When I came on in January of 2020 as co-founder of the Carolina Cyber Center (C3), we cast a vision for what C3 was to become. We wanted to do three things: to develop men and women of character in cybersecurity, to provide services to small businesses (public and private) to help measurably harden the resources of North Carolina, and to bring awareness to the prevalence of what is the most damaging existential threat to our way of life: cyberattacks. It has been a joy to see how this mission is being realized.
Over three years ago, Dr. Paul Maurer—with the support of David Thompson and others—convinced key legislators within the state of North Carolina that a small, private, liberal arts college had something meaningful to offer the state in terms of cybersecurity, ethics, and character development. With the state’s first $2 million grant, a regional training center was created and eventually became the Carolina Cyber Center. Since then, even through the challenges brought by COVID-19, the Carolina Cyber Center has conducted 10 academies and developed over a hundred cybersecurity professionals who now have high-paying jobs in the field. Along the way, and crucial to our progress, has been a number of meaningful partnerships: one with Road to Hire and major corporations in Charlotte, a partnership with the City of Refuge program in Atlanta funded by the Department of Labor, and local partners like Land of Sky and Goodwill Industries.
In 2020 we raised another $1.64 million to co-found the Carolina Cyber Network (CCN), another outlet to serve the people of North Carolina. Now, just two years later, we’ve raised over $14 million, have partnerships with 11 schools (projected to be 15 by the end of the year), and have helped enhance cybersecurity curriculum in manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, financial services, military transition, and other sectors critical to the economy of North Carolina. We’re proud that not only has the state shown tremendous trust in Fayetteville Community College and Montreat College’s co-founding of the CCN, but also that we have been able to earn the trust of some of the leading four-year institutions and community colleges in the state. The CCN could not be in better hands than the incredible Dr. Mark Sorrells, Senior Vice President, Academic & Student Services and Fayetteville Technical Community College. I will miss working with him so very much.
There’s still much to be done, however. C3 continues to build partnerships and relationships with the Department of Public Instruction, the Community College System Office, the Friday Institute, The Innovation Project (TIP), and many others. North Carolina is a wealth of potential and opportunity; we desire to continue to build into our state so that it will continue to be seen as a great place to work, learn, and serve.
I’m excited to see where the Carolina Cyber Center will go. I’m honored to have had the mentorship, partnership, and support from Maria Thompson, the former state chief risk officer, and her successor Rob Main; two individuals of extraordinary character, talent, and discipline who serve our state faithfully. And I’m proud to say that Larry Young has been selected as the Interim Director of the Carolina Cyber Center. With a successful career in building training services around the world, Larry is a man of character that has served the Carolina Cyber Center faithfully for the last two years and worked specifically as the program manager of the Carolina Cyber Network for a year and a half. We are extremely blessed to have him, and he will continue to benefit the Carolina Cyber Center in this new role.
Let me close with this: the Carolina Cyber Center was built on a dream to serve and develop men and women of character, first in North Carolina, then in the nation. It was built on a dream and a vision to become a national demonstration unit; it’s well on its way to becoming this, and I can’t think of a better time for the next leader to take it to the next level. To whomever that person will be I pray you will be blessed by this place, this vision, and this opportunity to serve North Carolina and our nation in the same ways that I have, just as I know that you will be supported, cared for, and challenged by this remarkable team just as I have. Cheers.