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October 31, 2019

Laura Galante campaigning for 18th District House seat

Laura Galante
Laura Galante
• Age: 34

• Home: Near Marshall

• Office sought: 18th District seat in Virginia House of Delegates

• Party: Democrat

• Work: Founder and owner, Galante Strategies LLC cybersecurity consulting firm, 2017-present.

• Experience: Director of Global Intelligence, FireEye & Mandiant, 2012-17; senior intelligence lead at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Booz Allen Hamilton, 2008-12.
• Organizations: Board member, Safeguard Cyber, Charlottesville, 2018-present; 4-H Leader, Piedmont Farmers Cloverbud Club, 2018-present; senior fellow, The Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and Cyber Statecraft Initiative, 2017-present; board member, Northern Virginia 4-H Educational and Conference Center, 2016-present.

• Education: Law degree, Catholic University of America, 2011; foreign affairs and Italian, University of Virginia, 2006; James W. Robinson Jr. Secondary School, Fairfax, 2003.
• Family: Husband, Tihomir Yankov, and 6-year-old son.

• Hobbies: Riding horses, raising Cotswold sheep and cooking.

• Campaign website:
Why do you seek election?
I’ve always felt a strong duty to serve, and I believe that investing our energy at the state level is the most effective way to shape a prosperous and inclusive rural future. 

Like so many Americans and Virginians, September 11, 2001, had profound impact on the course of my life. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I credit that day as the beginning of my calling to public service. My choices soon reflected that: At U.Va. I studied international relations and national security, and after college I worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency during the day while earning a law degree at night. 

After repeated warnings about what America’s enemies were doing in cyberspace went unheeded, I joined the private sector where my team exposed Russian military hackers and the Chinese theft of American trade secrets. In 2017, I gave a TED Talk and started my own consulting practice.

But here’s the thing, our politics were so broken that none of that changed policy or made America any safer. We’d reached a point where basic trust in our institutions, our leaders and our neighbors was faltering. I saw basic challenges like a lack of Internet access going unaddressed. So I decided to do something about it, that’s why I’m running to be your delegate. 

We’re on the cusp of a moment when living in rural areas and small towns can mean locally-based opportunity and close knit communities — not a youth and skill drain to the cities and suburbs. It’s why my husband, son and I choose to live here in hard-working Marshall, and it’s why I’m running to be your delegate for Virginia’s 18th District.

What makes you the better candidate?
I’ve run my campaign the same way I would represent the district — by listening first, engaging people of all political persuasions and finding consensus on the daily issues that matter to us. This stands in stark contrast to our current delegate, Michael Webert. He has failed to lead on critical local issues affecting our district and commonwealth and opted instead to divide us along national political lines.

Mr. Webert’s record speaks for itself: repeated votes against healthcare funding for children and veterans, siding with developers and corporate polluters over conservation groups, votes to divert funding from our public schools and refusing to invest money in broadband initiatives to help our families, schools and businesses get high-speed internet. Mr. Webert’s major financial backers are special interest groups like land developers, health insurance companies and energy companies, not individuals. 
Tackling hard problems, building partnerships and delivering real results have been the hallmarks of my career in the public and private sector. Since graduating from U.Va., I’ve spent over a decade in the tech and security industries defending American companies and government agencies from our adversaries in cyberspace. Along the way I’ve led a team of 90 at a public company, started my own small business, led international teams monitoring election security, served on the board of the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Front Royal, advised a Virginia-based cybersecurity company and lead a livestock Cloverbud 4-H Club in Marshall. Since my early days as a 4-Her growing up in Fairfax County, I’ve been deeply moved to serve my country and community.

That same call to public service motivated me to run for office to serve as your delegate.

What rank as the top three issues facing the 2020 General Assembly and how do you propose to address them?
My priorities are growing our local rural economy, strengthening our community and environment and expanding real Internet access.  We need to ensure local farmers can compete through access to better markets, pay workers at the prevailing wage and expand technical education so our next generation is ready for the jobs of the future. I’ll work to expand access to affordable healthcare, improve funding for our local schools, make sure our veterans receive the care they have earned, and push for telehealth improvements for underserved areas. I’ll work alongside farmers and conservationists to preserve our environment for future generations and maintain our rural way of life. 

Finally, we need real Internet access across the 18th District and throughout the commonwealth. That means expanding rural broadband by prioritizing fiber optic cable and surveying the actual speeds for Internet connectivity. Our local farms and small businesses will benefit immensely from utilizing online capabilities for their operations, marketing, and direct sales. Nearly every challenge we face becomes simpler to solve with real Internet. 

Please, describe the most difficult challenge you’ve faced in a leadership position, your response and the outcome.

Since 2010, I’ve been leading intelligence analyst teams who have discovered the cyber operations and attacks carried out by foreign countries and their militaries. I have worked with the victims of these attacks, which range from Fortune 500 companies to U.S. and allied government agencies, to local county governments.  

In my role as the director of global intelligence at FireEye, it was my responsibility to decide how best to handle the intelligence that my teams gathered about these cyber attacks. Deciding whether and how to expose the Russian and Chinese militaries, attacks against Syrian refugees and hackers gaming Wall Street has major implications for the victims of these attacks and our national security and defense. In all of my teams’ work, I strived to define our mission first, exact rigorous analysis that would meet the highest level of public scrutiny, and make our findings clear and impactful. 

I’m proud that my teams’ work, courage, and analytic rigor in exposing major hacking operations and attacks elevated cybersecurity from an IT department concern to its rightful place in the boardroom and at the forefront of major policy and defense agendas. Our work has been instrumental in protecting America both at home and abroad.

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