From Shakespeare to IT
The border between the U.S. and Mexico is 1,950 miles long; between the U.S. and Canada, excluding Alaska, 3,990. The woman who's responsible for about 80% of the security and surveillance technology deployed along those borders is a Vassar grad, class of 1979: Lurita Doan, the founder, president and C.E.O. of New Technology Management, Inc. - who, by the way, graduated with honors in English from Vassar and holds an advanced degree in Renaissance lit. What N.T.M.I. apparently does better than just about anybody else isn't inventing new technologies, but integrating existing and new technologies writing programs to make these various technologies communicate and work together.
Border surveillance technologies include such components as remote video cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles, digital video recorders at ports of entry, and regional and national databases from various state and federal agencies. N.T.M.I. developed a "smart border," integrating the various types and layers of surveillance. "It's all for the good," said Kenneth Reid, a security industry analyst quoted in the VQ, "because it will take the kind of technology integration her company does in order to prevent something like the next September 11th from happening."
According to an article in Black Enterprise, "Doan"s foray into entrepreneurship was sparked by frustration. 'I had this great idea, and I'd gone to my boss. [My boss] thought it was a pretty stupid idea and told me to go back to my cubicle and keep programming,"says the computer programmer. 'I was so stunned that I walked out the door and went to lunch and never came back.'"
With an initial investment of $25 in business cards and stationery, Doan set up her own I.T. company and began knocking on government doors in Washington, D.C., where her husband, Doug, an army captain, was stationed. A few years later, she got her first big break - an opportunity to come up with a programming solution for the U.S. Navy. Nine months pregnant at the time, she worked around the clock and finished the job literally hours before her second child was born. "The next day, the Navy called me up to congratulate me on the birth of my child and to say that they were really impressed. They figured any woman who is willing to put off the birth of a child to get the network up, they can count on."
Today, Doan's company handles over $212 million in contracts annually, operates with seven offices, 150 employees, and government clients ranging from the I.R.S. to the I.N.S. to H.U.D, has received numerous awards for innovation and entrepreneurship, and has been recognized among the top I.T. companies by Forbes and the Washington Post, to name a few.
VQ Spring 2003
Black Enterprise magazine, June 2004
Photo credit: Cameron Davidson