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This week, CompTIA held its fourth annual Excellence in Cybersecurity Award ceremony in Washington D.C. The ceremony recognizes Members of Congress and federal agency program managers who are making important strides to improve the federal cybersecurity workforce.
We honored Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Representative Pete Aguilar (D-CA), and Phyllis Bailey, the Chief Information Officer for the Army’s IA Training, Education, and Awareness Division.
Elizabeth Hyman, the Executive Vice President of CompTIA Public Advocacy, opened the event emphasizing the growing importance of cybersecurity. “Each year, the challenges of securing our critical infrastructure and the data that passes along that infrastructure become more challenging,” Hyman said.
Tim Herbert, Senior Vice President of Research and Market Intelligence at CompTIA, shared the data, trends and insights that animate the challenges and opportunities for the cyber workforce. He noted that leaders are moving toward proactive approaches to cybersecurity, rather than relying on reactive measures. He also provided information on CyberSeek, a tool created by CompTIA and Burning Glass Technologies, through a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and supported by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). CyberSeek supports employers, educators, students, policy makers, and other stakeholders by providing actionable data about the workforce. In helping us close the cybersecurity skills gap, CyberSeek is an incredibly important tool that further shows how our honorees have enhanced the field all together.
Keynote Address Sets the Tone
The event got off to a powerful start with keynote remarks from Suzette Kent, the Federal Chief Information Officer at the Office of Management and Budget. “Technology is not stopping,” she said. Highlighting the importance of creative and aggressive actions to grow and enhance our workforce, she too spoke passionately about the need to be proactive in our efforts. She also pointed out the lack of skilled cyber workers in the workforce, and the need to inspire young people to take on these crucial career paths. In advocating for those who are underrepresented, she is leading efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
2018 CompTIA Excellence in Cybersecurity Honorees
The first of our honorees to receive their award was Phyllis Bailey, one of the leading Army officials tasked with developing certification requirements for Army Information Assurance Security Officers. She has been a civilian for the Department of the Army for over 30 years, and the last two decades of her career have been devoted to diligently managing the Army’s program for training and certification of their cybersecurity workforce.
“The biggest part of being in the field of cybersecurity is helping people expand their careers. I am honored to receive this award.” In a position to touch the lives of many, Bailey has made a lasting impact on the field of cybersecurity.
Our next recipient was Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), who leads several efforts that put Mississippi at the forefront of America’s efforts to enhance and strengthen the cybersecurity workforce. Senator Wicker has fought for funding for academic institutions to further develop the size and strength of the workforce. Additionally, he introduced the Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act in March 2017, which would improve the cybersecurity workforce pipeline by expanding existing federal scholarships for students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity fields. For this, and many other reasons, Senator Wicker is an absolute champion when it comes to working to ensure we have a strong cybersecurity workforce.
“Cybersecurity is national security,” said Senator Wicker, and through his effective leadership he has worked to make the nation more secure.
Our final honoree was Representative Pete Aguilar (D-CA), who has also spearheaded various efforts to enhance the workforce. He created a cyber-warriors pilot program that was included in the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The program incentivizes students to become officers in the United States Army and the United States Air Force. “It is vital that we equip young people to work in this field,” said Aguilar.
Rep. Aguilar has also led efforts to support students from historically African American, Asian American, and Hispanic universities and colleges. He has been a champion of the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship program, and was able to help restart the program after years of lapsed funding by passing an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017. Aguilar’s work has helped 40 cyber scholarship recipients across the country guarantee employment with the Department of Defense upon graduation.
We are grateful for the important contributions and leadership of our honorees, as their far-reaching impacts are transforming the field of cybersecurity and keeping the country safe during the digital age.
As stated by Liz Hyman, “It’s important to keep this conversation going and to continue to nurture the cybersecurity workforce initiatives and policies we discussed. The time is now for investment from the private and public sectors to tackle the cybersecurity worker gap.” While progress in recent years has been substantial, it is necessary to continue with these positive trends to create a diverse and powerful cybersecurity force.
Claudia Hurowitz is the policy intern for CompTIA Advocacy; Lana Sansur is the Sr. Marketing Manager for CompTIA Advocacy