You have arrived: how does one define success?

I once had a navigation system that when I reached my programmed destination, it would say “You have arrived.” I would circle the block just to hear that over and over.


In a professional world, when do you know you have arrived? Is there ever a point where an individual who has accomplished much thinks “this is enough” and stops trying to accomplish more?

As a hospice nurse, I worked with many patients who faced their last months, weeks, days and were able to look back over their lives and say they did well, they were happy with the totality of their lives if not some particular details. Outside that environment, it seems to be rare.

How do you define success?

Some undeniably successful people define it in this article:

  • Success is more than wealth and power – it is wellbeing, wisdom, wonder, and giving according to Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Press.
  • Maya Angelou believes it is about enjoying what you do.
  • Deepak Chopra says success means constantly growing.

Oprah provides this article of the ten signs of success – or rather, that your life is on the right track. It includes such things as:

  • Your reputation precedes you;
  • Having a deep connection to those you love – like picking up the phone to call each other at the same time; and
  • To not be burnt out.

That’s all well and fine, but this is not about recognizing if you are doing the right thing or have become successful as measured by wealth, title, accomplishments, awards, or recognition. It’s about knowing when is enough enough? When should it be enough?

This study by Princeton University in 2010 says that the pivotal salary is $75,000 annually.

The lower a person’s annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don’t report any greater degree of happiness.

The Wall Street Journal helpfully converted that salary for cost of living in different locations.

So, once you make $75,000, then that is enough? And enough for what? Do we strive for a meaningful job, to help other people, for future stability, to have good health, to ensure your family has food, shelter, and the other necessities of life? At what point can you determine that all your needs are met – be it the basic necessities, the desired luxuries, or satisfaction in one’s actions?

Let’s return to the original question: In a professional world, when do you know you have arrived? Where is the point where you can honestly feel that you have accomplished what you wanted in your career and stop clawing to reach the top – and who defines the top?

For each individual, this is an intensely personal decision. I do believe that for most people, career gain tends to wain and gives way to some level of altruism. Some people may never view a career in an ambitious manner. They take pride in what they are doing and are happy  doing that for as long as necessary – a job is a way to earn the funds required to live in our world as well as fulfill some need of which there is a value assigned.

My grandfather James D. Fairchild never seemed to be ambitious. He delivered gas in rural Mississippi most of his life. There never seemed be his goal to advance to management. He spent his days delivering gas to people’s homes – for their residential gas tanks (propane). He knew everyone. Everyone knew him. I don’t recall him bragging on any accomplishments, winning awards, or getting big promotions or titles. He was proud of the service he provided. And he was valued by customers and the company. In fact, the company – when ready to shut down – refused to close its doors until the last member of family retired. It’s a Southern thing.

My younger self had a goal – to be able to walk into a convenience store to buy a coke without having to balance my checkbook first. I have accomplished that.

My other goal was to live somewhere other than Mississippi. I accomplished that.

Then I developed professional goals – to do something i enjoyed. To be intellectually challenged. To help others. And to travel internationally. Most I have accomplished. One I have not – not really. I don’t think Costa Rica truly counts.

So is this enough? And if something is enough, do you stop? One lady informed me that her professional goal was to take a start-up to IPO. And she did that. She was still not in a position to retire, so she looked for something she enjoyed doing and stopped focusing on professional ambition.

It is a reality that even if most of us accomplish our career goals, that we are not independently wealthy enough to stop working. Some may have independently wealthy as their professional goal, but for most of us, it is not realistic.

Some of us would never stop working even if we acquired status of being ridiculously wealthy. Maybe our career goals then change and we work to be busy, help others, improve the world in some fashion – or maybe to indulge personal passions such as traveling, writing, or designing homes.

Some people have no drive to accomplish something professionally. They are content and fulfilled in their lives – and their job is a means to an end in which they take pride in doing. They may be the happier people.

If you are using professional recognition and success to serve as personal validation, you may never reach enough. You must learn to value yourself as a person.

If work is your escape from your personal life, you also may never reach enough; but you may not care. Your drivers are different.

The rest of us (not in the three groups above), the point the we reach enough is driven by who we are, what we are looking for, what we need and/or want, and how we balance the rest of our lives. “Enough” may never be reached.

Set specific career goals and anything beyond those – you’re gravy.

Can you be yourself at work?

Recently, I spoke to an executive coach who says she works with executives for years before many can finally accept who they are – and let themselves be themselves.

I tried to find a really good quote for this – and there were so many on being yourself, yet none fit what I’d like to discuss. This one by Political Animals comes close: “It’s like you put on this expensive tailored suit and everybody tells you how great you look in it, but it doesn’t fit quite right unless you stand perfectly still.”

Frankly, I struggle with this concept. Not that I struggle to be me, but that being me is acceptable to those around me. As an attorney, a certain amount of presence is expected. And of course, I am a woman working in a male-created field – and one that largely remains male-dominated.

The picture below (from the Association of Corporate Counsel annual meeting, Health Law Committee wins small committee of the year) is a visual of what I struggle with.

Do I not fit in … or … do I stand out? Which one of these is least like the others?

I truly struggle with this. I have worked with and do work with amazing professionals – professionals that while I may try to emulate some traits that I admire, I don’t feel that we mesh. Don’t get me wrong, I also have worked with and do work with professionals that mesh very well. scarily well.

When I am comfortable, I have no trouble expressing my opinions on a matter. Have I mentioned that I am ADD? So I am hyper, my logic takes a different path, and I speak with passion, sometimes eloquently, sometimes not so much. I usually wind up apologizing for being me.

Why do I feel I need to apologize? Is this a me thing? Is it a woman thing? Is it an awkward geek thing? Is it a manifestation of my disabilities (which are systemic and do impact affect, emotional lability, and expressiveness)?

Typically, when I feel that I have said something in a meeting that I should explain more or apologize for, I draw on advice that I received in the State Bar of Arizona’s Bar Leadership Institute: Man Up. To be fair, they did not say it that way. But I learned a lot about differences between the genders. In general, women tend to worry about what they may have said  – and agonize, apologize, follow up, bring it up again, etc. (anyone relating to this?). Men don’t. By bringing it up repeatedly, following up to apologize, women actually make it an issue that others then do remember – whereas generally, they likely never noticed it. Please keep in mind that these are generalities and may not apply to every situation.

On the other hand, a female professional I once worked with – on a restroom break during a meeting where we were the only two females in a group of about 20 people – this woman made the comment that the two of us had bigger balls than anyone in the room. Pardon my crassness.

Am I too feminine at some times – yet too assertive at others?

Do men even worry about these things – not the being too feminine part, but how to strike the right note professionally?

Is the real problem one I mentioned earlier? The legal field was built by men. All the expectations on behavior, dress, attitude, work-life balance, etc. were all defined by men. Women, to enter the field, adopted those expectations – wearing black, navy, gray, and brown – working long hours – and in some part, distancing themselves from the idea of femininity (which is not to say these colors are not feminine, just look at the picture above, the other two women are gorgeous and feminine and wearing traditional legal colors). A female professional I know – in the generation before me – wears a tuxedo to black tie events rather than a dress. I think it’s cool. But I wonder if that desire was formed because she developed professionally in a field that is decidedly unfeminine.

Me. Well, I wear purple cowboy boots to work. And ones with peacock feathers. I love pink. and lace. and frills. I laugh too loud and talk with my hands. And my work accepts it. I am hyper, scattered, ADD, some OCD, and frankly, way too freaking perky for anyone’s good. And yet I worry. I worry if I am accepted and RESPECTED for who I am. I am highly intelligent but not scholarly. I am well-educated but not an academic. I am ambitious but won’t sacrifice my family. I am emotional but not vindictive. I am outspoken but not mean. I am honest to a fault but I do love playing with words. I cannot abide stupidity (unless it is truly a case of low IQ and the inability to learn) or people who do not deserve respect (no exceptions on that one). I am passionate and creative. I am not demure or understated.

So can you be yourself at work? I say yes in most cases. It won’t come without some cost. If you are a psychotic killer, I’d say no. Please don’t be yourself. But in general, the average person should know who they are and not be willing to sacrifice him or herself for the job. You might worry if you strike the wrong note, but hiding your personality where you spend a large part of your waking hours does not serve you well in the long run.  In the end, unless there are significant drivers to the contrary, I recommend finding somewhere you can be you. You will be a better professional and perhaps feel like a better person.

There may be some compromises, but they should not compromise your foundation as a person. For example, just because you love 80s rock does not mean wearing Metallica t-shirts and ripped jeans to court is acceptable for an attorney. But if your personality truly demands that freedom and it impacts who you are as a person, choose a career avenue that suits you better (pardon the pun).


Revenge Porn – Cyber Rape – what is it and what can we do to stop it?

Having non-consensual nude photos of you posted online – revenge porn or cyber rape – is a problem few ever imagined we would have. Revenge porn, a form of cyberbullying, is a problem that destroys lives and careers, yet is not adequately addressed by laws.

Last week I attended the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology’s Privacy Law Forum in Silicon Valley #BCLTPrivacy. The lunchtime keynote speaker was Danielle Keats Citron, professor of law at the University of Maryland law school, who spoke on Revenge Porn, Hate Crimes, and what Silicon Valley and the law should do now. Riveting topic. Heartbreaking topic.

One would have to be living completely off the radar to not be aware of the issue of revenge porn. However, it only takes living a normal life to be unaware of the prevalence and damage of revenge porn. As I listened to Citron speak, I was horrified, saddened, outraged, and driven to help.

The lady who founded the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Initiative, Holly Jacobs, was a victim of revenge porn. Private pictures and videos of her nude that had been shared only with a partner started popping up seemingly everywhere and not just on revenge porn sites – no, on Facebook and popular online dating sites – with titles inferring she slept with her students, included contact information, family names, work information, etc. She was not able to get all websites to remove the photos, and those that would wanted to charge her (blackmail essentially) or jump through a bunch of hoops to prove she was the individual in the pictures and she had the right to revoke authorization or prove she never provided authorization. How do you prove something that never happened? She wound up changing her name and trying to help others.

Danish journalist Emma Holten took another tactic, one similarly used  by Jennifer Lawrence when nude pictures were leaked. They both responded with their own version of nude pictures. The key difference had nothing to do with whether you and I see their pictures, it has to do with their choice, their consent. I remember how many people criticized Jennifer – how could she oppose the leaked photos when she released her own photos? and other similar stupidities uttered in ignorance.



Revenge porn is not a rare event. The question is what can we do to help end this problem? Many laws addressing cybercrimes involve communications with that person directly. Revenge porn is not usually communicating with that person. It’s posting nonconsensual sexually explicit photos without that person’s consent, often with other personal information, often pretending to be that person, and even using photoshop to mock up nude pictures. Suggesting that the individual desires a rape scenario, with information identifying where the person will be at a particular time.

The solution is not to tell people to stop sharing such photos (although prudent people probably shouldn’t share such images). We live in a technological world where people can form relationships around the world. Certain relationships are formed on intimacy and technology provides a forum to be intimate. That is another debate. But don’t try to solve this problem the way people used to (some still do) try to solve rape by blaming the victim. Blame the criminal. period.

Social media companies need to ban such material, like Facebook recently took a major step, as did Twitter. States need to pass laws that truly address the problem. Law enforcement need to train personnel how to interact with a victim of this type of cybercrime.

This is not a feminist issue as alleged by some authors. It is not a misogynist issue as alleged by others. It’s a human issue with the goal to destroy someone’s life through technology, in the most base, vulgar way possible – ways which encourage someone who wishes to do physical harm to another to do so.

ERMAGOSH – my 2008 Phoenix FBI Citizens Academy Graduation Speech

This was the speech – nearly verbatim – from my 2008 Phoenix FBI Citizens Academy. I am positive that a few words were changed in the delivery. Janet Napolitano, Arizona’s then governor was the “professional” speaker. I was the highly honored elected student speaker.

the Phoenix FBICA class of 2008

the Phoenix FBICA class of 2008

Thank you

When we were told that I had been elected the class speaker, I was deeply honored and deeply troubled – there was some talk about using the redneck as target practice.  I must remind you that I am a business invitee of a commercial venture participating in the specific activity for which I was invited…in other words, I expect FBI agents to throw themselves in the line of fire.  Heck, someone could be on a hill a mile away with a 50 caliber.  I guess I’d better speak quick.

I am honored and I must say a few thanks. Scott is one of the few people I tried to talk into going to law school – and who has done an amazing job in the two years since.  Connie, thank you for your support and encouragement that helped get me accepted.

I am a member of an incredible citizens academy class, we have made history this year. This is the 100th year for the FBI, and we have the first foreign citizen in the classes – and a Canadian consul no less.

About 15 years ago, the counterintelligence team was sitting around a table complaining about the lack of resources to maintain surveillance on their top 40 people.  So they decided to get them all together at the same place at the same time – every week.  It was so successful; they have done it every year since.  Welcome to the Citizen’s academy – and its alumni association!

I think it was the fourth class when we were listening to the guest from the US Atty office.  SAC John Lewis came in and made an announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen.  Do you recall when we explained that there are times when our suspicions of a person rise to the point that we can get a warrant.  Sometimes these are a sneak and peek  – we have to get in quickly while they are gone and see what is there.  Other times, we have enough reason to be able to take their computers or something with us.  Well, today, we have an unexpected occurrence.”

I was thinking “Oh crap, they found my 4000 pictures of porno.”  And I wasn’t the only one.  We’re a scary class.

No, we’re safe – for now.  It was the DC guy who comes to ensure they follow all protocols and procedures for collecting and handling the evidence.  It was an unplanned visit and so we had an unexpected treat.

The whole program is like that.  We learn so much that many of us never imagined.  But that’s the purpose.

You – the FBI – stand on a wall.  You stand on a wall we don’t even see.  And whether your weapon is a semiautomatic, a keyboard, or a credit card to pay for lunch for a Mexican official – you use that weapon with precision and effectiveness.

We’ve learned so much.

We learned that Hostage negotiators don’t lie. And that polygraphs are a scientific tool that could test that for us.

We learned no one is safe online.  No one.

We learned that there are some agents here who have never kissed a girl – but they can quote star trek episode 138.

We learned that military recruiters cheating on tests are never simple cases or cheap to solve.   Seven steps from the ASVAB to airplanes and border incursions.

And we learned that sharphooters do NOT use red laser sights.  How could they possibly tell which one is theirs?

Speaking of which –

These agents have hearts of gold, nerves of steel, and a dead-on aim.  I would have no problem sitting in a chair when the SWAT team takes a building.  

And what can we do with our newfound knowledge?

  • We can support our officers when we hear of a shooting.  We understand the actions and reactions called for in such situations.
  • We can make sure pot never becomes legal – it finances the drug cartels.
  • We can maintain a degree of suspiciousness if we see something “just not right” at work or in our neighborhoods.  Leads do come from everyday people.
  • We can defend these brave men and women when the public starts attacking them when the news reporters find ONE event of the 200 other events the FBI stopped and the public never knows about. That’s doing their job.
  • We can support a bill to require reporting purchases of more than one gun (not just pistols, but all guns).
  • We can join the citizens’ academy alumni association and participate in the various events, such as baseball games, golf, and the new 5k run in the fall.

So what do we take away from this unforgettable experience – How are we changed?

  • No more road rage.  There is no need.  When some idiot cuts you off in traffic.  Just say to yourself.  “I know people.  I can arrange to have you killed.”
  • We can talk the talk.  The SAC did a CIA on the ERT and found H&K MIA on the Legat with MS13.
  • And we can walk the walk – just not 90 degrees horizontal off a building face first.
  • We get to show our shirts with FBI and our nifty bags and people treat us nice.
  • We are weapons certified.  NOT.
  • FATS is now a good thing.  In fact, we should have a FATS meeting every week.
  • And when we watch all those TV shows and movies, we can spot the fakes.  No one collects evidence in the field wearing tank-tops and stilettos.  But the superglue thing to get fingerprints is real.  and cool.  From 20 feet downwind.

So in closing.

I don’t sing, but this is so fitting.  See if you can pick up the tune.

Bye Bye. To the FBI.
We shot our shotguns at the levies and the levies were dry.
So to the agents and staff of the FBI
We say thank you for the day we don’t die.



How does one get into Speaking?

At a recent conference, I was asked by several people “How do I start speaking at conferences?”

There are several ways to do this, but to be frank, I don’t know that I ever approached the activity in a deliberate manner. I have spent some time (a short time) thinking about it and have arrived at some methods- and in no way do I mean to sound cynical at the suggestions, they truly are legitimate ones.

How to start speaking at events:

1) Be employed in a key position at a major company.
It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a good speaker or have something profound to say, if you hold a key position and your company is making headlines (good or bad), people will likely want to hear you speak. Anyone who speaks from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Target (breach-related), etc. are all draws for audiences.

2) Be a major contributor or sponsor.
Throw a little money at the issue and opportunities open up.

3) Speak after you write.
Write something significant or write a lot on topics of interest to people or the field. One of my favorite privacy professionals, Dan Solove, writes the books on privacy. I have had his books/papers on privacy in my library for years.

4) Develop a niche area.
Either through passion or expertise, develop a niche area. You’ll still probably need to write about it to establish that you have some expertise, but niche areas are attractive as long as they are relevant.

5) Become an expert.
Whether in a niche area or a broad area, if you become an expert, people will want to hear you speak. Several people come to mind on this one: Chris Hoofnagle, Paul Schwartz, Dan Solove (listed above), Christopher Wolf, and many many more.

6) Get involved. 
Join industry groups, task forces, action groups, committees. National, international, state, local, tribal. And when you join, be active and involved.

7) Be passionate. 
Get passionate about something. Speak to individuals. Write. Speak to groups. Help solve or illuminate a problem. I just heard a keynote from a lady along these lines: Danielle Citron, speaking on Revenge Porn. Another recent example was Oren Yakobovich with the NGO Videre est credere, which helps people in oppressed areas expose the oppression.

8) Solve a problem. 
or at least work on one towards a solution. Also, many come to mind, but some of the ones that stand out are Jules Polonetsky and Marty Abrams.

There are other ways to get involved in speaking, but these are the ones that stand out to me. I also recommend becoming a good speaker and I will write another entry on my perspectives on how to become a good speaker – or even a great one.

IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2015: session highlights and closing session

In this post, I won’t go into details about each day or every session. You can see the schedule and descriptions here. However, I do want to touch on some key points.

With over 3,000 attendees, several sessions were standing room only. The venue worked with the IAPP to move some of the more popular sessions to larger rooms, but nearly every session I went to had ten-fifteen people standing in the back and along the sides.

In general, the sessions were staffed with qualified professionals, albeit not necessarily gifted speakers. Sometimes, it really is their experience and knowledge we crave, so we can tolerate a lack of creativity and speaking skill.  I will say though, that after one of my speaking sessions, all of my co-panelists and I were stopped over the next two days by attendees and profusely thanked for the quality of our session – entertaining and informative. As a speaker, there is no better compliment. Additionally, there were quite a few really good speakers in sessions that I attended.

On the other hand, there was one session I attended that I enjoyed the speakers, enjoyed the session, smiled, clapped, and walked out of there wondering what I actually learned. I even went back to the program guide to see what I was supposed to have learned.

Closing general session: Google guy. not impressed (very sorry, I wanted to be and I am sure he is a heck of a qualified professional). I probably just blew any chance of a job at Google. I really wanted to be impressed. I was interested. Google is a huge topic of interest in the privacy world. But sadly, this one simply did not hit the mark.

Sarah Lewis. Blown away. Fabulous speaker. Great topic. Hit the delivery spot on. An amazing presence. Had us laughing, listening, and enthralled. She spoke about creativity and gave examples such as Samuel Morse, J.K. Rowling, Albert Einstein, and Charles Lund Black, Jr. – whose meeting with Louis Armstrong entrenched his interest in civil rights.

And last, Oren Yakobovich a social entrepreneur who uses cameras to capture violations of human rights.  He co-founded Videre, an NGO which equips people in oppressed communities with cameras to uncover information. He showed us some videos – the gain of which endangers the lives of those who wear the cameras – cameras hidden in clothes, wood, stones. He was poised, passionate, and persuasive. He humbled us all.

In conclusion of this short three-part series, I met wonderful professionals, learned a lot of information, and reconnected with people I seem to never see outside the conferences. The IAPP serves such a true purpose – to give both roots and branches to those of us in privacy. Beyond a doubt, the IAPP has moved this profession forward by huge leaps. I am a raving fan. If you have a chance to get involved (if you like privacy), take advantage of the opportunity.

Pre-conference Workshops – an overview (IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2015)

if you are interested in privacy, pay attention to IAPP and attend the conferences. Don’t write off the pre-conferences. They are powerful, informative, valuable sessions well worth your time and money. Read further to learn more.

In the first post to this series, I discussed the location, venue, attendees, and opening session of the IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2015. In this post, I will briefly discuss the pre-conference workshops.

The IAPP designates the day before its summit as the “pre-conference” day. I was honored and delighted to participate in the pre-conference this year, so I cannot speak directly to the content and quality of this year’s workshops – but I have attended some previous pre-conference workshops of the same topics. And some I have not.

In addition to workshops, the pre-conference day includes training sessions for the IAPP certifications, several KnowledgeNet meet-ups, and various networking events – such as peer-to-peer roundtables, young professionals, and 5-minute mixers.

In general, the workshops all seem highly relevant to privacy professionals and seem to contain valuable information. The IAPP does charge extra to attend the pre-conferences, but every year, there are quite a number of people who attend.

Half-day morning workshops: There were three workshops presented on Wednesday from 9 am to 1 pm:
– the Data Breach Notification Bootcamp,
– the EU Privacy Bootcamp, and
– Piecing Together the Privacy Engineering Puzzle.

  • Given the number of breaches in the recent past, the first workshop was probably a popular one. Ponemon Institute named 2014 as the Year of the Mega Breaches.
  • The EU Privacy Bootcamp is also popular with anyone whose company does business in the European Union. The EU is the strongest multinational privacy regime in the world and is thus a topic that a global company – or simply one who is active in the EU – should know quite well.
  • The last session on the privacy engineering is not one with which I am familiar, but OH MY GOODNESS, I should have been there. (my excuse was inshlepping back and forth from the Mayflower, but seriously, I should have just got my sillybutt up and attended). Here are some excerpts of the description:
    • Include privacy considerations in the systems engineering and development process.
    • …a survey of the evolution of “privacy engineering” and how it can be used to achieve Privacy by Design objectives…
    • …explore the current efforts underway to define the privacy engineering discipline, including the status of the federal privacy engineering model the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is developing…


Half-day afternoon workshops: there were three sessions presented on Wednesday afternoon from 2 pm – 6 pm:
– Globalizing Your Privacy Program: The Hot Buttons,
– Healthcare Privacy—Diagnosis vs. Prognosis of Hot-button     Topics in Healthcare, and
– Privacy Bootcamp.

  • Globalizing a privacy program sounds like an incredibly practical and useful workshop. I recognize some of the names presenting and know them to be very knowledgeable and practical.
  • Healthcare privacy was the one in which I spoke. Trust me, it was riveting! Seriously, good speakers and great material. We did not get to discuss some of the topics in depth because our fabulous audience was highly engaged.
  • Privacy bootcamp is a successful annual workshop presented by Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of IAPP and Kirk Nahra, partner with Riley Wein and frankly, one my favorite privacy attorneys ever. ’nuff said.

And last, there is one full day workshop, Privacy in the Cloud with a Silver Lining. Cloud services are always a controversial topic for privacy professionals, so it was likely a packed house.

I apologize that I cannot give you summaries of the sessions nor true feedback on their value. The purpose was to give you an overview on the offerings and some insight into whether attending the IAPP’s pre-conference workshops is valuable.

on being Southern: 50 years since Selma

Today marks fifty years since Bloody Sunday, where 600 protesters were viciously beaten by Alabama state troopers. In the first two months of 1965, Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led demonstrations at the Dallas County Courthouse in Selma, AL. They were persuaded to make Selma a location of national concern given its historical problems with resistance to black voting, despite the high population of black people in the county. Jimmy Lee Jackson, a protester was killed on February 17 by a state trooper.  In response, a protest march was planned for Selma to Montgomery to occur on Sunday March 7. However, the 600 protesters found their way blocked at the bridge just outside Selma by local and state law enforcement. The bloody and horrific events that occurred next were televised and became known as Bloody Sunday. The one-sided battle became the rallying point for voting rights that culminated with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

I am sitting in an airport in Washington D.C. listening to speeches memorializing and honoring this day.

I am southern. I like to think I am not racist. I was called hateful names in school as a child/teen because I befriended people regardless of the color of their skin. I am ashamed of the history of my homeland – and I don’t mean the South. I mean the U.S. But just the other day, I was listening to an amazing speaker who helps fight for equality around the globe. It underscored my gratefulness of being born in the U.S.

Often in individuals, we proclaim that our past makes us who we are, the trials we experience form our character. And no matter how you were raised, at some point you should grow up and take responsibility for your own actions and quit blaming them on your parents. Is our country not in the same position? I am justifying nothing. I am saying that we’ve made mistakes as a nation. We continue to make mistakes as a nation. Is there a point which we should stop blaming those who came before us for what we are facing now? Shouldn’t we hold ourselves accountable for the actions we take? Knowing that we have a lot to overcome – can we not manage to do it?

There is no doubt that race relations in this nation are bad. I read a survey that said that many feel that relations are getting worse. I read an article the other day about how white people are more racist than they think they are. Very interesting reading. Eye opening.

I was thrilled when I moved to Arizona and there did not appear to be the racism that I saw in the South. Oh, but there is. It is not a necessarily a black and white issue – in multiple ways.

Racism in this country persists. And it should not. There is absolutely nothing that makes one race of people better or worse than another race. Some of the most horrendous crimes against people have been perpetrated by white people: the Holocaust, Apartheid. If there is hatred to be deserved against a group, arguably, Caucasians are more deserving, a global minority responsible for such historical horrors.

In law school, 2001-2004, we had a race incident that expanded to include comments made by professors. One of the few black students (the school always tries to recruit in a diverse fashion, but the black students who wish to go to law school are often snapped up by more prestigious schools), a friend of mine, pointed out to me that we could sit in the same room, hear the same comment, and I would not realize it was racist. That clicked with me. Often, I am in a wheelchair due to my disabilities. I lose about 100 IQ points and the ability to make choices simply because I am sitting on wheels rather than walking on legs. My family can be right there and see/hear the same behaviors and comments and not comprehend how insulting the comments and behaviors are. It’s the old adage of walking in my shoes. Not being black, not walking in those shoes, I don’t get it. And no matter how much I try, I never will. But I can damn sure try.

My children had babydolls representing a wide variety of colors. Their Christian daycare told me never to send them back with black babydolls. While i was willing to continue to live in the South for me, I was not willing for my children to do so. Similarly, while I was apparently willing to live in a violent marriage, I was not willing to subject my children to it. So we left the deep South. And within five years, we left the South altogether. But trust me, nowhere is perfect.

Years later, in Arizona, one of my daughters at 8 years old perhaps third grade) was invited to a birthday party for a classmate. I could not place the name with a face although my daughter insisted I met her. Well, I thought I had met the whole class. I asked her to describe the girl – “taller than me” – most of the class. “slender, but not too skinny” – about 3/4 of the class. “brown eyes, brown hair” – still this let out the one red-haired girl and three blondes, but we still had Hispanic, Indian, Native American, Israeli, Asian… I had no clue who. I finally figured out who when at the store, she wanted to buy lots of pretty hairclips because the girl wore her hair in about eight little ponytails. At no point did my daughter use race to describe her friend. And I never asked what race she was.

Did I go too far? Is it now shameful to use race to describe a person for fear of being seen as racist? I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t know the solution, but I do hope that in some fashion, this nation is getting better. It think it is. We no longer have slavery. We permit women and minorities to vote. We have desegregated schools. It is not enough. It is slow. But I still thank God every day that I was born in the U.S. – there are countries that as a woman, I would not be who I am, I would be imprisoned or killed. I am not afraid of the military coming into my house and attacking my family as a matter of course.

However, I am also not stopped walking and questioned by police because of the color of my skin or because I appear homeless. We’ve come a long way, but we do have an incredibly long way to go. Some of the same people who called me horrible racial names in school are now friends with the same people they mocked me for befriending. Perhaps with age or education comes wisdom.

We are a young country.

Perhaps soon, we too, will mature even more. For the health of our nation and our people, I pray it happens.

IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2015

I love conferences. I had a boss who told me he did not like conferences, they were just big parties. I found that to be odd – all the conferences I had ever gone to – whether with the IAPP, HCCA, the Equal Justice Conference with the ABA, etc. – I had been subsumed with attending the sessions and learning. Then I attended the ACC, which is incredibly informative and educational – but for those it appeals to, there is definitely an opportunity to participate in social events and networking.

Let’s break down the IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2015. I’ll do this in a few posts as I have more to say than should be shared in one post.

First: location. This conference is always in DC in the Early spring. March seems to be a little too early, more late winter than early spring. It’s been freaking cold COLD the past couple of years. Last year was my first year to come to the Global Privacy Summit and there was ice and snow on the ground then, too.  I have heard rumors that they are moving it to April for 2016. I hope so!

Hotel: The venue was moved to the Mariott Marquis this year and it was wonderful. Well…other than those who were here on Monday were shifted to the Mayflower for the night. Now the Mayflower is supposed to be awesome, but it fell way short of that. The floor I was on was being renovated, including the room next to mine. I dealt with construction noises and fumes the entire time I was there. I am horribly allergic to chemicals, so I was miserable. The Marriott was pleasant. The movement from floor to floor for sessions was easy. Even schlepping over to the huge ballroom for the opening and closing sessions was fine.

Attendees: The IAPP has reached over 20,000 members and over 3,000 of them were at this conference. There were not enough seats for meals and people were eating at vendor booths, standing in hallways, etc. But that was a minor inconvenience. There were a huge number of IT/Information Security professionals there which was truly encouraging for the collaboration between the fields. Also, one of the big draws for this summit is the number of government personnel and foreign privacy professionals who attend. I met quite and few. Discussions tend to range from personal to professional, privacy to education, kids to processes – seriously, the scope and breadth of topics individually and in small groups was enormous – thought-provoking and entertaining. Networking is like breathing. Never met a privacy professional I did not like.


Opening session was typical. Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of IAPP, is exactly what one would expect for such a group. He is engaging, informative, and enthusiastic. (I had a couple of personal minutes with him as he was locked out of his room and waiting for security. He really is as human as the rest of us.)

Hilary Wandall, Associate Vice President, Compliance and Chief Privacy Officer of Merck & Co., Inc., current Vice Chair for the IAPP Board of Directors served as emcee for the event. I had the opportunity to meet her later during the conference and was surprised that she knew my names – and of course responded with my typical complete lack of sophistication. I only have one time to make a first impression so I sure hope her impression was formed long before we met! She is charming, quite intelligent, composed, and a wonderful public speaker.

Glenn Greenwald, journalist, who authored No Place to Hide, a book detailing his coverage of the NSA scandal and Edward Snowden’s disclosures. He is an excellent speaker – and no matter your opinion on NSA, Snowden, US surveillance – he is in the thick of exposing privacy and security concerns. He is not an inspiring speaker, but his words are riveting.

Next up was Michael Sandel, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, Harvard University. Now here is an interesting speaker. He is obviously a law professor – he has a charming habit of leaning on the podium at times that makes him seem like an average joe…kinda. It is evident by his words that he is far from average. He engaged the audience directly – calling out questions, seeking impressions, and near-Socratically delving further into a speaker’s opinion.

Tune in for the next installment of the pre-quel to the opening sessions, the pre-conference.