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Britton to Deliver Tang Lecture on November 30

Karen Gillett Britton ’87

Karen Gillett Britton ’87

On Thursday, November 30, Karen Gillett Britton ’87, the senior vice president and chief operating officer for the e-Management Company and a former special assistant and chief information officer for the Obama White House, will deliver the 18th annual Tang Lecture at 4:00 p.m. in the Amherst Room on the 10th Floor of the Campus Center on the University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus. A reception will follow the Lecture at 5:00 p.m. The title of Britton’s Tang Lecture: “Are emerging cyber threats stifling business innovation?” The public is invited to this free event.

Britton’s lecture will ask the critical question “Is there a price to pay for cyber security?” With increasing economic pressures and exponential growth in technological innovations, US businesses are relying more and more on digital technologies to fulfill their innovation needs and preserve economic growth.

At the same time, a persistent wave of headlines about data breaches and cyberattacks reinforces that the trustworthiness of many established and new technologies are not well addressed. Does an effective defense against cyberattacks hinder an organization’s effectiveness and stifle innovation and efficiency? The discussion will focus on ways in which experts bringing new technology innovations can continue to bring tremendous benefits to business productivity, while managing risks for enterprises and consumers alike across the broadening cyber-threat landscape.

Britton is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelor of science in industrial engineering and operations research. She holds a master of science in management from Florida Institute of Technology and is a graduate of the Defense Systems Management College and a certified project management professional.

Britton began her professional career with the Submarine Maintenance Engineering Procurement and Planning group at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as a general engineer. In 1990, Britton joined the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters, Submarine Directorate, where she served as project engineer for SSN688 class submarines. In May of 1998, she was selected as the assistant acquisition program manager in the USS Virginia Class Program Office. Early the following year, Britton served as the team submarine congressional manager responsible for all public affairs and media inquiries.

In 2000, Britton was promoted to the position of deputy command information officer for Information Technology Capital Planning. She then served as the deputy CIO for Naval Sea Systems Command, where she was responsible for managing information technology planning, policy, and budget. In 2007, she accepted an opportunity in the private sector, in which she was a program manager providing support to the Department of Energy for implementing capital planning and developing an enterprise architecture plan.

In July 2009,  Britton joined the Office of Administration, Executive Office of the President, as the deputy chief information officer. Subsequently, Britton received her commission as special assistant to the president, chief information officer. During her tenure at the White House, Britton spearheaded cloud-computing strategy, agile software development methodologies, and open-source approaches to deliver the president’s message to the American people in a variety of innovative ways. She directly supported the president’s vision of cybersecurity protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of unclassified information systems.

In her current role at e-Management, Britton assumes a broad range of responsibilities, including the company’s expansion into the Department of Defense. In addition, Britton develops strategic commercial corporate relationships.

Britton is a graduate of the Excellence in Government Fellows Program. She is also a recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the National Women of Color in Technology Award, and recognition from the Partnership for Public Service Leadership in Action.

The Shirley and Ting-wei Tang Endowment Lecture Series brings leaders of engineering-based companies to campus to interact with students and faculty and present a major talk. Shirley Tang was an academic advisor for the United Asia Learning Resource Center. Emeritus Professor Ting-wei Tang has had a remarkable and distinguished career of 38 years at UMass Amherst. An internationally recognized expert in numerical modeling of semiconductor devices, Professor Tang was elected as an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fellow in 1999. He received the 2009 Distinguished Faculty Award from UMass Amherst.