September 1, 2021

The September issue of SIGNAL Magazine commemorates AFCEA International’s 75th anniversary, with highlights of the association’s 75 years and a look at how it serves its members today.

The special issue features AFCEA’s history, with a story on how the organization began as a resource as the United States emerged from World War II and how it has grown over the years to a membership association that offers an ethical forum for government, military and industry with a number of events that offer engagement and networking opportunities.

September 1, 2021
By George Seffers and Beverly Cooper
One of the reasons AFCEA formed was to ensure that the technology partnerships that started during World War II would continue, ensuring preparedness in the future. In this historic photograph from the September 1946 issue of SIGNALS, anti-aircraft guns await movement to action in England. Read the first issue of AFCEA’s official publication at

The 75th anniversary, which AFCEA celebrates this year, is traditionally known as the diamond anniversary. As the hardest natural substance on Earth, diamonds represent strength, resolve and durability.

It is a fitting metaphor for an organization that has supported the U.S. national security and defense community since 1946, as the nation emerged, stronger than ever, from the devastation of World War II.

Seventy-five years ago, in a meeting area in the Fraunces Tavern in New York, a group of respected military and corporate leaders gathered to discuss a shared concern, one that was on the minds of many in the aftermath of war.

September 1, 2021
Competitors battle it out during the Montgomery Chapter’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive E-sports.

Membership in AFCEA thrives through a progression of ideas and innovation, with the association’s innovative roots tracing back to the Civil War where wigwag flags modernized communications. Then-Maj. Albert James Myer, USA, who developed the wigwag system is known as the father of both the U.S. Army Signal Corps and the U.S. Weather Bureau—and, in a way, of AFCEA too.

September 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman

We live in an age defined by technology, and the dominant technology today is digital. Nation-states, multinational corporations and even small businesses are paving the way to the future through innovation. Yet sometimes, just as necessity is the mother of invention, challenge is the parent of innovation.

September 1, 2021
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

AFCEA’s 75th anniversary shows that it is an enduring organization that has even greater relevance today than when it was founded. The foresight of AFCEA’s founding fathers in 1946 cannot be overestimated, as the conditions that spurred them to create the association have continued throughout the many years that have passed in the intervening decades.

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.

August 27, 2021
Attendees from the annual Girls Day Out (GDO) learn about 3D modeling and printing at the College of Charleston in 2018. More than 100 girls from four Lowcountry school districts attended the camp, hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with Trident Technical College via Cyber Secure, College of Charleston, Bosch, Naval Health Clinic Charleston, Paul Mitchell the School Charleston, and Nucor Steel Berkeley. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released

Essye Miller, retired Defense Department principal deputy chief information officer, has continued her commitment to growing the cybersecurity workforce and increasing representation of women in STEM careers.

“One of my post-government commitments was to continue my efforts to build the next generation of cyber talent, especially with underrepresented communities,” Miller said. The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF) was created to help close the critical skills gap in cybersecurity.  It offered me the perfect opportunity to stay engaged and follow up on my commitment.”

August 23, 2021
By Julianne Simpson

With the recent emergence of zero-trust architecture and the pivot to work from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, cybersecurity has been top-of-mind for everyone in government and industry. Cyberspace must be protected; it must be kept open to all; and it must be able to address change as it occurs.

Enter AFCEA’s Cyber Committee, a volunteer group of public and private sector information technology professionals that oversees AFCEA's outreach and helps ensure open lines of communication between the government and industry.

August 19, 2021
By Julianne Simpson

Homeland security success depends on preparing for the unexpected, preventing the unthinkable and recovering from the unimaginable. AFCEA’s Homeland Security Committee brings together the people in charge of ensuring the success of homeland and global security missions.

August 26, 2021

Editor’s Note: As AFCEA looks back on its long history, one of the pivotal decisions was to expand its reach more globally, which included formation of international chapters, creation of events in a variety of countries and establishment of an office in Brussels, Belgium, which would facilitate and grow European operations. Lt. Gen Pietro Finoccho, ITAF (Ret.), longtime president of the Rome chapter, provides details regarding his longtime involvement with AFCEA and helping to grow the Rome chapter.

August 1, 2021

The AFCEA Educational Foundation was thrilled to receive photos highlighting how Melissa Blair Tracy, Odyssey Charter School, Wilmington, Delaware, used her Ciena Teacher Grant to promote STEM learning.

Tracy used her grant to purchase a Lettuce Grow Farm Stand, a vertical, self-watering, self-fertilizing, indoor hydroponic garden tower, for the school’s Girls Grow Greens club. The girls grew lettuce, donated around 40 pounds of produce and used some of it to make a fresh salad at the end of the school year. “Thank you for supporting this project,” Tracy said.

July 29, 2021
By Julianne Simpson

A crucial part of any association’s success is its young members. The future is much more certain when there is a steady stream of bright young professionals who will continue on the mission of the association.

At AFCEA, the Emerging Professionals in the Intelligence Community Committee is tasked with just that, among other efforts. Also known as EPIC, the committee is headed by Mark Kandra.

July 27, 2021
By Julianne Simpson

Both classified and unclassified symposiums build the bridge between industry and the intelligence community.

AFCEA’s Intelligence Committee is a group of intelligence community (IC) vets and leaders from military and industry, including small businesses and start-ups, with the goal of helping the IC build a better bridge between industry and government.

“We want candidates who work hard and want to build that bridge, but we also want to make sure they have the contacts to do that,” says Lt. Gen. Bob Noonan Jr., USA (Ret.), the chair of the Intelligence Committee.

July 1, 2021
By Julianne Simpson

Small businesses make up more than 99 percent of companies in the United States, but because of their size and scale, many have constraints not experienced by most larger organizations. With a small business, the margin for error is small, so they have to be extremely flexible, lean and thrifty with every resource. While their larger counterparts typically have access to a multitude of business development professionals, small businesses are limited in the time they can invest in identifying personnel, building a network, developing relationships and finding partners.

July 1, 2021
By Loren Diedrichsen

Editor’s Note: As AFCEA looks back on its long history, one of the pivotal decisions was to expand its reach more globally, which included formation of international chapters, creation of events in a variety of countries and establishment of an office in Brussels, Belgium, which would facilitate and grow European operations. Loren Diedrichsen had long seen the value of AFCEA in his work at Fort Monmouth and had been actively involved in that chapter. Upon accepting a post in Brussels, he combined his understanding of the AFCEA organization, his connections within NATO, and his knowledge of the technical community into a focus that would help AFCEA grow its European operations.

July 1, 2021
Cadet Hardy Stone, USA, Texas Christian University, pauses for a photo following an award ceremony in which he was awarded an AFCEA ROTC Award.

The AFCEA ROTC Honor Award is designed to recognize ROTC cadet and midshipman achievement in leadership and academics. Recipients of the ROTC Honor Award are required to be in their junior year of school and selected by individual professors of military science, naval science or aerospace studies in accordance with the appropriate service department regulations. Nominees should demonstrate high academic achievement.

June 23, 2021
By Julianne Simpson

For the past 75 years, AFCEA has leveraged both traditional and contemporary approaches to adapt to evolving challenges, new technologies and an increasingly mobile membership. With a worldwide constituency, organized into a variety of regions and chapters, the association continues to evaluate itself and apply flexibility as well as innovation in its offerings and support.

Bill Robinson, chair of AFCEA’s Membership Committee, says the association cannot be the same one that was formed 75 years ago. “We have to build the foundation for the 80th or 100th anniversary, now,” he states.

April 1, 2021

In the 21st century, communicating requires technical knowledge and interpersonal skills to be effective. AFCEA’s Professional Development Center (PDC) provides ways to improve both through its Preferred Provider Program, instructor-led on-site/virtual courses, on-demand courses and continuing education sessions at events.

January 11, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman

AFCEA was saddened to learn of the passing of R. Norris Keeler, SIGNAL Magazine’s technical advisor. Keeler had a long and distinguished career serving the national security community that included service in the U.S. Navy as a captain and heading the physics department at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

March 18, 2021
By Julianne Simpson
Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben, USN (Ret.), speaks virtually to Women in AFCEA during the group's first event of the Spring Virtual Engagement Series.

Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben, USN (Ret.), chaplain of the House of Representatives, was only 14 when she got the call into ministry. Though she knew early on what she wanted to be, it would take years for her to own her voice and her authority.

Adm. Kibben was the first woman to do a lot of things. She was the first—and only—woman to serve as chaplain of the U.S. Marine Corps; as chief of chaplains of the U.S. Navy; and in her current position as chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. But that’s not the story.

March 1, 2021

Ciena Teacher Grants

The Ciena Grants were established to support K-12 classroom teachers with the implementation of innovative and engaging STEM programs, activities and technology (software and hardware) to promote learning and digital equality. This grant will award deserving teachers up to $1,000 to apply toward materials and resources to support STEM programs and activities. Schools with high economic need will be given priority consideration to support digital equality. Innovative distance and virtual learning projects and programs will be considered.

Intel and AFCEA Educational Foundation
Veteran Diversity Graduate Scholarship

January 1, 2021

AFCEA’s Professional Development Center (PDC) is a great option to plan educational choices and future career decisions. Several programs offer training in both technical and management fields. AFCEA members may receive a discount on tuition either by using a code available within the member portal or by providing their member number to the organization.

Online on-demand courses are the latest feature of the association’s PDC options. Topics include Agile, AI/data science, communication, computer applications, emergency management, intelligence, leadership, project management, Six Sigma and Lean, and women in business.

February 1, 2021

Thanks to the generosity and backing of its supporters, the AFCEA Educational Foundation is proud to announce it is expanding its 2021 scholarship programs.

In addition to funding more awards in the existing scholarships for STEM Majors, STEM Teachers, STEM Diversity Students, Georgia female undergraduate students and War Veterans, a new Intel-AFCEA Diversity Scholarship for active duty, veteran or Gold Star Family member graduate students is now available, as well as a new grant for high school teachers.

January 26, 2021
By Julianne Simpson
Credit: Joanne S. Lawton, Washington Business Journal

J. Phillip "Jack" London, executive chairman and chairman of the board of CACI International, and former AFCEA board member, passed away of natural causes at age 83.

London joined CACI in 1972 as a program manager and was the company’s 35th employee. He joined the board in 1981 and was named president and CEO in 1984. In 1990, London became chairman.

He served as chairman, president and CEO for 23 years and helped grow the IT contractor into the $6.3 billion giant it is today.

Michael Daniels, a member of CACI’s board, has been elected chairman.

January 1, 2021
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

This new year marks the 75th anniversary of AFCEA’s founding. The storied history of this organization is defined by accomplishments and changes, many of which occurred in 2020. Since its founding at Fraunces Tavern in New York, the purpose remains the same; if anything, the recent events have increased the association’s importance.

November 16, 2020
By Julianne Simpson
Credit: Shutterstock/FoxyImage

Building on the success of the inaugural June issue of SIGNAL Kids, AFCEA is proud to report the second issue will be released in December. The focus of the issue is cybersecurity, featuring an international section and an interview with a chief architect from the Naval Information Warfare Center.

The first issue was viewed by more than 13,000 readers and downloaded almost 200 times. AFCEA has long been committed to STEM learning and, especially in the time of COVID-19 when virtual learning is the new normal, is pleased to provide this additional resource to parents and educators.

November 1, 2020
Top: Midshipman Sean Chen (r), Miami University, accepts his AFCEA ROTC Scholarship from Capt. Todd Bahlau, USN, commanding officer, Miami University NROTC. Bottom, l-r: AFCEA scholarship winners Gavin Bloom, Boston College, Undergraduate Cyber Security Scholarship; Kaila Hodge, Towson University, Undergraduate STEM Major Scholarship; and Cadet Justin Hineline, University of Wisconsin–Madison, AFCEA ROTC Scholarship, receive their awards.

AFCEA International has awarded more than $65,000 in the form of 24 scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year to both undergraduate and graduate students nationwide. This was made possible through generous support from ManTech, Booz Allen Hamilton, the Montgomery Chapter, the Northern Virginia Chapter and all the individual donors who made contributions this year.

November 1, 2020

Ciena Teacher Grants

The Ciena Grants were established to support K-12 classroom teachers with the implementation of innovative and engaging STEM programs, activities and technology (software and hardware) to promote learning and digital equality. This grant will award deserving teachers up to $1,000 to apply towards materials and resources to support STEM programs and activities. Schools with high economic need will be given priority consideration to support digital equality. Innovative distance and virtual learning projects and programs will be considered.

Intel and AFCEA Educational Foundation Veteran Diversity Graduate Scholarship

September 1, 2020
Caption: Maj. Corey Winters, USMC, receives his AFCEA Col. Donald G. Cook Award via a curbside ceremony. The ROTC Commissioning Award recognizes an ROTC graduate for his or her distinguished academic achievement in a C4I-related field.

AFCEA honors military students at the end of each academic year with ROTC Honor Awards and Military Service Academy Awards. This year, as schools and communities moved to virtual learning and telework in the face of a worldwide pandemic, organizations showed creativity and resilience in honoring awardees.

August 19, 2020
By Julianne Simpson
Participants of Latina SciGirls complete a hands-on activity at the Children's Science Center. Credit: Children's Science Center

Laahiri Chalasani’s passion for STEM didn’t really begin until college. Now, as senior manager of Lab Experience at the Children’s Science Center in Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia, and co-founder of the Latina SciGirls program in Northern Virginia, she lives and breathes it. And, she wants to make sure it doesn’t take young girls until college to build their STEM confidence.

July 27, 2020
By Chuck Griffith

The essential qualities of a good leader include integrity, accountability, humility, vision and positivity, and AFCEA is an excellent environment to grow leadership skills, according to Tamara Greenspan, this year’s winner of The General James M. Rockwell AFCEAN of the Year.  “The world is always changing, and a strong leader needs to be able to adapt to changes in the environment and workforce and consistently look to improve, adjust and innovate,” she suggests.

July 1, 2020

Since 2012, AFCEA has provided courses and event sessions that support continuing education for cybersecurity certification maintenance. One certifying organization supporting AFCEA is CompTIA, which reviews sessions for continuing education units (CEUs) for A+, Network+, Security+, Linux+, Cloud+, PenTest+, CySA+ and CASP+. In addition, GIAC reviews event material that may qualify as continuing professional education (CPE) for GIAC certifications, and CertNexus reviews material for continuing education credits (CECs) for CFR and CIoTP.

July 1, 2020
Alamo’s grant helps fund Project Artemis, a camp teaching future female astronauts how to plan a moon mission/landing.

Donations from AFCEA chapters and individuals and actions from volunteers throughout the association are making a difference in the STEM field every year. Whether the support is a scholarship at a collegiate level or tools for teachers in the K-12 STEM fields, the impact is exponential and continues to grow.

June 3, 2020
By Julianne Simpson

Diana Gowen, a legend in the government telecommunications industry and an active member of the AFCEA Budget and Finance Committee, passed away May 28 after a long battle with cancer. 

June 1, 2020
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The onslaught of COVID-19 is changing society in an unprecedented manner, and AFCEA is fully enmeshed in preparing for what will likely be a changed new world. In addition to taking major steps to safeguard its staff, its members and its broad range of partners, the association has begun planning for the post-COVID-19 virus age. This new era will be characterized by changes in technology and in methods of operation.

June 1, 2020

The AFCEA Educational Foundation is committed to supporting STEM learning. The foundation strives for young learners to develop an early interest and background in STEM with the Gravely and Paige Grants for STEM Teachers. The grants provide elementary and middle school teachers with resources to help them provide early STEM learning experiences to engage, inspire and build confidence in students and set them on a path to success in STEM.

The Gravely Grants for elementary school STEM teachers are named after Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr., USN (Ret.), who was the foundation’s first executive director and initiated AFCEA’s science and technology teaching tool grants programs.

May 26, 2020
By Julianne Simpson

Retired U.S. Navy Adm. Archie Ray Clemins, the recipient of AFCEA’s 1998 David Sarnoff Award, died on March 14, at home in Boise, Idaho. He was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet and former commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

May 13, 2020
By Shawn Cressman
A Young AFCEAN proposes that AFCEA International create a military-style ribbon for JROTC cadets studying STEM courses to wear on their uniforms. Credit: Shawn Cressman

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a ceremony and presenting an award to a local high school Junior Reserve Office Training Corps (JROTC) cadet on behalf of another organization for this cadet’s superior performance and leadership. Looking around the stage, I noticed representatives from multiple organizations all eager to recognize the efforts of these amazing young leaders with their respective groups’ awards.

May 1, 2020

The 2020 Copernicus Awards honoring superior performance in C4I/IT-related jobs in fiscal year 2019 were awarded to 23 individuals by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute. The deserving recipients were selected based on their sustained superior performance as well as demonstrated leadership, insight and initiative. Honorees were proudly recognized at the West 2020 conference in San Diego. Vice Adm. Matthew Kohler, USN; Rear Adm. David Dermanelian, USCG; and Lt. Gen. Loretta Reynolds, USMC, presented the awards alongside Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), on behalf of AFCEA, and Vice Adm. Peter Daley, USN (Ret.), on behalf of the U.S. Naval Institute.

April 28, 2020
By Julianne Simpson

Wayne Morgan GramlingWayne Morgan Gramling, a founder of the ArkLaTex Chapter, succumbed to COVID-19 on April 19 at the age of 88.

April 1, 2020

One of AFCEA’s primary focus areas is helping information technology (IT) professionals keep pace with technologies as they evolve. The association accomplishes this task in numerous ways, including continuing education courses at the international and chapter levels, and supporting students entering the field through scholarships and grants.

March 18, 2020
By Julianne Simpson
In 2018, the Montgomery Chapter recognizes Chief Master Sgt. Tom Gwaltney, USAF (Ret.) (l), for his contributions to the chapter by naming its Young AFCEAN Award in his honor. Then-Chapter President Brian Knott is also pictured. Chief Gwaltney passed away on March 15, 2020. Credit: Montgomery Chapter

Chief Master Sgt. Tom Gwaltney, USAF (Ret.), former AFCEA Mid-South regional vice president, passed away on March 15, 2020.

Chief Gwaltney committed his life to improving the mission and goals of AFCEA International during his more than 30 years of service to the association. He served as Mid-South regional vice president for 14 years, where he advised 67 new presidents.

He also served as the Montgomery Chapter president for three years and chapter education foundation director for 14 years. Chief Gwaltney was recognized in 2018 with the Admiral Jon L. Boyes Medal for Distinguished Service to AFCEA, which is awarded to a select few for their career service to the association.

March 1, 2020

The AFCEA International Educational Foundation is celebrating its 40th anniversary. In 1979, the association established a foundation to support future communications and electronics engineers and scientists. The foundation began offering scholarships and expanded to classroom grants.

Chapter educational foundations continue to support students and educators in their local communities through scholarships, grants, internships, science fairs and other impactful events.

February 1, 2020

In an effort to provide additional professional development opportunities to its members, AFCEA International now offers more than 80 online courses from MindEdge. Among the topics are Agile, business analysis, communications and computer applications. Additional courses focus on leadership, management, project management, Six Sigma and Lean processes, and women in business.

Because the courses take place online, members can complete them on demand, which affords flexibility. Courses comprise a mixture of videos, reading, questions and case studies as well as at least one quiz or test. An “Ask the Expert” feature enables course participants to access subject matter experts who respond to questions within 24 hours.

January 1, 2020
By DeEtte Gray, AFCEA Chairwoman of the Board

The future is bright for AFCEA as the association builds on its recent successes. And those successes are many.

Last year saw AFCEA running on all cylinders. Membership has grown, both in corporate and individual numbers. Corporate membership has reached a five-year high of nearly 1,700, despite mergers and acquisitions. Individual membership hit a three-year high of more than 32,000 people. Among these members is a greater number of women and minorities, and this stems directly from outreach by the association. The result has been increased representation of women and minorities among boards and committees. The Women in AFCEA group in particular has been successful and continues to grow in influence and activity.

January 1, 2020
AFCEA Educational Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing educational incentives, opportunities and assistance for people engaged in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

From 5K Fun Runs, golf tournaments and cycling events, to luncheons and galas, AFCEA members came together with enthusiasm in 2019 in support of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. For example, the Lexington-Concord Chapter hosted a 5K Family Fun Run for STEM, and the Dayton-Wright Chapter hosted a golf tournament to benefit its scholarship funds. In addition, the San Diego Chapter held its Fifth Annual Cycle for STEM ride, and the Los Angeles Chapter introduced its inaugural Cycling for STEM ride to fund local scholarships.

November 1, 2019
Undergraduate STEM Diversity Scholarship winner Lara Quiring receives her certificate from Col. Sean Murphy, USAF, chapter president, at the Greater Omaha Chapter luncheon in August.

AFCEA International has awarded more than $70,000 in the form of 25 scholarships for the 2019-2020 academic year to both undergraduate and graduate students nationwide.

“I am incredibly grateful to have been chosen,” says Francesca Falzon, who is pursuing her doctoral degree in computer science. “Having my current research on encrypted databases and my involvement in the computer science community recognized as a valuable contribution to the mission of AFCEA is a great motivator.”

October 1, 2019

The landscape of information technology, communications and cybersecurity continues to change at an increasingly rapid pace. AFCEA recognizes this and is committed to helping our members maintain and grow their knowledge and expertise. AFCEA’s Preferred Provider program allows our members access to academic institutions that are DHS/NSA designated Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense or a cybersecurity certifying agency to continue their professional development. Our current Preferred Providers include American Public University System (APUS), Saint Leo University and SANS Institute. These institutions offer undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificates in areas of study that are of interest to AFCEA members.

January 1, 2019
By Julianne Simpson

In a first-of-its-kind move, new sustaining AFCEA corporate member Abacus Technology is offering its employees associate AFCEA memberships as an employee benefit. So far, the company has signed up 300 employees.

“I wish we had done it sooner because we really have gotten a lot of positive feedback,” says Alice Solomon, a vice president of Abacus. “When we were trying to come up with approaches for tightening up our community, it just seemed like a logical thing to do,” she adds.

July 1, 2019
Accepting the Trendsetter Award on behalf of Chenega MIOS is Heather Lacroix (c), a member of AFCEA’s Small Business Committee and president of Chenega Technical Innovations. The award was presented by Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), president and CEO of AFCEA, and Tina Jordan, AFCEA’s vice president of membership, at the Homeland Security Conference. Credit: Carizza Rosales

Chenega MIOS (military, intelligence and operations support) has been awarded the AFCEA Trendsetter Award. The Trendsetter Award is a membership spot award to recognize a company who found an innovative way to leverage AFCEA that resulted in significant growth to AFCEA’s member base.

Chenega MIOS is a shared services division of Chenega Corporation. The company purchased a total of 10 corporate memberships, which prompted the AFCEA corporate membership team to create a multiple membership bundle for them. Because the company is a sustaining member who purchased nine or more memberships for wholly owned subsidiaries, the group received a 10 percent discount on all new memberships.