Honors Gallery

Karen Presley: Creating opportunities to share knowledge within the FLC community and beyond

Award: Representative of the Year

Year: 2023

Award Type: National

National Security Agency (NSA) Technology Transfer Program


Karen Presley’s many accomplishments in technology transfer, both at the National Security Agency (NSA) and as a volunteer for the FLC, have a common theme: A passion for sharing knowledge.  

Presley, who is the NSA Deputy Director of the Office of Research and Technology Applications, has served as Chair of the FLC Educate Committee since 2020, previously serving as the Co-Chair of the Educate and Training Subcommittee. Her primary objective is to update the way FLC provides training opportunities to the FLC community.  

She is working with committee members and FLC staff to create a robust curriculum for all federal T2 professionals and key internal stakeholders, from novice to expert, as well as creating webinars and a learning management system to house all online content. These improvements will allow tech transfer professionals and other stakeholders to continually learn, grow, and obtain value from FLC training events. 

A member of the FLC community since 2013 and an FLC Laboratory Representative since 2017, Presley has also demonstrated that she personally has technology transfer knowledge to share. She was a key contributor to NSA projects that earned FLC Excellence in Technology Transfer awards in 2015, 2017 and 2019. She also is a frequent speaker and moderator at the FLC National Meeting.  


Presley’s interest in sharing knowledge also extends beyond her work as FLC Educate Chair. She has been a resource for other tech transfer professionals needing guidance and expertise, and has been active in promoting the importance of establishing ORTA offices at laboratories looking to ramp up their tech transfer efforts. She was also part of an NSA team that won the 2020 George F. Linsteadt Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer for its work with the open-source software community.  

The initiative that best exemplifies Presley’s efforts to share knowledge with new communities is her work in 2019 to establish a Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) program at NSA to enable student research in areas related to NSA mission sets. The CRADA allows NSA to engage with MSIs that are overlooked for research opportunities despite their qualifications.  

Since the inaugural MSI CRADA was executed with Morgan State University in December 2019, Presley has worked to grow and evolve the program. At the time of this award submission, she had facilitated partnerships with eight MSIs, with additional institutions pending approval.  

The MSI CRADAs have also evolved to include student work on research for actual technologies—building on research and patents already established by NSA experts—instead of hypothetical scenarios. This gives students the ability to take their work and research with them beyond the classroom into the real world. It also benefits the agency to have new talent providing insight into potential improvements to their mission-developed technologies. 

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