MCPA Annual Board of Advisors Dinner

By Christine Billingsley, MCPA COO

January 24, 2022

Last month, the Military Cyber Professionals Association (MCPA) held its 2021 Board of Advisors Dinner Meeting. This 5th annual gathering of senior leaders and practitioners from across the broader military cyber community served as a testament to the enduring commitment by so many patriotic Americans to the MCPA mission, vision, and values.

Event attendees. Image: IWP

Support for the MCPA has continued to grow since the previous Annual Advisors Meeting, which was held virtually over Wickr Pro last winter due to the pandemic. The "State of the Association" presentation by MCPA Founder, Joe Billingsley, highlighted the growth in terms of activities, sponsors, and over 3,000! 

The weekly Lockdown Lunch and Learn (3L) interactive webinar series has been cited as a key way that the organization weathered the pandemic better than most. 3L was established by the MCPA at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns in early 2020, coinciding with the postponement of the first national convention, HammerCon. After 2 years of waiting, the convention is now scheduled to take place this year on May 19th in Laurel, Maryland.

Like in the pre-pandemic era, this annual event was hosted at the historic Marlatt Mansion by the Institute of World Politics (IWP). Dr. James Anderson, the new IWP President and previous Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, underlined his belief in the importance of the cyber fight by joining the MCPA Board of Advisors.

MCPA Founder (left) presents the Gold Order of Thor medal to Anderson. Image: IWP

In addition to those attending in-person, this hybrid event included remote participants like retired Brigadier Generals, and Advisors, Greg Touhill and Dr. Rob Spalding. MCPA Chief Marketing Officer, Josh Baughman, facilitated their interactions by operating a roving camera.  Colonel Brad Rhodes, President of the MCPA Colorado Chapter and Co-Lead for HammerCon, accompanied the Generals in enjoying the festivities remotely.

Remote participants on display at the event. Image: IWP

Rhodes and Baughman are just two of many volunteers across the country that enable the MCPA to pursue its critical mission. This annual gathering exists to both (re)connect Advisors with each other and the organization and as a great way to recognize the very tangible contributions by the volunteer team and other supporters.

From left: Vice Admiral (Ret) TJ White, Bill Kimble, Brigadier General (Ret) Guy Walsh, and Major General (Ret) Ed Wilson at a recent MCPA Texas Chapter Event

Two prominent team members that were recognized at the event were the Editors in Chief of MCPA’s publications, Dr. Tomás Peña from Military Cyber Affairs and Stephanie Travis from Cyber Magazine. Travis, who leads the Senior Military College Cyber Institute full-time at Virginia Tech (VT), recently forged a formal relationship between MCPA and her university in pursuit of its shared educational goals. 

From left: Tomás Peña, Stephanie Travis, Christine Billingsley, James Loving, and Josh Baughman. Image: IWP 

The addition of new MCPA sponsors with shared interests, like VT, was a particular point of celebration at the event since they provide the means necessary to run this very active national 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit and public charity. Existing annual sponsors like Nutanix, Capitol Technology University, and Wickr (now part of AWS), as well as program sponsors like Lockheed Martin (supporting 3L), are accompanied by Looker (now part of Google Cloud) and Axellio. Axellio had been the main sponsor of the InfoSecSync Podcast, run by Navy Cryptologist Nick Thomas, and remains committed as that podcast transitions to become the newest program of the MCPA. 

A unique fundraising initiative was announced at the event with the unveiling of the “Cyber Single Barrel Bourbon” with a toast to the United States. The newest MCPA Advisor, Rear Admiral (Retired) Scott Sanders, made that effort possible with the support of his Tobacco Barn Distillery in southern Maryland. After the limited supply sold out quickly following the event, Sanders committed to supporting HammerCon with a similarly exciting contribution. 

A toast to the United States. Image: IWP 

All the feedback received on the gathering was exceedingly positive and everyone seemed to have a blast. Just as importantly, everyone left with more valuable insights and relationships than they had when they arrived.

MCPA still has a lot of work to do in pursuit of its mission and the organization relies upon a robust team to continue that pursuit. Being a part of this increasingly strong team is, truly, both a great honor and pleasure.

About the Author

Christine Billingsley is the MCPA Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Co-Lead for HammerCon. She has extensive experience in the nonprofit and technology sectors. Christine has organized events large and small, both domestically and internationally, including serving as the lead for the DEFCON Arcade Party.