David Bray

Distinguished Fellow

Dr. David A. Bray is a Distinguished Fellow with the Stimson Center. He is Principal at LeadDoAdapt Ventures and has served in a variety of leadership roles in turbulent environments, including bioterrorism preparedness and response from 2000-2005, Executive Director for a bipartisan National Commission on R&D, providing non-partisan leadership as a federal agency Senior Executive, work with the U.S. Navy and Marines on improving organizational adaptability, and with U.S. Special Operation Command’s J5 Directorate on the challenges of countering disinformation online. He has received both the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award and the National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Medal. David accepted a leadership role in December 2019 to direct the successful bipartisan Commission on the Geopolitical Impacts of New Technologies and Data that included Senator Mark Warner, Senator Rob Portman, Rep. Suzan DelBene, and Rep. Michael McCaul. From 2017 to the start of 2020, David also served as Executive Director for the People-Centered Internet coalition Chaired by Internet co-originator Vint Cerf and was named a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Human-Machine Cognition starting in 2018. Business Insider named him one of the top “24 Americans Who Are Changing the World” under 40 and he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. For twelve different startups, he has served as President, Chief Strategy Officer, and Strategic Advisor roles.

David enjoys creative problem solving. He began working for the U.S. government at age 15 on computer simulations at a high-energy physics facility investigating quarks and neutrinos. In later roles, he designed new telemedicine interfaces and space-based forest fire forecasting prototypes for the Department of Defense. From 1998-2000 he volunteered as a part-time crew lead with Habitat for Humanity International in the Philippines, Honduras, Romania, and Nepal while also working as a project manager with Yahoo! and a Microsoft partner firm. Dr. Bray then joined as IT Chief for the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading the program’s technology response to during 9/11, anthrax in 2001, Severe Acute Respiratory System in 2003, and other international public health emergencies. He later completed a PhD from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and two post-doctoral associateships at MIT and Harvard in 2008.

David likes to be a digital diplomat and a “human flak jacket” for teams of change agents working in turbulent environments. He volunteered in 2009 to deploy to Afghanistan to help “think differently” on military and humanitarian issues and in 2010 became a Senior National Intelligence Service Executive advocating for increased information interoperability, cybersecurity, and protection of civil liberties. In 2012, he became the Executive Director for the bipartisan National Commission for Review of Research and Development Programs of the United States Intelligence Community, leading an interagency team that received the National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation. He received both the Arthur S. Flemming Award and Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership in 2013. He also was chosen to be an Eisenhower Fellow to meet with leaders in Taiwan and Australia on multisector cyber strategies for the “Internet of Everything” in 2015. He is the author of 40+ academic papers and published publications.

David’s passions include complicated, near impossible missions involving humans and technology in challenging circumstances. Through the efforts of a team of “positive change agents”, he led the transformation of the Federal Communication Commission’s legacy IT with more than 207 different systems to award-winning tech. This included rolling-out new cloud-based IT that achieved results in 1/2 the time at 1/6 the cost. He was the recipient of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Civilian Government. He also received the global CIO 100 Award twice, which usually is awarded to private sector Fortune 500 companies, both in 2015 and 2017, for his transformational leadership in change-adverse settings. From 2017-2021, he both worked with multiple services associated with the U.S. Department of Defense on improving organizational adaptability and counter disinformation online – including personally surviving a disinformation attack that occurred in 2018. In 2019, he was invited to give the AI World Society Distinguished Lecture to the United Nations on UN Charter Day. In 2021 he was named a Distinguished Fellow with the Atlantic Council.

As Principal at LeadDoAdapt Ventures, Dr. Bray’s passions include shaping the Future of Data, Bio, and Space and providing strategic direction, advice, and leadership to organizations confronting turbulent environments. He accepted a role of Co-Chair for 2016-2017 with an IEEE Committee focused on Artificial Intelligence, automated systems, and innovative policies globally and has been serving as a Visiting Executive In-Residence at Harvard University since 2015 and as a Faculty Member giving talks on Impact and Disruption at Singularity University since 2017. He has been an invited keynote speaker to CEOs, world leaders, and crowds of more than 3,000 participants at events in India, Vietnam, Australia, Taiwan, Dubai, South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

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