Celebrating Women in Homeland Security

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Heading into Women’s History Month, GDIT was exceptionally pleased to have participated in the Homeland Security & Defense Forum’s virtual symposium, titled Celebrating Women in Homeland Security. The symposium, held last week, consisted of a series of keynotes and panel discussions that examined the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to foster women leaders. Speakers discussed the impact of female leadership on the agency, the obstacles women have had to overcome in security-related fields, and best practices for creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. The sessions also touched on how technology has and will continue to support the DHS mission, about the opportunities and obstacles confronting the new administration – especially as the COVID-19 pandemic persists – and how the DHS mission will continue to evolve.

GDIT Vice President, Cybersecurity, Preparedness, and Enforcement Katharine Murphy was invited to participate in the event as a panelist on its Law Enforcement & Technology panel. Joining her were:

  • Carla Provost, Former Chief of U.S. Border Patrol (Moderator)
  • Gloria Chavez, Chief Patrol Agent, El Paso Sector, U.S. Border Patrol
  • Rachelle Henderson, CIO, ICE
  • Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Trade, CBP

As the only industry voice on the panel, Katharine was able to discuss the ways that GDIT partners with DHS to achieve mission success. Specifically, she talked about how during the coronavirus pandemic, the company was able to move swiftly and ably to provide continuous support to DHS, largely as a result of prior investments in digital modernization and infrastructure that helped us transition 60% of our workforce to virtual work environments in just 48 hours.

“This enabled us to continue to take care of our customers, recognizing that each one has different issues and environments,” she said. “This pandemic really highlighted the need for cloud technologies, information security and data privacy – because that’s what allowed us to support customers as they accelerated the pace of development, procurement and deployment of the technologies that support their mission. For us, that’s what it’s all about – it’s all about the partnership and being there for them.”

The group also talked about the importance of inclusion and the ways in which it will contribute to even more female leadership within DHS. To that end, Katharine was able to talk about the ways GDIT does exactly that.

“For us, it starts at the top,” she said “Our president, Amy Gilliland, is very visible and engaged on diversity and inclusion efforts across the company… We have invested in trainings and in supporting our Employee Resource Groups, which are voluntary, employee-led groups that promote bringing our ‘whole selves’ to work.”

She continued, “We believe in investing in the next generation – both financially and in terms of time and energy. That’s why we’re active in supporting Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code, and we see a lot of opportunity to make a difference for women in tech, in STEM and, as it relates to this discussion, in security and law enforcement careers.”

Other sessions during the symposium included an inspiring opening keynote from, Elaine Duke, the Former Acting Secretary & Former Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, who told the group to “Think big. Start small. Act now.”

Attendees saw a powerful recorded segment from Girls Who Game; an Executive Leadership and Technology Panel moderated by Margie Graves, the Former Deputy Federal CIO & Former Deputy CIO, DHS; and a closing keynote from Suzanne Spaulding, Former Under Secretary, DHS.

View the full Law Enforcement & Technology panel.

Learn more about our work in Homeland Security and GDIT Diversity and Inclusion.