Anne Neuberger: A frum woman of firsts, protecting the United States

#15: Anne Neuberger

Anne Neuberger (photo credit: NSA)
Anne Neuberger
(photo credit: NSA)
Anne “Chani” Neuberger, an Orthodox woman from Baltimore, is the newly appointed head of the United States National Security Agency’s new Cybersecurity Directorate.
In this role, she will help the directorate more actively use signal intelligence gleaned from expanded operations against adversaries to protect America from foreign threats.
Neuberger is a woman of firsts.
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She was the first female White House Fellow assigned to the Defense Department in the Pentagon. She was also the first Orthodox Jew that most of her colleagues at the NSA – where she has worked for the past decade – ever encountered, according to a first-person account published in 2012 in Jewish Action magazine.
The 43-year-old mother of two teenagers grew up in Borough Park and attended Bais Yaakov and then Touro College, where she studied finance and computer science. After that, she worked in her family’s financial services company.
When she was already married, with one child and another one on the way, she enrolled in an MBA program at Columbia University. She decided to stay on an extra year and earn a second master’s degree in international relations, with a concentration in the Persian Gulf.
Two years later, she applied to the White House Fellows program and was selected. After a year with the Defense Department, she was appointed special assistant to the secretary of the navy, working on “troubled programs” – ones that were running over budget or not functioning well.
Soon after, when the government established the Cyber Command, she became part of a team working on protecting military networks, which eventually evolved into her work at the NSA and her most recent appointment.
“I strongly feel that a woman should use the talents Hashem [God] gave her,” Neuberger wrote in Jewish Action, “and that being frum [Orthodox] is not a barrier to professional success.”
More recently, in an interview with The Forward, she said, “If you are a professional in your job and comfortable adhering to your traditions, everyone will be fine with it. All my coworkers understand that I don’t go out with them for drinks on Friday night and I observe the Sabbath.”
“In fact,” she continued, “I have assistants who keep their eye on the clock for me Friday afternoons, letting me know that I had better get moving.”
Neuberger’s parents were among the hostages rescued by Israeli commandos from Entebbe Airport in 1976. She said that her family’s escapes – first from the Holocaust and later from the hostage situation in Uganda – have helped shape her worldview.
Her parents are not Israeli, but she said that, because the Palestinians who hijacked the Air France flight knew her father was Jewish because he wore a kippah, they decided to keep them, too.
Outside of her work, Neuberger founded and funds Sister to Sister, an organization to help divorced Jewish women.
She told The Forward that, “Our nation needs to remain vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. The NSA makes critical contributions to protect our nation.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, Neuberger is one of, if not the highest-ranking women at the NSA since Ann Caracristi was named deputy director in 1980.