The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency announced Friday that Kim Wyman, its top official on election security, plans to step down at the end of July after nearly two years with the Department of Homeland Security unit.
Wyman, whom CISA Director Jen Easterly picked for the role in October 2021, joined the agency after nearly nine years as Washington’s secretary of state, building a reputation as a leading voice on election security against both cyber and physical threats. After the 2020 presidential election, she was one of a few of Republican officials to challenge her own party’s attempts to overturn the outcome.
According to a CISA press release, Wyman will take an unspecified private-sector role, while Cait Conley, a senior adviser to Easterly, will take on “additional responsibilities” overseeing the agency’s election-security initiatives, including engagement and coordination with state and local officials.
Conley is a former executive director of the Defending Digital Democracy Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center and a former staffer on the Biden administration’s National Security Council. At the Belfer Center, Conley “led the development and implementation of strategies, tools and recommendations for election administrators, election infrastructure providers, campaign organizations and leaders involved in democratic processes to better defend against cybersecurity threats,” the CISA release read.
Wyman has frequently spoken about the threats posed by online misinformation and disinformation — including the potential for election-office insiders to act on those falsehoods, which has become a more common phenomenon in recent years.
“This is the first time we’re seeing people who work in an election office or the chief election officer share information — proprietary information — in ways we haven’t seen before,” Wyman told StateScoop last year.
Wyman has also talked passionately about the rising tide of physical and online threats against election workers, which has fueled an nationwide exodus of experienced poll workers. “That’s part of why I joined CISA, to provide state and local officials with resources they don’t have,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
Easterly said last December that CISA is “laser-focused” on preparing for the 2024 election, which Wyman said earlier this year will face no shortage of threats.
“We face continuing threats from a growing number of foreign state sponsored threat actors intent on targeting our election infrastructure and voters through cyber activity and malign foreign influence operations,” she said in March at the University of California, Los Angeles.