Professional Organizations

I have been honored to either be invited to join several professional associations and organizations, or to have my membership application accepted by quite a few as well. I am about to list the most prominent current (as of 2020) professional organizations to which I belong. I won’t be listing the numerous state, regional, or otherwise less “professional” organizations in which I have been or am a member.

I have many varied interests, knowledge and experience in a number of different areas, and also extensive interest in many more. Some of these organizations are rather easy to join. Some are very narrowly focused, and therefore selective. With many, you must provide proof you have the education, experience, etc., to merit acceptance. Indeed, a few of these are considered fairly “elite,” are almost impossible to be admitted to and if I’m being honest, I sometimes have wondered how in the world was I admitted to “X” group or why did they let me in! Because frankly, by their own published standards, there are some I just don’t have the professional qualifications to meet. However, I’ve engaged in unbelievable amounts of reading, research, tutoring, conferences, getting connected with a whole lot of people at the right levels in the right places, so I’m fortunate enough to be able to talk to a certain degree of familiarity and expertise before I embarrass myself about many topics. I belong to professional organizations for everything from writers to physicists, from foreign service officers to security specialists, from UN-affiliated humanitarian groups to SpecOps (SOF) organizations, from electronic warfare to AI and robotics, and so on. Crazy, yes?

It gets crazier. For most of these, as I stated, you have to prove your qualifications or credentials in some way. In most, I’ve legitimately been able to do so with little trouble, even if the group’s focus isn’t centered on my entire career’s work. For some others, admission is extremely difficult. For one I’m in, you have to be an active employee or an alumnus of the US Department of State. For another, you have to be a legitimately, traditionally published print-book author — and no self publishing! Others require security clearances, a decade of experience in the field of espionage, engineering, scientific research, substantial computing, politics and political science, physics, senior executive-level experience, cybercrime, defense or intelligence industry or agency experience, AI/ML and so on. For several, you have to be sponsored by multiple members (the number varies from group to group) and undergo some extensive vetting that can last anywhere from three days to six weeks. Some admit most applicants, others admit fewer than 5%, and others are by invitation only. One of the more interesting organizations in which I’ve been a member of for several years is the Association of Old Crows (AOC). Doesn’t sound very impressive, does it? Doesn’t sound like it means anything at all, really. Well, yes, it actually does mean something and moreover, it’s a very high-level (some would say elite), highly discriminating, prestigious professional organization that is based on a very “niche” field, but if you are deemed worthy enough to be admitted, doors open to you everywhere! It was initially a little stunning, although I eventually became used to it. To illustrate, I’ll post AOC’s public description from its own website and then I’ll relate a brief story or two so you’ll get an idea of what I’m describing.

The Association of Old Crows is an organization for individuals who have common interests in Electronic Warfare (EW), Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations, Cyber   Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA), Information Operations (IO), and other information related capabilities. The Association of Old Crows provides a means of connecting members and organizations nationally and internationally across government, defense, industry, and academia to promote the exchange of ideas and information, and provides a platform to recognize advances and contributions in these fields.

Well? Does anyone not currently a member of or have experience in the EW field know exactly what is being described? I once thought it was obvious, but have had to learn many painful lessons that some people literally cannot comprehend that description or its meaning. If you are one of those people, I encourage you to research the group, go to their website, do whatever you need to to get an understanding of the purpose for the group and what types of members it has. As for me, you may be asking yourself if I am an EW, EMP, CEMA expert or specialist and the answer would be, compared to most of the members, no. But compared to most average people out in the world, perhaps more than many, yes. I’ve been involved directly or indirectly in and with that field and entities within that field for well over two decades and have met a lot of people and made a lot of connections along the way. Which is why, I guess, they had me join. I never bothered to inquire why. In any event, if you were to look at the group’s LinkedIn page, it is for members and non-members alike. And on the group’s website, there’s a member directory, although I don’t know if it’s publicly accessible. But the thing that really interested me about that directory is how many people are listed by name, region, etc., as “Confidential” or “Government” or “Management” (“Management” being the Commander of NORAD or something like that…) or frankly nothing at all, because a number of the listings lack any name at all! That initially blew my mind, but I’ve seen it enough times now over the years, and in some other specific groups, that I know or feel pretty sure about the status of that person. During my time there, I’ve encountered a heck of a lot of retired generals, a few admirals, some ill defined federal employee (and not a low level one), as well as certain types of high profile researchers, and certain defense contractors from companies like Lockheed Martin or Northrup Grumman (usually at the VP+ level), and typically at a pretty high level. I’m glancing at the LinkedIn page, which again is more non-members than members, and some of the people I’m just arbitrarily noticing include a regional director with Northrup Grumman, a “business development executive in the national security sector” (I love those vague ones!), the Director Joint Command and Control at the National Defense University, the Executive Director at U.S. Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command, a Senior SIGINT Operations Specialist at DynCorp International, a Senior Physicist, Aerospace Electronic Warfare, Deputy Director for Intelligence at U.S. Pacific Command, someone in “Naval Special Warfare, Special Operations and Air Rescue Mentor and Coach at Risk Mitigation Government Services (RMGS),” Associate Chief, Information Sciences Division at US Army Research Laboratory and I assume and believe you have the picture now. So I obviously fit in with these people, right? Anyway, the story/stories — brief examples… Very high level people have often contacted me out of the blue for only the simple reason that I’m AOC — thus I MUST be important — even though they have no idea who I am at all. So some recent people that come to mind include the CTO of the FCC, who messaged me and invited me to lunch. In DC. The CIO of the US Army sent me a connection request on LinkedIn because I’m an AOC. The president of Johns Hopkins University called me up and said they wanted to meet me, that they’d never met an AOC who wasn’t “a world changer!” And I thought to myself, “Well, now you have.” LOL! See how wacky things can get? And this doesn’t even count the 100 LinkedIn groups in which I’m a member, over half of which I received an invitation to join, and some I simply have no business being in, but if people want to invite me, I’ll consider it. In fact, I discovered 100 groups is the maximum LinkedIn allows when I received several invitations to join a few groups one day and found I couldn’t. So I searched and dug this rule up, and have since dropped out of close to 20 groups I had little interest in belonging to.

But I’ve blabbed on long enough now. My apologies. A bad habit that keeps getting worse as I age. Here then is the current main list of professional organizations to which I belong. (Do you care? Probably not. This is frankly giving me something amusing to do on another night with no sleep…) Oh, one last interesting bit. I’ve been recruited to join the Freemasons three times and the Knights Templar (SMOTJ) twice…

And you may find my LinkedIn profile here.