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To Emerging Leaders: Go for It

U.S. Navy chief information officer offers words of advice to younger generations.

In a story of resilience and determination, Jane Rathbun, chief information officer (CIO) for the Department of the Navy (DON), spoke to Women in AFCEA during the annual WEST 2024 conference in San Diego. 

“I’m not a born technologist,” she shared. With an undergraduate degree in political science and a master's in public administration, Rathbun entered her current field guided by her enthusiasm for strategy and leadership.  

“My first job in government [was] looking strategically at the big picture at what DoD is going to look like in the future,” she went on. The experience and recognition on those projects served as a reminder of her abilities, Rathbun explained. 

Rathbun's journey proceeded through countless projects at the Pentagon, NASA and the DoD, and she emphasized the importance of taking on new challenges to best develop one’s career. 

“Moving around grows you as a person; don’t be so focused, whether you’re in industry or government, in making it to the next level so quickly,” she suggested to the Women in AFCEA audience. 

“Take the projects that don’t sound interesting and make them interesting,” Rathbun advised. Potential and work ethic will provide further opportunities, she continued. 






The DON CIO also spoke about a pivotal moment in her career. In her previous acting role, Rathbun realized she was ready to take on a new and current challenge—and was worthy. “I had decided that if someone else gets the job, then I’m going to go do something else, is what I said to myself,” she said. 

Her main advice to emerging leaders: Go for it. 

“Be mission-oriented, be mission-focused; don’t worry about the next promotion. Go and do things that enrich your life,” Rathbun stated. “Make time for your family.” 

Honorees of AFCEA’s Women’s Appreciation Award are recognized at WEST during the Women in AFCEA event. Credit: Michael Carpenter/Jesse Karras
Honorees of AFCEA’s Women’s Appreciation Award are recognized at WEST during the Women in AFCEA event. Credit: Michael Carpenter/Jesse Karras

Also taking place at the Women in AFCEA event was the Women’s Appreciation Award ceremony, which recognizes and honors AFCEA members, regardless of gender, who have gone above and beyond to further the careers of women. This year’s honorees include: 

Lauren Beward, Bravura Information Technology System Inc., Aberdeen Chapter 

Col. Mietta Groeneveld, Netherlands Army, NATO C2COE, The Hague Chapter 

Lt. Col. Stephanie Hahn, USAF, Cisco Systems, Alamo Chapter 

Lt. Col. Vanessa Johnson, USAF (Ret.), Broadcom, Rocky Mountain Chapter 

Teresa Macalolooy, Macalogic, Dayton-Wright Chapter 

Col. Kyna McCall-Paster, USAF (Ret.), Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Montgomery Chapter 

Lt. Cmdr. ReShonda McKee, USN (Ret.), U.S. Pacific Fleet, Hawaii Chapter 

Kirsten Miller-Jones, Adventure Technology Services, formerly CS2 LLC, Central Maryland Chapter 


Congratulations to all.