Drenan Dudley
Drenan Dudley. Image: The White House

The United States has a new cyber czar — for a little while, anyway

The Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) on Friday announced that Drenan Dudley, who currently serves as the organization’s deputy for strategy and budget, is assuming the top role temporarily.

Kemba Walden, who has served as the White House office’s acting chief since March and shepherded the rollout of the Biden administration’s first national cybersecurity strategy as well as its implementation plan, is stepping down Friday.

“I’m honored to be asked by the president to lead my colleagues as the Acting National Cyber Director,” Dudley said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to implement the National Cybersecurity Strategy and supporting this Administration’s continued efforts towards building a secure and resilient cyberspace that is aligned with our values.”

Record Future News first reported that Walden, who served as assistant general counsel in Microsoft’s digital crimes unit and was one of the first hires at ONCD, would not be formally nominated for the post. It was later reported Walden’s personal debts were one of the reasons why she was not chosen.

The White House picked Harry Coker, a former executive director of the National Security Agency, for the position. He breezed through his confirmation hearing earlier this month and his nomination was approved by the Senate Homeland Security Committee this week.

He must now be confirmed by the full Senate. But with lawmakers out for Thanksgiving recess, the earliest Coker could receive a vote is during the week of November 28.

The “hard work taking place across this organization will continue apace while we await Mr. Coker’s confirmation,” Dudley said. “I, along with all of my colleagues, am grateful to Acting Director Walden for her leadership and wish her well in her next endeavor.”

Dudley previously served as ONCD’s assistant chief for budget review and assessment, where she worked with the Office of Management and Budget, as well as other federal entities and the private sector.

Prior to that she was a professional staff member to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Dudley earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Georgia and an undergraduate degree in English and political science from the University of South Carolina.

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Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak

is the senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. Prior to joining Recorded Future News in 2021, he spent more than five years at Politico, where he covered digital and national security developments across Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community. He previously was a reporter at The Hill, National Journal Group and Inside Washington Publishers.