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About the Federal Identity Forum & Expo Planning Committee

GIS Panel ImageThe Planning Committee for the Federal Identity Forum & Expo consists of senior officials representing federal departments or cross-agency administration priorities, plus representatives from the private sector and academia. They develop the top-level strategic plan for the Federal Identity Forum & Expo using their knowledge and experiences, as well as input received from peers. They then identify session moderators and task them to develop a plan that meets the Planning Committee’s objectives for the session. Finally, they provide oversight of moderators’ work, develop the remainder of the agenda (such as keynotes and special events), and have the overall responsibility of ensuring that the Federal Identity Forum meets the outreach and collaboration-building needs of the federal government and identity community.

Planning Committee

Mahos Bourlai
Associate Professor
West Virginia University


Tom Clancy
Senior Information Network Engineer
US Army


Melissa Gische
Physical Scientist/Forensic Examiner
Federal Bureau of Investigation

BourlaiGische, Melissa R. - Melissa is the Physical Scientist (Technical Leader) for the Latent Print Units at the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory in Quantico, VA. She has been with the FBI since 2000 and has testified as an expert witness in federal and state court. Melissa is a certified latent print examiner through the International Association for Identification. Melissa served as chair of the Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, Study and Technology from 2012 to 2014 and as chair of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) Friction Ridge Subcommittee from 2014 to 2017 before being appointed to her current position as chair of the OSAC Physics/Pattern SAC. Melissa received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master of Forensic Sciences degree in Forensic Science from The George Washington University.

Carole House
Cyber and Emerging Tech Policy Specialist

HouseExperienced cybersecurity and risk management professional with a demonstrated background in U.S. military intelligence and the Federal executive and legislative branches of government who is committed to protecting people. Skilled in cybersecurity and emerging technology policy, security operations and risk management, unconventional warfare, and strategic and operational planning. Strong research professional with a Master of Arts (M.A.) focused in Security Studies from Georgetown University.

Diane Stephens
Biometrics Standards Coordinator
National Institute of Standards and Technology


John Boyd
Assistant Director, Futures Identity
Department of Homeland Security

boydExecutive in civilian status on the staff of the Secretary of Defense. Responsible for guidance and oversight of biometrics and forensics for the Department of Defense. Professional military officer, with active duty experience in submarines, nuclear power, as well as reserve duty in surface & air defense warfare, joint operations, and Second Fleet staff. Commanded two Navy Reserve units.

Extensive chemical production experience in two major companies (General Chemical and FMC Corp) in plants across the USA. While working with Battelle Memorial Institute, managed a range of professionals providing services to the US Department of Defense. Specialties: 30 years of military experience (active and reserve) in the US Navy. Enterprise architecture. Continuous process improvement (including lean six sigma, theory of constraints) - trained as Green Belt. Government liaison. Union negotiations (manufacturing management perspective).

Jeremy Grant
Managing Director
Venable LLP


Steven Posnack
Executive Director, Office of Technology
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

posnackExperienced leader with specialized knowledge in health policy, health IT standards, and information security. Regulatory and administrative law whiz with considerable experience forging new programs in environments that demand high quality under ambitious timelines. Novel thinker who enjoys complex challenges and finding connections between seemingly disparate events.

Jim Sheire
Division Director, Identity Assurance and Trusted Access

sheireJames Sheire serves as Director of the Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management (FICAM) Program at the General Services Administration (GSA). Sheire oversees and directs the development of policies and services for identity and access management to support Federal government cybersecurity initiatives and enable secure online service delivery to citizens, including serving as Co-Chair of the Federal CIO Council ICAM Subcommittee. Sheire draws on fifteen years of program, innovation, and strategy management experience in the federal government and the private sector, including recently as Senior Advisor to the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) and previously as a Legislative Assistant to US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Current TS/ SCI security clearance.

Matthew Thompson
Senior Vice President, Civil Identity for North America

thompsonMatthew Thompson, CISSP, is an industry-recognized thought leader in the area of Identity and Security Management and currently leads IDEMIA's Civil and Digital Identity Business in North America. Matt is an innovator in the digital identity space, having co-founded, which was named to the “100 Brilliant Companies” list in 2014 by Entrepreneur Magazine. Matt has spent years working in the public and private sectors to promote privacy-enhancing, secure, interoperable, and user-friendly ways to give individuals and organizations confidence in their online interactions, which garnered him recognition by One World Identity as one of the “Top 100 Leaders in Identity” in 2017 and 2018.

A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and Harvard Business School, Matt is a proven business leader, successful entrepreneur, Ironman triathlete, and decorated combat veteran. He served as an Army Ranger, completing four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Matt’s civilian experience includes positions at McKinsey & Company, Goldman Sachs, and Capital One.

Matt serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Audit Committee for the largest homeless veterans support organization in the country. In this capacity, Matt works directly with the CEO on strategic initiatives in the area of preventive services and care for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.

Executive and Co-Chairs

Combiz Abdolrahimi
Exec Sec

Combiz AbdolrahimiCombiz Richard Abdolrahimi is a national security lawyer, banking & financial services regulatory and policy expert, and until recently, he served as senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Combiz has more than 12 years of experience working with senior executives and world leaders on shaping the business, policy, legal, regulatory, and technology dimensions of blockchain/DLT, AI, crypto, tokenization, cybersecurity, smart city technologies, FinTech and RegTech, energy and utilities, banking, payments, digital identity, compliance and risk management, privacy and big data. He serves on numerous professional boards and is the Special Advisor to the Federal Identity Forum having served as Treasury’s first Representative and bringing a unified voice to key identity issues. He provides leadership on public-private partnerships, strategic planning, and innovation.

He has served extensively in government since he was 19 years old; and has worked on national security, technology and innovation, public policy and diplomacy, economic, and regulatory reform initiatives as well as global engagement. He joined Treasury after serving in the U.S. Senate. He also served in The White House and State Department, liaising with senior foreign government officials from over 90 countries and receiving commendations from Republican and Democratic leadership.

Born in Texas, the son of immigrants, Combiz’s first job was working the cash register for his family’s small business—at the age of 12. He is a graduate of UCLA; American University of Beirut; and Georgetown University Law Center, receiving his B.A., J.D. and LL.M. Combiz speaks several languages critical to U.S. interests, such as Turkish, Persian (Farsi and Afghan-Dari), Arabic (MSA and Lebanese), Azerbaijani, and has a working proficiency in Spanish. He aspires to follow in the footsteps of an American hero, Ambassador Col. Charles W. Hostler, USAF (ret.), and serve as our country’s Ambassador.

Duane Blackburn
Science and Technology Policy Analyst
Center for National Security

The MITRE Corporation

BlackburnDuane Blackburn (Twitter: @dmblackburn) provides technical, strategic, and policy guidance to several federal agencies, interagency bodies, and public-private collaboration activities from within MITRE's Office of the CTO. He also established and leads the MITRE Challenge series, and spent most of 2016 helping agencies, transition teams & others prepare for the 2017 presidential transition.

Mr. Blackburn’s most recent prior appointment was in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he was responsible for the federal government's homeland security and identity S&T enterprises. He led multiple bodies within the National Science and Technology Council, and provided guidance to others within the Executive Office of the President on a variety of issues. Mr. Blackburn previously served as a RDT&E program manager at the FBI, NIJ, and the DoD.

Mr. Blackburn has led the development and implementation of government-wide S&T strategies on a variety of subjects, and influenced the conceptualization and oversight of national policies and federal systems throughout the formative stages of the nation’s homeland security enterprise. He is a thought leader, consensus-builder, and mentor in the field of biometrics, having led federal activities as the community matured into serving a foundational role in critical homeland and national security operations.

Mr. Blackburn was a finalist for a 2002 Service to America Medal, established an interagency team that received the 2009 National Intelligence Certificate of Distinction and was the executive producer of an outreach team that received a 2012 Communicator Award of Excellence from the International Academy of Visual Arts. He was one of twelve individuals whose leadership approach was studied by the Partnership for Public Service to identify the critical attributes found within the nation’s highest-performing public servants.

Ben Smith
Manager, Homeland Security
AFCEA International

smithBen has been at AFCEA for nearly 20 years and was selected as its first Manager of Homeland Security in October 2012. In addition to managing several defense, national security, and technology events, he also oversees AFCEA's Cyber and Homeland Security Committees. Outside of the office, Ben is an avid cyclist, having twice ridden the length of the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington as part of AFCEA's Cycle for STEM educational fundraiser. He also serves on the Trails and Blueways Council, an advisory committee which provides guidance to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on the development and maintenance of a county-wide system of trails and streams.