Leadership spotlight: Rodgers ‘can do anything, anywhere’

by Renee Hatcher
Office of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs
November 22, 2021

PeggyRodgersPeggy Rodgers began her career with DISA 24 years ago and continues to balance expanding her education with accomplishing her mission to support the warfighter.

In 2013, Rodgers enrolled in the National Defense University through DISA’s Advanced Leadership Program to grow her education and to secure a position in the cyber security field. Normally, it takes about 10 months to complete the NDU program. Rodger’s journey to her June 2021 graduation took more than seven years.

“I don’t regret the length of time it took to complete the program as it gave me the opportunity to use what I was learning concurrently,” she said. “In fact, the experience was greatly enhanced by the extended timeframe. It gave me the time to grow professionally and personally, and I was able to implement what I was learning, real time.”

Traveling to combat zones and spending many days in passenger terminals on stand-by for military flights out of Romania, Afghanistan and parts of the Middle East was a hindrance on occasion but Rodgers said she met her deadlines no matter what.

“It just made me more resilient in overcoming challenges; I learned I can do anything, anywhere,” said Rodgers, who was on a personal mission to complete the program and stayed the course.

There were times when her motivation would lag after some long days of work, Rodgers admitted. But, collaborating virtually with her classmates always helped get her back on track. Other contributing factors to her success were support from her supervisor, mentors and other NDU graduates who were eager to share their experience and expertise.

“Throughout my experience with this program, no one ever hesitated to assist and support,” she said. “Everyone recognized and continues to understand the importance of this learning experience and the potential it builds.”

Rodgers said the course load was challenging and the assignments stimulated her critical thinking ability.

“My entire experience was outstanding,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with my classmates and learning from them in every way. And, I was able to keep myself current in cyber security practices, and interact and collaborate with other cyber professionals across DOD and the federal government.”

Rodgers said her biggest challenge to completing the program was time management while on rotation in other countries.

“Every day, I had to meet NDU deadlines and still maintain mission operability,” said Rodgers, who completed the program through 100 percent distance learning, which wasn’t as common then as it is today.

Rodgers, who was down range supporting the warfighter real-time throughout South West Asia, the U.S. Africa Command, Europe, and the Pacific, said she was sometimes envious of the students who could collaborate in-person with professors and professionals at NDU.

“I would never trade my experiences for anything because I have gained more knowledge from my NDU experience than I can measure,” she said. “I have experienced more than most civilians and even some military, and every day I have the opportunity to use my training and experience at JFHQ-DODIN/DISA Headquarters.”

Rodgers said the NDU program is closely aligned with DISA’s and JFHQ-DODIN’s mission. 

“It mimics the agency’s programs and emerging technologies,” she said. “I always felt like I had an advantage as I was already working in the specific discipline my course was addressing. The program really prepares you to be a leader and to contribute to the mission at the highest level.”

Rodgers started with DISA as a contractor in 1997, and joined the DISA Intern Program in 2005. Today, she is the deputy director of the 24/7/365 JFHQ-DODIN Operations Center that provides the Defensive Cyber Operations capability for the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency. In this role, Rodgers oversees 14 military, 10 civilians and 40 contractors.

“Leaders grow and develop leaders,” she said. “To me, a leader is someone who guides, directs, and inspires others to be better professionally and personally.”

Rodgers described her leadership style as a combination of democratic and authoritative.

“I believe sharing decisions with my team creates synergy among the different backgrounds and personalities,” she said. “They are professionals, and their opinions and experiences should be considered. However, after a decision is made, I follow a more authoritative approach.”

Rodgers said her current goals are to continue in her cyber operational role to secure, operate and defend the DODIN. Looking ahead, since NDU has been an integral part of her career, she’d like to give back in some way.

“After retiring, I plan to teach, possibly as an adjunct professor at NDU,” she said.

To anyone considering the Advanced Leadership Program, specifically NDU, Rodgers said not to put it off.

“Goals do not meet you; you meet your goals,” she said. “I cannot stress enough the benefits of higher education and the return on investment of your time. This program is shaping our leaders, and being part of it will help make you a positive force in our national security.”


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