AFCEA’s Continuing Education Program and the Woman Behind It
In an office of little more than 50 staff members sits retired U.S. Navy captain Sheila McCoy. Having served in the military for more than 30 years, McCoy joined AFCEA in 1982 and soon will hit her 15-year mark as an AFCEA International employee.
What began as an opportunity to grow professionally—and use SIGNAL Magazine as inspiration for her thesis on why the military should emulate the grocery industry’s standardized database tools—has progressed into her leading role as director of AFCEA’s Continuing Education (CE) program.
As the daughter of two U.S. Navy veterans, McCoy gets her ambition and desire for knowledge from her parents. In fact, her mother served as a female line officer in 1943, just a year after President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Navy’s women's reserve program.
“It’s just such a rewarding feeling,” McCoy repeatedly stated about the CE program in a chat with SIGNAL Media.
AFCEA’s CE program, launched in 2012, supports the Department of Defense Cyberspace Workforce Qualification and Management Program, which requires the department’s cyber workforce to earn and maintain certain certifications to perform their jobs.
“We work with three certifying organizations that have certifications the DoD [workforce] requires” to stay current, McCoy said. “They call it certification maintenance. If you don’t maintain your certification, you have to take the exam over or you lose your certification.” In some cases, a certification could mean a pay raise or a bonus, she added. “In the government, your job is going to be tied to it sometimes.”
Through partnerships with CompTIA, GIAC and CertNexus, AFCEA offers a variety of CE-approved in-person and virtual sessions. “We also support some sessions by recommending that they’re good for acquisition training.”
When McCoy is not engaged in the development of CE-approved panel discussions and sessions presented at AFCEA headquarters and chapter events and supporting AFCEA members with attendance documentation, she is busy assisting AFCEA corporate members that seek to have sessions reviewed for CE qualification. That review is a corporate member benefit. Cyber-related webinars that qualify for CE certifications can attract more attendees. She offers companies advice, such as steering clear of acronyms, avoiding confusing jargon, remaining vendor-neutral and ensuring the webinar presentation lasts the needed 60 minutes to qualify for CE approval.