For Black History Month, NSA is proud to present “Who We Are,” an article series that spotlights African American employees and allies who continue to advocate for diversity and who are helping to shape an inclusive culture across the Enterprise.
FORT MEADE, Md.—Stephanie Foster always worked hard to be the best leader she can be — and now her leadership skills are now on display daily at the National Security Agency (NSA) as a force multiplier driving mission success.
“As a kid I always wanted to be a mayor and be on the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine,” she said.
Stephanie is currently the deputy chief of an information technology (IT) office at NSA where she leads a team to streamline execution of new mission needs, deliver secure IT upgrades and improvements, and integrate the delivery of complex IT solutions for all mission partners.
A native of Baltimore, Stephanie attended Baltimore City College, the third oldest active public high school in the country. She holds an Associate of Arts degree from the Community College of Baltimore County, a bachelor’s in information systems from the University of Baltimore (UB), and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC).
It was at UB where Stephanie learned to become more goal oriented: “People there had plans, raises, promotions they were trying to get.”
Although she was excited to start her career after graduating, Stephanie soon dealt with the reality of overcoming discrimination and sexism in the workplace.
“I was working in IT [before coming to NSA] as a young Black woman in a field historically dominated by older white men,” she said. “It was challenging to have a conversation about growth, and I was often dismissed.”
During the economic crash of 2008, when industry jobs were at a minimum, Stephanie attended a job fair at UMGC. She noticed all the government employers at the job fair had a long line and she eventually found herself at NSA’s recruitment table. Upon reading her resume, the NSA recruiter only had one question: “How would you like to be a business manager?”
Stephanie was open to the idea and continued to chat with the recruiter. Later that day, she received a conditional job offer.
“My first job as a business manager was rocky,” Stephanie admitted. “I had a lot to learn, and I had to learn independently about something I did not know about.”
After using resources to help her navigate her new role, Stephanie realized the value of proper training and mentoring. She adopted these two elements as part of her personal leadership style and applied them to her next role as deputy chief of an office liaising between NSA’s contract management
teams. In that role, Stephanie is most proud of her efforts to build and improve relationships between the team, helping each of them achieve better mission outcomes.
Looking back on her career, Stephanie often reflects on lessons learned throughout her journey, and things she wishes she had known as an entry-level professional.
“I wish I knew that relationships are everything,” she said. “They are critical to anyone’s success — especially in leadership.”
Due to her reputation as leader, Stephanie was asked to apply for the deputy chief position in her current IT integration office.
Stephanie quickly realized the connection between money and technology, and she accepted the position to bridge her business expertise with her new role in IT. “The thing that makes the work go forward is technology and the money that pays for it.”
Stephanie’s abilities to build relationships, lead collaborative teams, and apply her expertise broadly have allowed her to rise through the ranks, receive recognition, and most importantly, find fulfillment in her work.
To start a career journey at NSA like Stephanie's, visit NSA.gov/careers or intelligencecareers.gov/NSA for more information on employment opportunities.