Women’s Day Profile –
Jacqueline Tame, JAIC Acting Deputy Director
- By: JAIC Public Affairs
One year ago, amidst heightened global concerns over a rapidly-spreading, novel virus, former JAIC Director Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, USAF, Ret. introduced a refined organizational business model called JAIC 2.0. Within this new business model, Jacqueline Tame was brought on as the JAIC’s inaugural Chief Performance Officer. When the JAIC’s first Deputy Director retired in November 2020, Jacqueline was selected to serve as the JAIC’s Acting Deputy Director. With this, Jacqueline became the highest-ranking civilian woman at the JAIC.
Jacqueline came to the JAIC after spending time in the intelligence community and Capitol Hill, where she cut her teeth in policy, strategic planning and assessment, and government relations. At the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), she gained deep counterterrorism expertise, where she assessed mission performance for the DIA’s Director. As a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) staffer, Jacqueline monitored defense and military intelligence programs.
As a woman, rising through the intelligence ranks can be challenging. Jacqueline rapidly developed thick skin and recognized that being “right” may be irrelevant if key factors aren’t aligned. “In each role, I had to learn how to balance the need and desire to drive change with the political, cultural, policy, and technological realities of the component or environment in which I was operating. I had to learn to both understand the very real human dynamics and organizational needs that drive every senior decision maker’s calculus,” she reflected.
Countless times, Jacqueline found herself the only woman, youngest, or lone civilian (and sometimes all three) in meetings. She often walked that delicate line of convincing her colleagues that she did in fact know what she was doing and saying, while not presenting as having something to prove.
“I had to learn how to understand and meet people where they are. And how to carefully and strategically identify, cultivate, and grow talent – surrounding myself with people who would challenge me, red team each other, and become each other’s strengths. I learned about leading by example and figuring out what my own redlines are and how to extract myself from situations that threatened to cross them,” Jacqueline recalled.
These experiences taught Jacqueline to trust her gut instincts, backstop her decisions with substantive data, and make sound decisions for her colleagues. Her JAIC colleagues describe Jacqueline as a “leader of leaders”, a description she holds as a meaningful honor coming from her leadership and peers.
Additionally, these experiences taught her the importance of mentorship and sponsorship. “I have the most brilliant, thoughtful, and accomplished mentors and sponsors that anyone could hope for. They are primarily current and former agency directors, combatant commanders, departmental leadership, and industry icons. And yet, 95% of them are men,” Jacqueline explained. “This is not for lack of wanting to find female mentors and sponsors. I have found a few…but not enough.” Her experience has molded her leadership style. Jacqueline vowed that once she was in a leadership position she would endeavor to create opportunities for women in the national security space. She works hard to be a role model, and curate environments where women can learn from each other, grow, and advance together in solidarity.
A few years ago, Jacqueline realized this dream and founded Command After Next, a group that redefines what it means to be a woman in national security through coaching, networking, and community. In this safe space, women are educated, promoted, mentored, and offered professional development opportunities. She is most proud that several of her mentees are, in turn, mentoring others. This is the very definition of “becoming the change you want to see.”
Jacqueline joined the JAIC a week before the country entered quarantine as the Chief Performance Officer, during a pivotal year for the organization. After the departure of Lt. Gen. Shanahan in June, LtGen Groen took the helm last September, ushering in a renewed focus on providing data-driven and data-informed AI decision-making at speed, and creating strategic and operational advantages for the Warfighter. With the combination of a pandemic, change in leadership, and a natural shift of priorities and needs within the Department, it became clear that it was time for “JAIC 2.X” as Jacqueline describes it – a fresh take on March 2020’s refined business model. After the retirement of the JAIC’s Deputy Director, Dr. Steve Homeyer in November, Jacqueline was named JAIC’s Acting Deputy Director, aligning the stars for her to become a transformational leader within the organization.
Jacqueline’s initial challenge as Acting Deputy Director – rollout “JAIC 2.X” which included:
- Shifting from providing to enabling (e.g., “products” to “capability delivery”)
- Reengineering internal processes to “live what we are teaching” (individual capabilities to cross-functional integrated product teams)
- Refining portfolio of services and offerings to reflect lessons learned about DoD AI readiness
- Realigning talent to reflect a shift in approach (problem pull); prioritization (enabling v. delivery); and offerings
- Assessing every new JAIC undertaking against a deliberate, repeatable component AI readiness framework
It was no small feat for Jacqueline to onboard, learn, lead, and become the Acting Deputy Director in the midst of a global pandemic. “This has been incredibly hard for everyone. Trying to take care of people through screens is much more taxing than doing it in person. Trying to maintain work-life balance is nearly impossible,” Jacqueline said. “The most enduring lesson I will take away from this time is to remember that you never know everything your team is dealing with on any given day. And given that, you should always assume positive intent, and check on people often.” In addition to this, Jacqueline and the rest of JAIC’s leadership continue to move the organization’s mission forward.
When asked what JAIC’s top priorities for 2021 are, Jacqueline offered:
- Lead Department-wide efforts to adopt AI at scale
- Accelerate inherently-Joint AI capabilities
- Provide services to Component partners that promote AI adoption
- Create an AI-friendly ecosystem in DoD
These days, Jacqueline finds herself most inspired by her dedicated and passionate JAIC colleagues. “I have never worked somewhere with as many intimidatingly brilliant, accomplished people – it is astounding to think about the level of talent and expertise we have in the organization,” she beamed. Jacqueline is sure to find the sentiment reciprocated due to her distinct brand of empathetic leadership, governmental expertise, and the long-haul vision she’s brought to the organization.
A native of Austin, Texas, Jacqueline graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in French and Classical Vocal Performance and an MPAff. She also holds a MA in National Security & Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two dogs. When she is not enabling the DoD through AI, you can find her mentoring young women in national security, watching silly movies with her husband, spending time with friends, practicing hot yoga, or reading and mapping policy….yes really!