Donna Roy – D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Tech 2015

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Donna Roy

Executive Director, Information Sharing Environment Office
Department of Homeland Security

Donna Roy leads what some might see as an impossible task: getting federal, state and local government agencies, along with private sector partners, to break down the technical barriers that stand in the way of sharing terrorism intelligence information on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security.

A former U.S. Marine with 27 years of IT experience, Roy has nevertheless taken on the challenge of establishing a data framework across the sprawling department and “putting platforms in place to ensure information sharing and collaboration occurs,” she said. The framework also aims to extract greater value from massive data pools while also preserving privacy protection controls.

Roy’s work spans data-sharing issues as varied as reporting on lost children to maritime security incidents, and touches every federal agency, DHS’ 72 data fusion centers and local law enforcement agencies through the National Information Exchange Model program, and the Identity, Credential, and Access Management program.

The biggest thing I’ve been trying to do is get the department and agencies to value their data.

Roy draws her leadership inspiration from the late Navy Rear Adm. Grace Hopper who would often say, long before others recognized it, that information deserved “to be listed in the corporate balance sheet - it’s such a valuable asset – even more valuable than hardware,” Roy recalled.

“The biggest thing I’ve been trying to do is get the department and agencies to value their data and use it to increase their services in support of their mission,” Roy added.

Her advice to other women and aspiring leaders “is to have a strong role model that you want to emulate.” Roy cites two examples who’ve molded her leadership approach: Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Co., and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“I’m a business person first and an IT person second. Henry Ford was all about hard work and the work ethic,” she said. But Albright inspired her “as a pioneer in championing women in high places” and reminds her that “you have a responsibility as a woman to help others achieve their goals as well.”

– Wyatt Kash

Read the full story about this year's selection of D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Technology, and view the full list here.