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July 15, 2008



Nuclear power always makes us think of Springfield and “The Simpsons,” but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and CIO Darren Ash are out to make sure that safety at the country’s more than 100 nuclear power facilities exceeds Homer Simpson’s standards. We visited Darren at his Rockville office yesterday, where he told us the commission is in a three-year process to upgrade the mobile equipment of its nuclear inspectors. “Honestly, when I came to the job more than a year ago, many technologies were underfunded, so now we’re playing catch-up,” Darren says of the 3,700-employee organization.


Darren says he’s looking to automate NRC’s National Source Tracking System, which registers people and companies working with radioactive materials by the end of the year. The NRC is also looking to automate the application to use radioactive materials, but that likely will not be completed ‘til next year. “We’re taking our time with a number of projects, so we can be sure the commission has everything it needs for the future,” he says.


Darren grew up in Napa Valley (no, his family does not own a vineyard, and yes, we think he’s been asked before), but went to school at AU. After earning an MBA from Syracuse, he returned to D.C. to help develop technology for the IRS, before moving to DOT. When he’s not the working father of six-year-old twins, he’s the consummate family man, and he always finds time to make it out to the ski slopes come winter. “Last year I took my kids to Whitetail, and they skied with me. That was the best.”



Don’t get the wrong idea about StackSafe CEO Loren Burnett, just because we dropped in on a casual Friday, because his company is off to a serious start. After launching its software in January, Vienna-based StackSafe, a maker of software that creates virtual testing environments for IT operations, is already up to 28 employees and looking to raise $10 million to $12 million in Series B funding. (Novak Biddle and Chart Venture already bought in for $2.6 million.) “We’re keeping our clients confidential,” Loren says, “but we’ve got some big announcements coming.” We love juicy news, so we’ll try to remember to check back with Loren in a few weeks.


The Indiana-native was COO and CFO of Astral Brands, a consumer brand management company before founding StackSafe. He was also CFO of Riptech, a provider of managed security services. The only thing growing faster than Loren’s company is his family: The father of five has a daughter in college, but he and wife Richelle also have a one-year-old at home. “I’m helping one move boxes and changing diapers for another,” Loren says.



Booz Allen Hamilton VP Natalie Givans was recently elected the first Vice Chairman of the Board in the 62-year history of Fairfax-based AFCEA International, which holds seminars and social gatherings to connect government and federal contractors. CACI CEO Paul Cofoni was elected Chairman, succeeding QinetiQ CEO Duane Andrews. Natalie heads Booz Allen’s DoD information and system Assurance and Resilience (A&R) capability team, with over 750 subject matter experts nationwide focusing on cyber defense and security solutions for the government and soldiers overseas. We met Natalie in the company’s Tysons office after she returned from a business trip in San Antonio. Congrats, Natalie: AFCEA’s too important to be left to men.

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