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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., May 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Today synEDa national non-profit organization that identifies emerging best practices for effective articulation between employers, job seekers and training providers, announced that Newborn Christophera recently retired professor of information technology (focus on cybersecurity) at Defense Acquisition University (DAU), is this month’s cyberhero.
Chris’ decades of experience and his approach to his work have positioned him as an outstanding advocate for the protection of sensitive information in the supply chain of the US Defense Industrial Base, sector defense contractors private in the country. He has worked with acquisition personnel and defense industrial base professionals who are responsible for acquiring, deploying and maintaining cybersecurity capabilities and defending critical networks, systems and data.
While at DAU, Chris provided critical support to the California Advanced Supply Chain Analytics and Diversification (CASCADE and CASCADE II) effort, established by the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to Strengthen California defense supply chain cybersecurity resilience.
“Chris and I have worked together on the CASCADE program, and it has been incredibly helpful in demonstrating the challenges defense vendors face in meeting requirements and finding cybersecurity workers,” Liz Frauman, director and senior project manager at synED, said. “His duty to the country and helping others really shines through. I have no doubt that his ‘retirement’ will simply mean that he begins a new chapter in his service to others and to national security.”
CASCADE has stimulated projects that support business assistance programs and the growth of the cybersecurity workforce through cybersecurity-related education, training, and learning programs.
Chris takes a practical and realistic approach to his work. “I always say, I’m not necessarily a professor, I’m a consultant,” Newborn explained. “The reason I say this is that I’m going to take things from a real-world scenario and apply it to how it applies to you, so you can find effective and efficient methods to counter the threat, or at least offer trade-offs.”
The US government has responded to growing threats to classified and unclassified information by issuing statutory and regulatory policies and procedures. However, these cybersecurity guidelines and requirements have proven difficult for businesses to implement and execute properly.
“We’ve done a great job of classifying information as secret and most importantly, we have great processes and procedures in place,” Newborn added. “The problem is that when controlled unclassified information (CUI) and other unclassified information is accumulated over a period of time, that information, when aggregated, can provide enough information to our adversaries and foreign competitors to obtain a step ahead.”
The defense industrial base supply chain is complex and layered, with prime contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and manufacturers, with a wide range of sizes, experiences and capabilities at all levels . “[Our adversaries are] not only after our prime contractors and sub-contractors, they are after our manufacturers and suppliers,” Mr. Newborn added.
Many contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers are small to medium-sized businesses that have limited staff and resources to meet ever-changing cybersecurity guidelines and requirements. To help alleviate these challenges, the government has sponsored training to help them better understand the legal and regulatory requirements.
While at DAU, Chris supported conferences and facilitated workshops with Defense Industrial Base partners. Along with another DAU professor, Dr. Paul ShawChris has developed training content and supported multi-stakeholder “bootcamps” on procurement topics, engaging government employees, vendors and academics to illuminate common issues and find solutions.
Laura Rodgers, Senior Manager for Cyber Compliance at the North Carolina Military Business Center, said Chris brings a unique perspective that can’t be found anywhere else. “He puts some structure on this nebulous thing called cybersecurity, and then he has the technical chops to help too. He’s been very helpful at the North Carolina defense industrial base and we have benefited greatly from his expertise and insight. »
After meeting Laura at a webinar, Chris offered to attend a weekly class hosted by Laura so he could answer her students’ questions. He attends weekly and stays late to answer questions. “There just aren’t many who are so committed to national security,” Ms Rodgers added.
Chris graduated from from Atlanta Morehouse College in 1982, a liberal arts college historically for black men. That year, Chris joined General Dynamics, where he worked on early electrification efforts for the M1 Abrams tank and development of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
While working at General Dynamics in Detroit, Chris joined the Navy, where he received valuable training and education that furthered his career. He remained in the US Navy Reserve from 1984 to 1990. During Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Chris was at Tank Automotive Command where he oversaw all secondary spares for the military. Chris was the longest-serving person of color, having been promoted quickly to GS-14, the second-highest ranking civilian employee in the federal government.
“I may not have a uniform, but if I do my job to the best of my abilities as an acquisition professional, giving the tools to the fighter, then they have a chance to do their duty and to return home safely to their families,” Chris said of his work during Operation Desert Storm. “That’s my motto, and that’s what I’ve followed ever since.”
Chris was appointed to the Army Civilian Staff at the Pentagon, where he worked on acquisition management on the government side. He says his time working at the Pentagon and living in the washington d.c. field was a highlight of his career. In 1997, Chris joined the Office of Cybersecurity and Program Management at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), just as military command transitioned from Crystal City, Virginiafor San Diego. His duty was to acquire and manage cyber capabilities for SPAWAR’s program offices, becoming both a subject matter expert and an acquisition manager.
Then, after 30 years in government, Chris moved to DAU to pass on his knowledge. “I think of myself as a channel of information, almost like a router. That’s why I always come back and say, ‘Sometimes you have to be that subject matter expert, sometimes you have to be the facilitator, and sometimes you have just taking notes.”
After 37 years with the Department of Defence, Chris officially retired in April 2022 and recently moved to North Carolina. Chris plans to return to DAU as a part-time intermittent professor to complete work on a curriculum for cybersecurity requirements in the defense industrial base. No one is better positioned to strengthen cybersecurity in the Defense acquisition supply chain and workforce.
He also hopes to be a bridge between East and West Coast military companies. In his spare time, he and his wife Agnes plan to volunteer with the local public school district to support teachers.
About SynED® CyberHero Series
SynED’s CyberHero Series is a nationally published monthly column that spotlights people who quietly go above and beyond to help secure our nation and communities by developing cyber talent. SynED is a national non-profit organization that identifies and highlights emerging best practices for effective articulation between employers, job seekers and education providers. SynED is the proud recipient of the 2021 Association for Career & Technical Education Business-Education Partnership Award.