2017 Rising Star Awards
Senior Security and Portfolio Analyst in support of the Environmental Protection Agency, PPC
- By Derek B. Johnson
- Oct 11, 2017
Freshta Mohammad is a good listener. The 32-year-old senior security and portfolio analyst has based her career on her ability to solve complex policy problems by serving as a liaison between IT leaders in government and industry. Once she understands what’s important to each side, she can form a bridge between them.
In fact, she’s so good that top-level IT executives ask for her by name.
“When I go somewhere new, I try to find a way to bring her on as quickly as possible,” said Sean Kelley, former chief information security officer at the Environmental Protection Agency. “She helps me to understand the organization but also helps the organization understand what we’re trying to implement.”
Mohammad oversaw the modernization of legacy IT systems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, helped improve the delivery of benefits through the MyVA initiative and created a new governance process for making decisions about basic IT service requests.
In eight months of supporting the EPA, she has led the agency’s efforts in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order on cybersecurity and developed a five-year strategy, budget and maturity model for the Office of Information Security and Privacy. Kelley said her work was critical to securing an additional $7 million in funding for the office in an era in which cyberthreats are rising and EPA budgets are shrinking.
Mohammad admits it is sometimes a struggle to navigate organizations where she is younger and has less seniority than many of the key players she interacts with on a daily basis. Ultimately, she said she tries to counter any raised eyebrows or negative perceptions through hard work.
“I think especially when people see me or my stature or know how old I am, it is kind of hard,” she said. “I constantly battle with that...but I’m persistent.”
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Derek B. Johnson is a senior staff writer at FCW, covering governmentwide IT policy, cybersecurity and a range of other federal technology issues.
Prior to joining FCW, Johnson was a freelance technology journalist. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, GoodCall News, Foreign Policy Journal, Washington Technology, Elevation DC, Connection Newspapers and The Maryland Gazette.
Johnson has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Hofstra University and a Master's degree in public policy from George Mason University. He can be contacted at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @derekdoestech.
Click here for previous articles by Johnson.