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Don Grove (’21): Senior Analyst

Don Grove (’21) chose IWP because of its focus on understanding America’s founding principles and its emphasis on networking and career placement. Don now serves as a Senior Analyst for a government contract company that is advancing national security policies to defend its federal client against insider threats.

Please tell us a little about your background.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Portland State University in Oregon, where I also completed Russian language coursework. Through the Gilman Scholarship Program, I lived and worked in Kiev, Ukraine where I was directly involved in the media coverage of the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary elections and the Russo-Ukrainian War. I completed the Statecraft and National Security Affairs Program at IWP and audited coursework at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico. I previously worked as a contractor within the Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. State Department.

Why did you choose IWP for your graduate school?

I was initially attracted to IWP’s emphasis on America’s founding principles and the importance of appreciating what America stands for as students prepare to represent and defend it. IWP also offers a faculty of scholar-practitioners with decades of experience, who have made a real difference in the defense of our country.

Additionally, IWP offers exceptional one-on-one professional networking and career placement services. It was clear that IWP is well connected throughout a variety of industries in DC and abroad. After visiting the campus and interacting with the faculty and staff, I had confidence that I would be well-prepared for a national security career upon graduation.

I understand that you took advantage of these career programs during your time at IWP. Please tell us about this.

Thanks to the generosity of The Louis DeJoy and Aldona Woś Family Foundation Scholarship, I was able to supplement my studies with career and alumni networking activities. I made connections with a variety of professionals, primarily within the Department of Defense (DoD). With the help of Katie Bridges and Derrick Dortch, I circulated my resume throughout IWP’s alumni and attended networking meetings and events. These activities led me to Dr. Christopher Harmon, who kindly allowed me to complete his course at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico. I highly recommend that all IWP students complete his Military Strategy: Theory and Practice course. Years after graduation, I appreciate and maintain the relationships I’ve developed with Katie, Derrick, and Dr. Harmon.

How did you land your first job after IWP?

Derrick introduced me to a program manager from the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) during an on-campus hiring event. The program manager commonly recruited from IWP, and my status as a graduate significantly contributed to being selected. As a result, I obtained an active Top Secret security clearance. After my time at DSS, I secured a Project Manager position, which can also be traced back to Derrick’s weekly job postings/announcements.

Please describe your experience as a project manager within the national security industry.

Project Manager was my first professional leadership position, and therefore, the first with real-world consequences. I worked the dual roles of Analyst and Project Manager with a team of 5-7 analysts of various experience levels. We advised a federal client on the foreign ownership, control, and influence (FOCI) factors of foreign and domestic companies. I learned to accept the responsibility of working longer hours and the obligation to overcome difficult problems.

Please tell us about your current role at C2 Integration.

I currently hold the position of Senior Analyst with C2 Integration, LLC (C2I), which stands for “command and control integration.” I also serve within the leadership billet of Assistant Program Director. Our primary function to the federal client is to identify, assess, and mitigate foreign and domestic threats. I routinely interact with various levels of leadership and prepare analysis deliverables based on the client’s evolving needs. C2I is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business whose founders successfully helped initiate and build several U.S. interagency information-sharing programs over the last two decades.

Were your IWP classes helpful in preparing you for your professional work?

Prof. John Sano’s Writing for National Security Professionals was my favorite overall class and is most relevant to my work as an analyst. The assignments established a strong foundation for my ability to write executive summaries, briefings, and more. Professor Sano’s expectations prepared me very well for the attention to detail expected by professionals in the industry.

In general, my coursework at IWP taught me how to approach and analyze national security threats and understand their broader relevance to the country’s defense initiatives and goals.

What advice would you share with a new student at IWP?

It’s important to begin developing connections as soon as you arrive. Establish a two-year plan with networking and career services personnel, learn what you can about your professor’s experiences, and invest effort into your relationships with classmates.

What advice would you share with someone starting out in the national security world?

I suggest you volunteer for extra work or extra hours when needed, especially early in your career. You want to become a reliable resource to your employer and contribute as much as you can. Your extra effort will develop unique professional opportunities.

Is there anything you do differently as a result of your IWP education?

The respect I’ve gained for IWP’s faculty inspires me to conduct and present myself with a high level of professionalism. I take pride in my work, and I learned the importance of being physically and mentally prepared for any situation.