Chairman's Message: A Bright Future Beckons AFCEA

September 1, 2021
By Lt. Gen. Bill Bender, USAF (Ret.)

It is with sincere gratitude and a sense of excitement I begin my term as AFCEA International’s chairman of the board. I am looking forward to what I know will be many rewarding professional and personal experiences as chairman, and I can’t thank AFCEA’s nomination committee enough for the trust they’ve placed in me to serve in this capacity. Even more exciting, I have the good fortune of assuming the chairman role at a time of tremendous importance and opportunity for our organization. Look no further than through the pages of this 75th Anniversary issue of SIGNAL Magazine to see what I mean.

There are exciting times ahead for AFCEA International and our local chapters as we endeavor to connect people, ideas and solutions that enable our military, government, industry and academia partners to align technology and strategy so they can succeed in their important missions. AFCEA has always been there to support and educate key stakeholders in ensuring U.S. security and prosperity. Seventy-five years later, AFCEA’s support continues to grow through a wide range of programs and events, professional networking forums and educational opportunities. Our continued success as an organization is more important today than it has ever been.

As I begin my term as chairman, I will be joining a tremendous team of staff, board members, chapter leaders and, of course, corporate and individual members. I look forward to representing everyone’s best interests as we work together to contribute in ways large and small to the goal of carrying AFCEA to new heights. You might be wondering, what are my goals for AFCEA as we turn 75 years young?

Nobody can argue we live in a dynamic world in which change is the only constant. This makes it critical that we engage with our government customers and listen to what they need from AFCEA. Once we discover and understand the desires and needs of our stakeholders, we can align what we undertake as an organization in a concerted effort to incorporate these considerations. If we always remain focused on the customer’s needs, wants, challenges and opportunities, we will continue to remain a relevant, growing and thriving organization.

AFCEA conferences and symposia, as well as a wide range of chapter activities and events, seek to encourage networking and engagement among public and private sector participants on technological advances and evolving threats. As we go forward, it is imperative AFCEA remains a respected and credible source for information, ideas and thought leadership in a way that keeps pace with technology innovations and evolving threats. AFCEA must continue to take a leading role in connecting government, industry and academia in addressing important issues in technology, research and development. This includes inspiring decision makers and leaders at all levels to advance their understanding of the most impactful challenges today and in the future.

AFCEA’s 75th Anniversary is the perfect time to borrow on our history and past successes as a launching off point to ensuring a bright and prosperous future for the organization. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a key driver of changes that, while always possible, only happened because the old ways of doing things were no longer viable. In many cases, these changed practices and procedures led to distinctly better outcomes—for example, cost savings or increased effectiveness. In that way, AFCEA needs to become a gatherer and cultivator of good ideas, of better ways of doing things, of continuous improvement and innovation, in a day and age when “better, cheaper and faster” are national security imperatives.

As chairman, I look forward to joining hands with all of you to strengthen customer focus, to remaining a credible voice within the larger C4I community and to navigating the changes necessary for our organization to thrive in an uncertain world. Happy 75th Anniversary AFCEA—Keep Charging!

Lt. Gen. Bill Bender, USAF (Ret.), is AFCEA’s newest chairman of the board of directors.

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