NSTIC leader Jeremy Grant stepping aside

Head of identity ecosystem initiative helped drive $30 million in pilot project funding

The leader of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is stepping aside after four years of directing the effort to create an "identity ecosystem" for the Internet with the intent of killing passwords.

Jeremy Grant, senior executive advisor for identity management at NIST, is the only leader the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSITC) has known since President Obama created it almost four years ago.

"I'm proud of the progress we've made these past four years," Grant said. "There was a lot of skepticism when the NSTIC was launched as to whether it would just sit on a shelf and be forgotten. After all, there was no mandate in there for anyone to do anything - NSTIC simply asked that they help."

Grant has worked tirelessly crisscrossing the country to tout NSTIC to the private sector, create and staff a National Program Office (NPO), and oversee the awarding of more than $30 million in grant money for NSTIC pilot programs.

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Jeremy Grant

"Jeremy helped kick start identity innovation in the U.S.," said Ian Glazer, a member of the board of directors of the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group (IDESG), a voluntary, public-private partnership formed to facilitate NSTIC's identity ecosystem. "It took an amazing amount of leadership and patience to bring about a diverse group of stakeholders with diverse opinions."

In an email to his colleagues this morning, Grant announced his plan to leave and said he was doing so with "very mixed feelings."

"Leading the implementation of the NSTIC is hands down the best job I've ever had; I'm truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve in this role, and to have had the chance to work with such a talented and dedicated team," he wrote. He said after four years it was "time for me to find the next great adventure."

His last day will be sometime in April. Mike Garcia, the deputy director of NSTIC's NPO, will take over as acting director.

Back in April 2011, NSTIC was an Obama mandate, a press conference and one ambitious guy (Grant) sitting in a Commerce Building office above the nation's oldest aquarium (since closed in 2013). Grant joked that he was positioned above the alligators just in case the Administration had to quickly end the program and his tenure.

But after only 12 months he had added six staffers and a NSTIC National Program Office. The progress was a marvel of efficiency inside the Capital Beltway, but characterized as a slow-footed race against Internet-time execution outside that circle.

Grant set about to bury that image and drum up support, showing up at major events like the annual RSA Security Conference and the Cloud Identity Summit, along with smaller obscure identity-geek gatherings like the Internet Identity Workshop and Capitol Hill technology seminars. He was well spoken on the technology and well known in security circles.

Grant was tasked with recruiting the private sector to craft NSTIC's principals and policies, build out its identity ecosystem and own the results independent of government oversite.

"The amazing thing about him was he could listen to all points of view, make sure people were heard, and find ways they could all make progress," said Glazer.

Grant oversaw the creation of key pieces of the NSTIC model, including IDESG, which hopes to unveil its Identity Ecosystem Framework later this year. The group also appointed in January Marc-Anthony Signorino, its first full-time executive director.

Grant's announcement comes less than a week after President Obama held a Cybersecurity Summit in Palo Alto, Ca., and just more than a week after NSTIC posted its latest grant proposals to solicit new projects it will fund.

"It's been exciting to see some of the more successful pilots move beyond their initial government funding to raise funds in the private sector, or take other steps to be self-sustaining beyond the government's initial investment." said Grant.

The NSTIC effort is overseen by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) working within the Department of Commerce.