Julie Bowen, Senior Vice President, Operations & Outreach, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Risk Officer at The MITRE Corporation (MITRE), says she has never had a boring day at MITRE.
In 2006, when she joined MITRE, the organization was one-third the size of what it is today. MITRE, a not-for-profit organization with dual headquarters in Bedford, Massachusetts and McLean, Virginia, manages federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), supporting several different key sectors within the national security landscape, including aviation, defense, healthcare, homeland security and cybersecurity, among others.
Dedicated to tackling challenges to the safety, stability and wellbeing of the U.S., the organization generates approximately $2 billion annually and employs 9,000 people.
Bowen has been with MITRE for 16 years and has had a front-row seat in supporting the organization and furthering its mission and core values. Historically, MITRE has worked for the U.S. federal government, but Bowen has helped expand the scope of its work to benefit a broader range of entities, including private industry, state governments and other countries. “When I joined, I thought it would be a good growth opportunity, personally. What I didn’t know is how fast MITRE would grow as the world’s problems grew.”
Bowen has held several different roles throughout her tenure at MITRE — and she continues to wear many hats in her current role as Senior Vice President, Operations, Outreach, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Risk Officer. As one of the top seven executives that steer the direction of the company, Bowen is a visionary leader, looking ahead to identify how MITRE can solve problems for a safer world. As such, she has focused on bolstering security and risk management influence and resources to achieve MITRE’s mission of developing whole-of-nation solutions beyond the national security focus.
Bowen oversees an in-house team of 500 people across various departments, including Legal, Global Security, Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics & Compliance, Cyber Security, Government Relations, Public Outreach, Strategic Alliances & Partnerships, Real Estate & Facilities, Contracting, and Technology Transfer to Industry.
She also oversees the management of legal matters on cybersecurity issues, national security issues, international and global presence, intellectual property, contracting, employment matters, and healthcare law.
To break down organizational siloes, Bowen has helped bring functions together for more cohesive and responsive risk management. For example, she converged Global Security, Enterprise Risk Management, Legal, and the cybersecurity compliance missions for “classified” and “sensitive but unclassified information” to provide consistent compliance with federal regulations and centralized management and oversight across the enterprise.
In addition to providing a mechanism for risk discovery and elevation to the board level when necessary, Bowen oversaw the development of a strategic project risk management platform that facilitates increased risk management at the operational level.
Bowen has opened doors for a collaborative partnership between Information Security and Enterprise Risk Management to identify, assess and mitigate the growing threat of ransomware attacks against the organization. She helped establish MITRE’s Center for Data Privacy and Protection (CDP2) as a resource to communicate and operationalize an enterprise-wide privacy framework that will enable good growth while empowering MITRE employees to make better, risk-informed decisions.
All initiatives have further helped eliminate siloes, increase efficiencies, empower more risk-taking, reduce risk, and enable growth opportunities, Bowen says. “I actively sought out the security function and brought it under my umbrella for a number of reasons, but primarily because enterprise risk does fall under Legal,” Bowen explains. “I felt that Global Security was a huge part of the enterprise risk function.”
Positioning various functions under an enterprise risk umbrella, Bowen believed MITRE would be a much stronger organization. Now, Bowen says, the organization is starting to see opportunities for growth as a result of the creation of the enterprise-wide risk management and security function. “We care a lot about the legal and reputational risks associated with the work we do, and security being part of those functions really builds upon enterprise-wide risk management,” she says.
Bowen has pioneered several additional initiatives that have resulted in MITRE’s continued transformation. Among them, she championed a $2 million investment at MITRE to enhance insider threat detection and response, as well as a $1.5 million investment to establish an Enterprise Risk Intelligence group to complement the Insider Threat Program with protective intelligence and business risk intelligence.
Her focus on insider threat extends beyond the company to help build up and create effective public-private partnerships. Bowen, for instance, has helped lead and develop Inside-R Protect, a partnership with a vendor that offers insider threat program review and best practices to the critical infrastructure entities of the Five Eyes — the intelligence alliance that comprises Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S.
“If you look at the end game, which is to solve specific problems that will make the world safer, we really care about the quality of our partnerships,” Bowen explains. “There are armies of people trying to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges, so coming up with ways to partner is a means to achieve a common interest. You can achieve a whole lot more with many than you can with a few.”
Throughout her career, Bowen has been an active member and participant in her community and issues she is passionate about. Currently, she is a board member of MITRE Engenuity, a nonprofit foundation that works in collaboration with the private sector to strengthen critical infrastructure; the Board Director of Widepoint Corporation; a member of the Board of Advisors for Manetu, Inc.; and a board member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council.
She serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Visitors at her alma mater, The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. She performs pro-bono work for women entrepreneurs, as well as for causes defending the rights of women, children and the homeless.
To help her listen and learn more, Bowen says she seeks opportunities to work in and outside of MITRE. “All of us are part of a collective team that solves problems, big or small, to make the world safer. It’s a huge lift. For me, that is what makes everything exciting and rewarding.”