Rebecca Gomez is a Program Manager for the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a Federal Advisory Committee that promotes security cooperation between U.S. private-sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State.
In this role, Gomez manages, analyzes and facilitates the coordination of OSAC’s programs, partnerships and policy activities for membership groups that ensure the exchange of timely, relevant and reliable security advice and guidance to U.S. private-sector interests overseas. “Sharing timely, accurate information within a trusted network, informed by both the public and private sector perspectives, is essential to effective threat mitigation and management. In moments of crisis, you have to rely on your sources and know you can always call on them for help. Those trusted networks don’t just happen instantly; they have to be intentionally cultivated over time. OSAC has been around since 1985, ensuring that very thing,” Gomez says.
Specifically, Gomez oversees portfolios addressing the Europe Regional Committee, West and Central Europe Country Chapter Programs and the Women in Security (WiS) group. As the Program Manager for OSAC’s WiS group — a thriving group with membership of more than 1,000 women and allies — Gomez helps create the annual strategic goals for the program, working with the steering committee weekly to ensure that everyday work can incrementally achieve the group’s big picture goals. She explains, “I work directly with our WiS steering committee to brainstorm, discuss and implement our ideas. When there are questions about resources or where the program fits within the larger OSAC programmatic framework, I liaise between the steering committee and the OSAC front office to make sure both groups are aligned.”
Since its founding in 2017, Gomez has guided the WiS steering committee by creating and developing its foundational documents and defining its mission, objectives and organizational structure. Her resourcefulness and technical skills were instrumental in developing the group’s communication strategy and platform, including a clearly defined, collegial Google group that has expanded the WiS community. Due to her contributions, resourcefulness and can-do spirit in regards to the WiS group, Gomez received OSAC’s 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award.
A true collaborator, Gomez helps WiS work together with OSAC's other regional and industry-focused membership groups in order to elevate the female presence in key networks and rally broader interest in the WiS program from the wider security community. In addition, Gomez worked with the steering committee to develop and facilitate WiS events and discussions at a time when the pandemic demanded a pivot to digital programming. She has been instrumental to WiS’s benchmarking surveys, nascent speaker bank and WiS’s most ambitious undertaking to date: a mentor/protégé program. “Throughout OSAC’s Women in Security surveys and events, we routinely identified that a lack of mentors in the field was a perceived barrier to women’s advancement in the security industry.”
The mentor/protégé program seeks to address this exact gap in the industry. It is a highly ambitious and lengthy process as it relies entirely upon OSAC’s private-sector volunteers to plan and execute the objectives. Gomez explains, “It’s a grassroots program, but one with incredible promise, especially with Katherine Stotts of Control Risks at the helm, backed by our incredible subcommittee of passionate women who saw the need for a change and became the change they wished to see. I am very fortunate to work with volunteers who are genuinely passionate about making the industry better, not just for WiS members, but the security industry at large.”
An avid supporter of women in leadership roles, Gomez believes in recognizing, championing and advancing the leadership and professional development of women in the field of security via the sponsorship of training, mentoring and networking programs. “If we want the security industry to be the best that it can be, it means that it needs to have the best people. Research shows organizations with more women do better,” she explains. “Women make up about 50% of the workforce, but we are extremely underrepresented in the security industry. Having more women in the hiring pipeline brings access to a greater range of talent, different life experiences and perspectives. Including more women in the industry is not just a question of equality — it will enhance our companies’ abilities to perform and be more secure.”
Equally as important, Gomez says, is that women commit to contributing their thought-leadership even if it goes against the grain, even if they are in a junior role, even if they come from a non-traditional background, and even if they have a different set of experiences from other team members. She encourages women in security to join OSAC’s WiS program to broaden the unique perspectives, value and impact that women bring to the security field. “Bringing different perspectives to the table can shake up the status quo outlook and challenge all team members and industry partners to think more critically about the problem at hand. As security professionals, critical thinking and approaching an idea from a new perspective will always be of value.”
In 2019, Gomez was assigned to OSAC’s Major Events team to cover the Women’s World Cup in Paris, where she wrote daily analytical reports on the local security environment. Prior to OSAC, Gomez advocated for public-private partnerships on Trans-Atlantic trade and economic issues with the Trans-Atlantic Business Council in Belgium. Fluent in Spanish, Gomez was a Language Assistant with the Spanish Ministry of Education in Madrid. She has an M.A. in International Political Economy from Brussels School of International Studies and a B.A. in International Relations from Virginia Tech.
If you are already an OSAC member, you can get involved with OSAC’s Women in Security (WiS) by logging in to www.OSAC.gov, going to the Groups tab, then Common Interest Committees, then ‘Apply’ next to Women in Security.
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