital.

"Diversity in thought, diversity in culture, diversity in experiences is critical" to the national intelligence mission, she said.

Read more at Fedscoop.com

NSA Inspires the Girl Scouts on Their Way to the Moon

November 14, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. – On 19 October, more than 250 Girl Scouts gathered in Hunt Valley, Md., to put their leadership and cybersecurity skills to the test at the inaugural Girl Scouts Cyber Challenge. Their quest was clear: The world's first moon colony had been hacked, and now they must form an incident response team to determine who hacked their systems and how to stop them.

Sarah Eddy, former Girl Scout and current Deputy Chief of Critical Networks Defense within the Cybersecurity Directorate at NSA, was the perfect speaker to keynote the challenge and inspire the audience. Speaking on "Cybersecurity, Resiliency, and You," Sarah shared highlights of her journey that taught her resilience, confidence, and as she calls it,"grit."

From failing a math exam in sixth grade and being told "you're just not good enough," to jumping out of an airplane with a faulty parachute while in the U.S. Army, to now serving as a key cybersecurity leader, "you have to have the ability to bounce back when you are set back," she noted. By maintaining this perspective throughout her career, each experience served as a building block for the next.

Sarah closed by reminding the Girl Scouts of their unique value and talent. "You are each going to have your own unique journey, and being a woman in STEM will present challenges and opportunities. But don't let go of your passions even when the path is not clear. Set your mind to be the woman that develops the next robot, the artificial intelligence that revolutionizes computing, or even the first cybersecurity expert on the moon. Then go do it!"

We're Not Bots - People Solving Hard Problems

November 7, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. – Most wouldn't know from looking at her now, but Keppel Wood came to NSA as a Navy Cryptologist in 2005. Three years later, she traded in her uniform for civvies (what the military calls civilian wear), making the choice to stay at NSA – the mission and the people hooked her. "The people here are patriots, and they come here to solve hard problems and defend the nation. NSA is a great place to give back."

Keppel recently joined the new Cybersecurity Directorate as the Chief Operations Officer of the Cybersecurity Collaboration Center- 3C for short. "Your network is only as secure as its last patch or latest update, at speed," says Keppel, who considers herself a computer nerd at heart. "What started as a cool new thing, became a hobby, and evolved into a passionate career. Moving into the cyber world was very natural because it touches everything we do. I look back on my time in signals intelligence (SIGINT) at NSA and it's lined with ones and zeros." While NSA's SIGINT mission collects intelligence focusing on foreign communications and information systems, cyber skills augment analysis and operationalize intelligence. Shifting the mission focus to cybersecurity allowed Keppel to continue protecting our troops and ultimately defending the nation.

Before joining the Cybersecurity Directorate, Keppel's last assignment was Director of Operations for NSA's On Net Pursuit (ONP) mission. ONP focused on threat analysis, vulnerability assessments, adversarial emulation, targeted hunt and COMSEC monitoring operations in support of DoD and government National Security Systems. Coming to the 3C, Keppel's experience will continue to help safeguard our nation through open partnerships.

"At NSA, we have mainly kept cybersecurity under a classified lens. Our partners live and work in an unclassified environment, however, so NSA's collaboration center will enable us to identify and work on mutual challenges in the same setting, to ensure our government and nation's networks are secure."

What does Keppel do when she's not defending the nation from cyberthreats? Believe it or not, she's teaching herself Python. When she truly wants to unplug, she can be found cooking, boating on the Chesapeake, or practicing yoga.

IARPA Launches "Better" Program to Improve Information Extraction for Analysts.

November 6, 2019

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) within ODNI today announced the launch of the Better Extraction from Text Towards Enhanced Retrieval (BETTER) program. BETTER is a multi-year research effort that aims to develop a capability to provide personalized information extraction from text to an individual analyst across multiple languages and topics.

"One may liken the capability the BETTER program will produce to a document recommender system that works across languages," said IARPA Program Manager Carl Rubino.

The program will focus on complex information extraction tasks to address fine-grained knowledge discovery. Researchers will apply complex semantic features to information retrieval and document relevancy ranking, informed by user feedback in a multilingual scenario. Performer teams will use deep learning methods to improve knowledge discovery based on a relatively small language sample and user feedback.

"The system we envision will exploit various levels of information extraction to improve cross-lingual information retrieval across large unstructured, multilingual document sets using novel methods to enhance the user's experience for both document triage and discovery," said Rubino. "To stimulate competitive methods, we will score the performer teams against a baseline model the test and evaluation team developed. Because machine learning solutions are preferred, foreign language expertise is disallowed, except during the human-in-the-loop evaluation where performer teams will learn how to optimize their document ranking strategies."

Through a competitive Broad Agency Announcement process, IARPA awarded BETTER research contracts to teams led by Raytheon BBN, Johns Hopkins University, Brown University, and University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute. MITRE and the National Institute for Standards and Technology will assess information extraction and retrieval capabilities for up to five languages per performer as part of the test and evaluation team.

IARPA invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the Intelligence Community. Additional information on IARPA and its research may be found on Read more at Federal News Network..

Intelligence Community Laying Foundation for AI Data Analysis

November 4, 2019

Artificial intelligence is a concept that seems tailor-made for the Intelligence Community. The ability to sort through massive amounts of data, seeking out patterns large and small, anomalies that warrant further investigation, that's what intelligence analysts do already. Imagine what they could achieve when augmented by AI?

But it's not as simple as just adopting it. Dean Souleles, chief technology advisor for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said on Agency in Focus – Intelligence Community that the IC is working now to lay the foundation for adopting AI.

"You cannot build a house without a solid foundation. The foundation of AI is data and computational technology," Souleles said. "The Intelligence Community has spent much of the last decade on a program we call ICITE, the information technology enterprise of the IC. And that's been about modernizing the technology infrastructure. And that is about getting cloud technology throughout the community, making basic computational capability available to our technologists just as it is in the private sector. But that's not good enough, because the new era of computation requires sophisticated kinds of computing. We talk about GPUs, graphical processing units, or tensor processing units (TPUs), or neuromorphic chips or field programmable gate arrays, or any of the wide variety of things that are the specialized computation that enable AI computation. And we need to make the investments in those things."

Read more at Federal News Network.

International Association of Chiefs of Police Presents DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis the 2019 Leadership in Homeland Security Award

October 30, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) received the 2019 Leadership in Homeland Security Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) at their annual meeting in Chicago. DHS I&A received the award jointly with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Boston Police Department.

The IACP's Leadership in Homeland Security Award annually honors excellence and significant contributions to enhancing homeland security. This award recognizes collaborative efforts that demonstrate significant contributions to information sharing and analytical work in the homeland security enterprise.

DHS I&A, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Boston Police Department were honored with this recognition based on their successful collaboration resulting from a DHS report shared via the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN). The report was evaluated by state and local analysts in Texas and Boston, ultimately leading to an arrest. These efforts represent the operational successes resulting from collaboration between federal, state, and local partners including the value of DHS intelligence products, the effectiveness of HSIN as a unique platform for sharing intelligence between all levels of government, the unique expertise of state and local analysts, and most importantly the impact of intelligence in support of operational activities and investigations.

"Collaboration between the DHS Intelligence Enterprise and our state and local partners is a top priority," said Under Secretary of I&A and Chief Intelligence Officer David J. Glawe. "The actionable intelligence we provide on a daily basis directly enhances the safety and security of our local communities. Our deployed intelligence professionals and the National Network of Fusion Centers are the cornerstone that enable the seamless sharing of information to keep the nation safe, secure, and resilient."

Mike Sena, President of the National Fusion Center Association and Chair of the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council, also recognized the valuable contributions of DHS I&A.

"DHS I&A's ability to share strategic and tactical threat information better position state and local partners to detect and defend against a wide array of threats, whether terrorism, cyber, or transnational crime," said Sena. "I&A continues to be one of most valuable agencies for ensuring state and local partners have the information they need to do their job."

We're Not Bots - We're Ohana

October 25, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. – What's unique about National Security Agency Hawai'i is not only the palm trees and never-ending sunshine, it's the fact that they're collocated with their primary customer, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. In short, they're one big Ohana. That’s Hawaiian for family, which is what keeps G Galloway (known as "G") excited to come to work every day.

"I have a passion for the mission, the people, and the difference I'm making. Even if it's a subtle difference, it's important." It's this passion for mission and the people that has led Galloway all over the globe, first as a Morse Code Operator for the U.S. Army and later on through deployments, as a civilian with NSA. "We're a combat support agency, our work keeps our armed forces safe and brings them home to their families."

Since 2001, there have been more than 21,000 deployments of NSA personnel to hostile areas. They provide force protection, critical intelligence, and secure communications to U.S. troops in hostile areas like Afghanistan and Iraq. "This is where the reality of what we do sits in. I needed a deployment fix after the Army. I'll never forget that plane ride home with six Marines who had made the ultimate sacrifice. The impact of this loss left a lasting impression on me. I deployed again, knowing the impact we can have when we work together. If deploying means I can help bring one person home safely, it's all worth it."

Now as the Director of Cybersecurity at NSA Hawai'i, Galloway is the point person for all things cyber defense in the Pacific. His favorite part of the job is working with partners in government and industry toward a common goal – to prevent and eradicate threats to U.S. National Security Systems and Critical Infrastructure. He leads the team who works tirelessly to secure communications for U.S. troops deployed across the Pacific 24/7, ensuring today's cryptography is even more secure than the Morse code he worked with in his Army days.

The NSA Hawai'i cybersecurity team is Galloway's Ohana away from home. He and his wife have two daughters, who are grown and live on the East Coast. "My daughters visit us a few times a year, and it's always nice to have them here. But I consider everyone here family and I believe we have the best agency in the world. I've had fantastic leaders and mentors throughout my career who have provided me with the tools, opportunities, and the flexibility to carve my career and be successful. I want to give back now. If I can change one person's perspective, and then they change another person's perspective, it becomes infectious."

Innovation and Diversity - We Want to See You in Honolulu!

October 25, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. – Innovation drives the success of NSA mission, and the diversity of NSA's workforce fosters that innovation through ideas and contributions of individuals from different backgrounds. This is why for the past five years, the NSA's Hispanic/Latino Employee Resource Group (HLAT ERG) has maintained a strong relationship with the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

NSA and SACNAS are working toward a mutual goal: to present employment and developmental opportunities to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students and professionals from underrepresented communities.

This year, SACNAS is hosting their 2019 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference on Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 in Honolulu, Hawaii. During the conference, NSA will lead multiple events in partnership with U.S. Intelligence Community agencies and will provide attendees the opportunity to learn more about NSA's mission. Events will include:

  • Entrepreneur and Innovation Session/Workshop
  • Student Orientation Panel
  • Carrer Fair
  • NSAH Field Trip
  • Virtual Math Challenge

NSA is committed to the community and looks forward to engaging with you during the 2019 SACNAS Conference. Come and meet NSA's workforce and learn about exciting job opportunities in support of NSA mission and how you can have a role in it!

SACNAS 2019 NSA Math Challenge – get hands on experience implementing data analysis and decryption methods. Anyone interested in data analysis, cryptography and/or math is encouraged to participate.

Work through an easy-to-follow tutorial to learn skills necessary to break real ciphers! The challenge will be performed in an old fashion way, using a pdf document. Participants are required to take a copy of the challenge from any of the NSA's info tables at the conference or download their own copy from here to participate. Submit the challenge answers to NSA representatives at the Career Fair on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 12.p.m. Participants correctly completing the challenge will be entering a raffle for a chance to win a spot in the NSAH field trip on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2019.

Due to inherent security restrictions, all NSA employees, candidates for employment, and site visitors are required to hold U.S. citizenship. Challenge winner(s) are required to provide two form of ID to participate in NSAH Field Trip. IDs will be required at the moment of entering NSA facilities. Below is a list of accepted ID forms:

  • Raised Seal Birth Certificate
  • Current/Valid US Passport
  • Valid US Citizen Birth Aboard Certificate
  • Valid Naturalization Certificate

Young Leaders Experience What DIA Has to Offer STEM Community

October 25, 2019

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. – Recognizing the need to develop mutually beneficial relationships with students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the Defense Intelligence Agency hosted 20 middle and high school chief science officers from the U.S., Mexico and Kuwait Oct. 9 for the second consecutive year.

The CSO Program is an international organization with local chapters in 10 states and three countries. It is the first of its kind, where peers in grades 6-12 elect students in their schools to be leaders and STEM liaisons in their communities. The program amplifies student voices by fostering collaborative communication and networking among students and with external stakeholders, including government and industry. Exposing students to careers that use STEM is a point of emphasis for CSO.

"We brought back the CSOs because it gives DIA another opportunity to connect with STEM students who are at an age when curiosity is very high, and they're forming ideas about their future," said Lyle Barksdale, the Office of Corporate Communications program manager. "We get to offer them exciting insights into what we do as a government agency that helps defend the nation. On the other hand, we learn from them as well. Their fresh perspectives lead to students asking pointed, thought-provoking questions."

The day's events started with the students receiving briefs, presentations and participating in hands-on activities with OCC, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Space and Counterspace, the Office of Technical Operations, the National MASINT Office, and the National Media Exploitation Center.

The students were able to see a variety of tools, devices and technologies used by NMEC, OTO and NMO and were provided demonstrations on how the topics CSOs are learning in school are used in a professional environment at DIA, currently and historically.

"Prior to coming to DIA, I had heard of floppy discs, but I didn't really know what they were," said CSO Shalae from Arizona with a smile. "I'd never seen or touched one. So that was a really interesting experience to see some of the technology used previously in the industry."

During the visit, the CSOs heard from DIA Deputy Director Suzanne White, Chief of Staff Johnny Sawyer and the Deputy Director for Commonwealth Integration Maj. Gen. John Howard.

"I am thrilled to see the increased value placed on the STEM field, and I am equally thrilled to know that there are young people who are genuinely interested and are making a difference in their communities," said White. "This is what we need at DIA – young, vibrant, motivated individuals like you, who will offer new and creative ideas."

As the event concluded, the students explained that visiting DIA provided a realistic glimpse into how their studies could impact future national and global missions.

"I'm very grateful to see STEM used in an applicable way. It's not just abstract," said CSO Maggie from Michigan. "It's been interesting to see how DIA uses tech in defense of our country."

According to Kelly Greene, the CSO's director of student success, the visit to DIA isn't just a recruitment opportunity for the agency; it creates advocates for DIA far beyond the National Capital Region.

"One of the four major goals of our program is to build awareness," she said. "We ask students to share and promote DIA as a career opportunity when they go back home."

To learn more about the CSO Program, please visit chiefscienceofficers.org

Disability Employment Takes Center Stage at DIA

October 22, 2019

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. – The Defense Intelligence Agency celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month with guest speaker Claiborne Haughton Oct. 10 in Leadership Hall at DIA Headquarters.

The DIA Disability Council and the Americas and Transregional Threats Center co-sponsored the event.

Claiborne Haughton, a retired senior executive service and former acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for equal opportunity, was born with cerebral palsy and blindness in one eye, and he wore leg braces until he was 10 years old. Aside from physical challenges, he also faced being a ward of the Blundon Orphanage Home in Baton Rouge, La., for 12 years, before reuniting with his family.

Despite these early childhood obstacles, Haughton achieved bachelor's and master's degrees, holds an honorary doctorate in humane letters and had a fruitful career that saw him rise in 12 years from a GS-5 to a GS-16. He later became one of the first African American charter members of the federal senior executive service. But, what he's most proud of is his time working in the field of equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.

"People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the U.S.," he said. "DoD is still in the forefront of diversity and inclusion. Despite progress, we still have work to do because Americans with disabilities, including veterans, makes up 5% of our population. But we're still unemployed at twice the rate of those who are abled-bodied."

In his career, Haughton authored the first Department of Defense-wide employment program for people with disabilities. He wrote the first DoD Equal Employment Opportunity policy for civilians in 1980 and DoD-Directive 1020.1 for non-discrimination in DoD federally assisted programs in 1982. That same year, he created the first DoD Disability Awards Ceremony to honor employees with disabilities and DoD components for outstanding efforts to hire individuals with disabilities. He also established the department-wide 2% goal to double the number of employees with targeted disabilities.

"People with disabilities want to work and have the ability to do so," said Haughton. "That we can't is rooted in the age-old thought that we need to be taken care of and that we can't do certain things … with reasonable accommodation, we can."

Haughton explained that generating new disability-related policies was for more than just people with disabilities, it was for those who may become disabled later.

"No one is immune to developing a disability," he said. "No one will make it through life without a temporary or permanent mental or physical disability. We work in a particular agency where you could become disabled doing your job – serving the DoD."

When asked how he was able to implement powerful, enduring programs and policies, Haughton advised to seek top-level support.

"We had top-leader approval, so you need that," he said. "To get that you need the writing skills. If you can't get your one-page memo to the top, you won't be successful … And, don't fear the mission. Tie everything you write to the mission."

As he concluded his speech, Haughton challenged the audience to remember one thing: Don't assume inabilities.

"People with disabilities have enriched all of our lives," he said, listing President Franklin Roosevelt, Hellen Keller and Tony Award winner Ali Stroker. "Do not read a book by its cover when it comes to people with disabilities. We can do and want to do a whole lot."

We're Not Bots: Bots Can't Build Partnerships

October 18, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. - Training the next generation of cyber talent is Emily Fox's passion. She wears many hats, serving as NSA's DevOps security lead, a volunteer with NSA's K-12 STEM programs, open source contributor, and Girl Scout leader. In every role, Fox's goal is to inform and educate the next generation of women in technology.

"Being able to talk to my daughters and students alike about maintaining a secure online presence, visual coding, and what a day in the life of cybersecurity operations looks like motivates me. I want to drive change both inside and outside the NSA."

And she is doing just that. Fox builds innovative partnerships between government and industry and frequently collaborates with the open source community on the latest technologies. "I've seen industry hyperscalers become titans of their technology space, innovating and realigning their technology to meet and exceed their business goals and objectives. It's inspiring to me. Our [NSA's] commitment to community engagement and industry partnership continues to evolve and mature as we learn from and collaborate with each other."

There's a common misperception that once you receive your Top Secret clearance and pass the turnstiles, you can’t do "open source" anymore but that's actually not true. NSA has a lot of programs that promote employees to contribute to the open source community. One way NSA demonstrates this commitment is by releasing tools like Ghidra, NiagaraFiles, BeerGarden, and more through the NSA GitHub repository. "Sharing our tools with industry helps level the cybersecurity playing field for businesses both small and large. It's also something tangible I can show my daughters, I can show kids in school, and say look, here is how we contribute. This is part of what I do at work every day."

"I was recently talking to a colleague at a cloud provider company about problems in adoption of container isolation technology and what we (industry, government, and community) could do to increase awareness of it. Talking with her about shared cybersecurity problems is a level of collaboration I haven't experienced until recently and gives me a sense of involvement and impact you don’t really get anywhere else. Being able to learn from each other benefits us all."

NGA's West Executive, Interns Cruise the Mississippi

October 15, 2019

For people working and living in St. Louis, the Mississippi river is something they might cross a bridge over when driving to Illinois, glancing over at the rushing, muddy brown water for a moment as a barge passes by underneath. They might see it as they walk up the steps to the Gateway Arch, where in the museum they might learn about the city's history as a strategic location for its position right along the river, or hear about the river's tug boats of days past.

But, the river is something most live their lives without having the chance to actually walk along its banks, let alone join the United States Coast Guard for a ride through its waters. That was before a group of interns in NGA's Analysis met up with NGA's west executive, Brett Markham, July 31, days before the celebration of the Coast Guard's birthday Aug. 4, to brave the choppy waters of the Mississippi and enhance the agency's relationship with their neighbor stationed along the river.

During their time at NGA, interns have the opportunity every summer to learn more about other components of the IC, including visiting the FBI and touring CIA's headquarters in Virginia. Located directly behind NCW is the Upper Mississippi River sector of the Coast Guard and this year, interns in St. Louis had the chance to tour their facility and learn about their mission.

The next thing they knew, they were riding on a 29-foot boat with Markham and Coast Guard Sector Commander Capt. Scott Stoermer.

"The Analysis Internship Program is a well-rounded program designed to introduce interns to the Analysis mission and the pivotal role GEOINT has for decision-makers, warfighters and first responders," said Erin Clark, program manager for the AIP. "We facilitate tours across DOD, IC and government entities."

The tour gave the interns and everyone involved the opportunity to learn about their relationship to the agency, as well as a joint duty assignment opportunity that is now available between NGA and the Coast Guard, she said.

"The NGA-Coast Guard partnership is robust and growing stronger," said Markham. "Enhancing our workforce's knowledge of Coast Guard missions enables us to more effectively bring NGA capabilities to bear in support of those missions."

The trip started at the docks behind 2nd street as Markham and interns were handed life vests and stepped down onto a foot wide strip along the side of a U.S. Coast Guard Response Boat Small, a common boat used by the Coast Guard for missions such as environmental response operations, port security, search and rescue and law enforcement, the latter two of which are the primary missions of the Upper Mississippi River sector.

From there, the group made its way to the rear of the vessel as it rocked back and forth on the river's muddy waters.

Once safely on the back of the craft, several jumped inside to speak with the boat captain and learn about the controls and technology equipping the boat, including a navigation screen loaded with geographic data.

Meanwhile, others took seats outside with the on-boat mechanic, who talked about the sector's day-to-day activities and functions. He explained that each member of their sector has a specific task, but that their team has to be flexible and willing to adapt to various circumstances, similar to how offices function within NGA, and cited his dual function as a law enforcer and mechanic.

"The boat ride was a nice way to cool off and get some sunlight,"said an intern in Analysis. "In a more practical sense, it was neat to see how they match the technical specifications of their vessels, the skill sets of their staff, and the products of the IC with their mission," she said. "Our short cruise to the arch and conversations with the crew really helped me to see how each piece fits together as one machine. This trip, and others offered to interns, allow for a more grounded approach to the analytic products that we are building."

"When you work at NGA and only learn about NGA, you only think about the relationships directly with fellow IC agencies and our warfighters deployed abroad," said Noah B., geospatial analyst intern. "Helping learn about how NGA interfaces with a more local organization like the USCG gives a good idea of the worldwide, multilateral approaches to safety and security that GEOINT provides that foundational platform for."

Noah said that he's always been interested in the Coast Guard's mission, but that getting to experience it personally underlined its importance to domestic agencies, the rest of the military and the IC.

"Safety and security of the nation is a tall order, and seeing how the USCG and NGA interface, and how the DHS/DOD safety net fills those shoes lends great respect to the mission sets we try to reach to keep our citizens and people all around the world safe."

Alicia T., geospatial analyst intern, said that the chance to hear stories about those missions was the highlight of the trip.

"There was a wide variety of people working at the St. Louis Coast Guard installation and they all had different experiences and stories to talk about," she said. "We got to hear their stories about stuff like shooting out boat engines during pursuits and their response to all the recent flooding we've had and you just get a feeling like: 'Wow! These guys are the real deal.'"

Coastal Carolina University Students Visit ODNI As Part of National Intelligence Studies Study Away Program

October 11, 2019

Ten Coastal Carolina University students in the intelligence and national security studies program participated in the National Intelligence Studies (NIS) Study Away program this past summer.

The summer experiential learning course included a three-week visit to Washington, D.C., where students visited several government agencies and think tanks, and explored graduate schools in the area.

Students visited the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and participated in a simulation exercise designed to test their abilities to work in groups, identify a threat, and provide an assessment to a decision maker. Read more.

NSA Employee Satisfaction Continues to Rise

October 7, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. - What's it like to work at the National Security Agency? According to our employees, life is good.The results from this year's Intelligence Community (IC) Climate Survey show the people who work at NSA are dedicated - saying that they are constantly looking for ways to do their jobs better, to collaborate with each other, and enjoy and enjoy work-life balance. The overall climate indicator, or measurement of employee satisfaction is 70%, an improvement of 5% from last year.

The yearly survey asks questions like how satisfied are you with your job and your organization, and spans topics from innovation, to leadership and teamwork, to work-life balance. Employees can participate anonymously.

The 2019 survey, officially called the OPM Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, is used by NSA leaders to identify ways to make the workplace a more supportive, equitable environment where every voice is heard and respected to drive our mission. The survey is a valuable tool to help us better understand what our workers need to not only succeed but to thrive.

Some notable highlights from the 2019 survey include:

  • 92% of our colleagues report that they are constantly looking for ways to do their jobs better.
  • 90% of our colleagues report that their supervisor supports their needs to balance work and other life issues and that their supervisor treats them with respect.
  • 89% of our colleagues report that the people they work with cooperate to get the job done.

Respect for People is one of our NSA core values that drives us to a relentless pursuit to make NSA an engaging and empowering place to work.

Strengthening the Front Line: NSA Launches New Cybersecurity Directorate

October 1, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. - Cyberspace connects all of us. The National Security Agency recognizes that the best defense against devastating cyberattacks is to unify as a nation against our threats. That's why NSA is redefining its cybersecurity mission and enhancing its partnerships with unclassified collaboration and information sharing.

Under the new Cybersecurity Directorate - a major organization that unifies NSA's foriegn intelligence and cyberdefense missions - NSA will work to prevent and eradicate threats to national security systems and critical infrastructure, with an initial focus on the defense infrastructure, with an initial focus on the defense industrial base and the improvement of our weapons' security.

The Cybersecurity Directorate will reinvigorate NSA's white hat mission by sharing critical threat information and collaborating with partners and customers to better equip them to defend against malicious cyber activity.

The new directorate will also better position NSA to operatonalize its threat intelligence, vulnerability assessments, and cyberdefense expertise by integrating these efforts to deliever prioritized outcomes.

NSA's most valuable asset is its talent. The agency will invest in and rely on its expert workforce to rapidly adapt to this mission and constantly evolving mission space.

Join the mission to protect the nation from cyberthreats by visiting NSA.gov/cybersecurity.

DIA remembers 9/11, Honors Employees Lost

September 11, 2019

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. - In a wreath laying ceremony today, the Defense Intelligence Agency paid tribute to the lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including seven DIA employees.

In front of a filled courtyard, next to the Agency's 9/11 memorial at DIA headquarters, Deputy Director Suzanne White spoke about the events 18 years ago and how 9/11 continues to impact people's lives today.

"For our DIA family who were in the Pentagon or lost family or friends in the attacks, this day is not just another mark on the calendar, and, to be quite honest, it never should be," said White. "It feels real all over again every year ... some of us still remember the smoke, the scene everyday for months as we passed the Pentagon."

She continued by reading the memorial:

"Whenever evils befall us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how can we turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers?"

Members from the Agency Honor Guard, and four officers from the U.K., Australia, Germany, and Canada joined White and the DIA Director of Operations Maj. Gen. Thomas Geary in laying the commemorative wreath and paying respects during the playing of "Taps."

"As we lay the wreath down today, I'm proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners," she said. "Remember, not only Americans lost their lives that day."

The names of Rosa M. Chapa, Sandra N. Foster, Robert J Hymel, Shelly A. Marshall, Patricia E. Mickley, Charles E. Sabin, and Karl W. Teepe were solemnly dead.

"We serve because we owe it to Rosa, Sandra, Robert, Shelley, Patricia, Charles and Karl, who have made the ultimate sacrifice," said White. "Continuing the work they undertook is the greatest tribute we can give to them and ourselves.

"On this day, and for years to come, let us never forget their sacrifices and pledge ourselves to honor their memory and uphold the legacy of our fallen DIA officers and all of the people who lost their lives on 9/11."

U.S. Counterspies Launch Campaign Against 'Insider' Threats

September 5, 2019

The office of the top U.S. counterintelligence official is launching a campaign to alert government employees, contractors and the general public to "serious risks" of security breaches or violence posed by "insiders."

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center, a branch of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, said that in partnership with spy and law enforcement agencies, it was declaring September "National Insider Threat Awareness Month" as part of an effort to educate both government and private sectors on how to spot and report potential data security and violent behavior threats to appropriate authorities.

"All organzations are vulnerable to insider threats from employees who may use their authorized access to facilities, personnel or information to harm their organizations – intentionally or unintentionally," said William Evanina, a former FBI and CIA official who heads the counterintelligence center.

"The harm can range from negligence, such as failing to secure data or clicking on a spear-phishing link, to malicious activities like theft, sabatoge, espionage, unauthorized disclosure of classified information or even violence," Evanina said.

Read more at Reuters.

NSA and UH Mānoa: Partnering to Produce the Talent and Tools for Tomorrow

September 4, 2019

Fort Meade, Md. - Inside the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's (UH Mānoa) Labratory for Advanced Visualization & Applications (LAVA), a graduate student is collaborating with the National Security Agency to develop a tool that may one day help protect the nation.

Over the past 12 years, NSA and UH Mānoa have partnered to work on hard mission problems and educate the workforce of the future both in language and cybersecurity.

"We view our relationship with UH Mānoa as critical to developing the talent necessary to address the national security challenges of the future," said Captain Kurtis A. Mole, Commander of the NSA in Hawai'i. "In addition to helping military and civilian employees improve their language skills, UH Mānoa is collaborating with us on cutting edge research, and they are training the next generation of cybersecurity experts."

To celebrate this partnership, NSA has named UH Mānoa as a featured school.

"The University of Hawai'i is very honored to have been selected by NSA as a featured school," said UH System President David Lassner. "We have developed an exceptionally strong partneership with NSA that is helping students at every level from K-12 to higher education develop interests and skills in cybersecurity. This not only prepares Hawai'i students for great jobs with NSA, one of our major employers, but also helps strengthen Hawai'i's overall cybersecurity across the public and private sectors.

The partnership began in 2007 when UH Mānoa started offering NSA employees – particularly military members – specialized courses in Chinese and eventually Korean. The intensive six-week courses improve skills in language and culture, and can yield up to 16 credits toward a college degree.

UH Mānoa became a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research in 2014, and has been engaging in joint research projects with NSA since then. In the most recent project at LAVA, the graduate student is developing sophisticated tools to identify, organize, and synthesize large amounts of data and apply visualization techniques to help researchers in government and academia understand the results.

"In LAVA, we have planned to unlock the potential of having humans interface directly in real time," said Robert Runser, a technical director at NSA.

UH Mānoa is also one of 16 NSA hiring & recruitment Campus Ambassador Program schools, and with more than 50 percent of the student body of Asian or Pacific Island decent, contributes to the diversity of the workforce. NSA also has a visiting professor teaching and developing curriculum at UH Mānoa to help meet the future needs of the Agency and the Nation.

"This is both an art and a science," said the visiting professor, Mark Nelson. "My job is to teach them the tools and give them the confidence to get in the game for themselves." Nelson, who is a recent hire himself, calls NSA "world class" when it comes to cybersecurity.

UH Mānoa us the fourth university to be named an NSA Featured School. The series highlights schools designated as CAEs that have a depth and breadth of engagement with the Agency. To learn more about the Featured School Series and schools previously highlighted, visit NSA.gov.

A Day in the Life: DIA Director Ashley

August 30, 2019

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. — Imagine 16,500 people are looking to you to lead and guide the direction of their work. Imagine the entire Department of Defense and country rely on your everyday decisions – counting on your agency’s ability to provide relevant and timely information.

How much time do you think that would take per day? Per week?

For DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr., he said it takes a lifetime of preparation – or at least a career spanning 35 years.

His day-to-day operations feature approximately 17 actively engaged hours of work. That’s not time spent “chewing the fat” with co-workers or checking Facebook. Hard work and the daily grind keep the 17-hour day jampacked.

“I’m up a little after five every morning and into the office around six,” he said.

Nearly every minute of Ashley’s daily schedule is accounted for – in meetings, speaking engagements, briefs and prep. He rarely gets a moment to himself. However, when he does, he said, “I go to my happy place ... home. I know my wife and kids love me. And that’s what matters most.”

When Ashley arrives to the building, you might not know he’s the director of DIA, unless you knew his face. Carrying a gym bag in one hand and a classified workbag in the other, he’s not hindered by the load as he pauses to say good morning to the workforce, before he makes his way to the office. As he enters the command suite, Ashley will pause a bit longer to absorb the key messages from his staff and then enter his office to put down his bags, change into his uniform and begin the day.

Meetings start promptly at 8 a.m. daily. He spends the time between his arrival and the first meeting checking emails and consuming as much information as possible to make the most educated decisions for the day.

As the meeting marathon begins, Ashley’s ability to move between subjects and topics is as artful and meticulous as a paint stroke in Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” – flowing effortlessly. From hour to hour, the subject of conversation varies greatly and, in his terms, “are like apples and rocks.”

From budget to technology, innovation to news media interviews, and training, manning, Congress ...

So, how does he do it? How does he stay engaged without a wandering mind or heavy eyelids? How does he recall where the last conversation ended with a briefer or meeting attendee and the new conversation picks up?

“I am naturally and genuinely interested,” Ashley said, adding that he feels the magnitude, significance and importance of his role. “I’m responsible for it. ...I want to do the best I can every day.

“And I pride myself on never being the one to fall asleep in a meeting, like you see others who do,” he added.

In the vehicle rides to and from off-site visits, events and engagements, he’s not texting or playing on his phone, listening to music or chatting with his driver. He’s thumbing through his read-aheads, preparing for what comes next – more meetings.

“The people who put together the read-aheads work really hard on them, so I’m going to spend the time to read the whole thing,” he said.

During his speaking events, he engages the audience with a calm and even paced speech. Sometimes, this requires cues from the back of the room to speed him up or end early. Sometimes the pregnant pauses are to rein in the emotion, which he attributes as an inheritance from his mother.

“I care about the stories that we share, the things that we do, our mission and future,” he said. “Our people matter and sometimes I just have to take a minute.”

Lunch is sometimes on the road. He may get a chance to eat while thumbing through the prep packets or on a conference call.

And, when the day is nearly over, he has a final wrap up every day at 5 p.m. – or at least close to it. The 30-minute daily session with DIA leadership concludes with a rundown of the next day’s agenda. After that, he heads back to his desk to address emails, sign documents and read more information.

“Then I go to the gym,” he said. “And then home for dinner with Barb, and I’ll play with the dog for a few minutes.”

After some coveted personal and family time, he’s back to work.

“I have a SCIF in my house,” he said of his secure compartmented information facility. “So I’ll check emails and read my prep books for the next day.”

Between 10 and 10:30 p.m., his day will finally end.

On the weekends, when most others are enjoying some downtime, Ashley is at work again.

“I’ll spend around five hours on Saturday and Sunday at my desk at home along with a trip to the gym,” he said.

Asked about his mental agility and minimal caffeine intake, he explained that throughout his career he’s learned to concentrate on the conversation. The cumulative experience has taught him to not focus solely on the technical pieces of a subject, which can be overly taxing. He added that during a career, judgement is shaped, improved and enhanced, and good judgment is based on exposure to and the understanding of things that are right and wrong.

“It’s also self-discipline,” he said. “You just do it.”

Students Visit NGA During Annual Summer Seminar

August 21, 2019

College students from across the U.S. toured the National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency headquaters in Springfield, Va., July 26 as part of the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence, a congressionally-mandated program funded by the Department of Defense to encourage universities to build defense and intelligence curricula across the nation.

This year more than 25 schools were represented in the two-week IC CAE summer seminar, said Clarey Walker, IC CAE program manager.

The summer program brings college students to the Washington, D.C., area to learn about intelligence agencies and educate them with the core skills necessary to meet U.S. national security requirements, said Joan Vallancewhitacre, IC CAE senior advisory board member and science and technology programmatics officer at NGA.

"This is a great opportunity to know whether this is the type of carrer that you want to get into," said Stacey Dixon, Ph.D., NGA deputy director during her keynote speech at the Holliday Inn on July 22."Don't be shy, ask questions (and) probe while you're here."

"The program gives students opportunities to ask senior leaders questions and "pick their brains," said William Heath, student at the Pennslyvania State University.

During the first week of the program, students tour facilities, learn about backgroud investigations, attend a recruitment fair, and interact with intelligence professionals and IC CAE alumni, said Vallancewhitacre.

In the second week, students participated in unclassified national security simulations and presented their findings to the Defense Intelligence Agency's director of analysis, said Walker.

Eight 2019 IC CAE participants are also NGA interns this summer, said Vallancewhitacre. More than 160 IC CAE participants have become NGA employees since fiscal year 2018, according to NGA's analytics team in the Human Capital Advanced Capabilities office.

The best part of the program is the diversity of demographics and thought, said Aya Yousuf, student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

"There are a lot of ways to contribute to make the world a better place," said Dixon. "This is one. You're the kind of people we need. So know that, if this is something that you decide to do, you will be welcomed."

For more information about the IC CAE program and how to apply, visit https://www.dia.mil/Careers-and-Internships/Students/

Benjamin T. Huebner Joins ODNI as Chief of the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency

August 21, 2019

Benjamin T. Huebner has joined the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) as the new chief of the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency (CLPT). Huebner serves as the Intelligence Community's (IC) Civil Liberties Protection Officer, a position established by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and as ODNI's Chief Transparency Officer.

CLPT leads the integration of civil liberties and privacy protections into the policies, procedures, programs and activities of the IC. Its overarching goal is to ensure that the IC operates within the full scope of its authorities in a manner that protects civil liberties and privacy, provides appropriate transparency, and earns and retains the trust of the American people.

Huebner previously worked as the privacy and civil liberties officer at CIA. Prior to his time at CIA, Huebner served as counsel for intelligence to the assistant attorney general for national security at the Dpartment of Justice. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the New York University School of Law.

Huebner succeeds Alex Joel, who served as chief of CLPT since the creation of the office in 2005. Joel helped establish the foundation for ODNI's commitment to transparency and was integral in ensuring the IC carried out its mission in a manner that protects privacy and civil liberties. Joel is assigned to the American University's Washington College of Law as a scholar-in-residence.

Five NGA Employees Among Recipients of the PECASE

August 14, 2019

Frances Lacagnina, Elizabeth “Rachel” Bernstein, Matthew Klaric, Alexis Truitt and Hakjae Kim of NGA's research office received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers July 25. President Donald Trump recognized them for their exceptional research careers and promise for leadership in science. This year’s award honored those who were nominated in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Lacagnina of Research’s Spectral Pod was nominated for her work as the lead scientist on specific spectral band detection. Her innovative techniques allowed the IC to analyze the ways and means of remote detection of that spectral band more accurately, at a fraction of the cost of previous experimental approaches. Her strong commitment to community service, such as leading the Council of Research Employees was also a vital portion of her nomination.

Bernstein of Research’s Environment and Culture Pod, was nominated for her work on patterns of accessibility in the Arctic Ocean and work supporting IC Arctic working groups. She was also recognized for her efforts to mentor the next generation of scientists.

Matthew Klaric, who is currently on joint duty assignment to the Office of the Secretary of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office, was recognized for his work with machine learning and artificial intelligence. He constructed the plan and secured the funding for a large-scale computer vision artificial intelligence project, which helps NGA maintain our strategic advantage in target recognition.

Truitt of Research’s Space Pod was recognized for her work with satellite imagery operations that directly support high-priority intelligence issues related to ensuring US power projection and freedom of access in an increasingly complex space environment. She was also recognized as a strong STEM career advocate among DC area high school students.

Kim, a former NGA employee, was recognized for his multi-disciplinary subject matter expertise in analytic modeling. He conceptualized, managed and transitioned new technologies that directly impacted NGA’s strategic missions. He was also recognized for mentoring junior and visiting scientists.

These employees are not the first from NGA to win this prestigious award. Four other members of Team NGA previously won PECASE awards between 2012 and 2014.

Teaching the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Professionals

July 23, 2019

Our nation continues to face a shortage of cybersecurity professionals but GenCyber camps, established in 2014, are intended to help address this deficit. GenCyber’s mission is to inspire a diverse generation of cyber stars.

“In just a few short years, the GenCyber Program has provided the opportunity for a diverse mix of thousands of K-12 students and teachers across the country to learn about cybersecurity,” Tina Ladabouche, GenCyber Program Director, said. “GenCyber is playing a significant role in increasing awareness of cybersecurity and ultimately is helping build the pipeline of qualified cybersecurity professionals entering the field.”

GenCyber camps are co-funded by the NSA and the National Science Foundation and are held each summer across the nation in 43 states on college campuses, at no charge to students. One such camp was launched by Dr. Miriam Pabón-González, Dean of the Graduate School at Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico who also serves as International Alliances Director of GenCyber. She founded the Ladies Can Code Camp through GenCyber to drive girls toward STEM careers. She sees the impact it can have on our country and on the lives of these young women and their families.“If you want results in the future, you need to start working on the building blocks now. Our children are the building blocks of our Nation’s Cybersecurity,” Dr. Pabón-González said.

Oscar Morales-Gonzalez, Senior Research Lead at NSA-Texas, has supported the Puerto Rico camp for years. He emphasizes the immense impact it has on the younger generation and our nation as a whole.“GenCyber camps are enabling young children across the nation to believe that they too can be scientists, engineers, and mathematicians,” he said. “This camp exemplifies the power of caring and the vision of dedicated professionals who believe it is possible to create a better future for our children and for our country.”

Diane M. Janosek, NSA NCS Commandant highlights the importance of cybersecurity and the skilled individuals needed to support it. “Cybersecurity affects every single thing that we do…finance, the energy sector, oil and gas, education, medicine, health care, the automotive industry, telecommunications, retail. Everything we do today has a cybersecurity component to it. We really are interested in developing young men and women to understand cybersecurity. GenCyber helps us get there.”

Dr. Deborah Frincke, Director of Research, an early co-founder of GenCyber, recently visited Puerto Rico to see the campherself. While there, she participated in camp activities and had the opportunity to speak with camp students. “Camps such as Ladies Can Code are life changing for the participants and for their communities,” she said, “by encouraging talented young women to believe in themselves, learn about cybersecurity, and share what they’ve learned with their families. We gain as a nation whenever we empower our next generation; we gain as an agency whenever we help our citizens become part of our national cybersecurity solution.”

ODNI Creates New Position Dedicated to Election Security

July 19, 2019

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats named Shelby Pierson, a veteran intelligence professional who has held a number of roles across different agenices over the past two decades, as the first intelligence community election threats executive.

"In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue,"Coats said in a statement. "There is no one more qualified to serve as the very first election threats executive than Shelby Pierson"

According to the statement, Pierson served as crisis manager for election security during the 2018 election and has "over 20 years of service in the IC." Last year, Pierson - then the National Intelligence Manager for Russia, Europe and Eurasia at ODNI - was one of seven executive branch representatives who gave a classified briefing to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on election security threats leading up to the 2018 mid-terms.

Read more at FCW.

Intelligence Community to Shift to Multicloud Model

July 9, 2019

Five years into the U.S intelligence community's use of commercial cloud technologies, the IC plans to shift from a single-cloud to a multicloud model.

Details are scarce on what they mean, but the shift was confirmed last month by John Sherman, CIO of the intelligence community, during the 2019 Cloud Smart Talks summit in Washington D.C., as FedScoop reports. He said that the shift will allow intelligence agencies to make greater use of emerging technology capabilities, the publication notes.

The IC uses the CIA's Commerical Cloud Services, or C2S, environment, a private on-premises cloud. According to FedScoop, which cited procurement documents, the new contract will again be procured by the CIA and could be worth several billions of dollars.

Read more at FedTech.

Data-Crunching Spies of the Future

July 8, 2019

The U.S. Intelligence Community is attempting to transform the way it uses and handles digital information. Unlike much of their work, agency officials want you to know all about it.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has been sending officials to conferences and gatherings in recent months to promote a years-long effort to modernize the IT infrastructure used by intelligence agencies. One of the primary goals of that effort is to better open up, analyze and share the massive amounts of sensitive U.S. government data between component agencies.

Intelligence agencies already do make use of data, from signals and imagery captured through orbital satellites to the phone call and internet traffic vacuumed up by the National Security Agency's controversial Post 9/11 digital surveillance apparatus. The intelligence Community already has "world class computational capability" said ODNI CIO John Sherman in an interview. "Now we need to make sure that data is fully unlocked."

Read more at FCW.

U.S. Officials Tracking Influence Operations on Social Media from Russia, Iran

June 25, 2019

Officials are currently tracking efforts by nations including Russia and Iran to influence Americans through social media platforms on issues including the 2020 election, a senior intelligence official told reporters on Monday.

The official said during a press conference that agencies are tracking efforts by Russia to “pit Americans against each other” through posting on social media, while China is using social media platforms to “influence the U.S. political environment.”

Iran is taking a similar approach to China, and is utilizing these sites to “promote pro-Iranian interests,” added the official, who talked to the media under the condition they not be identified.

The senior intelligence official spoke during an election security briefing for reporters, which took place on the heels of a week during which the U.S. Senate hotly debated this topic. The official emphasized that these efforts are would “not necessarily affect a tally of a vote, but they might influence a voting population.”

The official also noted that while there is activity on social media, there has been no evidence of recent attempts by foreign governments to infiltrate or interfere in voting machines.

Read the full article on The Hill.

IC Needs to Share Talent, Innovation with Private Sector, ODNI’s Gordon Says

June 12, 2019

The talent is out there — it is just not getting to the right places, Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, said Tuesday.

Gordon cited the need to share talent between the private and public sectors and to rethink the way intelligence workers navigate their careers. The partnership needs to extend beyond human talent and include collaboration on technology and innovation that can help move the mission of the intelligence community forward, Gordon said.

“The biggest thing we have to do (is) share our demands for talent,” she said at the 2019 Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit.

Read the full article on FedScoop.

DIA Receives High Honor for Commitment to Coaching, Talent Development

May 22, 2019

The Defense Intelligence Agency received the Excellence in Practice Award from the Association for Talent Development at the Ronald Reagan Building, May 20.

ATD hosted a banquet and ceremony to honor outstanding leaders and organizations committed to excellence in talent development.

The recognition is a result of the agency creating an innovative coaching program to help develop leaders, increase productivity and positively change the agency’s culture. The initiative was the only federal program to receive this award, placing DIA among Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Jet Blue, Wal-Mart and other multinational winners.

DIA Chief of Staff Johnny Sawyer, Theodora Fitzsimmons and Cynthia Covington received the award on behalf of the agency.

“DIA’s coaching program is integral to the talent development of our officers,” said Sawyer. “When all officers are putting their best foot forward, it has a positive influence on the Agency and better enables us to meet mission requirements.”

Rick Herrick, enterprise training division chief with Academy for Defense Intelligence, led the effort to have an accredited company deliver coach-specific training for the agency. Initially, the program began with a group of 22 senior executives and, within a five-year period, up to 500 employees at all levels.

Now, more than 280 participants have received training and 145 have completed the Certified Professional Coach requirements. Coaches are integrated throughout the workforce to enhance the learning and development of participants.

Themes stressed in the program include facilitating another person’s learning, development, well-being and performance. Coaching teaches that people are able to find their own solutions, develop their own skills and change their own attitudes and behaviors.

“Coaching and mentoring is a two-way street,” added Sawyer. “As you’re teaching someone, you’re also learning from them.”

Balancing Business: Diane Dunshee’s Recipe for Success

April 30, 2019

The three women executives who lead business operations at NSA may appear like everyday citizens, but at work they are pushing the envelope and paving the way for the next generation of female leaders in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

In this article, we introduce you to Diane Dunshee, Deputy Director of Business Management & Acquisition.

Gathering around the table, Diane Dunshee and her family sit down to enjoy a meal of Maryland crab soup. Beef broth, vegetables, and lump crab meat – her perfect recipe for a satisfying meal. On weekends and evenings, Diane enjoys cooking new recipes. By day, she is one of the top business executives at NSA creating recipes for others to succeed.

“I never thought I would be in the position I’m in now. I didn’t have this path charted out. I just continued to set my eyes on the next opportunity.” Diane has taken a similar approach with her culinary adventures. “I like to find new recipes and try them out. There were dishes that my kids refused to eat and some even I would never make again. But you only learn by trying.” Diane encourages others to grow by observing what goes on around them. “You can learn how to - and how not to - do things by analyzing the results of your actions. Let people know you trust their judgement, you are open to new ways of doing things, and that it’s ok to question how things were done in the past.”

When Diane cooks a dish that is especially delicious, she shares it with her friends. Similarly, she shares lessons learned while conducting NSA business operations with her Intelligence Community colleagues. “When we find something that works, we love to share it with our partners.”

Earlier in her career, Diane wasn’t as confident. “There were times when I wasn’t comfortable taking a seat at the table because I didn’t feel like I fit. I had to consciously tell myself that I had valuable contributions to make.” Now, as a leader, she helps others flourish by encouraging them to look for innovative ways to contribute to NSA’s mission. “At meetings, I check in with each person at the table, giving them the opportunity to share their ideas. We want to create an environment where everyone is comfortable speaking up.”

A Training Program Like No Other

April 22, 2019

In order to support the warfighter, the Defense Intelligence Agency plans, manages and executes intelligence operations during peacetime, crisis and war.

DIA deploys every day, which requires sending people into harm’s way. But before a single intelligence professional packs their bags and boards an aircraft, DIA needs to know these dedicated individuals are trained and ready to handle whatever adversity might come their way.

For members of DIA’s Strategic Expeditionary Group and Global Security Division, that assurance comes via their one-of-a-kind training program.

“When the Global Security Division stood up to support SEG professionals, they were all based at the headquarters in Washington, D.C.,” said Christy Stephens, chief of the Enterprise Learning Center, Joint Base San Antonio. “They [GSD personnel] typically went through the traditional training an analyst or an administrative officer who was going to deploy might take, but they weren't going through the same training SEG personnel were. There was different training for different people who were ultimately going and doing the same mission.”

Now, SEG and GSD personnel conduct their training at the same place at the same time, which ensures everyone is held to the same standard. Just as importantly, it creates a bond with the team members who might not have known each other previously, but will be asked to work closely together during a deployment.

The shared experience of pre-deployment training and seeing how each person reacts to stressful situations the scenarios put them in helps to create a team mentality before the deployment even begins. The intent is to develop respect, trust and support in a low-threat environment, which translates to a more effective team once they’re deployed.

“For the training evolution, you have to work as a team to accomplish it,” said Crystal G., a staff officer with SEG. “When you go through an experience like that, team building is going to happen.”

There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter intelligence professional, meaning there are times when a former Special Forces soldier ends up deploying with a newly hired analyst who recently graduated from college. Needless to say, their backgrounds and experiences differ drastically, which can create a challenge when it comes to training.

“Our training program brings everybody up to a common level, so that now you don't have to worry if you’re deploying to support a person who has never touched a firearm,” Stephens said. “We put everyone through extensive training, so they are proficient by the time they actually go out to do the job.”

Shortly after arriving at SEG or GSD, new employees go through Initial Skills Training, which includes land navigation; Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training; an introduction to firearms; as well as a deep dive into the gear and communication tools they are issued during a deployment.

From there, SEG and GSD professionals go into Advanced Field Training, a 17-day program of intensive training, which includes firearms, driving, medical and more. Once the employee completes all required training, they’re ready and able to deploy.

When these individuals deploy, the cycle doesn’t stop there. Once they return from that mission, they meet with instructors to share insights into what they saw during their deployment to ensure everything SEG teaches is as current and up to date as possible.

“The best thing about our training is that it’s constantly evolving to meet tactics, techniques and procedures that we see in the battlefield,” Crystal said. “Each one of us, when we come back from a deployment, we meet with the training office and provide our after-actions review, saying, ‘These are the new threats. These are the new things we are seeing.’”

Thanks to this progressive approach, the training program is constantly evolving. With each deployment, these intelligence professionals gain real-world experience through on-the-job training. When the time comes for that employee to deploy again, they don’t go through the same exact training a second time.

“With a lot of programs, you go through it five times and nothing ever changes,” Stephens said. “That’s not the case with our training program. As your skills progress, the training progresses.”

Ultimately, what makes this program truly unique is that it is designed to work with employees on a one-on-one basis, ensuring each and every person who goes through each cycle receives exactly what they need to be mission ready.

“You can really just focus on work and the tasks at hand,” said Crystal. “The way the training is conducted now really gets you in a good mindset for whatever comes next.”

Seventh IC Women’s Summit Discusses Building and Leveraging Networks

April 19, 2019

Hundreds of women and men of the Intelligence Community gathered in Bethesda, Md., on March 22 for the Seventh Intelligence Community Women’s Summit.

Hosted by ODNI, this year’s Summit’s theme was Networking in the 21st Century, and speakers from across the Community and respected private sector organizations shared their research, advice, and insights into how to navigating modern-day networking.

The IC Women’s Summit began in 2012 as a way to build an ongoing dialogue within the Community to address career enhancement and advancement and other challenges and opportunities experienced by women serving the IC. The Summit is typically held in March in recognition of Women’s History Month.

In the years since its inception, the Summit – which is open to men and women of the IC workforce – has become one of the most highly-attended IC events. This year’s Summit boasted a record-breaking number of participants with over 500 attendees, ranging from entry through senior level and managers and non-managers representing all 17 IC agencies.

In a day filled with guest speakers, workshops and networking breaks, participants had the opportunity to engage in a variety of topics including leadership development, career advancement, and mental health and resiliency.

Know Your Unique Strengths

One of the key themes throughout the IC Women’s Summit was knowing yourself and understanding the unique strengths you bring to an organization and a networking relationship.

“You have to start with you – if you are not complete, aware, whole, how in the world can you be a part of something, give to something, get through something?” asked Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon in her opening remarks at the Summit.

“So I know myself. I do. I was given a great foundation by my parents,” said PDDNI Gordon. “I was told I was supposed to be my best, every day, and to give myself to the cause. I was taught to be a great teammate… and to be able to depend on others. Because how will you get somewhere together if you can’t depend on others?”

In listing out her other self-truths, PDDNI Gordon also stressed the importance of understanding how others see you, in order to learn about and advance your strengths. She also discussed the difference between looking up to people and trying to be someone other than yourself, explaining how she tried to apply particular aspects of other respected women IC leaders to the way she acted, rather than trying to be exactly like that person.

Rebecca Shambaugh, Chief Executive Officer of SHAMBAUGH Leadership, talked during her keynote presentation about the importance of understanding yourself and leveraging your personal brand.

“Don’t sleepwalk through your greatness,” said Shambaugh. “As you go into meetings, I invite you to be intentional in your personal brand. Be intentional in how you’re showing up to people.”

To better understand your unique strengths, Shambaugh recommended seeking out people for your network who will give you constructive and honest feedback. She also recommended leveraging those strengths to build your personal brand.

Shambaugh explained that by understanding and intentionally leveraging the way you present your strengths, women have an opportunity to exponentially increase their personal brand, or the way they are viewed and discussed within the organization. That brand, however, should be tethered to your own individual strengths.

“It’s important to know who you are. Know your true north, so as we encounter the twists and turns, get new projects thrown us, we know the true north,” said Shambaugh.

“Great leaders come in all different flavors,” said PDDNI Gordon. “But all great leaders have one thing in common – their leadership comes from a place of truth.”

Networking in the 21st Century

Dr. Inga Carboni, another keynote speaker at the Summit, discussed common myths about networking and her research-based findings and recommendations for how to build and nurture personal and professional networks.

Carboni is an award-winning professor at the College of William and Mary Mason School of Business and author of numerous journal publications. She specializes in networks and networking, diversity and inclusion, building and managing relationships, and leadership. Specifically, much of Carboni’s recent research has been on gender differences in networks and networking.

According to Carboni, research shows that women tend to have smaller networks then men usually do, a more narrow range of networks, and networks that are less likely to include powerful people. This, Carboni says, is because of the “birds of a feather tend to flock together” principle and, unfortunately, there are still less women than men in the senior executive ranks.

“This idea that we’re more comfortable and more likely to interact with people like us works against us, as women,” said Carboni.

And there’s a lot more than a new job to be gained from a good network. According to Carboni, people who have structured their networks appropriately are more likely to get promoted, make more money, get early notice of jobs and opportunities for special projects, have better health, and less chance of depression.

Carboni’s presentation sought to bust some of the common myths about networking and encouraged participants to think about networking differently.

“Don’t start off by trying to get something out of other people,” said Carboni. “You should start off by thinking about what you can give to this other person. The time to start networking is not when you want a job.”

In a professional environment, explained Carboni, people are often used to things being more transactional, one-way, or in the traditional supervisor-employee relationship. Networking, however, should be a two-way relationship.

“People don’t just want a job – they want appreciation, support, information,” said Carboni. “Find out what you can offer the person – you have brains, insight, you know a population really well, you’re really good at putting together presentations – whatever your strength.”

Carboni also busted the myth that networking is “cheating” the system or playing into office politics, explaining that good leaders are expected to forge and leverage relationships to solve problems in support of the organization, and that relationships and networks can help solve problems and overcome obstacles diplomatically.

Carboni’s suggestion – “It might help to find a role model for networking – someone who you think builds and manages relationships in a way that is ethical and beneficial to the organization.”

Embracing Differences

During the Summit, several presenters suggested that an important part of networking is seeking out and embracing those who are different.

According to Shambaugh, modern leadership models are more focused on balance and diversity of thought, and Carboni said that some private-sector best practices included intentional exposure to individuals outside of a person’s “normal” organizational interactions, such as job restructuring, rotations, shadowing, which break up the normal groupings of individuals and provide opportunity for exposure to different professional networks.

During an afternoon panel titled “Moving the Needle,” Nora Gardner from the McKinsey Group added that some corporations were moving toward more “conscious inclusion,” clustering working groups of individuals of different backgrounds, which helped to limit the occurrence of what some call “onlyness” (when an individual finds that they are the only woman, woman of color, or team member of color, for example, within a particular organization or work unit).

Gardner also talked about private-sector best practices that featured an increased focus on unconscious bias, which even included the use of a fairness observer responsible for looking for and calling attention to unconscious bias in promotion and performance discussions.

Moving the Needle and Lifting Up Others

Just as Carboni suggested focusing on networking as a two-way relationship, Shambaugh also talked about the importance of looking at networking as an opportunity to give to others.

“It’s not just having those unique strengths, but it’s how we channel them to create something better and bigger for others,” said Shambaugh. “Knowing that what we have is all about service to others.”

As a leader, you want to be known as someone who uses their strengths and personal brand to shine a light on and develop those around you, recommends Shambaugh.

During the “Moving the Needle” panel, Col. April D. Skou, U.S. Army, shared how she tries to lift up others in her network by setting a good example of work-life balance. She does this by talking regularly about where she’s going after work or that she’s leaving work early to support her family or her children’s sports games. “I try to set an example, raise awareness of the importance of life outside of work,” she said.

Tameeka Washington, who works for NGA, discussed efforts taken on by an informal, self-collected network of women from around the IC. The group started with an “IC Women’s Retreat” gathering, organized by Washington and a few other IC women, to discuss obstacles and best practices for IC women. The outcome of the retreat was the formation of four cohorts, which are tackling issues such as negotiating skills, women in leadership roles, superwoman/supermom syndrome, and taking career leaps.

Nazaret Berhane, an FBI employee on joint duty assignment to ODNI, talked about how the IC Women’s Mentoring Circles are also bringing women from around the Community together to support one another through mentoring opportunities. According to Berhane, the Mentoring Circles name was chosen intentionally, as the circles are meant to act as a circle of trust to connect women up, down, and across organizations and physical spaces.

“We wanted to motivate, encourage, and inspire,” said Berhane. “We also wanted to be part of the solution.”

Gardner suggested that one way to lift up other women and other colleagues was to counter micro-aggressions with micro-promotions. “This is the opposite of when someone takes your idea and repeats it and make it their own – take someone’s idea and repeat it and give her credit,” said Gardner.

“I definitely believe in one of the things that I’ve heard over and over from one of my mentors,” said Berhane. “Stay true to your authentic self, keep doing what you’re doing and doing your best, and I think collectively we’ll move the needle in the right direction.”

While the end of March marks the end of Women’s History Month, IC EEOD and the ODNI Women’s Employee Resource Group plan to publish more articles highlighting the different workshops hosted at the Summit, as well as more information and resources on creating a more effective network.

Intel Agencies Aim to Be Hiring “Model” for Disabled Employees

April 10, 2019

Much like the Defense Department, the federal intelligence community wants to further diversify its workforce by promoting the hiring of those with disabilities. According to recent guidance, intel agencies will focus more on hiring and retention as well as IT modernization, to meet the needs of disabled employees.

The IC hopes to be a model for the federal workforce, according to guidance from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The policy was first shared with Federal News Network by the Federation of American Scientists.

In conjunction with equal opportunity laws and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the IC has been encouraged by leadership to provide reasonable accommodation to their employees who suffer from physical or mental impairments that limit their activity.

“Equal opportunity in employment includes hiring, placement and advancement opportunities,” the guidance, signed on Feb. 26 by ODNI Director Dan Coats said.

Read the full article on Federal News Network.

Members of NGA’s Hispanic Advisory Council Share Experiences with Students, Shed Light on Agency Opportunities

April 3, 2019

About 40 students from four Florida-based Hispanic-serving institutions visited NGA’s Springfield, Virginia, campus March 14 to learn about opportunities in various career fields prominent in the agency, including science, technology, engineering and math.

The visit was sponsored by Source’s Technical Executive Office and included Florida International University, Broward College, Florida Memorial University and Miami-Dade College.

These schools are considered Hispanic-serving institutions because 25 percent or more of the total undergraduate students are Hispanic, enrolled full time in an accredited institution. The visit was a part of the Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence Consortium. IC CAE is a one-year intelligence community workforce development program that focuses on mentorship, research experience and professional development to strengthen the students’ job prospective with the IC.

“This program is really important,” said Michael Vazquez, FIU graduate and imagery analyst in the Afghanistan Eastern Military Forces branch. “Specifically, from the Latin community perspective, we just don’t see ourselves incorporated into these (national security and defense job) fields, and it comes down to awareness. This (program) helps involve our community and pass on information.”

NGA employees who are FIU alumni and co-leader of NGA’s Hispanic Advisory Council shared their experiences with the students.

“It is up to us to take advantage of the opportunities available (within the IC),” said Anny Garcia, member of NGA’s HAC and budget analyst in the Financial Management Directorate. “Being on the Hispanic Advisory Council is an honor and way to give back to my community.”

FIU students briefed the panelist on Iranian regional influence, genome editing using CRISPER, China Belt and Road initiative for Latin America, U.S. space policy, leadership challenges and space economy.

China’s Belt and Road initiative is a development strategy adopted by the Chinese government to improve economic and regional power across Europe, Asia, and to South America.

“This is the first time these students can build their network and tap into those in the community,” said Vazquez. “It is important for them to get this experience.”

Chicago State University is scheduled to be the next IC CAE institution to visit on March 19.

Balancing Business: Kathy Zuback Vaults Over Hurdles On and Off The Track

April 2, 2019

The three women executives who lead business operations at NSA may appear like everyday citizens, but at work they are pushing the envelope and paving the way for the next generation of female leaders in the U.S. Intelligence Community. In this article, we introduce you to Kathy Zuback, Director of Business Management & Acquisition.

Feet hitting the pavement, crisp morning air, and the sound of a creek bubbling alongside the trail. If you saw Kathy Zuback running through the neighborhood, you might not guess she is responsible for business operations at the National Security Agency.

Kathy demonstrated strength and endurance as a teenager when she became all-American in five track and field events. She went on to coach at a local high school, encouraging student athletes to work hard and give it their best.

After graduating from college – the first person in her family to do so – Kathy joined NSA as a Contracting Officer intern. “When I decided to work here, I had to make a tough choice between going into signals intelligence or business. At the time, NSA was facing a perception of being too technical and not focusing enough on managing our resources. With that in mind, I chose the business route to learn how to change that perception.”

Kathy brought the confidence she gained during her athletic training to work, seeking out challenging opportunities to broaden her perspective. At one point, she was appalled by the lack of business information technology and sought to improve it by leading the effort to deliver NSA’s first automated accounting system. Over the years, Kathy rose through the ranks to become the Chief Financial Manager and is now the Director of Business at NSA.

“The more subject matter expertise I gained, the more I realized how many opportunities there were at NSA. I invested additional time and effort into my career, inside and outside of work hours.” She eventually shifted her focus from coaching athletes to coaching the next generation of business leaders.

She says new employees should build relationships with their peers, ask questions, and develop their knowledge base by seeking out diverse work experiences – vaulting over hurdles to get to the finish line – of course, a career is more like a marathon than a sprint.

When asked what hurdles she faces today she said, “We have so much work to do and there aren’t enough hours in the day.” Just then, her executive assistant popped his head into her office, interrupting the interview to ask an urgent question. She quickly jumped up from the conference table and rushed to her desk. Rifling through a stack of papers, she found the page she wanted, handed it to her assistant, and sat right back down in the interview chair. “That was ironic, wasn’t it?” she said as she took a breath and continued with the interview.

“As a leader, you can’t possibly be an expert in every subject, so you delegate.” Part of helping others to flourish means you give them the opportunity to succeed. And what if they trip up? You give them a hand up and encourage them to keep on running.

Valuing Diversity: The Women Behind the Dragon

March 29, 2019

Back in 1994, when Gwen Lilly started as an intern in the National Security Agency’s CryptoMath Program (CMP), she had no idea that she’d be contributing to the creation and eventual release of one of the most publicly appreciated cyber defense tools - but that’s exactly where her career led her.

After graduation from the CMP, Lilly took an assignment in the research office that would ultimately create Ghidra. “At the time, we were doing software reverse engineering (SRE) using an array of tools, both government-developed and commercial,” reflects Lilly. “The office was full of smart people with plenty of ideas on how to improve the SRE process by advancing the technology.” 

Lilly was pleased to discover she was not the only female on this dynamic team. There were already two women working on SRE and that group became integral to the birth of Ghidra. Lilly remembers both of these women had a keen aptitude for reverse engineering which they leveraged to influence the development of this new research effort. They were also responsible for some of the early training development in SRE, helping NSA grow expertise to apply to mission problems. 

With the birth of Ghidra, came the birth of Lilly’s children, work-life balance became a priority. “I was single when I started working at the agency, now I’m married with three daughters, two of whom are in college and one who graduated last May. I worked part-time early in my career because at that time, my family was my priority.”

NSA’s flexible work schedules and part-time opportunities gave Lilly the chance to stay involved in all the initiatives that interested her and manage her level of responsibility with a flexible schedule to help meet demands. Now 25 years later, Lilly is part of the core leadership team for the Ghidra project and was played a critical role in facilitating the release to the public at the RSA Conference this year.  “As a researcher who works on an enabling technology, Ghidra’s success is very gratifying. Over the years, Ghidra’s mission successes have also felt like wins for our team, the open software release is our next big win.”

Reflecting on her career, Lilly is proof NSA values diversity and strives to create a diverse teaming environment. “Ghidra is a diverse team of women and men, offering differences in perspectives, which stems from each person’s academic background and field experience.” Lilly hopes that by sharing her story, more women choose careers in the field of engineering. 

She offers a piece of advice to women in STEM: “Always recognize the options available, and especially don’t self-eliminate for any opportunities.”

The Women Who Keep NSA Running

March 27, 2019

There is a common saying in the Department of Defense, “logistics wins wars.” And the National Security Agency is bringing a fresh perspective to that critical component: Women. Kathy Harris, Carol Stylc, Judy Bonucci, Kristie Coulbourn, Tammy Creighton, Dawn Witchey, and Pat Reese are moving in on what has traditionally been a male-dominated field and, as Chief of Logistics, Kathy Harris puts it, “we are making sure people have what they need to do their job.”

What would a day look like if Logistics did not give you what you needed to do your job? It would look a little something like no transportation, no mail, no classified waste disposal, no fitness centers, no desktop delivery, and possibly the worst of all - no food!

Logistics personnel are often the unsung heroes, even though the work may not be visible to all, we depend on their efforts in order to accomplish NSA’s two core missions of foreign signals intelligence and cybersecurity. So what exactly does it take to run the NSA from a logistics perspective? Here are just a few examples:

  • Oversight of the use and safety of 20,000 parking spots and 14 shuttle bus routes that service more than 50 locations just in the Washington, D.C., area
  • Securing, packing, and shipping of classified and sensitive cargo to locations all over the world. This includes producing and implementing tamper-resistant mechanisms to alert to potential intrusions into our shipments – a key component to supply chain risk management
  • Tracking of more than 600,000 accountable equipment assets worldwide
  • Screening, processing, and delivery of mail – a key part of keeping the workforce safe
  • Management of employee official travel, morale activities, and cafeterias – even down to the vending machines

If these missions weren’t critical enough, Logistics also oversees another essential mission – the distribution of TA-50 gear which is the equipment that keeps deployed personnel safe in warzones. Logistics is there from the start until the end, or as Ms. Harris says, “from acquire to retire.”

Throughout the logistics life-cycle, these women dominate in what is predominately a male-led field. Thanks to support from pioneering women and the male leadership that acknowledges the value of diversity – women like Kathy, Carol, Judy, Kristie, Tammy, Dawn, and Pat are bursting through the glass ceiling to shape this field – and they keep breaking boundaries! Kristie Coulbourn just accomplished another feat by becoming the first female Deputy Chief of Material Management which is the division that is responsible for everything from the transportation of NSA equipment and materials to the destruction of end-of-life equipment and documents. We’ll actually let you in on a little secret… …some of your everyday household necessities such as toilet paper or paper towels may have been a highly classified document in a previous life.

So how did these women do it? “We weren’t afraid to apply for the hard jobs,” says Ms. Judy Bonucci.  In a field where according to the National Center for Education Statistics, less than a third of degrees in Logistics, Materials, and Supply Chain Management are awarded to women, Ms. Stylc emphasizes that women have to be their own advocate. Sometimes this means you have to be twice as vocal, twice as tough, and twice as compassionate, which is a trait the workforce and customers are experiencing during Logistics engagements thanks to the inclusion of women in the leadership structure. Some women constantly feel threatened by being labeled negatively if they are assertive, while men are often labeled as strong leaders… and how do these women react to this: Just Be You. If you don’t fight for your position, you lose your voice and that voice is bringing passion and compassion to the mission.

On top of “kicking it at work,” as Pat Reese’s children describe it, all of these women are leaders at home. Tammy Creighton, Chief of Employee Morale and Welfare Services describes life as having “two full-time jobs. Thanks to the flexibility and tools the agency provides our employees, you can do both.” So for the women out there that may be intimidated by the logistics field, take the advice of our female leaders, take a chance, and tell yourself, “I can do that.”

A Conversation with NGA's Diversity Lead

February 12, 2019

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Office of Corporate Communications sat down with Beth Flanagan, director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Employment Opportunity to get her perspective on the importance and impact mentoring can have for an individual’s career and for an organization. This interview was edited for clarity and length.

What does mentoring mean to you?
Mentoring means coaching; it means friendship; it means honesty. It means someone that you can go to for advice. Mentors are a sounding board, who can help you work through issues and see pathways forward that you might not find because they offer a different perspective.

On the other hand, mentoring can also be very informal. I have had mentors over my career that didn’t even know they were mentoring me because I just listened to them, I watched them. There is a spectrum of how you can approach mentoring – a long-term relationship or just those casual conversations.

Can you describe to me an impactful mentoring moment you had in your career?
One of those impactful mentoring moments happened when I didn't get a job that I had expected to get. This person told me that people were going to be watching how I dealt with the disappointment and I just needed to kind of power through and know it was okay. It wasn't going to be the end of the road for my career and I just needed to think about how I was going to steer through the next phase of my career.

That's also part of what mentors do, they help you navigate and they cheer your successes. That has been a consistent theme for my long-term mentors – they've been my biggest cheerleaders. They pump me up and they've helped me when I've been feeling down, they'll help me see myself in ways that I may not have seen. On the other hand, they'll tell me the truth by saying, ‘You know what, Beth? You might want to think about that in a different way.’

What is your favorite piece of advice you have received from a mentor?
One person told me, ‘There's a reason why in a car, your windshield is so large and rearview mirror is so small – because you really need to live your life moving forward, instead of looking backwards.’ I thought about it and it really crystallized how I try to live my life. And, now I give that advice to people I mentor. This man would not consider himself a mentor to me, but in that moment, on the spot, this person was the mentor I needed. And, I think that's why I say: mentoring can take many shapes and sizes.

The best piece of advice actually, was from one of my executive officers, who told me that I needed to start saying, ‘no.’ I was saying ‘yes’ to too many things and I was running myself into the ground. I was getting myself sick. She said, ‘You're not being effective.’ I look back – it was bravery. It was speaking truth to power. Speak truth to your boss and say, ‘Stop you're not being effective’ is also a form of mentoring. It's not just a one-way street, it's a two-way street – the mentee has a lot to offer talking to the mentor, because there's a different perspective.

How can someone get the most out of mentoring?
One of the things is be curious. Ask questions and don't be afraid to ask someone to mentor you. What I recommend people do if they find somebody that they want to enter into a mentoring relationship with is get on their calendar and go in with a set of questions that they want answered. And, then over time, build up that relationship with that person or sometimes you may get the answers you need from just one meeting. Being flexible is part of getting the most from mentoring.

What type of mentoring program does NGA have?
I think that NGA has a lot of opportunities for mentoring – both formal and informal. The majority of people that I know, and how I have actually found most of my mentors, is very informal – either through people coming in and asking me or people who I've met over time. NGA’s Professional Networks hosts speed mentoring events, our Special Emphasis Program Council’s hosted Coffee with Mentors which is a great way to get to know a senior executive in an informal setting, and we sponsor numerous Lean In Circles across the enterprise, We also have a more formal reverse mentoring program where NGA pairs junior employees with senior executives.

One thing that we've started is a ‘How I Mentor’ series where we highlight tips and tricks for mentoring, including how to hold mentoring conversations and how to be a mentor/mentee. We are also updating our mentoring portal, so that NGA employees can easily find information in a single location.

Why is it important for organizations to invest in a mentorship program?
One of the reasons organizations should invest in a mentorship program is because it's giving back and helping to develop the future of an organization. I don't know of anybody that reached the senior level who didn't benefit from a mentor. I think it's incumbent on all of us to give back to the organization and help develop the people at the more junior levels. That is how we grow and strengthen the future of the organization.

It also helps with the diversity of the organization, because you get to know people across boundaries, across the organization. The more people that they can talk to in another division, at another level, maybe a different location, people can get thoughts about different perspectives, different careers. My path was one path, but everyone has forged a different path. The key is to get more awareness of those different pathways.

Intelligence Community Prioritizes Innovation, Info Sharing in 2019 Strategy

January 24, 2019

U.S. intelligence agencies face new, evolving threats spurred by advances in technology that require them to become more agile, innovative and technologically superior to maintain America’s global edge, the director of national intelligence says in the 2019 edition of the National Intelligence Strategy.

While traditional adversaries like Russia and China remain the largest threats to American national security, DNI Dan Coats points to new, evolving challenges — “particularly in the realm of space, cyberspace, computing, and other emerging, disruptive technologies” — as a key area of focus for the intelligence community (IC) over the next four years.

Read the full story on FedScoop.

NSA and N.C. A&T: Partnering for a Diverse Workforce

January 23, 2019

As a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) with a focus in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) has partnered with the National Security Agency (NSA) for over 20 years.

“N.C. A&T contributes to the diversity of our workforce and provides degree programs that are comprehensive, multidisciplinary and relevant to our mission,” said George C. Barnes, Deputy Director of NSA.

To celebrate its partnership, NSA has named N.C. A&T a Featured School. The Featured School Series highlights colleges and universities that help develop the talent and tools needed to meet national security challenges. The collaboration between NSA and N.C. A&T is being highlighted on NSA.gov, IntelligenceCareers.gov and on social media.

“We are so excited to be chosen as a Featured School. Partnerships such as this demonstrate our commitment to improving lives through innovations in research and discovery,” said Beryl McEwen, N.C. A&T Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “N.C. A&T’s longstanding commitment to computer science and to cybersecurity has made significant career opportunities available for so many exceptional students and helped to advance the frontiers of this important discipline.”

N.C. A&T has been a National Center of Excellence (CAE) for eight years, promoting higher education and research in the critical area of cyber defense (cybersecurity). The school is also one of 16 colleges and universities across the country in NSA’s hiring and recruitment Campus Ambassador Program (CAP), which serves to build and strengthen relationships with select universities. Further, N.C. A&T hosted two GenCyber Camps in 2018 sponsored by NSA and the National Science Foundation, providing free summer cybersecurity experiences for students and teachers at the K-12 level.

Currently, NSA hires more N.C. A&T grads than any other agency in the Intelligence Community, and nearly 70 N.C. A&T alumni work at the Agency.

“Academic partnerships are so vital to national security that NSA invests more than $100 million annually in support of academic partner programs, including educational grants, research and recruitment efforts,” Barnes said.

NSA aims to introduce a new featured school every few months, highlighting schools designated as Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) that have a depth and breadth of engagement with NSA. The series will also have a presence on IntelligenceCareers.gov and will be featured on social media.

Read more about N.C. A&T and NSA's partnership.