A Farewell

March 2007
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

After five and a half years in which you have entrusted in me a leadership position at AFCEA International, it is now time for me to step down as president and chief executive officer.

These years have been eventful ones replete with challenges and opportunities. I assumed the helm of AFCEA less than three weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That 21st century Day of Infamy changed the world forever, and our association and its members found themselves in the thick of the activities that followed.

As I look ahead to our association’s future, I see magnificent opportunities. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few challenges ahead, but by far the opportunities outweigh any concerns. The reason that we are going to excel as an association for information technology professionals around the globe is simple: our members.

The individual members who dedicate their time as volunteers in their chapters and regions are the foundation for our success. Added to that is a board of directors comprising senior industry people who give this association untold amounts of time and energy. Both groups sustain a passion as they build and maintain this professional association, creating a feeling of belonging for all involved.

Helping enable this synergy is what I would consider the finest 50-person staff on the globe. AFCEA headquarters is blessed with people who understand that they are here to provide a service that has a positive impact on global security. They work well with our volunteers, the government and each other in everything that they do.

The spirit of volunteerism that defines AFCEANs will stay with me forever. I can’t even begin to imagine doing as much volunteer work as our treasured AFCEANs do, but I will try to put what you have taught me to task.

If asked to take pride in just one area, it would be that AFCEA works to find ways to serve our members and our governments. Everything else is secondary to providing that ethical service. AFCEA is unique in its role as an honest intermediary between government and industry for the national security arena, and the dedication that AFCEA has for that ethical mission is equal to its importance.

As befitting our association, we have stepped forward to play an important role in the rapidly forming Global War on Terrorism. The threat confronting the Free World has proved to be very different from that of the Cold War. But the danger that it poses is no less menacing, and everyone connected with AFCEA recognizes this as they step up to heed this newest call to duty.

So an association founded amid the echoes of World War II to serve as a bridge between government and the high-technology industry finds itself fulfilling its original purpose nearly six decades later. By staying true to its traditions, AFCEA positions itself to serve the good of the Free World once again.

My biggest surprise upon assuming the AFCEA helm was the role that the headquarters staff plays as a centerpiece for attracting good ideas and sharing these good ideas across our membership. Until I arrived at AFCEA headquarters, I never fully grasped the role played by the service center, by the employees who plan and execute events or by the SIGNAL staffers who regularly publish a dozen feature articles each month.

To say that I have enjoyed every single day and every aspect of the position of president and CEO of AFCEA International would be a gross understatement. The focus on information technology, on sharing information, on educating youth and on bringing government and industry together have made it a privilege for me to work and serve here.

I really have enjoyed watching chapters and the AFCEA Educational Foundation give checks to young people studying hard in the sciences. Providing those monies to the earnest people who are our future is both personally rewarding and fun.

I have enjoyed the freedom that my position at AFCEA has given me to participate in government boards and panels. That capability has helped keep me current in some of the most important issues affecting our nation and the international community.

But the most rewarding part of my years with AFCEA is the friends that I have made literally around the globe. Next to family, friendship is the most precious thing on Earth, and these friendships will last me a lifetime.

Now I will be spending more time at home and going back to my roots as a farmer. I’ll always be an AFCEAN. I’ll always be proud of being an AFCEAN, and I’ll always participate as an AFCEAN in some way in my local chapter. I really look forward to the future of our association.

So this is my farewell to you individual members, you corporate members, you chapter officers, you regional vice presidents, you board members and this wonderful staff. Thank you all, and God bless America.