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AFCEA Rockbridge Shenandoah chapter joins the AFCEA Family

AFCEAThe AFCEA International family welcomes the newly formed AFCEA Rockbridge Shenandoah Chapter, which kicked off its inaugural chapter meeting on Thursday with a mix of fanfare and business.

“We are very proud and excited to be AFCEA’s newest chapter,” chapter Interim President Jeff Thompson said. “We have had a small but dedicated group of interim board members who have been working to get the chapter created and chartered over the last several months. Today we have 27 members but expect this number to grow rather quickly as we develop our chapter projects and launch a very dynamic speaker series oriented toward our new chapters vision.”

AFCEA International provides a forum for military, government and industry communities to collaborate so that technology and strategy align with the needs of those who serve and is a member-based, non-profit international organization that has helped members advance information technology, communications and electronics capabilities since 1946.

AFCEA International has 138 chapters around the globe. The Rockbridge Shenandoah Chapter’s mission focuses on being the academia and local community interface with industry, government and the military as its growing member base deals with information technology, intelligence and security challenges relevant to today, Thompson said. “The challenges we will address at our chapter events and speaker sessions will be those that our membership faces currently,” he offered. “For all our speaker events, we plan on following a moderated panel format with our Emerging Leaders being the moderators for the sessions.”

In fact, the chapter’s first-ever meeting Thursday featured a panel discussion titled “The Future of U.S. Cyber Defense and Security and the Importance of a Comprehensive STEM Education leading to Future Career Paths in the Cyber Field,” and was moderated by John Barker, cadet in charge of the Virginia Military Institute Cyber Captain program and a member of the Chapter’s Emerging Leaders.

Panelists included Lt. Gen. William Bender, USAF (Ret.), chairman of AFCEA’s board of directors and Brig. Gen. Jeffrey G. Smith Jr., USA (Ret.), professor of Computer and Information Sciences at VMI.

AFCEA’S Emerging Leaders program supports, enables and represents the diverse and growing 40 and under community in AFCEA.

The chapter seeks to be a “true hybrid chapter,” he said. “Most of our current membership base is from across the local academic community — VMI, Washington and Lee University, Southern Virginia University and Dabney Lancaster Community College — along with a growing contingent of industry support,” Thompson said. “Our membership of students, faculty, alumni and industry frequently find themselves moving globally. To optimize participation from our geographically dispersed membership, whenever and wherever they may be, we plan on maximizing the use of virtual meetings (“Veetings”) and making our online availability and conduct a priority.”

Chapter leaders plan to host a Community Cyber day in the spring every year and invite the local community to participate in programs. As an example, one program this year will be to participate with other AFCEA chapters by sponsoring a hackathon such as coding challenge for fifth-grade students.

More information and details can be found on the association’s website at

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