2016 INSA Achievement Awards Reception & Ceremony

More than 200 attendees, including more than 100 from the public sector, attended the 2016 INSA Achievement Awards on February 9, 2016 at the Institute for Peace in Washington, DC. The event served to recognize six rising leaders for their accomplishments in the intelligence and national security communities. For the majority of recipients, the Achievement Awards represented their first professional honor.

INSA Achievement Awards

The event kicked off with introductory remarks by Letitia A. Long, INSA Chairman and former Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Ms. Long spoke to the significance of the awards, which are named after former William Oliver Baker Award winners. In a surprise announcement, Ms. Long announced that John E. McLaughlin, former acting director of central intelligence, will receive the 32nd William Oliver Baker Award this June. Ms. Long went on to reinforce that the Award winners represented the Intelligence Community’s future, before introducing the evening’s keynote speaker.

2016 INSA Achievement Awards

In the evening’s keynote speech, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper began by thanking INSA for its support of the intelligence and national security communities and for hosting events that highlight the exceptional talent within their ranks, noting the symbolic event setting at the United States Institute of Peace. On a day in which he testified at two public congressional hearings, Director Clapper shared with the audience several stories of his beginnings in the Intelligence Community as an Air Force 1st Lieutenant more than fifty years ago. Despite many changes in the IC over the years, Clapper noted, the “Intelligence Community mission is critical.” Reducing uncertainty for decision makers remains essential, Clapper mentioned, “whether in the Oval Office or in an old foxhole. The commitment, capability, and caliber of the people doing the mission has remained constant.” Director Clapper closed by distinguishing the ever-improving diversity and integration of the IC, recognizing that the 2016 Achievement Award winners were testament to that diversity. “I am proud that when I leave public service,” Clapper closed, “I will leave it stronger and more integrated than ever before.”

INSA received more than 75 nominations across 6 award categories for the Achievement Awards. Each nomination was reviewed by a selection committee that chose the recipients after careful evaluation of six main criteria: leadership, influence, proficiency, values, team building and personal skills.

In their respective acceptance speeches, the recipients thanked their professional mentors, fellow team members, families and friends for their constant guidance and support. The Award recipients recalled their stories of entering the Intelligence Community and shared their passion for serving their country in their respective fields within the national security and intelligence communities.

2016 INSA Achievement Award Recipients

Joan A. Dempsey Mentorship Award

Cynthia M. Epler
Defense Intelligence Agency
Over the last year, Cynthia Epler, deputy division chief for CENTCOM J2, twice deployed to Afghanistan in response to by-name requests from U.S. commanders in the field. She has shown an exceptional ability to join a work group and immediately shape them into a high-performing team with a common sense of purpose and drive to match her own. While deployed in southwest Asia, Cynthia trained, motivated, and brought out the best in individuals working together from coalition nations and didn't skip a beat when she returned to CENTCOM. She is an advocate for the Defense Intelligence Agency in community forums, where she is recognized both nationally and with our international partners for her expertise. She also expends considerable energy bringing new voices to the forefront, championing new talent and enabling young analysts with an opportunity to gain valuable experience in support of policy makers and deployed forces. As an active participant in DIA's Diversity and Inclusion Implementation Initiative (DI3), she helps ensure that combatant command equities and the unique experiences of intelligence professionals outside of the National Capital Region (NCR) and on deployment are represented. Cynthia is a dedicated professional focused on mission and doing the right thing for the people who work for her, the people she works for, her command and her agency.
Dr. Satyabrata Sen

Sidney D. Drell Academic Award

Dr. Satyabrata Sen
Research Scientist
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Dr. Satyabrata Sen has provided tremendous guidance to a pair of projects supported by the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for advancing network fusion algorithms for detection and localization of low-level radiation sources. This problem is challenging because potential radiation threat sources have signatures that are almost indistinguishable from background radiation. Dr. Sen systematically analyzed datasets from indoor and outdoor scenarios, with sources of varying strengths and multiple network configurations, which were collected during DNDO’s Intelligent Radiation Sensor Systems (IRSS) program. His analyses demonstrated that no simple rules and guidelines exist for designing and implementing effective network detection algorithms. Based on his work showing the need for deeper understanding of the networked detection algorithms, Drs. Sen and Rao of ORNL developed a comprehensive research project to address these open issues. A multi-year project was approved by DNDO in 2013. Dr. Sen’s work on this project involves the development of radiation detection and localization algorithms to prevent the introduction of radioactive threat sources. This potentially enables continuous vigilance to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. homeland. In addition, the benchmark datasets developed in these projects can be used by any researcher to characterize a proposed algorithm using real data, promoting continued research and development in this national security field.

Richard J. Kerr Government Award

Candace P. Sharkey
Intelligence Research Specialist
Drug Enforcement Administration
DEA Intelligence Research Specialist (IRS) Candace Sharkey, currently stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria, is recognized by her peers and DEA regional management as a subject matter expert in Balkan and Italian transnational criminal organizations, including their areas of influence, trafficking routes, and organizational structure. IRS Sharkey has developed an outstanding competence in collecting and analyzing large amounts of information, producing written intelligence products, disseminating that intelligence throughout the agency, and coordinating overlaps to ensure the greatest disruptive impact on drug trafficking organizations. Over the past year, IRS Sharkey has played a key role in the multilateral investigation of the cocaine trafficking and money laundering activities of the Italian transnational criminal organization, ‘Ndrángheta, culminating in numerous arrests. The detriment to this criminal organization’s infrastructure, top-tier management, and contacts with corrupt port workers has left them without a command-and-control element, severely disrupting their ability to distribute narcotics throughout Europe. Most significantly, her intelligence support during this operation led to multiple spin-off investigations being conducted in the United States, resulting in the identification and targeting of significant sources in South America that are sending multi-ton loads of cocaine to the U.S. and are therefore a threat to national security.
Zalenda Cyrille

Edwin H. Land Industry Award

Zalenda Cyrille
Senior Program Manager
Ms. Zalenda Cyrille is an asset to Vencore, Inc., managing over 30 engineers and a multimillion-dollar contract portfolio. Ms. Cyrille adapts, teaches, and implements industry best practices for software development across the Intelligence Community (IC). As a certified program consultant in Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Ms. Cyrille is instrumental in educating both government and industry development teams and leaders on the principles behind improving development efforts under this agile methodology. In 2015 alone, Ms. Cyrille has instructed over 200 people across multiple offices and organizations to become certified practitioners, helping to revolutionize the way software development is performed at the government level. In addition to teaching the certification courses, Ms. Cyrille works closely with the development teams to stand up and instill tailored processes to meet specific team needs.
Lt. Jared McGuire

William O. Studeman Military Award

Lt. Jared McGuire
Executive Officer
U.S. Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit Colorado
LT Jared McGuire has dramatically advanced the maritime domain awareness (MDA) capabilities of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the broader Intelligence Community (IC). He has been the driving force in the development of automated processes to integrate national intelligence sources into a comprehensive maritime picture recognized as the IC-sanctioned ship-tracking tool of choice. He has worked closely with IC partners to identify and operationalize new data feeds and analytic capabilities on behalf of the tool’s development. In addition, he has provided over 100 hours of training to SOUTHCOM, JIATF-S, CG Intelligence Coordination Center (ICC), Maritime Intelligence Fusion Center Pacific, and other IC elements.

Thanks to LT McGuire’s efforts, a robust maritime analytic capability once attainable only through the use of highly trained specialists is now broadly available to analysts. This has generated significant analytic efficiencies, enabling the reinvestment of high-end analytic capital on truly hard problems. It also has assisted operational successes in the counterdrug, international sanctions enforcement, global MDA, search and rescue, and living marine resources mission areas. The degree of technical competence, sound judgement, and overall scope of responsibility demonstrated by LT McGuire far exceeds that typically expected of someone in his paygrade and is a testament to the extraordinary nature of his achievements.
Robert A. Lagnado

John W. Warner Homeland Security Award

Robert A. Lagnado
Senior Protective Intelligence Research Specialist
U.S. Secret Service
SPIRS Robert A. Lagnado of the Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division specializes in protective intelligence in support of the U.S. Secret Service’s (USSS) mission to protect the country’s highest leaders, candidates, and visiting foreign dignitaries. Part of his responsibility is to understand how attacks on individuals are or could be perpetrated and to identify trends in weapons and methods of attack. SPIRS Lagnado was among the first individuals in the USSS to recognize the growing and immediate danger of small unmanned aerial systems (UASs) to protective operations. He was the first to dedicate himself to UAS intelligence reporting and acquiring an expertise of this emerging technology’s nefarious potentials, which only recently gained wider acceptance, largely due to advances in the areas of UAS miniaturization and cost reduction. His extensive knowledge of UAS types, payloads, control methods, range, capabilities, tactics and UAS-related threat reporting has allowed him to interact in an advisory capacity with other USSS divisions such as the Office of Protective Operations , the Technical Security Division, Legal Division and the Special Operations Division/Airspace Security Branch, as they devise and implement policies and procedures. He wrote recommended guidelines for USSS special agents and Uniformed Division officers to follow when dealing with unauthorized UAS operations in protected areas. He also has coauthored legal guidance on dealing with UAS at protected sites with the Chief Counsel’s office. Robert has served on working groups in the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense dealing with UAS issues and has spoken on UAS security issues to senior law enforcement, Intelligence Community and defense audiences. All of these activities have had an impact far above and beyond SPIRS Lagnado’s current job scope as a protective intelligence analyst.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

United States Institute of Peace
2301 Constitution Ave NW, 
Washington, DC
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Welcome Reception: 6 pm

Program: 7 pm

Dress Code: Business or Service Dress/Class A (Military)

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For registration questions please contact Toya Cribbs at tcribbs@insaonline.org