First cohort of CyberReadyMBE® concludes with minority business enterprises in position for cybersecurity training certification.

October 17, 2022

More than 500 minority business enterprises (MBEs) participated in the first cohort of CyberReadyMBE®, an impressive number considering the program just began its rollout with the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). The program, designed to improve cyber readiness for small businesses, will be offered to NMSDC’s certified MBEs four more times in the next 18 months, with registration happening now and the kick-off Cyber Summit set for February 21, 2023.

“The CyberReadyMBE® program is designed to bring MBEs on a journey of awareness, to capacity building, and then on to new opportunities.,” said Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan, president and CEO of Industry Workforce Solutions. “Our intent is to provide MBEs with future impact and economic gains by connecting them to new markets that would have not been available to them otherwise. The program is a hybrid of virtual live sessions with the keynotes and instructors, along with self-paced modules and study guides.”

After a high-profile National Cyber Summit to kick off the program’s first cohort in September, Chris Golden, who serves as chief advisor to IWS’s cybersecurity training programs, gave MBEs an overview of basic cyber hygiene practices in CyberReadyMBE®’s first module.

The program was designed to align with the federal standards used in the Department of Defense’s CMMC level 1 cybersecurity training. Golden is known as the “father of CMMC,” which stands for cybersecurity maturity model certification, the standard the government uses to safeguard sensitive national security information. He works to enhance the overall security and resilience of the supply chain for the defense industrial base and the U.S. Dept. of Defense.

In the three-hour session, Golden gave an overview of basic cyber hygiene practices in preparation for Module 2, which focuses on getting a small business’s workforce prepared to handle the cybersecurity requirements necessary to compete for contracts in the federal government and large corporations.

Golden emphasized that if, after going through these sessions, an MBE answers the post-course questionnaire with a series of “no, we don’t have that measure in place” answers, they have the most to gain because now a customized road map for achieving level 1 cybersecurity training can be set in motion.

Registration for the second cohort opened on October 17, 2023 with the kick Cyber Summit on February 21, 2023. The program is a hybrid of virtual live session with the keynotes, instructors, with self-paced modules and study guides.

Workforce needs are topic of CyberReadyMBE®’s Module 2 

Stepping in to educate MBEs on how to build a workforce equipped to achieve cyber readiness for small businesses is Jan Fourman, a Purdue University research scientist who advises Industry Workforce Solutions on workforce and curriculum development for its CyberReady® programs.

In Module 2, Fourman taught certified MBEs of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, how to administer and maintain 17 controls from a workforce perspective. She outlined the six sections a cyber plan should have, as well as the roles and responsibilities of a dedicated employee to oversee the plan and train required personnel.

Fourman, an expert in program development, teaches organizations how to remain compliant with the statutory and regulatory standards of their industries. In Module 2, she built upon Module 1’s foundational requirements for basic cybersecurity by instructing MBEs on how to oversee their cybersecurity plan, how to train employees, develop applications, and more.

Fourman advised students to return to the recorded session to build their own plan for a CyberReady® workforce, step-by-step, using the template and checklists to acquire the needed tools and personnel. Ultimately, all these measures are necessary for any small business with aspirations of gaining contracts with the federal government.

Module 3 puts MBEs in position to work with corporations and government

Aligning MBEs with government and corporate cybersecurity standards and setting them on a path to achieve cyber readiness for small business has been the goal of CyberReadyMBE®’s first two modules. In the third module, three instructors joined the session to tell MBEs exactly what they need to do to win contracts at this level.

Tammy Thompson and Brian McHugh of Bank of America, along with Matt Burkett of NSWC Crane, talked about the cyber requirements and public polices of various sectors and what it takes to do business with the federal government and corporate organizations.

Module 4 teaches MBEs how to leverage resources and match with suppliers

The instruction portion of Industry Workforce Solutions’ CyberReadyMBE® program is wrapping up with the completion of Module 4. Many MBEs who have completed the course up to this point are getting ready to initiate the gap assessment portion of the training.

In this session, Matchmaking and Leveraging Resources, Purdue University’s Jan Fourman came back to guide MBEs through completing their cybersecurity policy and capabilities statements before turning the session over to representatives of GE who outlined the process that small businesses must follow in order to work as a government or corporate supplier.

Bethani Clever, of GE Aviation and GE Edison Works, helps her company meet small business reporting and growth goals. This means that in helping GE diversity their supplier base, she also walks small businesses through the process of joining GE’s supplier network. She simplified that complex process during the session, providing a checklist of what products and services her company needs as well as the qualifications required to contract with GE.

Kent Sharp, who is the military sourcing compliance leader at GE Aviation, spoke about the government side of contracting, specifically, complying with federal acquisition regulations.

Next steps for the MBEs include returning to the learning platform to finish any modules they have missed, taking a post-course quiz, register for the optional but recommended gap assessment.

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Certified MBES of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, who signed up for the training, but have missed sessions, can catch up and remained enrolled. Simply return to the CyberReadyMBE® learning platform to access the previous sessions.

To learn more about CyberReady® programs for small and minority businesses, visit