This past weekend, I was able to participate in an educational experience that was exceptional in many ways, but was also typical of many programs ongoing in the Washington area. The class I attended was part of the Intelligence Analysis Course run by Johns Hopkins University’s Division of Public Safety Leadership. It holds classes every Saturday at one of the many satellite locations the University maintains.
The students were a pretty exceptional group. They included serving Special Operations Forces officers, members of US Cyber Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, and other government and private sector players in the key issue sets facing our Nation’s leaders. These are proven leaders, who are in the upper middle level of their respective organizations and are looking to move up. In my opinion, they will succeed.
The instructors are also outstanding. The particular class I joined was taught (“led” is a better way of saying it) by Dr. Kathleen Kiernan. Dr. K is a former senior agent with ATF who, in addition to her teaching, runs a successful consulting firm. She shares her experience, mentors the students, and brings forward the next generation. It was a real pleasure to join her in the endeavor as a guest lecturer. Professional education of others is her favorite subject. Johns Hopkins also has programs focusing on Law Enforcement leaders and other Public Safety related sectors as well.
Watching these fine young men and women give up their precious free time to better prepare themselves for their jobs was a bit awe inspiring. They were interested, engaged, challenging, and open to learn. That sort of student attitude sure makes teaching an easy gig. It makes it a lot of fun as well.
The group tackled cyber security and the importance of collaboration in dealing with it. Some of them had a lot of experience, some had a little – they all sought to dig out new knowledge and ways to apply it. They wanted to learn from my experiences, and see how they could apply my views to their own situations. The give and take was engaging and spirited.
My point in all this is to recognize that in this region, which is much maligned, a lot of good is occurring. The government workers and the contractors working next to them are often stereotyped as lacking drive, only out for themselves, and generally taking advantage of their situation. This is simply not true. The class with whom I worked this weekend was a perfect example of the vast majority of the folks who populate the numerous government organizations in the greater Washington area. They are exceptionally hard working, they are willing to sacrifice (and quite often do), and want to improve not just their positions, but also how well they do their work for the Nation.
Kudos to the programs that help them accomplish these desires, to the superb professionals that teach them, and mostly to the fine individuals who drag themselves to night and weekend courses to enable themselves to serve all of us at the next level of professionalism.