MIT Lincoln Laboratory – Transforming Culture in the National Security Space

by Savoy Staff

By Chevy Cleaves, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

At MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture are more than just goals; they’re vital to our mission. It is our responsibility to reflect the diversity of the nation we serve. As a designated federal research and development center, we design and build one-of-a-kind technologies to solve national and global security challenges. Our ability to rapidly develop systems is bolstered by our staff, who bring a variety of perspectives and experiences to the table, and our state-of-the-art facilities that make our innovations possible.

Through the use of groundbreaking technologies, we help the country meet its national security needs. Our areas of critical focus include:

  • Contact tracing: Together with MIT campus, we created a system that can trace the recent contacts of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 by looking at Bluetooth signals that smartphones send to each other. This technology was adopted by Google and Apple and is an essential tool for containing the pandemic nationally.
  • Quantum computing: We continue to work aggressively on the future of computing by using quantum computing to identify solutions to scientific challenges in minutes instead of years.
  • Hurricane modeling and decision support: We build and deploy systems that dramatically improve the accuracy of hurricane tracking and warning capabilities. We also make tools that shorten the hurricane damage estimation time from weeks to hours, enabling aid to be dispatched more quickly and saving lives.
  • Aircraft collision avoidance and tracking: We develop advanced systems for the Federal Aviation Administration that warn pilots and air traffic controllers of nearby aircraft, reducing mid-air collisions and making air travel safer for all.

These technologies are made possible by a work environment where we are embraced for what we can do and for who we are. Valuing these strengths and perspectives leads to a greater impact on the world, and we are committed to becoming the national security industry exemplar in strategic D&I leadership and application.

In 2018 Dr. Eric Evans, Laboratory Director, appointed Chevy Cleaves as the inaugural Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Lincoln Laboratory. Cleaves came to the Laboratory from his previous role as the Chief Diversity Officer for the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a transformational executive leader and thought leader. Upon arriving at the Laboratory, Cleaves established the first Diversity and Inclusion Office in our organization’s history. Cleaves and his team are working to promote sustainable individual and organizational performance and effectiveness by leveraging the critical success factors of leadership accountability, a growth mindset, strategic communications, and effective resourcing.

Cleaves draws on his background as a deeply experienced Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and transformational executive leader to further connect D&I to our organization’s core strategy and goals, enabling increased collaboration, innovation, and productivity. The results of these efforts are visible and measurable, and their impact has reverberated across our organization. Our leaders embrace the idea that they must possess broad and deep skillsets that enable them to lead inclusively in diverse contexts while envisioning and creating solutions in an increasingly complex world.

“Innovation thrives at the nexus of inclusion and diversity, and we are committed to leveraging talent from all across the nation to help us identify and solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.” —Chevy Cleaves, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Solving the nation’s most difficult problems takes the combined talents and unique views of many, sharing an environment where every person feels equally empowered to be their best. Change is not always easy, but we’re committed to accelerating it. D&I is our responsibility to each other and to the nation we serve.

Learn more about our people and their visionary work.



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