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CISA Names Award Recipients as Agency Celebrates Outstanding Workforce

The 2021 Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Workforce Recognition Awards Ceremony has marked the accomplishments of the past year and recognized some of the teams and individuals who went above and beyond to keep the United States safe. 

Announcing the awards, CISA Director, Jen Easterly, said that without the dedication, creativity and expertise of the workforce, CISA would not be able to successfully lead the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce cyber and physical risk to U.S. critical national infrastructure. “The past year was shaped by unprecedented challenges, so this event was a chance for us to shine a bright light on those teammates who embody the core values that underpin everything we do at CISA: Collaboration – Innovation – Service – Accountability,” Easterly said. 

“A strong culture is the foundation of a great team, and our team culture helped us tackle so many challenges. We have so many great teams and employees at CISA, working around the clock to keep the American people safe, selecting just a few was truly no easy task.”

The Awards

Unity of Effort Award: This award is given to teams that demonstrate tremendous coordination and unity of effort across disciplines.

  • COVID Task Force: The task force helped move forward innovative solutions to support the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic response. The team conducted in-depth analysis of supply chains and distributed guidance widely to help protect the manufacture and distribution of vaccines, ensuring that communities across the country received vaccines and, essentially, saved lives.
  • 2020 Presidential Election Rumor Control Team: The team created CISA’s rumor control page and worked around the clock to dispel rumors, myths and mis-, dis-, and malinformation rampant on social media. To date, CISA’s Rumor Control page has more than 8.6 million page views.
  • Regions 9 and 10 Dependency Shortage Analysis Team: This team studied the Chlorine supply chain shortage. Through local engagement, the team was able to pinpoint where the shortages were occurring and work with partners to take action to resolve the shortage avoiding wide-spread impact across the country.

Unit Excellence Award: This award focuses on teams that have looked at the agency as a whole and have employed strategic, creative measures to strengthen CISA operations.

  • Office of the Chief Information Officer Operations and Maintenance Team:  The team helped the more than 2,400 CISA employees transition to remote work while balancing the security requirements of specific mission teams to provide uninterrupted support to the mission. The team’s work ensured the safety of CISA employees while continuing to accomplish the mission.
  • Vulnerability Disclosure Team:  The team developed Vulnerability Disclosure processes, procedures, and community norms, while encouraging global adoption. They helped coordinate the responsible disclosure and management of the “badalloc” vulnerability, found in Blackberry’s QNX and other software products and embedded in operational technology across the globe, reducing the risk to not only infrastructure, but lives as well.
  • Cybersecurity Division (CSD) Solar Winds Capacity Building Directives & Guidance Team: This team responded within hours of becoming aware of one of the most sophisticated and impactful cyber espionage campaigns to impact the nation, issuing an Emergency Directive requiring execution of urgent remediations to reduce risks across federal networks. CISA led the nation’s response to this campaign, which included deploying personnel to assist agencies with evicting the adversary; releasing detection tools to identify compromises across both government and private sector entities; and publishing eviction guidance to provide reasonable assurance that the adversary had been removed from victim networks as well as a long-term strategic recovery plan to address underlying weaknesses in federal networks.

CISA Silver Award (Teams): This award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in maximizing effectiveness of people, processes, and technologies, wise stewardship of resources and enhancing capabilities. 

  • Integrated Operations Division Chemical Security Field Training Program Team: This team successfully developed and implemented nationwide training in chemical security, where none had existed before, to ensure that Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards regulatory inspectors help regulated entities meet the national standard.

CISA Gold Award: This award recognizes teams for outstanding leadership and superior public service.

  • CISA Region 5 Team: The region provided support to public safety partners during unrest in Minneapolis. Thanks to their work, the City of Minneapolis was able to respond and be prepared for a variety of scenarios.
  • 2020 Presidential Elections Security Team:  The team led the nation’s strategic approach to election security deepening engagement in the community, identifying and mitigating thousands of vulnerabilities across the sector, and combated disinformation regarding the election through initiatives like the rumor control webpage. These efforts were critical to the administration of securing the election in the face of adversarial threats and a global pandemic.

Emerging Leader Award: This award is given to employees who show a particular ability to imagine, anticipate, and innovate.

  • Jonathan Dunn, Stakeholder Engagement Division: Jonathan helped the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC) develop a study for the President highlighting critical infrastructure needs.
  • Nathaniel Drowell, Office of the Chief Financial Officer: Nathaniel worked to automate complex data and budget processes helping manage more effectively CISA’s largest budget increase from $2B in FY 2021 to $3.2B in the FY 2023 OMB Budget Submission.
  • Quera Smith, Office of Chief Human Capital Officer: Quera provided critical surge support to DHS-HQ Executive Services while maintaining her CISA Executive Resources responsibilities to ensure that CISA continued accelerating critical hiring actions to strengthen the CISA team.

CISA Leadership Award: This award recognizes individuals who have led teams to achieve outstanding results and have inspired and motivated others to work collaboratively and creatively to achieve high levels of success.

  • Jessica Kaputa, Emergency Communications Division: Jessica reinvigorated the tribal communications engagement program to help CISA sustain and build relationships in the tribal community.
  • L. Scott Parker, Infrastructure Security Division: Scott led the first-ever CISA study on autonomous vehicles which positioned CISA to support stakeholders in reducing risk from emerging attack vectors.
  • Shannon DeHaven, Cybersecurity Division: Shannon created a culture of inclusion and psychological safety helping to eliminate workforce gender bias and support CISA’s core principles to foster “a sense of belonging.”

Silver Award (Individuals):

  • Christina Duvall, Office of Chief Operations Support Officer: Christina led the CISA facilities reorganization, team development, and functional realignment efforts to enhance the service delivery in support of CISA’s mission and during the pandemic response on top of an already complex job.

Gold Award (Individuals):

  • Amanda Glenn and Erin Buechel Wieczorek, Office of External Affairs: Amanda and Erin showed remarkable innovation and creativity in communications. Sometimes unsung, the External Affairs team ensures that the Agency puts its best foot forward and Erin and Amanda remained unwavering in this mission.

Employees of the Year:

  • Antonio “T” Scurlock, Office of the Chief Learning Officer: T brought his institutional knowledge of CISA and steadfast moral compass to build a team environment that values diversity and collaboration.
  • Elizabeth Jackson, Office of the Chief Financial Officer: Liz demonstrated outstanding leadership and technical skills resulting in the highest obligation rate in CISA’s history at 99.74%.
  • Joshua Finney, Cybersecurity Division: Josh built and oversaw the cloud forensic capabilities of CISA from the ground up.
  • Timothy West, Integrated Operations Division: Tim helped lead the development and implementation of the Office of Chemical Security’s nation-wide Field Training Program.

Read more at CISA

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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