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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Every year AFCEA recognizes outstanding military students with honor and research awards, and AFCEA members travel to universities all over the country to present them in person.
The two winners of the Fall 2018 AFCEA War Veterans Scholarship were honored at chapter luncheons this spring.
Master Sgt. Jason K. Stover, USAF, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Trident University. He enjoys serving in the Air Force and hopes to be accepted to Air Force Officer Training School once he finishes his degree. As a new dad, juggling everything is difficult, and this scholarship will help him finish his degree sooner. “I appreciate the foundation’s work to help service members attain their educational goals.” He is currently stationed at Randolph Air Force Base and was honored by the Alamo Chapter.
To say Leonard Rokaw has witnessed the communication revolution would be an understatement. When he first joined the Signal Corps in 1942, he relied on semaphore flags and homing pigeons to communicate.
The WWII veteran is incredibly well-spoken and has a lot to say about the changes he’s witnessed in his 97 and a half years of life.
Though he only served three years in uniform, he spent his career as a civilian working at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Home of the Signal Corps Laboratories and later the Signal Corps Center, Fort Monmouth has had its hand in every bit of communication technology we use today, says Rokaw.
The 2018 Gravely Grants for STEM Teachers have provided students with hands-on experiences in STEM subjects. The awards, which range from $500 to $1,000, are used by teachers to purchase classroom supplies for STEM-related activities inside and outside of the classroom. Many teachers focus on robotics and programming, such as Alisa Janiski, whose students at Roye-Williams Elementary School in Havre de Grace, Maryland, built and programmed basic robots using electronics kits.
AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute have recognized 18 outstanding individuals from the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps with their 2019 Copernicus Awards. Established in 1997, this award selects winners who show sustained superior performance in a command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) or information technology-related job over the course of the previous fiscal year. They must also demonstrate exceptional leadership, insight and initiative.
Col. Tom Horton, USAF (Ret.), a member of the executive committee on AFCEA’s board of directors died on March 20 at the age of 72. He also served on the board of the Atlanta Chapter.
Col. Horton attended Georgia Tech where he was a member of the varsity football team. Upon graduating in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. He earned a Master of Science in management from Troy State University.
Col. Kathy Swacina, USA (Ret.), and her husband Lt. Col. Dan Swacina, USA (Ret.), have generously donated $15,000 to endow a new scholarship for female students in Georgia who are majoring in STEM.
The Col. Kathleen Swacina Scholarship will be awarded to one deserving female student each year in the amount of $1,000. The program will be open to students majoring in STEM subjects and enrolled full-time as an undergraduate at a college or university in the state of Georgia. Students may attend a community college so long as they intend to transfer to a four-year institution and complete their bachelor’s.
Charles (Chuck) R. Corjay, a Distinguished Life Member of AFCEA, passed away on March 17. He was 86.
Corjay joined AFCEA in 1972 and held almost every chapter officer position throughout his career at the association. For 12 years he was a regional vice president, supporting multiple chapters in the Mid-West, Mid-South and National Capital regions, and also served on the international board of directors.
A veteran of the Air Force, Corjay helped build the Northern Virginia (NOVA) Chapter from a sub-chapter of Washington DC to the largest AFCEA chapter. At its height, NOVA had more than 7,000 members.
Women face special challenges in the military and in technical careers. Those challenges are magnified for military women who are also in technical careers, but two successful military officers who have overcome those challenges have some words of support for those following in their footsteps.
Thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters, the AFCEA Educational Foundation is proud to announce it is expanding its 2019 scholarship programs. In addition to funding more awards for existing scholarships for STEM majors, STEM teachers, STEM diversity students and war veterans, a new cybersecurity scholarship for undergraduate students is now available. Applications will be accepted on a joint form together with the STEM majors and undergraduate STEM diversity scholarships.
AFCEA chapters got to the heart of the matter of the recent partial government shutdown by responding to the immediate needs of federal workers and contractors with contributions to assistance organizations.
To ease the strain on resources the influx of families in need of food, the Energy and Earth Sciences Chapter donated $5,000 to the Maryland Food Bank (MFB). Its donation was matched by an individual AFCEAN.
AFCEA International has received the 2018 Best of Small Business Award as the Best Non-Profit and ranked 16th in the Small Business Top 100. The Small Business Expo presents these awards to recognize America’s preeminent small to midsize business visionaries.
The Best Non-Profit Award honors nonprofit organizations that specialize in supporting small businesses and small business owners with workshops, business counseling and guidance. The SB100 Award recognizes the top 100 small to midsize businesses in the U.S. and celebrates their growth and accomplishments in the previous year.
The coming year will be full of activity and progress for AFCEA. The association continues moving in a positive direction, and the efforts that initiated this progress will persist.
We are not going to simply stay the course. Internal changes will be assessed, and the professional expertise inherent in our community will address many of the national and global challenges facing the United States, its allies and partner nations.
The August-Ft. Gordon Chapter is dedicated to supporting STEM students through scholarships and teacher grants. Thanks to a $100,000 endowment from the Chestnut Family Foundation, the chapter will be able to fund a new scholarship for students from the Central Savannah River Area who are majoring in STEM. Ben Chestnut, one of the trustees of the Chestnut Family Foundation and co-founder and CEO of Mailchimp, received an AFCEA Educational Foundation scholarship in 1996 to pursue his college education.
When it comes to giving back to the community, AFCEA members excel in supporting STEM education. Whether it’s the Aberdeen Chapter’s Young AFCEANs getting thrown in “jail” to raise “bail” to send local students to a STEM summer camp or more extravagant fundraisers such as the Bethesda Chapter’s Roaring 20 Years of Giving Gala, AFCEA members consistently come out to support the students and teachers in their local communities. In fact, some AFCEA corporate members are devoted entirely to bringing STEM education to students who use it as a tool to change their lives and careers, such as Per Scholas, which offers computer training and certifications to low-income students free of charge.
AFCEA began when a group of successful innovators and communicators led by David Sarnoff, then president of RCA, experienced first-hand how open dialogue and strong relationships between government and industry facilitated military preparedness.
Each year, AFCEA identifies an individual who has demonstrated a sustained and personal commitment to information sharing and collaboration across traditional and nontraditional boundaries. This individual is presented with AFCEA’s most prestigious award, named after David Sarnoff.
Mounting evidence shows that hands-on experiences such as play-based activities, clubs and science fairs are extremely effective in improving engagement in STEM. Studies by the National Science Teachers Association demonstrate that young children learn through active exploration—and the drive to observe, interact and discover is inherent in their development. AFCEA’s Educational Foundation offers grants to teachers in elementary and middle schools as well as in high schools to provide the materials needed to make these activities possible. Even a few hundred dollars helps give teachers support to create positive STEM education experiences for children.
Career advancement in information technology requires professional development. AFCEA International’s Professional Development Center helps in that endeavor, making education convenient by bringing four time-tested courses on-site to organizations.
AFCEA provides the instructor and the course materials; the organization provides the classroom, audiovisual equipment and students. This approach offers companies and commands several advantages, including training any number of staff members without transportation costs and time away from work. In addition, CompTIA and GIAC have approved two of the courses for continuing education credit toward professional certifications.
As newly elected chairwoman of AFCEA International’s Board of Directors, I take the gavel having been involved with the association for many years, including several years on the Executive Committee.
AFCEA is an association that is moving forward. AFCEA performs a valuable service to its members and the free world. We will continue to expand on that service and generate new activities that will increase the association’s value to its current community and to prospective members alike.
AFCEA is saddened to announce the death of Rear Adm. Dr. Sigurd Hess, GE N (Ret.), general manager of AFCEA Europe from 1998 to 2000. He passed away on June 14 in Rheinbach, Germany.
Prior to his time at AFCEA, the admiral served in the German Navy (Bundesmarine) for 41 years, including as commanding officer of the guided missile destroyer Mölders from 1975-1977, and in 1979 as commander of the Naval Task Force SEF 792. From 1993-1998 he served as chief of staff of the NATO-Headquarters Baltic Approaches in Karup, Denmark.
Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.), former president and CEO of AFCEA International, passed away on June 8. The retired general headed AFCEA from 1996-2001, during which time he also served as the publisher of SIGNAL magazine.
Prior to coming to AFCEA, Gen. Wood was a senior vice president and general manager of BDM Federal Inc. in McLean, Virginia. There, he was responsible for national security and technology applications programs, resources and marketing with a focus on the intelligence community.