2010 Rising Star logo

The 2010 Rising Stars

A new generation of innovators helps bring greater efficiency to government

As the Obama administration pushes agencies to get greater efficiency and savings from government information technology operations, new cadres of IT professionals are revolutionizing how technology is acquired, deployed and used across government.

Whether they are finding ways to get more innovative small businesses onto federal procurement schedules, strengthening agencies’ cybersecurity postures or adopting emerging Web 2.0 technologies, the 24 innovators listed below play an integral part in ensuring that IT operations serve the business needs and missions of government agencies, both civilian and defense.

Related coverage:

The 2010 Rising Stars

The 2009 Rising Stars

The 1105 Government Information Group, publisher of Federal Computer Week, GCN and Washington Technology, has chosen these budding leaders for its 2010 Rising Star awards. The 24 winners come from government, including state and local jurisdictions, in addition to the private sector, and they all reflect the core values and work ethic of the government technology community.

Now in its fifth year, the Rising Star awards program honors up-and-coming men and women who have made an early — and substantive — mark in the government IT world. The program is an opportunity for agencies and contractors to give their unsung heroes a moment in the spotlight, as a reward to them and an example to others. The winners will be recognized at the GCN Awards Gala Oct. 27.

We highlight five Rising Stars who keep government on the front lines of IT. The other winners will be featured in upcoming stories in FCW and Washington Technology.

Justin Filler
Deputy Director, MilTech Solutions

Filler is leading the charge on the widespread use of Web 2.0 technologies across the Defense Department. He is responsible for the introduction and implementation of emerging technologies and social media with MilTech Solutions. He has been on the forefront, spearheading efforts such as boosting the Army’s social media presence, improving enterprise search efforts, and researching and developing new cutting-edge technologies. 

Filler’s division is behind the milSuite product line, which provides cutting-edge collaboration technology to DOD personnel. MilSuite includes milWiki, milBlog, and milBook. MilSuite will expand this year with the launch of a new secure video-sharing capability: milTube. The suite has been recognized as a White House Open Government Initiative. 

Filler has focused on how the adoption of emerging technologies can improve the workforce, and he continually pushes the expectation of what can be accomplished in the government, according to MilTech Solutions officials.

Read Justin Filler's profile on Federal Computer Week.

Joy Laibl
Manager, Networking Engineering Group
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Laibl knows a thing or two about designing and delivering quality, networked-based systems to a diverse, challenging and competent population. As manager of network engineering at the Office of the Chief Information Officer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Laibl has been a key force in strengthening the lab’s ability to meet growing demand for network capacity, resulting in an increase in reliability and reduction in costs. 

Laibl consolidated a large enterprise network of 16,000 nodes — along with the mission operations network of 1,600 nodes — into one organization. In the process, she unified JPL’s mission-critical and enterprise infrastructures. The organization now has one set of processes, one engineering team and one operations concept. That has paved the way for other government organizations to unify mission-critical and enterprise infrastructures into a common support model. JPL is now positioned to save about $1 million a year, JPL officials said.

Read Joy Laibl's profile on Federal Computer Week.

Sara Mosley
Senior Security Engineer
State Department

Mosely led the Trusted Internet Connections effort at the State Department, which resulted in State being the first department in the federal government to receive certification to provide single-agency and multiagency TIC services. 

She also led the virtual private network/alternate route project, which increased reliability of the State’s global network from 88 percent to 99.7 percent in seven years — yet another example of how her leadership has thrust State forward as a leader in government.

Mosley has turned her sights to the Office of Information Assurance, where she has a lead role in organizing and setting a policy to ensure consistent standards for continuous cybersecurity monitoring across the federal government.

A decade ago, State’s network infrastructure and security capabilities were considered antiquated and unable to meet the mission of U.S. diplomats around the world. Now, State is seen as a leader across a number of areas related to IT infrastructure and security. Mosley’s leadership in improving the global network, securing it through TIC, and driving continuous-monitoring efforts across government has enhanced State’s ability to efficiently and securely address the department’s mission.

Read Sara Mosely's profile on Federal Computer Week.

David Parrish
Contract Specialist
Internal Revenue Service

Managing large, complex information technology contracts is a daunting task. However, Parrish has displayed skills that are normally associated with more senior contracting professionals. He has assisted Internal Revenue Service users in developing performance-based work statements, statements of work, and acquisition strategies and plans.

He manages a complex, highly political and visible task order under one of the Total Information Processing Support Services-3 IT Support Services contracts, which is responsible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit. Those multiple-award contracts support some of the IRS’ most critical IT projects, which have a direct effect on U.S. taxpayers. On the tax credit project, he not only successfully administers it but also ensures that all reporting requirements adhere to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Parrish also is the lead contract specialist for supporting the IRS’ cybersecurity organization and has awarded 10 small-business contracts to date in support of the cyber programs, with an emphasis on service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses and businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones. Because of that success, other offices in the IRS’ Chief Information Office and Treasury Department are now looking for similar types of contracts with small-business owners.

Read David Parrish's profile on Federal Computer Week.

Narinder “Nick” Saund
Chief Technology Officer
Defense Health Services Systems Program Office

With an annual budget of more than $250 million and staff of 225, Saund is responsible for meeting the technology needs of the Defense Health Services Systems. DHSS helps detect and contain the spread of disease, manage the delivery of drugs and medical supplies, and track billions of dollars disbursed annually to 9.5 million beneficiaries around the world.

Saund has been a key figure in implementing information technology enhancements that are essential to the operations of the Military Health System. For example, his implementation of a common identity authentication system at MHS has allowed multiple DHSS applications to comply with government-mandated requirements for two-factor security authentication. 

In addition, Saund’s implementation of a messaging service that is being used throughout MHS reduced interface development and sustainment costs. All of those efforts help make MHS a more agile, cost-effective organization, according to DHSS program managers.

Read Nick Saund's profile on Federal Computer Week.

Here are the rest of this year's winners.

Gena Alexa, Unisys Federal
Christopher Barnes, Lockheed Martin
James Carver III, Department of the Army
Kathleen Druitt, Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
Douglas Haskin, Department of the Army
Andrew Heo, Department of the Air Force
Leslie Hurley, Department of the Navy
Frank LaSota, National Government Services
Yosef Lehrman, New York Police Department
Hoa Pham, CACI International
Nina Preuss,TCG
Shane Sanders, Department of the Army
Allison Scogin, Defense Information Systems Agency
Donna Sheets, Jacer
Wayne Speaks, Defense Department
Ryan Swann, Treasury Department
Pablo Vilaboa, Lockheed Martin
Martin Vozzo, Department of the Navy
James Wenke, Department of the Navy

See more of the 2010 Rising Stars.

Editor's note: This story has been changed to correct the amount of estimated annual savings at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/Shutterstock.com)

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected