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Winning With Women Wednesday: An Interview With Karen Evans, National Director, US Cyber Challenge

An Interviw With Karen Evans,National Director,US Cyber Challenge

Karen S. Evans is servicing as the National Director for the US Cyber Challenge (USCC). The USCC is the nationwide talent search and skills development program focused specifically on the cyber workforce. She serves as an independent director and outside manager for publicly traded companies as well as a Voice of Authority for Safegov.org, an on-line forum specifically focused on cloud computing policy issues. She is also an independent consultant in the areas of leadership, management and the strategic use of information technology. She retired after nearly 28 years of federal government service with responsibilities ranging from a GS-2 to Presidential Appointee as the Administrator for E-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the Executive Office of the President. She oversaw the federal IT budget of nearly $71 billion which included implementation of IT throughout the federal government. This included advising the Director of OMB on the performance of IT investments, overseeing the development of enterprise architectures within and across the agencies, directing the activities of the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council, and overseeing the usage of the E-Government Fund to support interagency partnerships and innovation. She also had responsibilities in the areas of capital planning and investment control, information security, privacy and accessibility of IT for persons with disabilities, and access to, dissemination of, and preservation of government information. Included in her accomplishments are making IPv6, HSPD-12, and SmartBUY (which is leveraging the federal government requirements) a reality; elevating the importance of transparency with the publication of the Management Watch List and High Risk List projects; increasing the focus on cybersecurity to include the Federal Desktop Core Configuration for the government; and balancing the expanded use of technology for citizen services with increasing demands for privacy.

Prior to becoming the Administrator, Ms. Evans was the Chief Information Officer for the Department of Energy. There she was responsible for the design, implementation, and continuing successful operation of IT programs and initiatives throughout the Department. During this time, she was the Vice-Chairman of the Federal CIO Council. Elected to the post in December 2002, she coordinated the Council’s efforts in developing federal IT programs and improving agency information resources practices.

Before joining Energy, she was Director, Information Resources Management Division, Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice, where she was responsible for the management and successful operation of the IT program. OJP’s bureaus and offices provide funding opportunities for initiatives such as Safe Schools, Safe Start Program, Community Prosecution, Native American Tribal Courts and other programs of high local, state and national interest. Key accomplishments included the implementation of an on-line grants management system to process grants from discretionary, formula and large block grants programs, to streamlining capabilities to ensure for the expeditious processing of claims benefits to families of public safety officers after the September 11th attacks.

She currently serves as a Director on the boards of the NIC, Inc; Center for Internet Security; The Department of Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy and outside manager for Accenture Federal Services and is advisory board member for several information technology companies. In addition, she chaired the West Virginia University MBA Advisory Board where she was inducted to the roll of distinguished alumni.

Recent honors also include Heroines of Washington, election to National Academy of Public Administration and the University of Maryland University College’s Cybersecurity Leadership Award.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a Master of Business Administration degree from West Virginia University. She resides in Martinsburg, WV with husband, Randy and her two children, Jake and Samantha.


Get to know Karen

Name: Karen S. Evans
Age: 56
Education: MBA from West Virginia University; BA in Chemistry from West Virginia University
Organization(s): US Cyber Challenge (USCC)
Position: National Director
Time with the Organization: Since inception which is 2009
Organization headquarters: The USCC is a program of the Center for Internet Security located in Albany, NY

1. Karen, please share with us what your current position as Director of the US Cyber Challenge entails?

I am the “chief” organizer, evangelist, worker etc. for the activities of the USCC.

2. What is the US Cyber Challenge?

The mission of U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) is to significantly reduce the shortage in today’s cyber workforce by serving as the premier program to identify, attract, recruit and place the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. USCC’s goal is to find 10,000 of America’s best and brightest to fill the ranks of cybersecurity professionals where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation.

3. Saw that you are also a Partner at KE&T Partners, LLC how did that organization come about?

This is my private consulting business which I established upon my retirement from federal service. I have a few strategic clients and I also serve as Director on Boards.

4. What was the hardest challenge you encountered during your time as Director for the US Cyber Challenge?

It is developing a sustainable business model for the activities showing value to your potential partners.

5. How do you overcome obstacles?

Having a clear business case which includes outcomes with supporting metrics to measure our success.

6. If you are speaking to an audience of women MBA students, what three pieces of advice would you give them?

  1. If you are going to be married, then, decide who’s career is the primary career before there are any major career decisions to be made. There truly can be only one primary career. My career was NOT the primary career in our marriage.
  2. If you make a decision not to participate in a family event (for example, going to a school play) then, don’t second guess yourself and make yourself feel guilty that you did not do the family event. Be secure in the decision.
  3. If you think there is a glass ceiling, then, there is a glass ceiling. You just need to be best you can be in your field and you will succeed.

7. In 2014, Sheryl Sandberg launched a campaign to ban the word “Bossy” to empower girls to lead. How can women manage the perceptions around assertiveness or being labeled “bossy”, particularly when they are often judged more harshly than men?

Women need to remember that being the best at what you do, allows for the leadership to shine through. It is a matter of being confident that you are the best!


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Feature Friday: Armoured Vehicle Industry Insight From MILSPRAY Military Technologies™

Defence IQ: At the last International Armoured Vehicles event, MILSPRAY™ unveiled The eXV-1™, a new lightweight hybrid-electric 4×4. Can you highlight what development/interest this has seen in the past year?

MILSPRAY: Last year, the unveiling of the eXV-1™ demonstrated our commitment to provide the warfighter with the most technically innovative and survivable vehicle offering mobility, stealth, and protection. Since IAV 2015, we have focused on continued development of the vehicle in areas of reliability and durability. We have also looked into the manufacturing side for ways to improve upon structural quality while being cognizant of keeping costs down.

This year we were honored to further strengthen our commitment to those on the battlefield when our eXV-1™ was selected for a number of testing opportunities with outside agencies. This summer 2015, the eXV-1™ was tested at the U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Concepts Demonstration (E2C) at the Marine Corps Base in Camp Lejeune, NC. At E2C, we proved that the eXV-1™ is a versatile all terrain vehicle that reduces resupply and logisitics, provides tactical advantages, and reduces the load of the soldier both on and off the battlefield. Overall, the eXV-1™ was well received at E2C and was viewed as a dependable and efficient solution to giving the warfighter more mobility on the battlefield.

Another testing opportunity came from the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab where the eXV-1™ underwent a Limited Technical Assessment (LTA) at the Nevada Automotive Test Center (NATC) located in Carson City, Nevada. This testing helped to identify requirements for the next Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV-R).

The company has also previously showcased its achievements with alternate energy and composite materials. How keen is the global armoured vehicles market on cutting its carbon footprint or finding ways to reduce energy expenditure in general?

In today’s world we are making faster planes, larger vehicles, an array of computers and communication devices, all of which are consuming more and more energy to facilitate our projection of power. The global armoured vehicles market is aware that operational energy is required to enable military operations – from transportation to training and exercises to actual missions; but, the majority of this operational energy is provided by oil. It is this oil requirement that threatens the security of not only the United States but also foreign countries as well. Realization of this security threat by global organizations has spurred the global market to focus on finding solutions that utilize renewable energy to reduce their oil consumption. The United Nations is just one of global organizations that has realized the need to reduce oil consumption and has launched an initiative called ‘25×25’ which is campaigning to get 25 percent of America’s energy from renewable resources by the year 2025.

You’ll of course be returning for IAV 2016. What will be on the discussion table this year? What challenges are you looking to resolve/opportunities you are looking to explore this coming year?

First and foremost the need to improve energy security by reducing fossil fuel consumption has been one problem that has been at the forefront of our customer’s minds here at MILSPRAY Military Technologies™. This year we look forward to addressing how the eXV-1™, with its completely electric drive train, has the potential to eventually eliminate fossil fuel consumption for its class of vehicle. The purely electric drive train operates independently of fossil fuels which: reduces the number of fuel convoys needed to complete a mission, minimizes constant resupply, and lessens the amount of personnel needs on the battlefield. This is why we strongly believe with proper planning in place and the right application set, it is possible to cut fossil fuels out of the equation.

Another advantage from a tactical perspective is the stealth benefits of noise and thermal signature reduction. The electric drive train is quiet and produces much less heat than a standard internal combustion engine. As a highly mobile ultra-light vehicle the eXV-1™ has the ability to reduce the burden on the warfighter by having the ability to travel places other larger vehicles cannot.

In looking to utilize and address the need for reliable power on demand we look forward to discussing how MILSPRAY’s Scorpion Energy Hunter™ is a deployable renewable energy system that is an ideal solution for deployed military operations. This system is rugged and equipped to survive transport and rough handling, and keeps the warfighter in mind with its easy setup. The Scorpion Energy Hunter™ utilizes renewable energy generation combined with energy storage and power management to effectively reduce the amount of fuel required to generate power in off-grid applications. This will in turn reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, minimizing the number of convoys needed to travel supply routes in war zones, and saving lives of service members.

Our system has been purchased by the USMC and Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) and fielded at various U.S. Marine Corps Bases, and within the past year our Scorpion Energy Hunter™ has undergone an operational assignment at the United States Military Academy – West Point. In the near future, we have in-theatre OCONUS deployments slated for the Middle East and Africa.

What are the most frequent demands being made by end-users in this domain from armoured vehicle suppliers in general and from MILSPRAY™ specifically? In what ways is the company prepared to respond to emerging operational requirements?

End-users are always interested in things that let them carry out their mission: faster, easier and safer. If we are able to reduce the amount of time soldiers spend on fuel convoys, they’re going to get other missions completed faster. If we can give them a strategic advantage by being covert in The eXV-1™, it will be easier to carry out their missions. If we can provide backup power capability while reducing the number of conveys needed to transport fuel and minimize fuel consumption with the Scorpion Energy Hunter™, they’re going to be safer. That being said, we often hear about reducing expeditionary energy. We address this in both mobile (eXV-1™) and stationary applications (Scorpion Energy Hunter™), while also providing other benefits like stealth operation for the eXV-1™ and backup power for the Scorpion™.

Lately, the US DoD has been pushing harder for companies to provide initial R&D on new products to alleviate some of the budget pressure. How is R&D conducted and balanced at MILSPRAY™? Are you working with private and federal organizations in order to drive these innovations?

The Department of Defense (DoD) is continually soliciting Research and Development efforts from Institutes of Higher Education as well as industry as a whole. These solicitations, sometimes broad in scope, and sometimes very focused, allow companies like MILSPRAY Military Technologies™ to put forth a combination of cutting edge technologies paired with our decades of ingenuity to find those solutions for the DoD, whether developing deployable solar energy power plants that reduce both the reliance on, or need for, fuel convoys and reduction of carbon footprints, such as our Scorpion Energy Hunter™ system, or developing a cutting-edge high speed electric tactical vehicle, such as our eXV-1™ that fully integrates the recharging capabilities of our Scorpion™ system.

The DoD also provides a conduit for federal funding for specific grant programs which allows Research and Development teams to take on new challenges and encourages outside-the-box thinking for the development of alternative energy systems, ballistic targeted technologies, medical devices, and a wealth of technologically advanced products and systems.

MILSPRAY’s Research and Development team of chemists, engineers, and physicists embrace these challenges to bring the most innovative products to the US DoD that significantly contribute to warfighter safety, cost reduction, and protection of our environment. We have also formed partnerships with institutions of higher learning to acquire talent for our Emerging Leaders Internship Program. By offering internships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) we are able to do our part in showing federal and state policymakers the critical role STEM education plays in U.S. competitiveness and future economic prosperity.

Meanwhile, how does MILSPRAY™ ensure effective partnerships with other industry players and end-users? What is it about meeting with fellow professionals in a one-to-one environment that you feel offers the best footing to establish/maintain key relationships?

Here at MILSPRAY™ we realize the importance of meeting our customer’s requirements with a world-class comprehensive suite of solutions. This is the reason we seek to align ourselves with partners who are share our organization’s core values in order to create a superior customer experience to our end-users.

The benefit of being in a one-to-one environment is the opportunity to discuss with key industry players ways to improve upon our competitive positioning, gain entry into new markets, and capitalize on critical core competencies.


To view the entire feature from Defence IQ: Click Here

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MILSPRAY’s Digital Marketing Manager, Natalie Adis to Attend Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ – Social Media Luncheon and Training

Natalie Adis

Natalie Adis, Digital Marketing Manager

Natalie Adis is MILSPRAY’s Digital Marketing Manager. Adis began her career at MILSPRAY™ as a Social Media Strategist Intern and worked her way to a full-time Digital Marketing Manager role.

Prior to her coming to MILSPRAY™, Natalie had been and still remains the Founder and Owner of the Digital Marketing Agency, Social Splash Guru. As a Hootsuite™ Ambassador and Google Partner she remains an active participant as a Subject Matter Expert in Digital Marketing. She was also featured in Zazzle Media’s Article, “Expert Tips for Impactful Content Distribution.”

She holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities (Spanish Studies) and a Master of Business Administration in Global Marketing from Georgian Court University.

Today, Natalie will be in attendance at the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ (SHCCNJ) Social Media Luncheon and Training with Global Keynote Business Marketing & Social Media Speaker, Ramon DeLeon taking place at Prudence Hall at Thomas Edison State College at 12:30pm.