Each year, Homeland Security Today honors shining stars in the community who are making their own unique, invaluable contributions to advance the mission of keeping America safer from myriad threats. Learn more about this year’s awardees ahead of the Dec. 11 awards ceremony in Washington.
Federal Small Business Champion
Katrina Brisbon, Assistant Administrator, Contracting and Procurement, Transportation Security Administration
At GTSC’s recent Transportation Security 2019 forum, Katrina Brisbon advised contractors that it’s “very important that you lay out what value are you driving to a specific agency.” The packed room paying rapt attention to her copious contracting advice and forecast underscored the value that Brisbon brings to TSA. She has earned multiple awards for her commitment to the contracting community, which is testament to how she embraces the title of a small-business champion. As demonstrated in this interview with HSToday, Brisbon is candid about the landscape and earnest in helping contractors navigate it. Before TSA, she served as the chief of Procurement Policy and Oversight at the U.S. Coast Guard, providing oversight for procurement operations, managing the contracting career development program, executing internal controls and leading the development and implementation of procurement policy. Brisbon also served as the Defense Information Systems Agency’s vice procurement services executive and the vice director of the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization. She was named TSA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Contracting and Procurement – with a $3.8 billion acquisition portfolio – in November 2017. Brisbon also serves as the executive liaison to the DHS chief of procurement.
U.S. Coast Guard AUXDATA Procurement Team
Brenda E. Oberholzer, Contract Specialist; Lt. Nicholas M. Fredericksen, Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) & Technical Evaluation Team Chairperson; Lt. Carl N. Stokes, Program Manager, AUXDATA system; Shandra J. Kotzun, Procurement Law Attorney, C4IT Service Center, U.S. Coast Guard
“The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) had multiple known and unknown future needs to modernize its Workforce Management (WFM) and Customer Relations Management (CRM) IT tools which were fast approaching their end-of-life,” wrote Sandra Oliver Schmidt in the DHS Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, Procurement Innovation Lab, in her detailed nomination of the U.S. Coast Guard AUXDATA Procurement Team. “It was time to go out with a procurement to rapidly transition its dated, unreliable, self-hosted AUXDATA system to a cloud-hosted vendor-managed SaaS system that would be easily configurable, user-friendly, and highly reliable.” That would allow USCG teams to quickly locate and request assistance from a nearby Auxiliarist, a stumbling block on critical missions given the existing system.
The USCG team released a solicitation on the GSA IT Schedule 70 and utilized a three-phase procurement process with an advisory down-select between each phase. “Several other innovative procurement techniques were utilized to streamline the evaluation process,” Schmidt noted, including going straight to consensus and documenting their decision together after reviewing a paper or watching an oral presentation. “The slew of innovative procurement techniques allowed the USCG team to down-select from 17 companies to make 1 award in just over four months while only spending 11 days to evaluate quotes and write the technical consensus report.”
“This means that the evaluators could get back to their actual jobs supporting the USCG mission, not locked up in rooms evaluating quotes for weeks or months!”
Innovative Campaign to Forward Mission
Dr Ajit Maan, Founder & CEO; Dr. Howard Clark, President; Paul Cobaugh, Vice President
Howard Clark, Ph.D., is a Marine Corps veteran with vast intelligence and counter-radicalization experience who has “also been a tireless advocate for soft power approaches, specifically narrative approaches, to conflict,” said Maan, noting that he is working to “train the next generation of war fighters about non-kinetic influence.”
Paul Cobaugh, retired from the U.S. Army as a warrant officer after a distinguished career in the Special Operations CT community, is vice president at Narrative Strategies and lauded the “ground-breaking” narrative warfare concept of “developing the tactics and research for resisting malign influence.” Maan, he said, ensures national security professionals receive mentoring “in order to develop defense strategy to fight the malign influence of extremists, near-peer competitors such as China and adversaries like Russia, Iran and violent extremists.”
Pamela Williamson of Sky Canopy Consulting stressed in her nomination to HSToday that Cobaugh “has made it his mission since he retired from the U.S. Army CT/CVE mission to write, advocate and work toward bringing the key importance of Strategic Communications Narrative top, front and central to the U.S. military,” doing so with “the personal empathy, compassion and ethical awareness and best practice high standards toward his audiences.”
Kevin Metcalf, Founder & CEO, National Child Protection Task Force
“Human trafficking and child exploitation cannot be stopped in isolation; it’s going to take a crowdsourced effort to identify these predators, locate their lairs, and take the fight to them,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Metcalf of the 4th Judicial District of Arkansas, founder of the National Child Protection Task Force (NCPTF), told HSToday in an interview early this year. “The National Child Protection Task Force is a collaborative effort between law enforcement, private organizations, nonprofit foundations, service providers, and highly skilled individuals. We all work very well separately with isolated effort but that can only get us so far; it’s time we set aside ego and jurisdiction to come together to attack this problem.”
At this year’s annual conference, the NCPTF provided essential training to law enforcement and prosecutors in areas such as how to identify and legally request the proper records, how to map and analyze records, how to conduct location-based investigations with no suspects, how to track cryptocurrency, and how to use OSINT. The training encourages multi-jurisdictional teams that would be able to span the country, sharing expertise and growing as collaborative units.
Metcalf’s holistic view of the National Child Protection Task Force is much bigger than just law enforcement. “We all share responsibility to make society a better place for everyone, especially our most vulnerable members,” he said. “We should be looking at this with the concept of before, during, and after phases instead of the current fragmented, egocentric, and jurisdictional model where career advancement is the key factor.”
Mark Ray, Director of Public Works, City of Crystal, Minnesota
Ray is a member of the Department of Homeland Security State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council (SLTTGCC) and serves as the chairman of the American Public Works Association’s Emergency Management Committee. He also serves as APWA’s representative to National Homeland Security Consortium (NHSC).
“APWA members, including Mark, are also engaged with DHS a number of topics, including National Critical Functions, where they are looking for input from public works professionals,” wrote Douglas Hilderbrand of the National Weather Service in his nomination. “Furthermore, Mark has made a profound impact building relationships and fostering information-sharing between public works organizations and the National Weather Service. These stronger relationships and improved information sharing have increased national resilience to extreme weather, water, and climate events.”
Citizen of Mission
Brady Snakovsky, Brady’s K9 Fund
Most Valuable Player
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
Chris Krebs, Director; Brian Harrell, Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection; Katherine Ledesma, Senior Policy Analyst; Matt Masterson, Senior Cybersecurity Advisor
“Since its inception, CISA has played a pivotal role in dramatically improving the security safeguards of not only U.S. Government Agencies, but has had a significant impact on critical infrastructure enterprises which over 85 percent is in the hands of private sector enterprises,” wrote National Economic Security Alliance President and CEO Lynn Mattice in his nomination. “A major shift has been the establishment of the Risk Management Center within CISA charged with providing current data on risks faced by both public and private sector entities – along with recommended solutions to mitigate those risks. In addition, CISA is charged with working with state and local governments to ensure our election process is secure.”
One DHS employee lauded Director Chris Krebs’ “passion and resolve” for the mission, ensuring both civilian and government entities are informed of threats to their systems in a timely manner. “His approach, honest concern for our nation’s welfare, and patriotism are helping to change the public’s view of what a government leader can be.”
In his nomination of Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Brian Harrell, Andy Jabbour, co-founder and managing director of The Gate 15 Company and the Faith-Based Information Sharing & Analysis Organization (FB-ISAO), said that Harrell “has been a road warrior, moving around the country and directly engaging industry, to include the community of faith, and building relationships, sharing insights, advancing partnership and information sharing, and developing a trust with the owners and operators of the infrastructure out nation depends on.”
“Brian had a passion for the mission before assuming his current role,” Jabbour added. “Upon taking the reins at ISD, he has aggressively and decisively engaged his team and the critical partners needed to advance the collective accomplishment of our homeland security mission and the National Preparedness Goal to have a secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”
Excellence in Outreach
Federal Emergency Management Agency Team
Dan Kaniewski, Deputy Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency; Lizzie Litzow, Press Secretary, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Stephanie Yanta, Behavioral Analysis Profiler, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC)
Yanta knows, appreciates, and embraces the team approach to tackling complex problems and has always enjoyed and sought both law enforcement partnerships as well as non-traditional partnerships, such as outreach on current threats through HSToday Law Enforcement Webinars. She is also a regular guest presenter to a variety of audiences, including academia, law enforcement and the private sector. Yanta leads a collaborative effort with the UK and other trusted foreign partners on preventing acts of targeted violence, and is keen on sharing both lessons learned and cutting-edge methods of improving homeland security to better posture our front-line forces in the detection, assessment, management and mitigation of potential threats and/or persons of concern.