About Girl Security

Read our value statement

What is National Security?

Historically, “national security” has been defined as defending a nation from primarily physical threats to its physical assets, including its borders, buildings and other infrastructure, people, and the economy, for example. National security has also prioritized projecting democratic ideals abroad.

For many, national security is often equated with the military and intelligence communities. But the national security sector is far more expansive and includes the entire federal government, state and local government, the private sector, academia, STEM, civil society, and more.

Across the spectrum of the national security workforce, women, people of color, and other marginalized populations have remained underrepresented for over a century.

From cybersecurity to climate change, artificial intelligence to public health, the types of security challenges the United States and a global community will continue to confront in an increasingly interconnected, digitally-dependent world will challenge the outmoded norms, ideals, and power structures that guided the first century of modern national security thinking.

Why “Girl“? Gendered norms continue to impede progress in national security workforce development, strategy, and innovation. We believe that naming the gender-based norms that have pigeon-holed women into certain capacities within the security sector and continue to impede their opportunities to drive progress is a crucial underpinning to our mission. In addition, we believe that naming the gendered norms that continue to diminish and deprioritize the role of girls in society and security is also imperative to our mission. These norms impede progress for all.

The Problem

Developing more informed, more sustainable national security outcomes requires diversity of thought and diversity of people.

Decisions made in the name of national security have shaped America, defined who wields power, and determined the world order. From policy directives that shape industry standards around cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, to executive orders that drive diversity, equity, and inclusion as a national security imperative, to wars and spending that shift the global economy, national security affects everyone.

For over a century, women have remained underrepresented across the national security employment sector, hindering their economic and impact potential in this consequential realm. Of the many national security pathways, women presently represent only 24 percent of the cybersecurity workforce; 17.8 percent of CIA agents; 14.4 percent of active duty military; 28 percent of the STEM/Security workforce; and 14 percent of International Relations professors.

Impediments to the aspirations girls and gender minorities and women’s advancement include: lack of visible role models, lack of access to national security learning and training, outmoded social norms around the role of women in security, and systemic bias and discrimination.

Our Team

Lauren Bean Buitta

Founder & CEO

Shannon Harrison

Director of Learning & Training

Jorhena Thomas

Director of Professional Advancement

Monica Sanchez

Program Manager, Learning and Training

El Nicklin

Creative Director

Nancy Harris

Executive Administrator

Jane Pak


Amulya Panakam


Strategic Advisors

Gina Bennett

Girl Security Expert in Residence; (Ret.) Senior Analytic Service officer CIA for Counterterrorism; Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University

Honorable Susan Gordon

Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, former Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Sonya Holt

(Ret.) Deputy Associate Director of CIA for Talent for Diversity and Inclusion; CEO, Gray to Black, LLC

Garrett Petraia

Vice President, Global Security & Resilience and Chief Security Officer at Levi Strauss & Co.

Allison Bean

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Argo Community High School

Board of Directors

Beverly Kirk

Director of Washington Programs, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

Eli Sugarman

Senior Fellow at the Special Competitive Studies Project

Advisory Board

Jenny Abarbanel

Strategic Customer Success Manager at Confluent

Meaghan Burnes

Erin Connolly

Program Analyst with MELE Associates at the National Nuclear Security Administration

Kyla Guru

Founder/CEO of Bits N' Bytes Cybersecurity Education & Co-Founder of GirlCon Chicago

Kate Hewitt

Advisor for Multilateral Arms Control and Nonproliferation, Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy – Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, Transnational Threats

Tina Huang

Policy Program Manager, Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence

Carmen Medina

Retired Senior Federal Executive

Samina Mondal

Management & Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Energy

Shambulia Gadsden Sams

Policy Resident at Pink Cornrows & Chief Program Officer of Political Strategy at HBCU Collective