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On Thanksgiving - Gratitude, Cybersecurity, and the Digital Table

classllc keyaanwilliams newsletter the board Nov 16, 2023
a family shares a thanksgiving meal, connecting with others using their laptop at the table

By: Keyaan Williams

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England in September 1620 carrying 102 passengers who sought a new home that promised freedom and prosperity in the "New World." After 66 days, they began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth. Half the colonists died from exposure, starvation, and disease. The remaining colonists survived only because of the support of members of the Abenaki and Pawtutex tribes who greeted them in English and taught them to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers, and avoid poisonous plants. The first Thanksgiving in America was a celebratory feast in November 1621 after the first corn harvest proved successful. That annual celebration continues next week as families gather and give thanks for many blessings.

There is much more to the history of Thanksgiving. The story is not filled exclusively with rainbows and daisies. Research into the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth will reveal many controversies and questions. Nevertheless, I think setting aside time to reflect and give thanks is worthwhile because of the prevalence of ingratitude and thanklessness that are common today. I choose to give thanks to the Lord for all things because He is good and His love endures forever (Psalms 136:1). Regardless of your faith and what is going on in the world, I invite you to join me in celebration of the Season of Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for my wife and my family. Running a business is hard. Running a security business is harder. Nothing that I accomplish professionally would be possible without a great support system behind the scenes.

I am thankful for the unique team that I have been blessed with. CLASS-LLC is a security company, but there is more to our team than cybersecurity. I am thankful that so many people from so many backgrounds can align our talents to produce things that are valuable to others. What we produce is possible only because of a shared vision and a commitment to service.

I am thankful for the students who have participated in the training that we offer. I recently told someone about my main motivation for doing the work that we do, building good relationships. People who invest in our training have lifetime access to the programs they select, which allows us to cultivate great relationships. Some of the best relationships I have started with a week of collaboration and discussion in one of my classes.

I am thankful for the people who donate their time and talent to support the Cyber Strategy Retreat. I created this conference to bring people together and ensure the perspective of business and technology executives was considered alongside the security perspective. The conference is always an intimate size to help build good relationships, it is the best because of the impact it has on the people who attend and the companies they serve. More than 50 speakers have shared a variety of ideas that benefit attendees and strengthen the approach used to protect privacy, data, systems, services, and companies around the world.

I am thankful for everything else I do that has nothing to do with CLASS-LLC. I have received so much from my willingness to serve others because it is the right thing to do. I am thankful for the opportunities to teach, encourage, and counsel people because of my work in Christian ministry. I am thankful for the seat that I have at the table of some great boards. I am thankful that my investment in elevating women and people transitioning into the cybersecurity profession has produced great relationships with groups from the Women in Technology (WIT) Atlanta Chapter as well as great people from Year Up!, OnBoard, ISSA, Private Directors Association, and ABLE. I am especially thankful to be an alumnus of the second cohort of the Black Corporate Board Readiness (BCBR) program delivered by Santa Clara University. Because I continue to serve as a mentor and advisor, I have the privilege of connections to an amazing list of people who are some of the best governance professionals in the world. I am thankful for the relationship that I have with Saprea and the opportunity to plug into their mission to help abuse victims heal.

I am thankful for the relationship that I have with each person who takes the time to read this newsletter. I am thankful, in advance, for every blessing that will come in 2024.



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