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LBCC hosts 1st stop of national cybersecurity tour with director of US office

Long Beach City College hosted a four-person panel discussion on the National Cybersecurity Strategy in Long Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. This event marked the first stop for White House acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden.

(Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

PUBLISHED: April 27, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. | UPDATED: April 27, 2023 at 5:14 p.m.

Read the article online here.


The acting director of a federal office that advises President Joe Biden on cybersecurity policy and strategy stopped by Long Beach City College on Wednesday, April 26, to discuss the future of the cybersecurity workforce, creating a cybersecurity pipeline and the National Cybersecurity Strategy.

LBCC was acting Director Kemba Walden’s first stop on a national tour. She was joined by industry partners for the discussion, as students, faculty and others sat in the audience.

“Cybersecurity underpins everything we do,” Walden said.

The Biden administration released its National Cybersecurity Strategy last month, a plan intended to ensure a safe and secure digital ecosystem for all Americans. A digital ecosystem is a complex network of people, businesses and systems that use technology to interact with one another.

The United States is reimagining cyberspace as a tool to achieve its goals in a way that reflects the country’svalues in economic security and prosperity, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, trust in democracy and democratic institutions, and an equitable and diverse society, according to a White House press release. Walden served as the inaugural principal deputy national cyber director for eight months, during which she co-led the organization, overseeing the development and growth of the office. During her tenure, the office drafted and released the National Cybersecurity Strategy and spearheaded the development of the forthcoming National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy. “If we want to be able to function in our daily lives, we have to make sure that we have cybersecurity,” Walden said. “I do cybersecurity so we can function, thrive and be innovative, so we can make sure that everything that rides on our digital ecosystem is safe and secure. But we need to make sure that the backbone of our digital ecosystem is secure.”

One of the many goals of the National Cybersecurity Strategy, Walden said, was to start investing more in the future workforce — such as LBCC students. “LBCC has been known to be at the forefront of cybersecurity education,” said Herlinda Chico, president of LBCC’s Board of Trustees. “We’re proud to be recognized as a national center of academic excellence in cyber defense education by the National Security Agency. We’re just the third community college in California to receive this designation and that is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff.”

The college also recently received notice from Rep. Robert Garcia, Long Beach’s former mayor, that it will receive more than $2 million for its “Space Beach” research and innovation equipment project, according to Superintendent-President Mike Muñoz.

“This will directly support our students’ efforts, he said, and LBCC’s efforts “to train our students to enter the cybersecurity and space industry.”

Lt. Gen. Larry James, deputy director for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Eddie Galang, chief information security officer for the Port of Long Beach; and Gary Gooden, vice president of information technology for Long Beach aerospace company Relativity Space, joined Walden on stage during the Wednesday discussion.

The two topics that dominated the conversation were the future of the cybersecurity workforce and cybersecurity in the space industry.

Talking about the workforce, Walden focused on a couple of main topics. One of them is the wider opportunities in different fields when working in cybersecurity, which is no longer limited to just national security concerns.

“Right now, we have a shortage in the cybersecurity workforce,” she said, “but what people don’t seem to understand is that you don’t need to get a four-year degree to get a really great paying job in cybersecurity and LBCC has been demonstrating that for some time now.”

Along with increasing the cyber workforce, Walden said, another key outcome of the National Cybersecurity Strategy is to raise levels of digital skills throughout all of society.

Another pillar in the future of cybersecurity is increasing diversity.

“For me, our diversity, America’s diversity, is our competitive advantage,” Walden said. “Diversity is key in being able to tackle some of the hardest challenges that we face.” Gooden also highlighted the importance of diversity — as well as diverse skills.

“If we truly believe in the multi-planetary future of mankind, then we need every type of culture and thinking process to be a part of that process,” he said. “If we don’t hire that way now, then it’s going to shape the culture of the company in a way which is going to be divergent from that mission, so diversity is a big deal because we should do it as is how we hire.”

Another focus in the discussion with Walden and the panelists was cybersecurity in the space industry.

“For the space industry, I truly believe we are at the beginning of a whole new industry,” Gooden said. “There is a huge line of companies that need to get to space. This truly is the beginning of a massive industry.”

One of the things Walden will also do on her tour is talking ot aerospace companies in the communities she visits, such as Relativity Space, to understand what the gaps are and figure out collaboratively how to better secure the space ecosystem, the acing director said.

“We realized how integrated our space systems are into our daily lives,” she said, “and so we’ve developed this (space) system without necessarily providing critical guidance on cybersecurity over time. So more and more, we have a Defense Department focused on space but we have commercial space systems now, and the two hadn’t really been relating to each other until recently.”

For Walden, it really came into play after the Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine. Audience members were also able to ask a couple of questions, many about the future of the workforce.

LBCC students said that the discussion showed them the different job opportunities with cybersecurity and how important it is in everyday life.

“I think this was a great event for students to get information and connect with both public and private sectors,” said LBCC Student Trustee Alex Hernandez. “It was an amazing opportunity to have the director here, to not only expand our community on campus but the whole city.”

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