Cybersummit 2021 Session Day 4: Securing Democracy Through Elections

Securing Democracy Through Elections. Session Participants: Bob Kolasky, CISA; Don Palmer, US EAC; Kyle Ardoin, State of Louisiana; Tammy Patrick, Democracy Fund


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About the Speakers

Moderator: Bob Kolasky, Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) National Risk Management Center (NRMC)

Bob Kolasky was selected to lead the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's (CISA) National Risk Management Center (NRMC) in 2018. As one of CISA's Assistant Directors, he oversees the Center's efforts to facilitate a strategic, cross-sector risk management approach to cyber and physical threats to critical infrastructure. The Center provides a central venue for government and industry to combine their knowledge and capabilities in a uniquely collaborative and forward-looking environment. Center activities support both operational and strategic unified risk management efforts.

As head of the National Risk Management Center (NRMC), Kolasky has the responsibility to develop integrated analytic capability to analyze risk to critical infrastructure and work across the national community to reduce risk. As part of that, he co-chairs the Information and Communications Technology Supply Chain Risk Management Task Force and leads CISA's efforts to support development of a secure 5G network. He also serves on the Executive Committee for the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and is the Chair of the High-Level Risk Forum for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

Kolasky's current position is the culmination of years of risk and resilience experience. He most recently served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection (IP), where he led the coordinated national effort to partner with industry to reduce the risk posed by acts of terrorism and other cyber or physical threats to the nation’s critical infrastructure, including election infrastructure.

Kolasky has served in a number of other senior leadership roles for DHS, including acting Deputy Under Secretary for NPPD before it became CISA and the Director of the DHS Cyber-Physical Critical Infrastructure Integrated Task Force to implement Presidential Policy Directive 21 on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, as well as Executive Order 13636 on Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

He is also the former Assistant Director for the Office of Risk Management Analysis at DHS where he was responsible for developing DHS’s formative policies and processes for risk management, including the DHS Risk Management Fundamentals and Risk Lexicon. Prior to joining DHS, he was a journalist and an entrepreneur. He helped start two of the first public policy web sites and served as the Managing Editor for

Kolasky joined the Federal government in 2008 after six years as a management consultant. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1994 and from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2002.

Don Palmer, Commissioner, United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC)

Donald Palmer was nominated by President Donald J. Trump and confirmed by unanimous consent of the US Senate on January 2, 2019 to serve as an United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Commissioner. 

Mr. Palmer currently serves as the Chairman of the (EAC) and he also serves as the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). 

Mr. Palmer is a former Bipartisan Policy Center Fellow where he advanced the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Mr. Palmer is a former Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections and served as the Commonwealth's Chief Election Official from 2011 to 2014. During his tenure, he implemented an online voter registration system and joined Virginia as a founding member of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a nonprofit organization with the sole mission of assisting states to improve the accuracy of America's voter rolls and increase access to voter registration for all eligible citizens. He also served as Florida's Director of Elections where he successfully transitioned the state from electronic voting machines to paper-based digital voting machines prior to the 2008 presidential election and expanded the Florida voting system state certification program. Prior to his work in election administration, he served as a trial attorney with the Voting Section in the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, where he enforced the nation's federal voting laws. Palmer is a military veteran, retiring from the US Navy after two decades as an intelligence officer and judge advocate general. 

Mr. Palmer earned his J.D. at the Stetson University College of Law and his master's degree at George Washington University.

Kyle Ardoin, Secretary of State, State of Louisiana

Kyle Ardoin is Louisiana's 44th Secretary of State. A resident of Baton Rouge, Secretary Ardoin was elected on Dec. 8, 2018. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the office having served as interim secretary of state from May until his election, and first assistant secretary of state for eight years prior to that. Currently, Secretary Ardoin serves as President of the National Association of Secretaries of State, on the NASS Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council, and became CERA (Certified Elections Registration Administrator) certified in 2021. Secretary Ardoin's goals include securing new voting equipment for the state, protecting the security of sensitive voter data and continuing the agency's high-tech protections for both the Elections and Commercial divisions.

As a lifelong resident of the State of Louisiana and a native of Ville Platte, Ardoin is an experienced leader with a genuine passion for citizenship and participation. He graduated from Louisiana State University where he majored in political science and minored in speech communications. He brings to the office more than 30 years of experience working in both the private and public sectors.

Secretary Ardoin has a diverse background, which includes starting his own lobbying firm, which specialized in health care and educational services. He also has extensive experience in state government having worked for the Louisiana House of Representatives, served as a gubernatorial appointment on the Capital Area Human Services District and served on the Health Care Reform Commission before his service as First Assistant Secretary of State. Additionally, he was elected to and served four years on the West Baton Rouge Parish School Board.

Secretary Ardoin is married to the former Letti Lowe of Port Allen and has a daughter, Abbigale and grandson, J.J. The Ardoins are members of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Baton Rouge.

Tammy Patrick, Senior Advisor, Elections, Democracy Fund

Tammy Patrick is a Senior Advisor to the Elections program at Democracy Fund, an independent foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on modern elections, Tammy joined Democracy Fund in 2017 to help lead the effort to foster a voter-centric elections system and work to provide election officials across the country with the tools and knowledge they need to best serve their voters. 

In 2013 she was selected by President Obama to serve as a Commissioner on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) which led to a position at the Bipartisan Policy Center to further the work of the commission. Prior to that she was the Federal Compliance Officer for Maricopa County Elections Department for eleven years where she established herself as a collaborative partner for those seeking to improve the American voting experience, testifying in more than a dozen state legislatures as well as in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. 

She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Policy and has represented the National Association of Election Officials (Election Center) to the United States Postal Service's Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) for over a decade.  She holds a Bachelor's Degree in American Studies from Purdue University and is certified by Auburn University as a Certified Elections Registration Administrator (CERA).

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