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Friday, July 19, 2024

Why Losing DHS OSDBU Director Kevin Boshears Matters

Federal retirements are a regular “thing” as year after year hundreds of public servants finish their 20 or 30 years of service and head out to do something else. Or not.

In about 30 days the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is set to lose such a public servant. After more than 30 years, Kevin Boshears, the director for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business at DHS, will pack up his office and, according to him, “not do anything in federal contracting.”

Anyone who has worked with him knows he deserves it. From his folksy tales of his father and family owning a small business and teaching him the challenges and values of it, Mr. Boshears has been a staunch, intelligent, and creative advocate on behalf of the small businesses that serve the department. Throughout his career, he has set the example for others in government and won numerous recognition awards from industry and his peers in government.

On May 23, the Government Technology & Services Coalition bestowed him with a lifetime achievement award for his service to the small-business community.

boshears
Kevin Boshears OSDBU DHS presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Government Technology Services Coalition Bridget JohnsonHSToday

Why is Kevin so special?

I will certainly say more in a moment, but it was really made clear as people from our community stepped up to recount their personal experiences with Kevin:

“Always answers”

“Responsive”

“Respectful”

“Committed”

“Creative”

“Problem Solver”

“Kept his word”

I could go on. In the words of Kathy Pherson, CEO of Pherson Associates, “Kevin Boshears sets the standard for what a government small-business advocate should be. Not only is he knowledgeable and well-connected, he is unfailingly responsive.” Alba Aleman, CEO of Citizant, said of Kevin, “He always approached things ‘palm up’ – giving and receiving in the spirit of service.”

“Kevin’s key to success is not his intellect, though that is keen; nor his leadership, though that is strong,” said former Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke. “It is his passion for the small-business community and ensuring the critical DHS missions are performed with the right industry partnerships.”

And those are just a few of the tributes.

You may be saying to yourself, yeah yeah, Kevin’s a great guy. So what? SO — he is the epitome of the good one person can do for so many even in a world like federal contracting. As we thought about an appropriate send-off, the concept of ALOHA emerged. For those who have been to Hawaii, you know that the word ALOHA means hello and goodbye. And for those in the islands, its meaning is much deeper and more profound than that.

According to the old kahunas (priests), being able to live the Spirit of Aloha was a way of reaching self-perfection and realization for our own body and soul. Aloha is sending and receiving a positive energy. Aloha is living in harmony. When you live the Spirit of Aloha, you create positive feelings and thoughts, which are never gone. They exist in space, multiply and spread over to others.

Kevin’s dedication and service brought this spirit of ALOHA to each of us and to our community through his:

A, ala, watchful, alertness 

Kevin was always on the alert to challenges and threats to the small business community. He was able to see and analyze legislative initiatives, as well as “studies” for their impacts to the ecosystem of our security and take the time and initiative to ring the alarm bells when anything endangered the small-business community.

L, lokahi, working with unity 

Kevin always answered an email. He always said yes to speak to the community. He always treated everyone with respect. Even when he did not always have the desired solution, he worked with everyone to blaze the path and work toward one.

Kevin Boshears dropping the mic Carolyn MuirGovernment Technology Services Coalition

O, oia’i’o, truthful honesty 

Kevin didn’t schmooze anyone. While his delivery was always soft and humble, he spoke the truth – good or bad – and shared his opinions, thoughts, and beliefs with calm certitude.

H, ha’aha’a, humility 

Kevin was always humble – not self-deprecating – but humble and kind. He approached problems and threats from a position of love and drew people in to solve problems. He did not alienate or make things worse from his ego or his needs; he served his community and thought through the best solutions and paths.

A, ahonui, patient perseverance

More than 33 years serving the small-business community. Working with the most experienced to the most inexperienced in our community, Kevin persevered through the constant demands on him from industry AND navigated the many changes serving the nation’s mission of securing the homeland for nearly all of DHS’ existence. He developed one of the best programs across government for our small-business community and achieved for DHS “A” ratings on the Small Business Administration’s small-business scorecard.

He tackled every challenge with the spirit of ALOHA to be an exemplary model for anyone who seeks a career in public service. We will miss Kevin Boshears immensely and wish him all the best for his new endeavors.

‘Incredible Public Servant’ Boshears Reflects on Career Driven by Passion

Kristina Tanasichuk
Kristina Tanasichuk
From terrorism to the homeland security business enterprise, for over 20 years Kristina Tanasichuk has devoted her career to educating and informing the homeland community to build avenues for collaboration, information sharing, and resilience. She has worked in homeland security since 2002 and has founded and grown some of the most renowned organizations in the field. Prior to homeland she worked on critical infrastructure for Congress and for municipal governments in the energy sector and public works. She has 25 years of lobbying and advocacy experience on Capitol Hill on behalf of non- profit associations, government clients, and coalitions. In 2011, she founded the Government & Services Technology Coalition, a non-profit member organization devoted to the missions of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and all the homeland disciplines. GTSC focuses on developing and nurturing innovative small and mid-sized companies (up to $1 billion) working with the Federal government. GTSC’s mission is to increase collaboration, information exchange, and constructive problem solving around the most challenging homeland security issues facing the nation. She acquired Homeland Security Today (www.HSToday.us) in 2017 and has since grown readership to over one million hits per month and launched and expanded a webinar program to law enforcement across the US, Canada, and international partners. Tanasichuk is also the president and founder of Women in Homeland Security, a professional development organization for women in the field of homeland security. As a first generation Ukrainian, she was thrilled to join the Advisory Board of LABUkraine in 2017. The non-profit initiative builds computer labs for orphanages in Ukraine and in 2018 built the first computer lab near Lviv, Ukraine. At the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she worked with the organization to pivot and raise money for Ukrainian troop and civilian needs. She made several trips to Krakow, Poland to bring vital supplies like tourniquets and water filters to the front lines, and has since continued fundraising and purchasing drones, communications equipment, and vehicles for the war effort. Most recently she was named as the Lead Advisor to the First US-Ukraine Freedom Summit, a three-day conference and fundraiser to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of Ukrainian war veterans through sports and connection with U.S. veterans. She served as President and Executive Vice President on the Board of Directors for the InfraGard Nations Capital chapter, a public private partnership with the FBI to protect America’s critical infrastructure for over 8 years. Additionally, she served on the U.S. Coast Guard Board of Mutual Assistance and as a trustee for the U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Memorial Foundation. She graduated from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Citizens’ Academies, in addition to the Marine Corps Executive Forum. Prior to founding the Government Technology & Services Coalition she was Vice President of the Homeland Security & Defense Business Council (HSDBC), an organization for the largest corporations in the Federal homeland security market. She was responsible for thought leadership and programs, strategic partnerships, internal and external communications, marketing and public affairs. She managed the Council’s Executive Brief Series and strategic alliances, as well as the organization’s Thought Leadership Committee and Board of Advisors. Prior to this, she also founded and served for two years as executive director of the American Security Challenge, an event that awarded monetary and contractual awards in excess of $3.5 million to emerging security technology firms. She was also the event director for the largest homeland security conference and exposition in the country where she created and managed three Boards of Advisors representing physical and IT security, first responders, Federal, State and local law enforcement, and public health. She crafted the conference curriculum, evolved their government relations strategy, established all of the strategic partnerships, and managed communications and media relations. Tanasichuk began her career in homeland security shortly after September 11, 2001 while at the American Public Works Association. Her responsibilities built on her deep understanding of critical infrastructure issues and included homeland security and emergency management issues before Congress and the Administration on first responder issues, water, transportation, utility and public building security. Prior to that she worked on electric utility deregulation and domestic energy issues representing municipal governments and as professional staff for the Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce. Tanasichuk has also worked at the American Enterprise Institute, several Washington, D.C. associations representing both the public and private sectors, and the White House under President George H.W. Bush. Tanasichuk also speaks extensively representing small and mid-sized companies and discussing innovation and work in the Federal market at the IEEE Homeland Security Conference, AFCEA’s Homeland Security Conference and Homeland Security Course, ProCM.org, and the Security Industry Association’s ISC East and ACT-IAC small business committee. She has also been featured in CEO Magazine and in MorganFranklin’s www.VoicesonValue.com campaign. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College and earned her Master’s in Public Administration from George Mason University. She was honored by the mid-Atlantic INLETS Law Enforcement Training Board with the “Above and Beyond” award in both 2019 – for her support to the homeland security and first responder community for furthering public private partnerships, creating information sharing outlets, and facilitating platforms for strengthening communities – and 2024 – for her work supporting Ukraine in their defense against the Russian invasion. In 2016 she was selected as AFCEA International’s Industry Small Business Person of the Year, in 2015 received the U.S. Treasury, Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization Excellence in Partnership award for “Moving Treasury’s Small Business Program Forward,” as a National Association of Woman Owned Businesses Distinguished Woman of the Year Finalist, nominated for “Friend of the Entrepreneur” by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Military Spouse of the Year by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2011, and for a Heroines of Washington DC award in 2014. She is fluent in Ukrainian.

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