Senior Cyber Leaders Assemble in DC

By David Bustamante

April 27, 2023

The Military Cyber Professionals Association (MCPA) held its annual Board of Advisors (BoA) dinner meeting this past December. In keeping with tradition, it was hosted, again by the Institute of World Politics (IWP) in Washington, DC. "We were excited to welcome those who have contributed so much to the mission of the MCPA. In addition to sharing the story and impact of our inaugural national convention, and a strong membership growth year, we took the time to express our appreciation to the meaningful connections we have with our Advisors, partners, sponsors, and volunteers," said Joe Billingsley, Founder of MCPA. Some of the leaders in attendance included Army Lieutenant General (Ret) Karen Gibson (Sergeant-at-Arms of the US Senate), Ambassador Aldona Woś (President of IWP), Air Force Brigadier General (Ret) Rob Spalding III (author of Stealth War), Chris Cleary (Principal Cyber Advisor of the Department of the Navy), Army Major General (Ret) George Franz (Inaugural Commander of the Cyber National Mission Force), Dr. Diane Janosek (Deputy Director for Compliance of the NSA), Michaela Barnett (Founder of Blacks in Cybersecurity), Christine de Souza (Cyber Security Forum Initiative Director), Stephanie Travis (Editor in Chief of MCPA's magazine, CYBER), and many others. 

Image: Institute of World Politics

This annual meeting was led by representatives of the Board of Directors, Joe and myself, to provide updates about the organization to the assembled senior leaders. The key take-aways included the commencement of our national convention, HammerCon, which had over 400 attendees. HammerCon was a smashing success with three tracks, including one focused on academics and research and one focused on the private sector. Each track was designed to present unique insights and ideas, which inspired our most experienced, to the newest members of the military cyber community. We had dynamic discussions amongst the attendees, and provided a number of our members with a range of opportunities to cultivate noteworthy connections within this diverse community and beyond. HammerCon now serves as the premier gathering of/by/for the American military cyber community, and the upcoming HammerCon 2.0 will undoubtedly be a highpoint of 2023 for our nation's cyber warriors. The upcoming convention is scheduled for Thursday 18 May, at the campus of Capitol Technology University, which is less than 30 minutes from the bulk of military cyber professionals serving on Fort Meade. The university's generosity includes serving as a gold sponsor of the MCPA and providing a hefty tuition discount to MCPA members, totaling more than a quarter of a million dollars in savings for MCPA members!

Among the annual review of accomplishments at the meeting, the MCPA's Lockdown Lunch & Learn (3L) series was highlighted for concluding after 100 straight weeks of programs throughout the pandemic. MCPA launched the 3L in April 2020, and two years later, in the midst of our country opening back up to the post-pandemic environment, we are proud to have provided that weekly virtual discussion, led by experts and leaders across our community. The recognition of our 3L series was evident, as the MCPA membership increased by more than 1,000, to over 3,600 vetted members. The increased involvement of MCPA members, which included events at DEF CON like the MCPA hosted Arcade Party and National Service Panel, also helped to elevate our LinkedIn followers to over 10,000.

In addition to the rise of membership, we made note of the members recognized for their special contributions with the Order of Thor medal. These recipients demonstrated duty, loyalty, and excellence; and made distinguished contributions to the military cyber community. During this annual meeting, the assembled leaders capitalized on an excellent opportunity and reconnected with old friends, made new ones, and recognized the top volunteers and supporters of the organization. The MCPA is deeply grateful for their enduring support as we continue to pursue our extremely relevant mission.

Image: Institute of World Politics

About the Author

Major D.R. Bustamante is a Cyber Warfare Officer in the Va Army National Guard.  He currently serves as the IT/Cyber Director for the Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools in Camp Lejeune, NC. He holds numerous professional certifications with 20+ years of experience in the DoD and private sectors. He proudly serves on the MCPA Board of Directors, and is the MCPA Chief of Staff.