The upcoming Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA)’s Intelligence and National Security Summit on July 14th has caused me to assess the positive impact that INSA has had on me. My first INSA-AFCEA Summit was in 2019, when I was supporting Microsoft. It was the first time I became immersed in the Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community (IC) ecosystem, and I was impressed by their commitment to mission and camaraderie. Prior to this, I had worked in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and was part of an intelligent and strong group committed to keeping our citizens safe from natural and man-made threats. After attending the INSA Summit, I was convinced I wanted to be more involved in this wonderful organization. In 2021, I joined the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Council.
The importance of diversity in National Security cannot be overstated. We need people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to succeed in our critical missions. It is widely understood that monocultures result in weaker thinking and outcomes. The diversity of backgrounds and perspectives strengthens an organization’s ability to be more strategic and creative, creating more successful results. With continually evolving adversaries, diversity of thought is necessary to enable the U.S. to understand what could be next rather than continually preparing for the threats of the past. DEI helps the U.S. be more competitive by making the government agencies and the defense ecosystem more creative, innovative, and more robust. Also, the younger Millennials and Gen Z workforce demand all the tenants of JEDI in their workplace. To continue attracting the best talent, the National Security community must evolve the workplace and hiring practices to bring in the next generation of national security professionals.
Supporting the JEDI Council has given me greater insight into the challenges facing the IC in recruiting, especially when people face work-life balance challenges. Bringing together all aspects of the National Security ecosystem to discuss building a talent pipeline, promoting equity and inclusion in the workplace, and understanding how to implement best practices in JEDI within the IC has been enlightening. The JEDI council seeks to build a more diverse and inclusive National Security ecosystem by tapping into a diverse population who value the opportunity to support the U.S. in a deep and meaningful way.
One of the most valuable aspects of becoming part of INSA is the strong sense of community. INSA and the Intelligence and National Security Summit are not just organizations or events where people can hear interesting panel discussions, network, or gain access to government clients. Additionally, you can build lasting relationships with like-minded individuals. The INSA ecosystem is committed to establishing connections across government, academia, services, and product companies to enhance National Security. I am always inspired after INSA events, thinking of new ways to connect the various entities to solve new challenges. In National Security, a rising tide truly lifts all ships.
From the very start, this group of intelligent and strong women in INSA welcomed me with open arms. They embody a commitment to raising the next generation of leaders, and now I am at a career point where I can positively impact JEDI in the workforce. Being able to mentor the next generation of National Security professionals energizes me and makes me better, more creative, and more innovative. I take this responsibility seriously and want to be part of the legacy that institutionalizes JEDI in National Security and builds the future workforce that will make the U.S. more competitive and increase the security of our citizens at home and abroad.
I am excited to be at National Harbor on July 13-14, 2023, to reconnect with colleagues, meet new people, and hear about the innovations in the field. Throughout the event, I will be at the Accrete AI booth (Booth #19). Please see me and share how we can make a difference in National Security by expanding JEDI.