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September 14 Newsletter


Welcome to the SIMCAC Weekly Newsletter....
....Where each week, we'll share SIMCAC announcements, member spotlights, local/national industry news, upcoming events, and recaps of past ones! 

Event Recap - The AI Revolution: Local Success Stories
Which took place on September 10th 2018 in Vienna, VA

Have you started? Are you ready? Because it’s coming.
AI is coming.
      The Tower Club was packed with people worried, excited, nervous, and elated about AI.  Everyone was discussing how they were preparing for or where they were on their path to using AI.  There were discussions on budget fights, hiring shortages, and all the new hair pulling problems that AI and machine learning has created for them.  This event was a unique opportunity to meet others in the same positions with similar struggles. Each person provided a piece of the greater puzzle of AI.
      To aid in solving this puzzle a panel of experts implementing AI solutions was assembled; Mona Kahn, Kevin Higgins, Gotthard Szabo, and Ali Tafreshi.  They each brought a very different take and background with AI and machine learning.  Mona started Fannie Mae down the AI path by using Robotic Process Automation to automate common repetitive tasks.  This is slowly expanding as trust in AI grows and the benefits are being reaped.  Kevin is helping AARP figure out what it means to do AI.  They are using it to tell if a person has a learning disability, understand how customers interact with their website, improve help desk interactions, and run continuous integration and delivery platforms.  Gotthard is a data scientist and academic that has utilized AI and machine learning in many areas including applying it to predicting mineral deposits and improving mining efficiencies.  Ali has advised and helped many companies utilize AI from financial firms to call centers.  The panel was moderated by Mike Ernest, a Google Cloud Engineer. AI is near and dear to Google’s heart and Google wants to democratize AI and lower the barrier to entry so companies can achieve incredible feats quickly without dedicated data science teams.
      Mike started off the discussion with a focus on people and business challenges.  The panel discussed many issues that they encountered.  Put simply, machine learning is really hard!  There will be a lot of learning, starting and failing repeated over and over again and again.  Retraining needs to happen.  Entire business structures and processes will be completely transformed.  Key advice included:
  • Start small:  Deliver something of value that addresses a business problem as quickly as possible.
  • Ensure broad support:  Gather executive champions to spear head the organizational and infrastructure changes that come along with AI.
  • Focus on the data:  As one panelist stressed, “it’s not about having lots of data, it’s about having the right data.”
Even with all the challenges, the panelists were very positive.  There has never been a better time to start using AI and machine learning.  The price of data storage and transformation is cheaper than it has even been and it is only becoming cheaper.  The cost to experiment and try new tools is quickly heading to zero.  AI and machine learning is becoming more democratized.  Take advantage of this.  Start your journey if you haven’t.  Don’t lose hope.  It is difficult journey, but entirely worth it!

Upcoming SIMCAC Event - Major Cybersecurity Trends for 2019
October 1st from 05:00 PM - 08:00 PM in Arlington, VA

Organizations, public and private, as well as consumers across the world will face no shortage of cybersecurity challenges in 2019. Ransomware and social engineering cyber threats continue to be at the forefront as they exploit basic human behavior. Many companies have failed to prepare for GDPR and the continued rise of state-sponsored attacks will erode our trust in institutions, enterprises and services. Join us for an evening of lessons learned and insights into what’s down the road as we bring to you cybersecurity subject matter experts in a lively panel discussion. Are you prepared for the cyber threats of tomorrow?

SIMCAC welcomes all current and eligible prospective members to join us for an evening of networking, cocktails, heavy appetizers, and a lively panel discussion. Event attendance is complimentary for members in good standing.

                                            Register Now!


Event underwritten by Sirius, IBM QRadar, and special thanks to the Virginia Tech Research Center Arlington for hosting.

Meet the Event Moderator and Panelists

Our Moderator:


Laszlo Gonc - Mr. Gonc is a recognized senior executive with thirty years of progressive experience in business and information technology. He is responsible for helping organizations – corporate and nonprofit alike – navigate the digital frontier, advising clients on issues such as cybersecurity, IT risk mitigation, and building digital technology strategies that drive both performance and business value. He has experience across several industries, consulting for senior executives and boards, developing cybersecurity strategies, evaluating IT risk, and spearheading critical security and transformation projects for senior leadership – including, but not limited to, healthcare, manufacturing, mining, legal, insurance, and banking.

Laszlo is a member of the Forbes Technology Council, PEER150, and sits on a number of nonprofit boards and committees. He served as Chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Chicagoland Executive Council for a number of years, currently serves as Executive Vice President for the Chicago chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP), and is a Board Member for the Society for Information Management (SIM) Chicago. He is also a member of FBI Infragard, ISSA and ISACA.

In early 2016, he helped form the SIM International Cybersecurity SIG for senior technology leaders and continues to serve as Director of Strategic Programming and Content, collaborating to launch their first national virtual Cybersecurity Conference in 2017.

He is a nationally recognized keynote speaker, invited at professional associations, industry conferences and universities providing thought leadership on the state of cybersecurity, mitigating technology risk, and helping companies “Go Digital.”

Providing coaching and mentoring in Chicago’s technology incubation and innovation areas, he has experience with business model generation, design thinking, and blue ocean workshops. Laszlo holds a Bachelor of Science Commerce degree in Operations Management from DePaul University and is a certified CISSP security professional [Cert#: 392959].

Our Panelists:


John Brady - Mr. Brady is Vice President, Cybersecurity, Chief Information Security Officer at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  As CISO, Mr. Brady has overall responsibility for all aspects of FINRA’s cyber and information security program including policies, standards, compliance, technical controls, insider risk, and incident response and recovery.

Before FINRA, Mr. Brady was responsible for networks and network security at VeriSign, built and operated Citibank’s Internet web and email services, and at Sun Microsystems created integrated network systems for prominent customers.  He began his career at The Aerospace Corporation designing satellite systems and command and control networks.

Mr. Brady holds a BS in Computer and Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and a MS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California at Berkeley.  He also is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).


Michael Dent - Mr. Dent is the Chief Information Security Officer for Fairfax County, Virginia. A veteran public servant, Michael joined the County in 2002 after managing the security program for information technology at the Virginia Department of Corrections.  Michael is also a military veteran having served in the US Army for 9 years.  

Since joining the County, Michael has been the catalyst for establishing the enterprise-wide IT risk management program, by developing a county-wide comprehensive IT security risk and privacy program, He proactively works with business units to implement practices that meet the defined policies and standards for information security; advises Executive Management on risk and other matters related to IT security to determine acceptable levels of risk; conducting incident investigations and IT forensics, and proactively conducting audits, monitoring and reporting on system-wide status, threat analysis and new vulnerabilities; developing regular county-wide communication and awareness programs; and, addressing system and people compliance issues through a structured enforcement process.  He is one of the founding members of the County’s Architecture Review Board.

Michael is currently serving his eighth term as Chairman of the Council of Governments (COG) Chief Information Security Officers group within the National Capital Region (NCR).  Under Michael leadership the NCR Interoperable Communications Infrastructure (NCRICI) support team was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth of Virginia Governor’s Technology Award for Cross-Boundary Collaboration for its Identity and Access Management Service (IAMS).

Most recently Michael’s Next Generation Cyber Security Program was awarded a 2018 VACO Achievement Award, 2018 Public Technology Institute Solutions Award, the very first 2016 Visionary Award from Splunk in the state and local sector.  He also received the 2016 Cyber Award from Symantec. He was honored as the North American Information Security Executive of the Year Award for 2015 from The Executive Network in the Academic/Public Sector Category.

Michael’s diligent efforts, strategic and visionary leadership has earned national recognition for Fairfax County’s Information Security Program as one of the leading local government programs in the country.  The County’s Next Generation Security Program and IT Security Awareness Day program, has been nationally recognized by the National Association of Counties (NACO).


David Simpson - Admiral Simpson has influenced National Defense and Homeland Security policy and provided cutting edge Information, Communications Technology and Cybersecurity solutions for over thirty years. He previously served as Chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau from 2013 to 2017.

As Bureau Chief, he oversaw public safety, homeland security, and cybersecurity activities for over 30,000 commercial companies in the telecommunications sector.  Admiral Simpson served as the vice director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) from 2011 to 2013.  In that capacity, he helped lead an organization responsible for planning, developing and providing interoperable global communications for the Defense community.  He also served as a senior delegate to the 2012 ITU World Radio Telecommunications Conference and to the World Conference on International Telecom (WCIT). Simpson’s extensive career includes assignments with responsibility for networks, IT, and crisis communications for afloat and other deployed forces in the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America.

Simpson is a native of Burbank, California and a 1982 graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  He earned a master’s degree in systems technology from the Naval Postgraduate School.  Recipient of the Navy’s Copernicus Award, Federal Computing Weekly’s RED 100 Award and the Next Generation 911 Institute’s 2017 Government Leader Award.

As a visiting faculty Professor at Virginia Tech, Simpson is involved in cybersecurity course and program development in VT’s Master’s of Information Technology and the Master’s of Business Administration programs. He is working with other Pamplin and Virginia Tech faculty to produce a curriculum design consisting of multiple courses in cybersecurity, leveraging the particular strengths and capabilities of Pamplin and Virginia Tech. In addition to teaching, Simpson represents Pamplin and identifies opportunities with partners, industry, and external stakeholders to promote VT’s programs.
Only One Month Away! - The Inaugural SIMCAC Charity Golf Outing

One of our core principles in SIMCAC is to give back to our community. As part of that commitment, a portion of the proceeds from this golf outing will fund our various Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) partners. Our donations fund programs for young students, high school graduates, and programs to train teachers on educating students in the STEM areas.

We have worked diligently to put together a stimulating and focused agenda, bringing together experts, visionaries and professionals from the IT industry. The event is free for members and and other senior IT leaders and we encourage everyone to invite a guest to maximize the value to our charities!

Visit the official event website for more information and registration. 

About the Venue: Westfields Golf Club

At Westfields, Fred Couples has built one of the top destinations for golf in Virginia. This stunning Northern Virginia golf course is fun and accessible for the novice, yet challenging and thought-provoking for the experienced golfer. Fred's professional play on hundreds of courses around the world, coupled with his experience in countless tournaments and team competitions, has given him exceptional insight into optimal golf course design. The perfect embodiment of that vision is yours to experience at Westfields Golf Club located close by to Centreville, VA.

Register Here!

This week's newsletter brought to you by Sirius and IBM QRadar  
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