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(ISC)² Announces 2017 U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Award Finalists

Keynote Karen S. Evans Joins VIPs and Guests to Recognize Cyber Excellence
at Upcoming Gala in Washington, D.C.

Alexandria, VA., U.S.A., April 17, 2017 -  (ISC)²® (“ISC-squared”) today announced the finalists for its 14th annual U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Awards (GISLA®) program.

Sponsored by the (ISC)² U.S. Government Advisory Council (USGAC), the GISLA program was established in 2004 to recognize government information security leaders (individuals or teams) whose commitment to excellence is advancing the nation’s cybersecurity program in six areas: workforce, technology, process/policy, community awareness, industry partners and cybersecurity up-and-comers.

The U.S. Cyber Challenge’s National Director and keynote Karen S. Evans will join government and industry VIPs and (ISC)² officials to honor the 2017 GISLA recipients on May 10, 2017, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C., along with sponsors Raytheon, KPMG LLP and The Best VPN.

“The GISLA Gala is the one night of the year when we can shift our focus from what is going wrong in cybersecurity to what is going right,” said Dan Waddell, CISSP, CAP, PMP, managing director, North America Region, director of U.S. government affairs, (ISC)² and chair of the (ISC)² USGAC. “This year’s GISLA finalists went above and beyond to stabilize the government’s cybersecurity efforts and to continue its advancement during an inherently challenging presidential election and transition.” 

Each year, a judging committee of senior information security experts from the (ISC)² USGAC and industry reviews the nominees and recommends finalists based upon selection criteria and eligibility requirements.  

The 2017 GISLA finalists are as follows:

Technology Improvement – Individual Category

-- Daniel Holmes, senior information technician operations engineer, U.S. Army

Initiative: U.S. Army Microwave Line-of-Site Cyber Operations

-- Rob Karas, director, National Cybersecurity Assessments and Technical Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Initiative: DHS National Cybersecurity Assessments and Technical Services (NCATS)

Process/Policy Improvement – Individual Category

-- Brian O'Reilly, lead, Cloud Data Analytics Framework, U.S. Department of Defense

Initiative: Cloud Data Analytics Framework

-- Matt Shabat, director of performance management, DHS

Initiative: Cybersecurity Insurance


Workforce Improvement – Individual Category

-- Ellen Ambrosini, director, Information Security Compliance, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Initiative: CMS Cybersecurity Risk Advisor Program

-- Barbara Smith, information security director, Pacific District, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Initiative: Department of VA ISO Two-Year Training Program


Up-and-Coming Information Security Professional – Individual Category

-- William Belei, information systems security manager, Launch Test and Range System, Air Force Space Command

Initiative: Air Force Launch Test and Range Program, Cyber Modernization Program

-- Michael Rocha, IT specialist, DHS

Initiative: DHS National Cybersecurity Assessments and Technical Services (NCATS)


Community Awareness – Team Category

-- Team Lead: Hemant Baidwan, branch chief, Executive Business Management, DHS

Initiative: DHS Information Security Training Working Group (ISTWG)

--Team Lead: Sean McCloskey, branch chief stakeholder risk assessment and mitigation, Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, DHS

Initiative: DHS Cyber Security Advisor (CSA) Program


Most Valuable Industry Partner (MVIP) – Team Category

-- Team lead(s): Parham Eftekhari and James Scott, co-founders and senior fellows, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology

Initiative: Impact of First Cybersecurity Think Tank on Government

-- Team Lead: Dr. Greg White, executive director, ISAO Standards Organization

Initiative: Information Sharing and Analysis Organization’s Standards Organization (ISAO SO)

About (ISC)²

(ISC)² is an international nonprofit membership association focused on inspiring a safe and secure cyber world. Best known for the acclaimed Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) certification, (ISC)2 offers a portfolio of credentials that are part of a holistic, programmatic approach to security. Our membership, over 120,000 strong, is made up of certified cyber, information, software and infrastructure security professionals who are making a difference and helping to advance the industry. Our vision is supported by our commitment to educate and reach the general public through our charitable foundation – The Center for Cyber Safety and EducationTM. For more information on (ISC)², visit, follow us on Twitter or connect with us on Facebook


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Media Contact:
Courtney Jewell Beveridge 
Extension Group