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Technology & Entrepreneurship

CyberSecurity San Antonio Head Moving On To New Post

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Eileen Pace
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Will Garrett, right, will move on from CyberSecurity San Antonio to Port San Antonio

CyberSecurity San Antonio will have a new leader while Port San Antonio adds a new director of cybersecurity — moves some view as indicative of a growing industry.

Will Garrett helped found CyberSecurity San Antonio — San Antonio Chamber's public-private partnership — in 2015 and will take on a new position at Port San Antonio as vice president and director of cybersecurity development.

Meanwhile, Amanda Keammerer will become the acting head of CyberSecurity San Antonio. She's been deputy director there for 13 months.

CyberSecurity San Antonio works to advance the cybersecurity industry by supporting workforce development efforts, connecting industry to academia and raising the city’s profile as a cybersecurity hub. The director of CyberSecurity San Antonio is paid with money from the city and Bexar County.

San Antonio Chamber CEO Richard Perez said Port San Antonio is staffing up after investing millions in new buildings to support cybersecurity.

“Now they're putting their money where their mouth is,” he said. “They've built the building, now they're building the team to not only help fill that building up, but to begin to develop that new innovation center."

Port San Antonio completed its Project Tech building in 2018, which is geared towards cybersecurity businesses. The Port currently has 1,000 cybersecurity-related workers, according to its staff, and they want to keep that growth going.

“The fact that we’re making the investment of bringing on an executive of Will’s caliber shows that this is something truly important to our community,” said Port CEO Jim Perschbach.

Pershbach has been pitching the city, various organizations, and the community on the idea that cyber grows not just with the Port pushing this idea but with the entire city pushing it. Connecting Port San Antonio to the rest of the city has been a priority and bringing Garrett in is part of that strategy, he said.

“It’s stronger; its larger; more robust; diversified,” said Garrett of today’s San Antonio cybersecurity industry. “Definitely on the defense side.”

Garrett was with the chamber for 12 years, starting around the same time San Antonio landed one of its largest cybersecurity assets, the 24th Air Force. With CyberSecurity San Antonio, he helped found Build Sec Foundry, a program that gives office space, mentorship and connections to cybersecurity product startups. Garrett will continue in his role at Build Sec Foundry.

“We haven’t had the successes I would have expected in the commercial world,” said John Dickson of cyber security company Denim Group. He helped found the chamber’s cybersecurity committee and volunteered as its head until establishing CyberSecurity San Antonio.

Dickson praised Garrett’s work on helping grow the industry, but now is the time to double down on the community’s investment.

“This is a great opportunity to reassess what’s working and what isn’t,” he said.

He wants to see more headcount, more companies, more relocations, and more homegrown cybersecurity product companies.

Keammerer says San Antonio's collaborative efforts will continue with CyberSecurity San Antonio in the lead.

"It's always team San Antonio. And I think that’s something that resonates with folks on a personal level,” she said. “That’s what brings increased innovation here, more businesses here, more jobs here."

Prior to the Chamber, Keammerer worked for the the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Kaiser family foundation, and as an assistant to President Obama’s Federal Chief Information Officer.

The chamber has yet to decide if it will make her the permanent head or conduct a national search for a replacement.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive