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