AFCEA NOVA plays a critical role in connecting industry and government in ways that help advance mission success for government. With more 7,000 individual and corporate members, this is the largest AFCEA International chapter and is well known for hosting luncheons, IT Days and other special events.
One of the latest events AFCEA NOVA is set to host is its annual golf tournament at the Westfield’s Golf Club in Clifton, VA on October 20th. Software AG Government Solutions is a proud sponsor of this event, proceeds will go towards the organization’s annual STEM scholarship.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with AFCEA NOVA President Sean Caulfield, and Golf Tournament Chairman for the AFCEA NOVA Frank L. Cox to learn more about the organization and the upcoming golf tournament.
Q: Can you tell us about the mission of AFCEA NOVA and how it has evolved since its inception?
Sean: The mission of AFCEA NOVA has stayed pretty consistent since it first started. Basically, it facilitates the critical dialogue between commercial/industry and the government. We create that forum where the exchange of ideas can occur in a public form. This is a win-win for industry, as well as for government because they often present their problem sets in a public setting to keep an open playing field.
At the same time, this gives government contractors the opportunity to present ideas, showcase their capabilities at events like IT days, or even the chance to give a government executive their elevator speech.
Q: AFCEA NOVA is often seen as a crucial bridge between government and industry in tackling technology challenges. Can you talk about some of the ways your chapter is helping to facilitate these important discussions and collaborations? What are some examples of technology challenges that you’re currently helping to address?
Sean: In addition to bridging the gap between industry and government, as I mentioned, there are definitely examples of technology challenges that we are helping to address.
For example, the cloud comes to mind immediately. When you look at the cloud, there have been some massive contracts tied to IT modernization – with many different vehicles and avenues for government to procure these solutions. We have been able to facilitate many key discussions around government and the cloud.
Another one is cybersecurity, which is an ever-changing environment. When some agencies originally started with cybersecurity, everything was classified. At the same time, we had industry people who didn’t care about background checks, but thought they had great solutions. AFCEA NOVA certainly helped in creating forums to exchange and dialog these evolutions of ideas, compliance, security, and technology insertion.
Across the board, when the government identifies a problem, it will create forums for exchanging information. We are excited about the interaction between senior government leaders and our industry partners, which has resulted in these kinds of problem-solving relationships.
Q: How does AFCEA NOVA contribute to helping government IT leaders stay on top of the latest technological trends and innovations?
Sean: When it comes to senior government leaders, there are always gatekeepers, and it’s often challenging for them to stay educated on what’s happening on the industry side.
This is why AFCEA creates these “here it is” kinds of conversations and opportunities at its IT Days, as well as networking events. Sometimes, it’s those casual conversations that help the government determine if they want to work with a contractor.
Yet, at the same time, there are often solutions that the government has not yet defined the problem for yet. Whether it be AI, RPA, or data algorithms, there are so many new cutting-edge technologies being created at an astounding pace. Government really appreciates the right dialogues around these new innovations.
I’ve really enjoyed being part of AFCEA and being able to dialogue with government leaders and potential industry partners.
Q: AFCEA NOVA maintains strong partnerships with leading technology companies such as Software AG. Can you discuss the role of these partners in your work, and how collaborations like these are driving solutions that advance the mission of government agencies?
Sean: Software AG Government Solutions has been a fantastic partner for us. You recognize our mission, and are very respectful in the way you present and in a very professional fashion.
Everyone is vying time with senior government leaders. I think the Software AG team really does a fantastic job of putting together a professional package and they represent themselves very well in these scenarios. We have also been impressed with the people they sent to our events, and how they engage with government and potential partners.
Q: This year, AFCEA NOVA is hosting a golf event on October 20th at Westfields Golf Club. Can you share more about the event and what attendees can expect?
Frank: We are super excited, and are back at Westfields Golf Club for the second year in a row. I believe we are going to max out at 36 teams overall. There will be plenty of opportunities to win prizes and have a good time – whether you are entertaining your staff or networking with fellow AFCEA members.
For me, this event is also special. I’ve played a lot of golf in school, and I’m actually married to a golf professional. It will certainly be a fun day. And, my goal is to make sure all sponsors get great opportunities to meet as many people as possible.
In addition, it’s not always about business development opportunities. We are also here to support the kids and raise money for charity.
Q: How do the proceeds from the upcoming golf event contribute to AFCEA NOVA’s mission and to the STEM Scholarship?
Frank: Everything over cost will go towards the STEM scholarship. I believe last year we raised over $20,000 for this scholarship, and I’m hoping we top that number this year.
Q: How can interested individuals or organizations get involved with AFCEA NOVA, whether it’s participating in the golf event or contributing to the STEM scholarship?
Frank: AFCEA NOVA is the largest AFCEA chapter. We also pay a big role in supporting AFCEA International, and often host at least six to eight events throughout the year.
If anyone is interested in getting involved with the golf tournament, I am more than happy to connect. You can reach me on LinkedIn.
Q: Looking beyond the upcoming golf event, what other plans or initiatives does AFCEA NOVA have on the horizon that readers should know about?
Sean: We have so many different upcoming events, and I feel blessed to be the President of an organization with more than 7,000 members. It’s wonderful being in the Northern Virginia area, where we are touching so many government agencies. Because of this, we also have many great supporting programs.
For example, we have a small business program, and there’s lots of interest from government in this area. We have an upcoming Small Business Breakfast and a Small Business IT Day. We also have the upcoming Naval IT Day, and we have secured the Secretary of the Navy to attend – who is also very small business focused.
We kick the year off with the Naval IT Day, followed by our Air Force IT Day, Army IT Day, Space Force IT Day and Small Business IT Day. These are all wonderful events, and we also have our lunches and breakfasts. You would be amiss if you are not paying attention to our calendar (said with laugh). Part of the benefit of partnering with AFCEA is that you will get name recognition, and the opportunity to dialogue with government and potential partners.
We would like to thank Sean and Frank for sharing their insights with us. Don’t forget to register for the upcoming golf tournament, and Software AG Government Solutions looks forward to seeing you all out on the links!