Laura Odell is an Assistant Director at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). She is responsible for shaping, pursuit, capture, and executing projects strategically important to IDA. These duties include developing management strategies for vetting, recruiting, selecting and retaining high performance talent.
As a most trusted advisor at the highest levels of government within the DOD, Intelligence Community (IC), and State Department, she develops progressively complex projects where weapons, critical business systems’, and networks intersect. She quantifies the balance of risk- to- performance by linking operational processes and policy controls to an organization’s strategic objectives to both inform and accelerate decision making. She is a “hands- on,” operationally focused leader presenting decision makers feasible solutions that are ultimately rendered in an electronic environment using state of the art algorithms and modern techniques. She has a proven record of directly delivering complex projects totaling billions of dollars as both an industry executive and government servant. She has over twenty-five years of successful leadership experience with advancing and increased responsibilities, capabilities and core competencies in both the business and technical domains. She is recognized as a leader in the Federal government industry sector and is a sought-after speaker on emerging topics regarding IT enabled data analytics, acquisition procurement regulation and compliance.
Laura works cross divisionally at IDA serving as a strategy and technical expert for the White House in support of the Committee on Foreign Investments United States (CFIUS) providing risk- based analyses (RBA) on proposed mergers and acquisitions of national interest. She develops and leads large high- performance teams. She has a true passion for executing large scaled programs, including developing high quality proposals, negotiating contracts and executing in a way that garners customer satisfaction and repeat business. She is effective and accountable in every project phase.
She is a recent recipient of the Andrew J. Goodpaster Award for Excellence in Research. CEO General Norton A. Schwartz stated, “This award reflects Laura’s role as a pioneer in artificial intelligence-enabled decision making; she has inspired IDA researchers, sponsors, and others to continue their advancements in the information age.” Laura is the recipient of the nationally recognized Society Women Engineers Spark award for coaching, mentoring and advocating for the next generation of scientists and engineers. She is committed to underserved and underrepresented communities particularly encouraging achievement in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sectors. She is one of the primary authors of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) inspired tenets codified in the IDA corporate charter. She received the Excellence in Enterprise Information Industry Award for both, Automated Information Triage for Rapid Decision Making for innovations in modeling and deep learning techniques and the State Cyber Hub Operational Framework for applied research.
Before joining IDA, Ms. Odell was the KPMG Partner responsible for the global Department of Defense account and was the Americas leader for the deployment of the Global Supply Chain Offering (GSCO) in the United States. Achievements included strategically guiding the growth of the Department of Defense account and recalibrating facets of the organization to achieve maximum performance.
Past Federal government positions include: Deputy Program Manager for the Department of Defense F/A- 18 aircraft program, Contracts Head for the Navy Facilities Engineering Command, Congressional Liaison for the Naval Air Test Center for the Base Re-Alignment Closure (BRAC), Flight Test Engineer conducting at-sea suitability operations and a government three- year global rotation in the Pacific Rim. She began her career as a design engineer in the microelectronics sector.
Education, Awards & Certifications
B.S., University of Minnesota Institute of Technology, Electrical Engineering
M.S., Florida Institute of Technology, Contract Acquisition Management
M.S., Florida Institute of Technology Business Management
Lean Six Sigma, Villanova University
DAWIA Level III Contract Acq Management, Program Management
Acquisition Professional Corps (APC)
Goodpaster Award for Excellence in Research for Artificial Intelligence
Society Women Engineers National SPARK award for Coaching and Mentoring
Massachusetts Institute Technology Seminar XXI
Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education Cybersecurity- Intersection of Policy and Technology
Engineering Fellow, David Crawford School of Engineering
Board Member, ThanksUSA
Example Reports (unclassified)
Reshaping the Department of State OBO into a High- Performance Organization
Risk: Terminate, Tolerate, Transfer, Treat
Isolating DOD Data from Foreign Adversaries
In-Use and Emerging Disruptive Technology Trends
DOD Use of Commercial Cloud Computing Capabilities and Services;
Independent Analysis of the OPM OCIO Organizational Structure
Analyses of Costs and Risks to Modernize DOD Enterprise Networks
Companies Engaged in Innovation