Dr. David Bray: Director, GeoTech Center and GeoTech Commission with the Atlantic Council
This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Dr. David Bray.
Dr. David A. Bray has served in a variety of leadership roles in turbulent environments involving people, tech, and data for public good. These roles include bioterrorism preparedness and response from 2000-2005 and time on the ground in Afghanistan in 2009. He also served as the executive director for a bipartisan National Commission on R&D and as a non-partisan federal agency senior executive in challenging circumstances. David also has worked in and advised six different startups. He accepted a leadership role in December 2019 to incubate a new global center with the Atlantic Council.
He also provides strategy to both boards and start-ups espousing human-centric principles to technology-enabled decision making requiring leadership in ambiguous, turbulent environments. Business Insider named David one of the top "24 Americans Who Are Changing the World" under forty in 2016. He also became a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum. From 2017 to the start of 2020, he served as executive director for the People-Centered Internet coalition Chaired by internet co-originator Vint Cerf. In this role, he focused on providing expertise for community-focused projects that measurably improved people’s lives using the internet. Dr. Bray became a senior fellow with the Institute for Human-Machine Cognition in starting in 2018.
David became an Eisenhower Fellow in 2015. In this role, he met with leaders in Taiwan and Australia on multisector cyber strategies for the "Internet of Everything". He also became Marshall Memorial Fellow in 2018 and traveled to Europe. While there he focused on transatlantic issues of common concern including exponential technologies and the global future ahead. Later in 2018 and 2019, he worked with the US Navy and Marines on improving organizational adaptability and to work with U.S. Special Operation Command's J5 Directorate on the challenges of countering misinformation and disinformation online. He completed a PhD from Emory University's Goizueta Business School. Afterwards, he completed two post-doctoral associateships at MIT and Harvard in 2008. He is the author of more than forty different academic papers and published publications.
He enjoys creative problem solving. David began working for the US government at age fifteen on computer simulations at a high-energy physics facility investigating quarks and neutrinos. In later roles, he designed new telemedicine interfaces and space-based forest fire forecasting prototypes for the Department of Defense. From 1998-2000 he volunteered as a part-time crew lead with Habitat for Humanity International. This includes travel to the Philippines, Honduras, Romania, and Nepal while also working as a project manager with Yahoo! and a Microsoft partner firm. Dr. Bray then joined as IT chief for the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He led the program’s technology response to during 9/11, anthrax in 2001, Severe Acute Respiratory System in 2003, and other international public health emergencies.
David likes to be a digital diplomat and a "human flak jacket" for teams of change agents working in turbulent environments. In 2009, he volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan to help "think differently" on military and humanitarian issues. As a result, he later received the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award. In 2010, he became a senior national intelligence service executive advocating for increased information interoperability, cybersecurity, and protection of civil liberties. In 2012, Dr. Bray became the executive director for the bipartisan National Commission for Review of Research and Development Programs of the United States Intelligence Community, subsequently receiving the National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Medal. He later received both the Arthur S. Flemming Award and Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership.
His passions include complicated, near impossible missions involving humans and technology in challenging circumstances. Through the efforts of a team of "positive change agents", David led the transformation of the Federal Communication Commission's legacy IT with more than 207 different systems to award-winning tech. This included rolling-out new cloud-based IT that achieved results in 1/2 the time at 1/6 the cost. As a result, he received the Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association's Outstanding Achievement Award for Civilian Government. Dr. Bray later received the global CIO 100 Award twice for transformational leadership in change-adverse settings. These awards usually are bestowed to private sector Fortune 500 companies. In 2019, he gave the invited AI World Society Distinguished Lecture to the United Nations on UN Charter Day.
David's research areas include the future of work, governance, and the augmented communities. He champions a human focus on collaboration, pluralism, and individual choices. Over the years for six different startups, he has served as president, chief strategy officer, and strategic advisor roles. He accepted a role of co-chair for 2016-2017 with an IEEE Committee focused on Artificial Intelligence, automated systems, and innovative policies globally and has been serving as a visiting executive in-residence at Harvard University since 2015 and as a faculty member giving talks on impact and disruption at Singularity University since 2017. Dr. Bray has been an invited keynote speaker to CEOs, world leaders, and crowds of more than 3,000 participants. This includes events in India, Vietnam, Australia, Taiwan, Dubai, South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
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