2020 Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum Highlights Workforce Diversity, Municipal Resiliency

Thursday, October 29, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2020 Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum Highlights Workforce Diversity, Municipal Resiliency

Baker-Polito Administration Highlights New Homeland Security Grant for Municipal Cyber Training

Massachusetts College Students Paired with Mentors from Leading Cybersecurity Organizations, Helping Address Diversity and Equity in Industry Workforce

 

BOSTON – At the 2020 Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum today, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker lauded efforts happening across the Commonwealth to boost cyber resiliency and to boost diversity in the cybersecurity sector. During his remarks, the Governor highlighted the efforts of the MassCyberCenter to assist Massachusetts communities with the development of contingency plans focusing on cybersecurity, including sessions held during spring and summer 2020.

A spotlight was also put on the Cybersecurity Mentorship Pilot Program, a new initiative run by the MassCyberCenter to pair diverse college students from across Massachusetts with mentors from the cybersecurity industry. The goal of the program is to boost diversity within the ranks of the cybersecurity workforce in Massachusetts by developing mentor/mentee relationships that help students develop career paths, learn about the cyber industry, and work collaboratively on technical projects.

“When our administration created the MassCyberCenter three years ago, we gave it a mission to act as a committed partner with business, academia, and the public sector, to continue developing a talented workforce and to expand our cybersecurity ecosystem,” said Governor Baker. “Projects like the Mentorship Pilot Program help us fulfill this mission by encouraging growth and diversity in the state’s cybersecurity workforce.”

“It is imperative that we continue to promote the entry of diverse talent into our tech workforce, and our administration continues to prioritize these efforts that will make Massachusetts companies stronger” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, who also co-chairs the Massachusetts STEM Council. “By boosting opportunity and creating new pathways into the cyber sector, we will also have more talented workers who are equipped to defend our institutions and businesses in the Commonwealth against emerging cyber threats.”

Following the application launch for the Cybersecurity Mentorship Pilot Program, the MassCyberCenter selected candidates from colleges across Massachusetts and mentors from the cybersecurity field, pairing them based on career interests and other factors. During their time in the pilot program, students worked on specific projects under the guidance of their mentor. Each student will have the opportunity to present their completed project at a showcase event at the end of the program.

“Mentorship can play a critical role in helping prepare students for careers, especially at the college level, and to break down the barriers faced by diverse students,” said Stephanie Helm, the Director of the MassCyberCenter. “I am thrilled at the response from colleges and universities across Massachusetts. It is also impressive to see the time invested by these mentors and the commitment of their companies. It is a testimony to the value of the program within the wider cyber sector.”

The mentors and students participating in the program are:

Mentors

Debby Briggs
CSO
Netscout

Fabio Martins
Research Information Security Office
Mass General Brigham

Erik Burns
Senior Security Solutions Engineer
Rapid7

Meghan Martinez
Digital Forensics and Incident Response Lead
MassMutual

Michael Daly
CTO, Cybersecurity, Training & Services, Raytheon Intelligence and Space

Jackie Silverstein
Director, Cyber Talent & Education Management
MassMutual

Jeffrey Gardner
Practice Advisor, Detection & Response, Rapid7

Michael Smith
CEO
Rising Tide Cybersecurity Management

Donato Kava
Associate Staff
MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Marc Zissman
Associate Head, Cyber Security and Information Sciences Division
MIT Lincoln Laboratory

 

Students

Kristina Bowen
North Shore Community College

Christopher Morales-Gonzalez
University of Massachusetts – Lowell

Kiesha Foggs
The American Women’s College of Bay Path University

Karelys Mateo Spohn
The American Women’s College
of Bay Path University

Nicole Gomez
Assumption University

Kyla Thomas
Bay Path University

Olivia Hulsebosch
Assumption University

Thao Trinh
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Akash Mishra
Tufts University

Marcel Vieira
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

 

“The lack of diversity in the cybersecurity workforce is a well-known issue. By pairing college students interested in cybersecurity with a mentor from this industry, we are tackling that issue head on,” said Damon Cox, Assistant Secretary of Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “I’m extremely excited to support the Mentorship program as a member of its Steering Committee and to join with these leading organizations to address this critical issue.”

The Steering Committee assisted with the recruitment of mentors and student mentees, advised on mentorship techniques and best practices, and helped develop two career panels on cybersecurity careers that took place during Massachusetts Cybersecurity Month.  The other members of the Pilot Program’s Steering Committee are: Gary Evee, Founder and CEO of Evee Security Consulting Group; Ming Chow, Associate Teaching Professor of Computer Science at Tufts University; Tasneem Nipplewala, Head Security Architect at MassMutual; and Lauren Jones, Massachusetts State Director of Apprenti.

During the Forum, Governor Baker also highlighted the recent success of a series of Cyber Incident Response Planning Workshops hosted across the Commonwealth, an effort launched at the 2019 Cybersecurity Forum. These Workshops brought together over 120 municipal leaders from each of the state’s Homeland Security Regions to help them develop best practices and prevention and response actions to counter cybersecurity threats.

The Governor also highlighted the Administration’s recent announcement of a $115,272 award from the federal Homeland Security Grant Program to support the creation of the first annual Statewide Cyber Security Conference during Massachusetts Cybersecurity Awareness Month scheduled for October 2021. The session will aim to educate up to 600 municipal leaders, first responders, and IT personnel on how to improve cybersecurity resiliency and planning efforts in their communities.

“The Cybersecurity Incident Response Planning Workshops organized by our CyberCenter are a real testament to what can be done when state and municipal officials work together,” said Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) and the former mayor of Gloucester. “Cyber criminals pose a unique threat to municipalities, because they are constantly evolving, so it’s important that we work together to confront this challenge collectively. The new Homeland Security grant will help us build cyber resiliency at the municipal level.”

“Cybersecurity threats are not to be taken lightly, and it cannot be overstated how important it is that we continue to work together to confront them,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), former co-chair the Massachusetts Legislative Tech Hub Caucus. “Massachusetts is a national leader because of this collaborative spirit and I am proud of the growth we have witnessed in this sector which remains a critical part of our economy. I am thrilled to be a part of this year’s Cybersecurity Forum and celebrate our achievements as we look to better securing our future.”

“Massachusetts’s greatest assets – our collective brainpower and industrious spirit – are inherently compatible with the innovation and tech economies, and I’m proud of the House’s ongoing efforts to strengthen our technology infrastructure especially given the current public health and economic challenges facing our Commonwealth,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop).  “The future vitality of the sector depends on a strong and diverse pipeline of workers, and I thank MassTech and its partners for its efforts to build mentorship opportunities for all.”

The fourth annual Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum was sponsored by Cyberark, Cybereason, Dell, MassMutual, Rapid 7, and Raytheon Technologies.

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About the MassCyberCenter

The MassCyberCenter was launched in September 2017 with a vision to enhance opportunities for the Massachusetts cybersecurity ecosystem to compete as the national cybersecurity leader while strengthening the resiliency of the Commonwealth’s public and private communities. Learn more at www.masscybercenter.org.

Media Contact:

Brian Noyes, MassTech

noyes (at) masstech.org