The New IC

September 27, 2023 Army Navy Country Club, Arlington, VA

Nightwing Sponsorship

More than 240 intelligence, national security, and DoD professionals attended the Wednesday, September 27, The New IC, an all-day program focused on the challenges and opportunities to building a diverse, talented, world class workforce.  

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Thank you to our supporting partners!

Opening Keynote: Carmen Medina

Carmen Medina, former Senior Executive, CIA, kicked the morning off by discussing how prioritizing well-being, reimagining SCIF life, embracing the fear of failure, and getting past diversity fatigue need to become "mission-critical" in order for meaningful action to take place. She emphasized that a change is needed to let ideas form organically and to be more collaborative. She ended her keynote by noting how diversity is essential to the IC and needs to not just be a priority once a year.

Prioritizing Workplace Wellbeing


  • Nazaret Berhane, Program Manager, Human Capital Office, IC Centers for Academic Excellence, ODNI 

  • Mark Frownfelter, Assistant Director, Special Security Directorate, NCSC 

  • Dr. Victoria Hoiles, Director, Center for Global Health Services, CIA 

  • Cynthia Strand, VP, Customer Excellence, Leidos 

  • Heather Williams, Senior Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation  

  • Megan Jaffer, Co-Founder, Iron Butterfly Media (Moderator) 

Panelists discussed a variety of topics regarding mental health well-being while working in the IC and what can be done to help those who are struggling or fearful of seeking help. Mark Frownfelter and Dr. Victoria Hoiles discussed the misconception that seeking treatment s is a negative for job candidates and that the willingness to ask for support can be viewed as a positive for applicants. Nazaret Berhane noted how organizations can provide accommodations, support programs, and resource groups to promote well-being. Panelists closed out the program by discussing other issues such as burnout and social connectivity, with Cynthia Strand noting the importance of empathy and leadership in supporting workplace wellbeing.  

Ignite Rounds: Letting go of the Fear of Failure


  • Kellene Ecker, VP, National Security Operations, LMI | “Fear of Failure” 

  • Likia Hawkins, President & CEO, Steel Point Solutions | "Taking the Leap. It's Never a Good Time"

  • Marcel Lettre, VP for National Security Space, Lockheed Martin Government Affairs | “Road Less Traveled”  

  • Sharothi Pikar, Deputy CDAO/Acquisition Executive, DoD | “When being afraid is not enough”  

  • VADM Robert Sharp, USN (Ret.), CEO, B Sharp-Global Solutions | “If not me, then who” 


Women as Leaders Lunch


  • Susan Apgood, DEI Advisor, EmpowHERed 

  • Anjali Varma, DEI Advisor, EmpowHERed 


DEI Advisors of EmpowHERed spoke on the challenges women face in the workforce. Susan Apgood and Anjali Varma discussed the overall lack of inclusivity, equality, and “allyship” for women. The speakers highlighted a stat showing only 41% of males believe women are equally dedicated to their jobs as men. Ms. Apgood and Ms. Varma encouraged men to serve as allies by using one’s power and position to actively incorporate women on the same playing field.  Ms. Apgood and Ms. Varma strongly urged that organizations should provide communication channels that encourage dialogue on the challenges of and recommendations for gender equality whilst fostering mentorship, acknowledgment, and recognition for women. 


The SCIF Life - Making it Work


  • Ellen Ardrey, Chief of Staff, DCSA 

  • Melissa Kepler, Internal Facilitation Team, Deloitte 

  • Kristina Walter, Director, Future-Ready Workforce Initiative, NSA 

  • Lindy Kyzer, Director of Content & PR, (Moderator) 

Panelists began by discussing the emerging culture of remote working, with Ellen Ardrey noting that DCSA has found it easy to incorporate remote work into their organization. Panelists also discussed common SCIF life misconceptions, with Ellen and Kristina emphasizing the misconceptions of “the windowless SCIF” and being disconnected to the outside world. They stated that since COVID, the connectivity and flexibility of SCIF Life has increased dramatically. Melissa Kepler noted that issues still exist, and it is important for leadership to say “let’s try it” when discussing innovative solutions. At the end, the panelists discussed the hybrid workforce and ways it can be effectively managed, as well as how organizations can make careers in SCIF settings more attractive to the younger generation.  

Diversity Fatigue: Moving Past Performative Programming


  • Joseph Garbato, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI &FBI Chair, Marine Corps University 

  • Stephanie A. La Rue, Chief of DEIA, ODNI 

  • Dr. Dennis “Wes” Westbrooks, Chief Diversity Officer/Acting Chief, Diversity and Inclusion Group, ODNI 

  • Grace Cassineri, National Security Fellowship Alumna, Girl Security 

  • Erika Chandler Dyer, Mentee, Girl Security 

  • Rachel Rochford, National Security Fellowship Alumna, Girl Security 

  • Dr. Shadi Abouzeid, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Master of Applied Intelligence Program, Georgetown University (co-moderator) 

  • Jorhena Thomas, Director of Mentorship and Professional Advancement, Girl Security (co-moderator) 


Closing Fireside Chat with The Hon. Christine Abizaid

Closing out the day, the Honorable Christine Abizaid, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), joined INSA President Suzanne Heckenberg for a Fireside Chat. The conversation focused on Ms. Abizaid’s storied and decorated career in national security, lessons learned along the way, and the importance of diversity and work life balance in the intelligence community.


Keynote Speakers

All Speakers



  • Emerging Leaders

  • Platinum

  • Platinum

  • Afternoon Refreshment Break

  • Premier

  • Small Business

  • Morning Refreshment Break

  • Digital Playback