Office of the National Cyber Director names three new senior leaders

The White House on Tuesday announced three key hires for its nascent Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD), tapping a Microsoft executive, CIA official and cyber policy expert to help unify the government’s response to major cyberattacks.

Kemba Walden, who previously served as an assistant general counsel in Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, will serve in the coming weeks as ONCD’s principal deputy national cyber director. Before joining Microsoft, she spent a decade working in government roles, including as a cybersecurity attorney for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The White House also announced two deputy national cyber directors for the ONCD: Neal Higgins, a former associate deputy director for digital innovation at the CIA, will oversee national cybersecurity, while Rob Knake, a policy expert who served in the cyber directorate at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, will handle strategy and budget. Both Higgins and Knake have already assumed their roles at ONCD, the White House said.

"As we continue to build this new office, the additions of Kemba, Neal, and Rob will accelerate our efforts to protect Americans in cyberspace," National Cyber Director Chris Inglis said in a statement. "Each of these leaders brings impressive experience in cybersecurity policy making to our team, and their diverse perspectives will be invaluable as we strengthen our collective defense."

The ONCD, which was established in 2021 through the National Defense Authorization Act, advises the president on cybersecurity policy and strategy, and also plays a key role in working with the private sector and international organizations on cybersecurity matters.

The Biden administration so far has tasked the Office with four “principal outcomes:” ensuring federal coherence on cybersecurity strategy, improving public-private collaboration, aligning resources to aspirations and increasing present and future resilience.

The hirings announced Tuesday represent three of the most senior appointments for ONCD as the Office takes shape. Chris Inglis, a former NSA deputy director who was sworn in to lead ONCD last July, was authorized by Congress to hire up to 75 staffers, according to Politico. In March, SC Media reported that ONCD currently has about 30 employees on staff.

Get more insights with the
Recorded Future
Intelligence Cloud.
Learn more.
No previous article
No new articles

Adam Janofsky

Adam Janofsky

Adam Janofsky is the founding editor-in-chief of The Record by Recorded Future. He previously was the cybersecurity and privacy reporter for Protocol, and prior to that covered cybersecurity, AI, and other emerging technology for The Wall Street Journal.