Trust. Tough to gain but easy to lose. And it's integral to MITRE's mission and culture.
As the operator of seven federally funded research and development centers, our employees work every day to safeguard our systems and our sponsors' systems. Accomplishing this task requires vigilance and rigor in defining and implementing our information security policies and ensuring compliance. Our sponsors and other partners need to trust that we make security our highest priority.
Mel Martin-Gordon, MITRE's internal information security (InfoSec) policy lead, relishes the challenge.
"I love a tough policy consult, where I get to work with other employees, learn about what they’re trying to do to help their sponsor accomplish their mission, and help them identify a safe, secure way to do it."
She also manages the InfoSec contract review process and develops relationships between her team and other organizations within MITRE. "Staff come to me when they need help interpreting policy or have questions or ideas about changing policy. I also help them interpret our sponsors' cybersecurity contract requirements."
She's currently developing a system to better track our sponsors’ unclassified information security requirements.
"We need an all-encompassing corporate solution to track all these requirements," she says. "This is a big hairy problem. We're trying to find the best way to extract the relevant data from all our contracts and develop a more efficient process for keeping it updated and readily accessible."
Having this data all in one place will enable MITRE to respond more quickly if an incident occurs and provide the data required by sponsor audits.
"I like this kind of challenge. You know it will be tricky but also rewarding. We’re working to protect all our sponsors’ data at or above requirements."
Promoting Inclusion and Diversity
Learning from a variety of colleagues throughout the company doesn't just make for satisfying work. It's also reinforced Martin-Gordon's belief that diversity in our workforce makes us stronger. Our corporate culture includes several inclusion and diversity initiatives—it's an area close to Martin-Gordon's heart.
She's been most involved in the Pride Council, an employee resource group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, questioning people (LGBTQ+) and their allies.
"I've staffed info tables at the MITRE Bedford [Massachusetts] campus during Pride Month and organized our booth at the 2018 Pride Festival in Nashua, New Hampshire," she says. "This is important to me. When I first joined the company over a decade ago, I sometimes felt like the only gay person here."
While she felt accepted by her straight colleagues, the Pride Council helped her connect to the larger MITRE community.
"These groups have opened opportunities for dialogue with my straight peers about LGBTQ+ topics that might have seemed awkward or unapproachable. The information tables serve as an invitation to listen, share, and learn."
She's also participated in the company's Multicultural Employee Resource Group and with the Networking for Professional Women group, which tackles topics such as keeping female engineers in the workforce.
Mindfulness has become another one of her passions. When MITRE began offering the Mindfulness@Work™ program in 2017, Martin-Gordon was intrigued and didn't hesitate to sign up for the eight-week class.
"I loved it. It inspired me to enroll in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the UMass Medical School Center for Mindfulness."
Not surprisingly, she now helps MITRE's Health Services with some of its mindfulness meditation initiatives.
Looking back, Martin-Gordon is quick to point out that her career has been a surprising journey that's offered tremendous growth opportunities along the way.
"I've learned many new skills and do meaningful work with caring, passionate people. And I really value the company's support for all the fantastic corporate programs here. As a wife and mother, I appreciate that MITRE goes beyond the cliché corporate speak of 'work-life balance' to really embrace what I think of as work-home integration."
That's just what MITRE President Jason Providakes wants to hear. "We want MITRE to be an environment where people feel like they belong and can thrive."
—by Kay M. Upham
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