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Happy New Year!

New Year 2016 Final

Wishing all of our customers, partners, and employees a Safe & Happy New Year!

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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.


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Winning With Women Wednesday: An Interview with Allison Mayer, Humanitarian Photojournalist

Allison Mayer

Allison Mayer, Humanitarian Photojournalist

Good morning and welcome to another Winning With Women Wednesday interview. This week we had the pleasure of getting to know an award winning photographer, journalist, and humanitarian named,  Allison Mayer. Allison’s road to success began by establishing one of Indianapolis top preforming wedding and portrait studios, voted Best Photographer in Indianapolis. She loved her job, but wanted more authenticity in life. A trip to Haiti connected the dots and Allison’s passion for people, change, and photography collided. She freelances as a humanitarian photojournalist, not only domestically but also internationally. She works with organizations to refine their visual media into compassionate and respectful stories that honor and celebrate humanity, maintaining dignity even in the least dignified of circumstances.


Get To Know Allison

1. Allison, please share with us what drew you to become a photojournalist?

The reason I became a photojournalist is due to the fact that I was appalled by the increasingly graphic, horrific, and salacious content that was making it onto our televisions, our papers, and the viral content on social media. We live in a world where people should be recognized as people and not for the audiences their stories will attract.

I remember first traveling to Haiti in 2012. I brought back images and stories of a hopeful and joyous people. Media coverage of Haiti subsided back to nothing following the earthquake, and images of a devastated, starving Haiti were all people were left with. When I showed my images and talked about my experience people cried. Many individuals were surprised that Haitians had anything to smile about. They had no idea how much their lives were just like ours. I knew I could bring a better, dignified, more respectful voice to the conversation.

This is why I work as a freelance photojournalist, largely for private companies and Non Governmental Organizations. I have the ability to say NO. 

2. What kind of gear do you use?

I am a Nikon shooter.

I shoot all my stills with the Nikon D700 or the Nikon D810, and most of my videos with the Nikon D3300 or the Nikon D810. I use my iPhone6+ to shoot a lot of video as well.

My Lenses vary depending on where I’m shooting, what I’m shooting, and what kind of creative mood I’m in. My ‘can’t live without it’ lens is the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8. There was a time when I shot with this lens almost exclusively. However at nearly 3.5lbs, it makes for a long day, especially if you are hiking 8 stories of mountain. My last trip I left it at home and took only my 50mm f1.2, and my 24-70mm f2.8. That worked out okay. I am a big fan of equipment rentals and rent lenses, bodies, lighting, and accessories on a regular basis. It allows me to always have exactly what I need for a particular assignment with out having to spend all of my money on gear.

I use Yongnuo 560 speedlights when necessary. I love off camera lighting, but when I’m in a place like Haiti it can not only be a hassle, but a security risk if I’m in a small group. 90% of the time I’m shooting with available light.

I use ThinkTank Photo bags to pack and travel with my gear.

3. When you go in one of your travels, what all you take with you? Why?

Packing for a humanitarian trip can be difficult. You never want to take more than you can carry, and because of my gear packing enough clothes is probably the most difficult part.

I always take at least two camera bodies. When I was in Haiti this past summer my D700 stopped working. The humidity broke it. This is why I always travel with at least one back up camera body, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to finish my assignment. I also take at least two lenses.

I take my 13inch MacBook Pro and two external 1TB hard drives. Again lots of back ups. This past trip to Haiti also broke the track pad on my MacBook. Thankfully It was at the end of the trip and someone had an extra mouse for me to use. Every trip is a learning experience. Now I know I need to invest in a way besides my computer to back up my files from the memory cards.

You should stock up on memory cards and batteries. If you think you have enough, double the amount just to be sure.

My other must have travel items are Sour Patch Kids and protein powder. This seems silly I know, but I recommend when traveling to other countries, especially impoverished areas, that you take a snack that you love. In Haiti I ate a lot of onion-flavored spaghetti for breakfast, and rice for dinner. Protein can be hard to come by in significant quantities. Trekking by foot everywhere is intense physical activity. Your body will thank you for the protein, and your moral will thank you for the candy.

4. In the field, what are your settings?

My settings obviously depend on the environment I’m in. I always shoot in RAW, I auto-focus, and I use auto white Balance 90% of the time. I prefer to shoot at as low of an aperture as possible. Since I shoot mainly images of people, I prefer a shallow depth of field.

5. What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Explain your work flow.

I do the majority of my post processing in Adobe Lightroom. Even though I don’t work for a media outlet, I stick to acceptable standards for photojournalists when editing photos. This means I’m not manipulating my images to remove or add things, so I rarely need to use Photoshop.

I edit using an iMac and a Wacom Tablet. The tablet had a steep learning curve that I know dissuades a lot of people from ever making it part of their editing, but its worth it. The precision you have shaves significant time off your editing. The most important part of my workflow is to back up my images. I’d say a typical workflow is as follows

1. Shoot
2. Make a working copy of all data to Hard Drive 1
3. Make a back up copy of all data to Hard Drive 2
4. Make a Lightroom Catalog
5. Import images and video from Working Copy
6. Tag and keyword images and video
7. Digitize and summarize all notes/interview data
8. Edit Images
9. Edit Video
10. Write Story
11. Compile final deliverable for client.
12. Delete Memory Cards. (If I’m on a long assignment I may not have this luxury, in which case I will format the memory cards after I make two backup copies).
13. Combine Lightroom Catalog into Master Catalog.
14. Move all data (images, video, edits, catalogs, etc…) to back up drive.
15. Delete copy of all data on Hard Drive 2.

6. How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

The best education is practice. I learn a lot from Creative Live, and by surrounding myself with a network of talented and supportive photographers. Almost everything I know about photography I learned from doing it. YouTube is a great resource when you need to know how to do something, as is Google, but knowing it and being able to do it are two different things. The latter comes from practice.

7. Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Haiti 1

This is Kenciana from a rural part of Haiti, just outside Port-Au-Prince. In this photo she weighs just under 3lbs, severely malnourished. There was a very good chance she wouldn’t make it, but thanks to the malnutrition clinic at Nehemiah Vision Ministries she’s growing stronger every day. For every Kenciana, there are plenty of stories where the outcome wasn’t a happy ending. This girl truly is a miracle, and reminds me every day of the good that can be done through the organizations I work with.

Haiti 3

This set of images of Christine sums up the Haitian spirit. Joyful, thankful, and blessed. Their spirit is un-crushable.

Haiti 2

How can you not love this image? Its pure joy. These kids had never seen a parachute before, something that’s a right of passage in Gym class here in the United States. When I look at this image I can hear their laughter and their screams, the sounds of dozens of children without a care in the world. No shoes, no shirt, (maybe even no dinner that day) no problem. They’re just kids, like we all were.

Haiti 4

Sometimes an image that isn’t even of a person tells a more powerful story about a situation than a portrait ever could. I think that’s important to remember, that we don’t always need to exploit the people in a photo to get our point across.

Haiti 5

This image from my 2012 trip to Haiti started it all. I was showing some images to a group of friends, when one of them stopped on this image, held my ipad to her chest, and started crying. “I wish I could just give her a hug” my friend said. I realized I had the ability to impact people with my photography, to connect them to people they would never have known. I’ll never forget how it made me feel to have that kind of an impact on someone. More than anything I felt the weight of the responsibility that comes with my job. These are people, and I must NEVER forget that. It’s a privilege to share their stories, and I don’t take it lightly.

8. Whose work has influenced you most?

James Nachtwey. His TED Talk is as inspiring as his images. While I love his work, it is something he said that had the most influence on me.
“And I understood that documentary photography has the ability to interpret events from their point of view. It gives a voice to those who otherwise would not have a voice. I’m a witness, and I want my testimony to be honest and uncensored. I also want it to be powerful and eloquent, and to do as much justice as possible to the experience of the people I’m photographing.”

9. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

That its about the story. I’m a great photographer now, but I wasn’t always. If you are waiting for your work to be “good enough” you’ll never get there. Your work doesn’t have to be perfect if you have something to say.


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Tech Tuesday: “Dislike” Button to Be Added to Facebook

TECH TUESDAY

Good morning, it’s Tech Tuesday and recently Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said that its social network is to add a “dislike” button.

According to BBC News, in a Q+A session held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the 31-year-old said the button would be a way for people to express empathy.

He said Facebook was “very close” to having it ready for user testing. 

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Motivational Monday: Work Towards Success

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.Vince Lombardi

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” -Vince Lombardi

Do you have a quote you would like to share with us?

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