Since its start in 2012, AFCEA’s Continuing Education (CE) program has grown by expanding to more events at both the international and chapter levels and by increasing the number of certifications supported. The program is primarily intended to support the maintenance of cybersecurity certifications related to DoD 8570.01-M compliance and may also support ISC2, National Contract Management Association (NCMA), Project Management Institute (PMI), Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS) and Defense Acquisition Workforce continuing education and/or certification maintenance requirements.
AFCEA International has long been dedicated to helping its members gain relevant career knowledge through the exploration of issues associated with information technology, electronics and C5ISR disciplines. The association provides professional development opportunities for the defense, homeland security and intelligence communities relating to these key topics.
Melanie Jewell’s introduction to coding project, “Beginning with BeeBots,” was a hit with the K-2 students of Terra Centre Elementary School in Burke, Virginia. Jewell was a recipient of the Ciena STEM Teacher Grant this year and used her funding to introduce her students to BeeBots—adorable bumblebee robots designed to help kids understand cause and effect, directional language and early programming. By pressing directional buttons on the BeeBots, children learn to code the path of the BeeBot. Beebots can help children with other learning challenges as well, such as matching an animal to its shadow, finding rhyming words, connecting habitats and linking the answers to math problems.
The AFCEA Educational Foundation has been encouraging and sparking STEM learning and careers for nearly 40 years. AFCEA scholarships and grants continue to make long-term and fruitful impacts on students’ lives and opportunities as they navigate the STEM world. Brian Kettler and David Benhaim share their stories about how AFCEA scholarships and funding helped shape and propel their academic and professional careers in STEM.
The AFCEA family fondly remembers the life of Lt. Gen. Otto J. Guenther, USA (Ret.), a stalwart advocate of introducing and instilling a passion for STEM disciplines early in children’s lives. Gen. Guenther served on AFCEA International’s Educational Foundation as a member of the Board of Directors from 2015 to 2019.
AFCEA continues to support students in a variety of focus areas, from scholarships for active-duty military and veterans to grants for students attending a college or university in a particular region to scholarships for underrepresented minorities. Applications are now being accepted for the following four AFCEA Educational Foundation scholarships:
Scholarships in the amount of $2,500 will be awarded to active-duty or honorably discharged U.S. military veteran part-time or full-time undergraduate students.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.