New Defense Business Board includes private sector tech leaders

The newly-established board is led by former Air Force secretary and SAIC executive Deborah Lee James,
Former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James was sworn in to lead the Defense Business Board in September. (U.S. Air Force photo/Marvin Krause)

The Department of Defense’s newly reinstated Defense Business Board includes several senior technology leaders from the private sector.

Sarah Donnelly, who advised high-ranking officials on tech issues and co-founded Pallas Advisors, and Intel’s chief strategy officer Sef Yeboah-Amankwah are among the appointees, who have yet to be sword in. Zillow chief technology office David Beitel is also set to join the board.

The three business leaders are among the 17 new members appointed to the relaunched board, which is the most diverse since the panel was established 20 years ago. It is now led by former Air Force secretary and SAIC executive Deborah Lee James, and has been re-established following a Pentagon review.

It was suspended in February by the Biden administration, following a number of last minute panel appointments by the Trump administration.


The board advises on business issues including IT, and will be tasked by senior leaders to study how to improve business operations within the department. Previous studies included recommendations to remove the chief management officer position, how to improve back-office IT and the implications tech may have on the future workforce.

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