On September 29, INSA took this year's Common Threads: Colorado's Intelligence Community program virtual, making the region-focused discussion available to members of the IC all across the country and drawing in nearly 500 registered attendees!
To start off the program, Dave Gauthier, Director of NGA's Commercial and Business Operations Group, delivered keynote remarks focused on the importance of trust and partnership. Mr. Gauthier provided examples of non-traditional partnerships in which NGA has invested this year, including helping with the 2020 Census, engaging in efforts to combat illicit logging and fishing, and providing humanitarian aid in response to natural disasters. He also spoke about the new collaborative technologies and projects that NGA is prioritizing and sharing across government and industry: procuring commercial target baselines and vectorized observation metadata; working with the military to develop analytic tools; and employing cloud-based innovations.
Panel (L to R): Col. Jen Sovada (U.S. Air Force, Ret), Chief Futures Officer and Senior VP/GM, MissionTech Solutions (moderator); Jacque Brewer, GEOINT Officer and NGA Denver Division Chief; Katherine Mills, Compliance Manager, Center for National Security Initiatives, University of Colorado Boulder; Lauryl Chestnutt, Deputy Director, NGA-Denver; and Darren Turner, Director, NSA Colorado
Following the keynote was a panel discussion, moderated by Col. Jen Sovada (USAF, Ret.). The conversation began with how each panelist's agency/institution has been adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers discussed increased teleworking, adjusted scheduling, and finding ways to make sure employees are staying connected, feel valued, and are being cared for.
Panelists also answered audience questions about the cleared workforce in both the private and public sectors and the significance of geography in IC-related work. Lauryl Chestnutt, NGA, spoke to the differences between working in both industry and government, stating that the most noticeable difference is how much more slowly change occurs in government. Katherine Mills, University of Colorado Boulder, told viewers about the ways in which her team works to educate university students on the hiring standards of different agencies and what behaviors in college will be particularly influential on their clearance process.
In regard to geography, Jacque Brewer, NGA, shared that while big contractors attracting cleared workers to the Denver area is a good thing, it creates greater competition in hiring and retaining cleared employees for government agencies. Adding onto Ms. Brewer's comments, Darren Turner, NSA, said that Denver-based academia, government, and industry need to collaborate more to avoid talent "poaching."