Ms. Belkis Leong-Hong is the Founder, President, and CEO of Knowledge Advantage Inc., a woman-owned, SDB-certified company specializing in delivery of a wide array of services on Information Technology and Knowledge Management Solutions, Program Management And Analysis, Strategic Planning, Leadership Development, Training, Human Capital, and Workforce Initiatives. Her clients include Government agencies, Fortune-100 companies, systems integrators, product companies, and small IT services companies.
As a former General/Flag-equivalent senior executive in DOD, with 30 years of public service, Ms. Leong-Hong has held a number of high-level positions that include serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, where she managed a multi- billion dollar portfolio in Command and Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) programs, congressional relations, information technology policies, and strategic planning; Principal Director and CIO at the Defense Security Service (DSS); Deputy Commander of the Joint Interoperability and Engineering Organization (JIEO) at Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) responsible for over 1500 computer scientists and engineers, and where she also served as Director for Center for Information Management, and Director for Information Engineering. Her achievements include establishing and implementing the first DOD-wide Data Administration function for the Department of Defense; creating the first Center of Software Excellence in DISA; implementing the first DOD-wide Corporate Information Management initiative; establishing and managing several DOD-wide BPR efforts, to include civilian personnel, medical logistics, and finance; actively participated as a group lead in the consolidation of IT capabilities and resources under the new DISA banner; and actively contributor to the first C4ISR enterprise architecture and standards development.
Here is a recent interview with Bel:
I enjoy creating solutions—from conceptualization to implementation. Today, I do that in multiple fronts.
I went into public service right out of college, and went to work at the then-National Bureau of Standards as a GS-7 Mathematician! At that stage in my life, it was an exciting job. As a young Mathematician, I was given latitude to do research on my own, and to contribute something to the nascent field of computer science at the time.. I had the chance to specialize in data science, and was asked to write (and publish) a book about my research, a couple of years after I started to work at NBS (now NIST)… such heady acknowledgement spurred me on to excel. I had opportunities to move to the private sector to make a lot more money, but I did not. I knew I was contributing to the public good doing what I was doing, and I stayed… it was many years later, when I was attending the Key Executive program at AU, that one of my professors, the late Charlie Levine, gave voice to what I knew in my guts: that I was embarked in a life long journey in public service. And indeed, it was Charlie that put into words what I felt in my heart: the pride of being a Public Servant.
When you go into public administration, remember that you are going into a world of service, that the end product is not profit, but contribute to the public good. Every career path you can take in the corporate world, you can also take in the public side—only, the motives and the ethos are different—not better and not worse, just different: In the Public Sector, your efforts will ultimately have a greater impact in our country, in our society, and even our environment. Be prepared to make a difference!
In the present and in the future, our “Grand Challenge” is strategic messaging and communication about the importance of the role of public administration, and public service in our society. Most recently, there has been such negative publicity about those in public service that not only are we undervalued, in some cases we are spoken of with scorn. We must change that perception.
Greatest accomplishment was when I was asked to lead the “Corporate Information Management “ or CIM Initiative at the DOD—and created the foundation for a DOD wide Business Process Reengineering effort that brought functional efficiencies, and eliminated unnecessary redundancies. Most important take away from that effort was learning about and getting to know some of the truly outstanding talents we have in the Department of Defense at all levels of the echelons. It made me immensely proud to be one of the family!!
“To Dream the Impossible Dream… to fight the impossible fight” from Don Quijote de la Mancha
My very first job was a keypunch operator for the University of New York Medical Center.
Spring… because I see the new tree buds, the pretty flowers…I see renewal… and because it is new life, after a dreary cold, barren winter.
It is quiet, and yet easily accessible to civilization. Far enough from the city that I have to make an effort to go into the city.
Extra cheese, green pepper, mushroom and some sausage.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She lived in a critical time in our history, a time of great patriotism, a time of massive change. I would love to meet her, and talk to her about her time, her challenges, and her triumphs.