Building a Better IC Together

Building a Better IC Together

Building a Better IC Together

INSA's reimagined 'The New IC: Empowering Women and Engaging Men' program focused on fostering much needed conversation and providing actionable insights for attendees to take back and apply within their own organizations. Below are some key highlights from the week!

Session recordings are brought to you courtesy of:         

Sisterhood of Spies (Friday, July 10)

The final session of 'The New IC' program, entitled 'Sisterhood of Spies,' brought together four fearless female leaders for a discussion about their career journeys and lessons learned. Dr. Stacey Dixon, NGA, put it best: "We should not just run into glass doors, or glass ceilings, but if you do, brush yourself off, put on a smile...and just get back out there." 

After giving a brief personal history, each of the panelists fielded questions from moderator Suzanne Kelly, The Cipher Brief, about defining moments in their careers and advice they have for other aspiring careerists in the IC. 

The Hon. Ellen McCarthy reiterated a theme that has come up time and again throughout the week: build a network. "What surprised me the most was that being a woman made me different," she said, reflecting back on her early career. Now, she is proud to say that she has found a network of women in the IC and has thrived on their support.

Teresa Smetzer, Salesforce, urged viewers to take risks and be flexible. Her career has "been more like a jungle gym," and her best decisions were the ones in which she said yes to an opportunity that interested her and allowed her to learn something and have an impact.

Dr. Dixon focused on the value of diverse perspectives. She recalled a prize challenge from her days at IARPA in which an unsuspected candidate was the winner. Dr. Dixon expressed that because her team did not exclude people who were doing things differently, they were able to benefit from the winner's skill. "The power of innovation is making sure that everyone who has ideas can come to the table and share those ideas." 

What an uplifting, inspiring way to end such a powerful week.


Thank you, Partners! 

This week's program could not have been possible without the help of these supporting partner organizations. 

Diversity & Inclusion Throughout Our Community

At GDIT, we know that innovation comes from a diverse and inclusive workplace, where all employees have a voice. We drive inclusivity through programs like our Employee Resource Groups, annual Women + Technology Conference: EmpowHER, and community partnerships, like Girls Who Code. 

Get to Know #YourIC

Teresa Shea
Raytheon Intel. & Space

Read Teresa's Story!

"The national security mission requires curiosity and critical thinking, and diversity naturally brings both of these elements. We need more!"

Mary Quinn

Read Mary's Story!

"I think the IC is much warier about the dangers of group think and more willing to listen to different voices which is good news for the job security of intelligence analysts."

How Diversity & Inclusion Drive Innovation (Thurs., July 9)

See What's in the Media

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance’s (INSA) EVP John Doyon introduced Matice Wright Springer, the Nation’s first African American female Naval Flight Officer, to start off yesterday’s ‘How Diversity & Inclusion Drive Innovation’ panel discussion – sponsored by Mantech. The Thursday panel was moderated by INSA President Susan Wilson Heckenberg.

Panelists shared personal stories, insights, and models of success. The panel agreed that conversations around diversity that may have started over the past month are critical to continue. Ethnicity, gender, disability, or neurodiversity, as well as many others, are diverse traits that help broaden perspective on tackling national security issues.

Read the full article: 'How Diversity and Inclusion Drive Innovation in National Security' by Katie Keller (ClearanceJobs)

Diversity makes the workforce stronger. On this, all of Thursday's panelists agreed. 

To operate most effectively, the IC needs to reflect the American population, but many groups still lack representation. Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, WCAPS, stated that women of color "often don't have a voice in policy creation, especially on issues of national security...By being more diverse and inclusive, we will have better policies, and more effective policies, for our nation." 

Teresa Thomas, MITRE, offered that organizations could benefit from hiring neurodiverse individuals as they don't just have a different background of thought, but rather their brains are wired differently, which allows for a unique way of thinking. Maggie Feldman-Piltch, #NATSECGIRLSQUAD, emphasized the need for Security Clearance reform. Some first-generation Americans, for example, are hesitant to apply for a clearance because of the extra barriers they may encounter when filling out an application. The system, then, is causing the IC to miss out on a lot of talented candidates. 

Sheronda Dorsey, CIA, shared that her team is relying on measurable data to discover the gaps in their recruitment process and decide upon what steps need to be taken towards improvement. In addition, Ms. Dorsey shared that "strong, consistent, yet simple" communication about your organization's culture and policies is critical in getting everyone on the same page. 

As they wrapped-up, the panelists encouraged viewers to recognize their 'superpowers' and learn to promote them. What sets us apart is what makes us valuable. 


ManTech's Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

Matice Wright Springer Introduces Panel

Special Feature!
Matice became the Nation's first African American female Naval Flight Officer in 1989.

Get to Know #YourIC

Susan Oakley

Read Susan's Story!

"There I dove much more into the strategy behind answering some of the most challenging questions facing the IC, such as 'How can we better serve our clients long term?' I’m thrilled to carry that sense of mission to Microsoft in order to lead strategy and emerging opportunities across the Federal government."

Cameron Ward-Hunt

Read Cameron's Story!

"I love how the community is changing, broadening geographically and becoming more inclusive in so many ways. We face some really strong challenges at multiple levels that provides the pressure to innovate and attempt organizational and cultural changes."

Ignite Rounds: The Unique Power of Women (Wednesday, July 8)

The New IC in the News

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) virtual symposium continued yesterday with an all-star lineup of speakers. This time, they mixed things up from the previous days and had TED-talk style ignite sessions.

Read the full article: "Embracing Differences and Diversity in National Security Workers" (Katie Keller, ClearanceJobs)

Moderated by INSA's Intelligence Champions Council Chair, Cameron Ward-Hunt, Wednesday's 'Ignite Rounds' presentations and follow-up conversation covered a broad range of topics relating to the unique power of women. 

Jill Bruning, EVP and General Manager, Amentum, started off the program with a presentation titled "Bias is Biological: Understanding, Embracing and Leveraging Our Differences for Success and Balance." She explained some of the more than 100 differences between female and male brains—including how they speak, think, and interact socially—and encouraged viewers to recognize these differences as a means to empower inclusion and boost each other up. 

Next, Hope Goins, Staff Director, Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. House of Representatives, spoke about "Effective Leadership through Adversity: Navigating Challenges in 2020 and Beyond." Ms. Goins sees it as her job to make sure her workforce feels included and valued. She concluded, "During this time, we have to see how we're going to use our power. Are we going to use it for inclusion or exclusion?...In order for us to advance in humanity, I know we have to use it for inclusion...use it to create advancement." 

Natalie Zylstra, Director, Office of Data Strategy and Compliance, NCTC used her time to talk about sponsorship and personal branding. She described a sponsor as someone who 'has a seat at the table' and can advocate on behalf of the person they are sponsoring. Ms. Zylstra offered up three main pieces of advice. 1) Leverage your peers and senior leaders to determine your personal brand, but make sure you're asking for and receiving both positive and negative feedback. 2) Find a sponsor who is different from you—in looks, personality, and skillset. 3) Help yourself first. Do not overwork yourself and always remember to take care of your mental health. 


Share Your Reactions with #TheNewIC


'The New IC' Sponsors Are Dedicated to Diversity & Inclusion

At Lockheed Martin, Diversity & Inclusion are the foundation of our culture and reflect our values of doing what's right, respecting others, and performing with excellence. By leveraging unique talents and experiences, we deliver innovative, affordable solutions and unparalleled customer value. 

Get to Know #YourIC

Tish Long
INSA Chairman
Special Feature!


Letitia “Tish” Long became the chairman of the INSA Board of Directors in January 2016. An IC trailblazer, Ms. Long served as the Director of NGA from October 2010 to October 2014, becoming the first woman to lead a major U.S. intelligence agency.

Megan Anderson
Cybercrime Support Ntwk.
Read Megan's Story!

"What excites me most about the intelligence community today is the opportunity...the constantly changing environment that provides no opportunity for stagnancy in my future career."

Women as Mentors (Tuesday, July 7)

Media Coverage: Highlights from Day Two 

Yesterday’s ‘Women as Mentors’ panel, hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) was made up of Intelligence Community rock stars who have cultivated mentoring relationships throughout their careers and have insights to offer women in the national security industry.

Moderator Sue Gordon, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, kicked off the discussion as the panelists worked through audience questions over the course of the hour. A few key themes continually resurfaced, including diversity of perspectives.

Read the full story: "Microsoft, NGA, DNI and Army Professionals Offer IC Mentoring Insights" (ClearanceJobs)

The 'Women as Mentors' panel was made up of IC rockstars (as moderator The Hon. Sue Gordon put it) who have benefited from several mentoring relationships throughout their careers. The panelists worked through audience questions over the course of the hour, but a few key themes continued to resurface: 

For one, the panelists agreed that a strong mentor-mentee relationship is built off of trust and authenticity, allows both parties to learn from each other and grow personally and professionally, and requires time and effort. However, as Trey Treadwell, Assistant Director of National Intelligence and CFO of the IC, pointed out, the time commitment does not have to be overwhelming, but rather just a quick, 5-10 minute phone call on a regular basis. 

The discussion also focused on the value that women bring to mentoring relationships. Sue Kalweit, Director, Analysis Directorate, NGA, reflected that women tend to seek out other women as mentors because they are either looking for a female role model or feel like they are more likely to reach a mutual understanding with another woman. While woman-to-woman mentor relationships are certainly beneficial, Greg Myers, Vice President, U.S. Federal Government, Microsoft, reminded viewers that it's important to actively seek out diverse opinions from your mentors.

Lastly, the panelists touch on how mentorship has changed as these unprecedented times are impacting the people who make up the IC as much as its mission. Col. Candice Frost, Director, Foreign Intelligence, Army G-2, urged the mentors in 'The New IC' audience to encourage their mentees to speak up to their supervisors and communicate about their situations as parents, employees, and now possibly even teachers in a post-COVID world. "We want to keep great women in the IC," she said, "so we need to mentor them now to open up that conversation."

Bonus Feature!

A Conversation with Two Fearless Female Leaders 

Recently, The Hon. Sue Gordon and The Hon. Stephanie O'Sullivan sat down with Teresa Baker from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) for a conversation about their careers. Both served almost three decades in the national security establishment as government employees and contractors. At the start of their government careers, they were among the few women in their offices; by the 2000s, a “sisterhood” had began to emerge as more women rose to leadership across the Intelligence Community. Here's what they had to say...

Share Your Reactions with #TheNewIC

Microsoft's Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

Get to Know #YourIC

Laine Klein

Read Laine's Story!

"The opportunity for collaboration enabled by technology is greater than ever. On the other hand, there is so much data, the opportunity to miss critical information is also great. What is exciting are all the tools entrepreneurs and creative thinkers are developing to help the Intelligence Community gather and analyze critical information."

Niloo Norton

Read Niloo's Story!

"What excites me the most about the Intelligence Community today is how resilient the workforce is...At the peak of our current crisis with COVID-19 the Intelligence Community pivoted with the use of innovative technologies in order to continue operations and keep our country safe."

Keynote Remarks (Monday, July 6)

Media Coverage: Highlights from Day One 

Yesterday kicked off the start of The New IC, and Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg, President of INSA, opened the event with the introduction. Diversity and inclusion, and 2020 being the culmination of this important topic in the IC, was a large part of the introduction. Diversity naturally enriches any industry of professionals, but especially the IC.

“It’s critically important that the IC…draws on all America’s viewpoints and perspectives…it makes our society richer, stronger, and more robust,” said Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg’s in the opening speech.

Read the full story: "INSA Kicks Off Annual Event in a Virtual Environment: The New IC" by Katie Keller (ClearanceJobs)

To kick off the week, Beth Sanner, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration, ODNI, and Deborah Lee James, former Secretary of the Air Force, offered keynote remarks and shared their advice with colleagues.

In her remarks, Ms. Sanner discussed how "the beauty of each of us is the uniqueness that we all bring." She encouraged attendees to recognize the strengths of others and ask themselves, "to whom can I give that little push?" Sometimes promoting others' skill sets can really help to open up opportunities for them. It is also important to “Think Outside The Box” to continue to develop your strengths while understanding the weaknesses you possess, she advised. As a leader, diversity in the workplace ensures that you have created an environment inclusive of all ideas, strengths, and talents.  

Deborah Lee James took the screen to discuss her career path as well as share key takeaways from her book “Aim High: Chart Your Course and Find Success.” Ms. James advised New IC viewers to prepare to zig zag throughout their careers. In other words, your path may change drastically from point A to point B, so it's important to learn to pivot and seek out open doors at every turn. Ms. James also emphasized the importance of having a team and leaning on the supporters standing behind you.

During the Q&A session with INSA Chairman Tish Long that closed out the hour, the speakers discussed other topics, including work-life balance, gaining the respect of more traditional leaders when you don't fit the pre-determined mold, and feeling comfortable with asking for help.

What people are saying...

Stay up-to-date on program highlights with #TheNewIC and share your own reactions on LinkedIn and Twitter. 


'The New IC' Sponsors Are Dedicated to Diversity & Inclusion

Get to Know #YourIC

Allison Andersko
Lockheed Martin

Read Allison's Story!

"As the Intelligence Community embraces change in the way it delivers solutions, it is exhilarating to see how Lockheed Martin implements new, varied ways of doing business while placing high value on life balance."

Michael Tillman
Northrop Grumman

Read Michael's Story!

"As a leader, I know first-hand the critical role that diversity and inclusion plays in innovation. Teams from varied life experiences and from different backgrounds will come at problems differently, which can spur the next technical achievement or life-saving solution."

This event could not be possible without the help of our supporting partners:


Thank you to our sponsors!

Caroline Henry


Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.