January 10 2024

Q&A With Dave Komendat & Rich Davis on TSF, Today & Tomorrow

On January 1, 2024, Dave Komendat became President of The Security Foundation Board of Directors. He succeeds Rich Davis who completed two highly impactful terms as TSF President and remains on the Board.

We spoke with these security titans – and good friends – over Zoom about the recent rebranding of the International Security Foundation (ISF) to The Security Foundation (TSF). They share what this evolution means for the U.S. domestic and global security communities as TSF deepens and expands its trusted and valued role as an impartial convener of public-private partnerships.

Q: How is TSF’s rebrand a reflection of the nonprofit’s evolution and its innovative vision for the future?

Rich: When I reflect on our history of the early beginnings as the ISF, more than a decade ago, the focus was completely on the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and how we could support meetings around the world. Fast forward to February 2023, when the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC) joined us. Now we have this perspective of worldwide support for all entities of the security community within and outside of the United States.

Dave giving remarks at the 12th Annual TSF Dinner in November 2023.

Dave: It reflects the evolution of what’s happening globally. As Rich said, in our early years, we primarily supported the OSAC mission. Then, early last year, the discussions that ultimately led to our merger with the former Domestic Security Partnership and bringing those two organizations [domestic and global security] together reflect the need for an entity like TSF. We need a trusted organization to bring together public and private partnerships and enable those relationships. With TSF’s brand and reputation of the former ISF, as a Board, we felt it was important to take the lead in this space. TSF helps address the issues that impact all of us and enables discussions to happen more frequently and in a more positive and more supportive manner than we’ve been able to do in the past.

Q: What excites you most about the opportunities with TSF?

Rich: We have expanded our role over the years with the support of our donors. In recent years, we began to branch out with other like-minded organizations that wanted to support U.S. citizens and families through our TSF Nonprofit Grants Program. Other organizations that contribute to the safety and security of U.S. citizens around the world  have approached us for help. I’m very excited about branching that out. Another element of the excitement is to educate our donors on the different opportunities that are out there. I truly believe they would gladly support the overall safety and security mission that TSF supports.

Rich (far left) with TSF Board members Kevin Friker, Eddie Silverman and Keith Slotter at the 2023 DSAC Annual Meeting.

Dave: I’m also really excited about the energy that exists out there. When Peggy [O’Neill, TSF Executive Director] made the name change announcement at the recent annual TSF Dinner, it got great applause. People said, ‘Finally this really makes sense to the security community.’ They understand it, and it simplifies their giving strategy because they’re giving to one organization that is supporting the missions of DSAC, OSAC and the other organizations Rich talked about. There is an appetite and a desire for more public-private sector collaboration. Some of that’s been stymied in the past because of the inability to fund some of those gatherings. As TSF, we’re able to better evaluate and better support those types of new public-private sector engagements.

We’re going to be able to expand what we support  and enable more of that dialogue that is important to all of us and to the security of this nation. As President of the TSF Board working along with Rich and our colleagues, we’re very energized and excited by the interest in TSF and the possibilities that lie in front of us. I think the hardest part is going to be figuring out how to prioritize among a lot of really great opportunities. How do we best enable those organizations and best utilize the donations that our many generous supporters have given us?

Q: How is TSF helping to lead the collaborative diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and why is that essential now, not just for TSF, but for security?

Dave: TSF being a leader in DEI within the security profession is so very important. It’s a field that really lacks overall diversity. It has improved somewhat over the last few years, but not nearly at the pace that it needs to. There’s so much underutilized talent out there that the security community could really use and benefit from. I think one of the things that’s most important, especially to young people, is that the private-sector security profession and career path are not really known. [Our industry] is not talked about at the high school level or even at the university level. This  gives us a great place to market what really is a rewarding  career path with many different roles and responsibilities.

Members of TSF, ASIS, DSAC, ISMA, OSAC and other DEI leaders within security at the TSF-hosted first-ever Joint DEI Summer in April 2023.

Companies are so diverse in their security needs that as a young person, the doors are wide open to come in and really make a difference at some great companies throughout the U.S. and around the world. With the brand that TSF has and our ability to bring other large organizations together and set a professional North Star for the  security profession , how do we get our messaging out? How do we educate people about the great possibilities and opportunities that exist within this profession? I can’t think of an organization better suited to doing that with the platforms that we have. TSF has a great opportunity to be able to showcase the need to go out and find this talent. The world is full of threats right now, and we need some really bright young minds in this profession to help learn and grow and solve some of these problems that we’re all facing and we’ll face in the future.

Rich: Dave pretty much said it all, but I think of the unrealized talent and the exciting opportunities that will surface from our support of DEI initiatives weren’t available 12, 24 or 36 months ago. I was really pleased with what OSAC did at its 2023 Annual Briefing in supporting university students and giving them the opportunity to attend OSAC Week. It was so refreshing to see the caliber of State Department leadership with Gentry Smith and Ellen Tanner personally speaking to the students about future working opportunities within the State Department and the U.S. government. I personally sponsored one of those students, and she was so happy with her experience as were her parents. It was really a special event for her and all the university students who attended. The DEI movement is full of discovering new talent and opportunity for thousands.

Read about the first TSF-sponsored students to attend OSAC Week and the annual TSF Dinner.

Dave: To that point, [having students at events] is something that we’ve got to look at as part of our standard offerings. If TSF supports an event, we should look for that organizer to invite young people, whether it’s university or high school students, to give them an opportunity to attend, meet the keynotes or pair them up with an attendee. We need to spread the word about our industry and build some buzz about [our work]. I’m also very proud that TSF’s Board reached its 50% diversity goal a year ahead of schedule. Our goal was to have 50% diversity by 2025, and we accomplished that with the new slate of board members who began on January 1, 2024. It’s important that we not just talk the talk.

Visit to learn more about TSF’s DEI focus.

Q: What does it mean for TSF to be the convener of public-private partnerships? How does this uniquely enhance the security industry?

Rich: TSF as a convener has been in development for many years. The respect that TSF has gained over the last decade-plus has been sensational. The support from the donors and U.S. companies has made it possible for us to do things that weren’t even in our thought process over 10 years ago. The ability to call on the public sector – the U.S. government – and on the private sector – the corporations – and share our ideas to benefit our security industry and enhance the safety and security of our citizens is something that I don’t think we have a full grasp of yet.

From left at the 12th Annual TSF Dinner in 2023: Dave, Rich, MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart, emcee, Hon. Sue Gordon, keynote speaker, and Peggy O’Neill, TSF Executive Director.

For our TSF Board and our absolutely wonderful TSF staff, this is a boundless opportunity to explore new ideas, to explore how we can enhance the security of our people around the world. The meetings we have and the financial capabilities that we have because of our donors give us no limitations on what we can accomplish. With open-minded thinking, there are things that we haven’t thought of today that will begin to be in place by the end of 2024. It’s a very exciting time and a truly unique opportunity.

Dave: There’s no one better positioned within our field to lead in this space other than TSF. When you look at all the things that are really working in our favor, first, you’ve got a great, trusted brand that has successfully enabled many, many gatherings around the world. With the addition of DSAC early in 2023, we brought in another major group of U.S. corporations. The learnings that came out of our merger [with the Domestic Security Partnership], the due diligence that we put into it, the process discipline we followed is the recipe for success for TSF. We will continue to use those same guidelines and strategies as we move forward and look for additional partnerships and opportunities to bring people together in this space.

Those opportunities, quite frankly, are pretty limitless. For us to grow and enable the types of engagements that we want to enable TSF’s team and its bandwidth need to grow. Our ability to support these major gatherings takes a lot of time, effort and work. We’ve got some great partners outside the organization that help us in that space. Having the right team in place with the right capabilities and numbers is what’s really going to help enable the growth that we all see in front of us.

Q: What does the coming year look like for TSF?

Dave: These next couple years, especially this coming year, is a year of learning for TSF. It’s about exploring those future opportunities, looking at those things from a prioritization perspective, but also about making sure that our house is in order. We’re making sure that we’ve got the processes, procedures, steps and checklists that we’ll need to use going forward to do this in a consistent, professional and transparent manner. Once we’re able to build all those things, I think the sky’s the limit for us, and we’ll be able to go as fast or slow as we think we need to go.

Rich: Dave, the sky is truly the limit. I’m also very excited about our upcoming strategic planning session this winter. That’s a very great opportunity for our TSF Board members and staff to come together and think about what is best for TSF’s future and how we’re going to implement these great ideas that we all have in our heads right now.

Dave: One of the things that’s pretty unique about our organization is the fact that we do spend quite a bit of time together as a Board. We intentionally spend meaningful time talking about strategy. Our Board is made up of a group of very unique individuals and different thinkers.  The  beauty of our discussions is when we sit down and have that dialogue, there are always differing opinions and differing perspectives. I think everyone on TSF’s Board to a person feels like they could be the one person in the room that has a different perspective, a different opinion, maybe believes a different approach is best. And they’re comfortable sharing that. To the credit of the rest of the members, they’re comfortable listening.

Rich and I have been on the Board long enough to see that there have been times over the many years where one person has ultimately changed the entire perspective of the board on a decision. Just by giving that person the opportunity to speak, to be heard, to be able to have questions asked of him or her on why they feel that way has [enabled us] to reach a different conclusion than we thought when we originally began a discussion.

The TSF Board in April 2023 at its Strategic Planning session.

That’s really powerful for TSF – and pretty unique that you can bring a group of people together like that and have differing opinions and ultimately reach a consensus that everyone can accept and support. That’s one of the reasons why I really enjoy being part of this Board is because of that discourse and the fact that we spend the time necessary to really think about where we want to be three years, five years from now. How do we get there? What do we need to do? What do we need to do differently? This has served the organization well by having that kind of strategic discipline.

Rich: So very well said, Dave. One of the finest moments we had in 2023 was at our last face-to-face Board meeting when we took a picture on a stairwell at the Boeing headquarters, and TSF posted that on LinkedIn (see photo). The support and acknowledgement of our Board was absolutely fabulous from the public and private sector. I’m really looking forward to a photo of our new Board for 2024.

Thank you, Dave and Rich, for your inspiring remarks and for your leadership of TSF and the security industry.

Read more about Dave’s new role as TSF President.

Read about Rich’s recent honor as the 2023 recipient of the George P. Shultz Award for Excellence to OSAC.